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What I’m Reading: What’s Right With Islam

November 9, 2010

In the conclusion to his book, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf reports that the most common question he has been asked since September 11, 2001 is “What can we do to solve the problem between the Muslim world and the West?”  In his 2004 book, “What’s Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West,” Iman Feisal offers suggestions for how to build bridges between Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faith communities.

For a non-scholar such as myself, this book provides some helpful reminders about the common roots of our different faiths that I found very useful this summer during the controversy over the Muslim Cultural Center in downtown New York City. Speaking from his own experience, the Imam then provides chapters on “What’s Right with Islam” and “What’s Right with America.”

One chapter of the book that I particularly appreciated is titled “We’re All History.” That chapter begins: “Our history shapes how we continue to act, and thus out future.” How true. I don’t come to the same conclusions as Imam Feisal about everything (and I was particularly concerned about the inclusion in the book of an appendix offering some support for U.S. Muslims to participate in the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan).

Yet this is an important book and one that has helped me understand a little better the current conversations on faith in the United States. His conclusion bears repeating

I can think of no greater goal in the twenty-first century than ushering in the era predicted by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah: when nations “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will the train for war anymore.”

One Comment
  1. Mark Grantham permalink
    November 9, 2010 1:11 pm

    I, as are most Quakers, am a strident pacifist! War is never an answer to an ever present question. Islam, Judaism and Christianity have many things in common, and we should embrace these similarities! If a person is a Muslim, Jew or Christian is not the problem that I see around me. I see the fear of the unknown, the fear of someone or something that is different than we expect.
    Every faith has extremists, and these people are to be questioned and at times feared. I hope to respect people of different faiths, in hopes they will as well respect me. I had the pleasure of living and working in the Middle East, the believers of Islam were my friends.

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