Atheist Harris and ex-Radical Islamist Nawaz Argue that Islam Has Not Been Successful in Modernizing

A dialog between a former Islamist radical Maajid Nawaz and a famous atheist Sam Harris.

Maajid Nawaz, an ex-Islamist, and Sam Harris, a confirmed atheist, have joined forces and co-wrote the book Islam and the Future of Tolerance: a Dialogue. The two have also co-founded The Quilliam Foundation, a think tank dedicated to combating anti-extremism.

Ex-Islamist and Atheist Release ‘Islam and the Future of Tolerance: a Dialogue’.[/tweetthis]

Nawaz and Harris have argued in their book that Islam was not successful in modernizing itself. Islamism, which they describe as the wish to impose the Islamic veil over society, must be named and also shamed. Their book contains hot topics of debate, such as: Is Islam as a religion proposing peace or war? Can this belief system be reformed? Why are some Muslims attracted to extremism? What do words like fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism mean in the modern world?

The co-written book has shown immense depth and breadth in its analysis. What is more noticeable is the decorum of dialog between a former Islamist radical and a famous atheist. Nawaz and Harris have produced a new kind of work: they fully and fierce fully engage one of the more polarizing contemporary issues and makes progress.

The book has been published with the aim to inspire a broader public discussion through example. The two, in a world fractured by violence and misunderstanding, demonstrate how two individuals with two radically different views can still find a common ground.

According to Nawaz, we should not reach that point where it will be impossible to name Islamism. Instead, he advocates, it should be recognized and obliterated from society. He pointed out that the state heads of the United States and Britain cannot even bring themselves to name the ideology. It is natural that the two focus on making the top heads of the two governments in the existence of an ideology. Nawaz called this ideology Islamism and urged the need to isolate the interpretation the Muslims are following and that this Islamism needs to be challenged, as government forces are locked in a war that can be only described as ideological

Harris agreed with Nawaz and said Muslims must also change the way when it comes to viewing their religion. He cautioned huge tasks of adapting and reinterpreting the scriptures to match that of the 21st century. He mentioned that a sincere belief in the afterlife will take the fence encircling civilization.


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