Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

144 Pages ·2012·923 KB ·English

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

ISL AM



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


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Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 I S L A M



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


A Dialogue



SAM HARRIS



MAAJID NAWAZ


Cambridge, Mas sa chu setts London, England



2015


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Copyright © 2015 by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz


All rights reserved.


Printed in the United States of Ame rica


First printing


Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication Data


Harris, Sam


Islam and the future of tolerance : a dialogue / Sam Harris,


Maajid Nawaz.


pages cm


Includes bibliographical references and index.


ISBN 978-0-674-08870-2 (alk. paper)


1. Toleration— Religious aspects— Islam. 2. Dialogue— Religious


aspects. I. Nawaz, Maajid. II. Title.


BP171.5.l365 2015


297.2'8— dc23 2015009535


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISL AM



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Harris Maajid, thank you for taking the time to have


this conversation. I think the work that you’re doing


is extremely im por tant. I’m not sure how much we


agree about Islam or about the prospects for re-


forming the faith—a nd it will be useful to uncover


any areas where we diverge— but I want you to


know that my primary goal is to support you.


Nawaz That’s very kind of you. I appreciate that. As


you know, we are working in a very delicate area,


walking a tightrope and attempting to bring with us


a lot of p eople who, in many instances, do not want


to move forward. It is very im por tant that we have


this conversation in as responsible a way as possib le.


Harris A greed. I’d like to begin by recalling the fi rst


time we met, because it was a moment when you


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


seemed to be walking this tightrope. It was, in fact,


a rather inauspicious fi rst meeting.


In October 2010, I attended the Intelligence


Squared debate in which you were pitted against


my friends Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray.


We met afterward at a dinner for the organizers,


participants, and other guests. People were offering


short remarks about the debate and otherw ise


continuing the discussion, and at one point Ayaan


said, “I’d like to know whether Sam Harris has


anything to say.” Although I was well into a vodka


tonic at that moment, I remember what I said


more or less verbatim. I addressed my remarks di-


rectly to you. We hadn’t been introduced, and I


don’t think you had any idea who I was. I said, es-


sentially, this:


Maajid, I have a question for you. It seems to me that


you have a nearly impossible task and yet much


d epends on your being able to accomplish it. You


want to convince the world— especially the Muslim


world—t hat Islam is a religion of peace that has been


hijacked by extremists. But the probl em is that Islam


isn’t a religion of peace, and the so-c alled “extremists”


are seeking to implement what is arguably the most


honest reading of the faith’s actual doctrine. So your


2


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Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


maneuvers on the stage tonight— the claims you made


about interpretations of scripture and the historical


context in which certain passages in the Qur’an must


be understood— appear disingenuous.


Everyone in this room recognizes that you have the


hardest job in the world, and everyone is grateful that


you’re doing it. Someone has to try to reform Islam


from within, and it’s obviously not going to be an apos-


tate like Ayaan, or infi dels like Douglas and me. But


the path of reform appears to be one of pretense. You


seem obliged to pretend that the doctrine is something


other than it is—f or instance, you must pretend that


jihad is just an inner spiritual strugg le, whereas it’s pri-


marily a doctrine of holy war. I’d like to know whether


this is, in fact, the situation as you see it. Is the path


forward a matter of pretending certain things are true


long enough and hard enough so as to make them


true?


I should reiterate that I was attempting to have


this conversation with you in a semipublic context.


We w eren’t being recorded, as far as I know, but


there were still around seventy- fi ve people in the


room listening to us. I’m wondering if you re-


member my saying these things and w hether you


recall your response at the time.


3


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Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


Nawaz Yes, I do remember that. I’m glad you re-


minded me of it. I hadn’t made the connection


with you. I’m also grateful you mentioned that al-


though we were not on air, many others were pre-


sent. To my mind, it was just as im por tant inside


that room as outside it for p eople to take what I was


saying at face value. In fact, my desire to impact


Muslim- minority socie ties with my message is just


as strong as my desire to impact Muslim-m ajority


socie ties. Part of what I seek to do is build a main-


stream coa lit ion of p eople who are singing from


the same page. That d oesn’t require that they


all become Muslim or non- Muslim. On the con-


trary, what can unite us is a set of religion- neutral


values. By focusing on the universality of human,


democ ratic, and secular (in the British and American


sense of this word) values, we can arrive at some


common ground. It follows that all audiences need


to hear this message. Even inside that room, there-


fore, the stakes were high. To lose that audience


would be to realize my fear: the polarization of this


debate between those who insist that Islam is a re-


ligion of war and proceed to engage in war for it,


and those who insist that Islam is a religion of war


and proceed to engage in war against it. That would


be an intractable situation.


4


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Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12


ISL AM



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 I S L A M



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


A Dialogue



SAM HARRIS



MAAJID NAWAZ


Cambridge, Mas sa chu setts London, England



2015


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Copyright © 2015 by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz


All rights reserved.


Printed in the United States of Ame rica


First printing


Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication Data


Harris, Sam


Islam and the future of tolerance : a dialogue / Sam Harris,


Maajid Nawaz.


pages cm


Includes bibliographical references and index.


ISBN 978-0-674-08870-2 (alk. paper)


1. Toleration— Religious aspects— Islam. 2. Dialogue— Religious


aspects. I. Nawaz, Maajid. II. Title.


BP171.5.l365 2015


297.2'8— dc23 2015009535


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISL AM



AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 Harris Maajid, thank you for taking the time to have


this conversation. I think the work that you’re doing


is extremely im por tant. I’m not sure how much we


agree about Islam or about the prospects for re-


forming the faith—a nd it will be useful to uncover


any areas where we diverge— but I want you to


know that my primary goal is to support you.


Nawaz That’s very kind of you. I appreciate that. As


you know, we are working in a very delicate area,


walking a tightrope and attempting to bring with us


a lot of p eople who, in many instances, do not want


to move forward. It is very im por tant that we have


this conversation in as responsible a way as possib le.


Harris A greed. I’d like to begin by recalling the fi rst


time we met, because it was a moment when you


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


seemed to be walking this tightrope. It was, in fact,


a rather inauspicious fi rst meeting.


In October 2010, I attended the Intelligence


Squared debate in which you were pitted against


my friends Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray.


We met afterward at a dinner for the organizers,


participants, and other guests. People were offering


short remarks about the debate and otherw ise


continuing the discussion, and at one point Ayaan


said, “I’d like to know whether Sam Harris has


anything to say.” Although I was well into a vodka


tonic at that moment, I remember what I said


more or less verbatim. I addressed my remarks di-


rectly to you. We hadn’t been introduced, and I


don’t think you had any idea who I was. I said, es-


sentially, this:


Maajid, I have a question for you. It seems to me that


you have a nearly impossible task and yet much


d epends on your being able to accomplish it. You


want to convince the world— especially the Muslim


world—t hat Islam is a religion of peace that has been


hijacked by extremists. But the probl em is that Islam


isn’t a religion of peace, and the so-c alled “extremists”


are seeking to implement what is arguably the most


honest reading of the faith’s actual doctrine. So your


2


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


maneuvers on the stage tonight— the claims you made


about interpretations of scripture and the historical


context in which certain passages in the Qur’an must


be understood— appear disingenuous.


Everyone in this room recognizes that you have the


hardest job in the world, and everyone is grateful that


you’re doing it. Someone has to try to reform Islam


from within, and it’s obviously not going to be an apos-


tate like Ayaan, or infi dels like Douglas and me. But


the path of reform appears to be one of pretense. You


seem obliged to pretend that the doctrine is something


other than it is—f or instance, you must pretend that


jihad is just an inner spiritual strugg le, whereas it’s pri-


marily a doctrine of holy war. I’d like to know whether


this is, in fact, the situation as you see it. Is the path


forward a matter of pretending certain things are true


long enough and hard enough so as to make them


true?


I should reiterate that I was attempting to have


this conversation with you in a semipublic context.


We w eren’t being recorded, as far as I know, but


there were still around seventy- fi ve people in the


room listening to us. I’m wondering if you re-


member my saying these things and w hether you


recall your response at the time.


3


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12 ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE


Nawaz Yes, I do remember that. I’m glad you re-


minded me of it. I hadn’t made the connection


with you. I’m also grateful you mentioned that al-


though we were not on air, many others were pre-


sent. To my mind, it was just as im por tant inside


that room as outside it for p eople to take what I was


saying at face value. In fact, my desire to impact


Muslim- minority socie ties with my message is just


as strong as my desire to impact Muslim-m ajority


socie ties. Part of what I seek to do is build a main-


stream coa lit ion of p eople who are singing from


the same page. That d oesn’t require that they


all become Muslim or non- Muslim. On the con-


trary, what can unite us is a set of religion- neutral


values. By focusing on the universality of human,


democ ratic, and secular (in the British and American


sense of this word) values, we can arrive at some


common ground. It follows that all audiences need


to hear this message. Even inside that room, there-


fore, the stakes were high. To lose that audience


would be to realize my fear: the polarization of this


debate between those who insist that Islam is a re-


ligion of war and proceed to engage in war for it,


and those who insist that Islam is a religion of war


and proceed to engage in war against it. That would


be an intractable situation.


4


Bereitgestellt von | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services


Angemeldet


Heruntergeladen am | 11.01.16 21:12


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