Not out in the UK till November, we got a taste of what the dialogue between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz on Islam will be like, at the book launch event at Harvard’s Kennedy Forum, on the 14 September.
Maajid Nawaz is often criticised as having no standing among muslims, because he is not devout. That poses the question whether such critics felt he had more standing when he was active in Hizb-ut-Tahrir trying to spark an islamist coup in countries. Nawaz has been that angry young man, discriminated against, running for his life and very near killed by racist thugs. Then he found a political and religious group that welcomed him and gave him a purpose to stand tall for. Islamism. As a recruiter, he knows from the inside just how it works and how others can provide useful cover to such extremism.
Maajid knows how to distinguish islamism from islam, to an extent that Sam Harris publicly states he has changed his opinions and nuanced his position after their dialogue, which the book recounts for us. That in itself makes it for me a must read. Together with the acclaimed video for #NotAnotherBrother against ISIS, and the recent report on people leaving extremism from islamism or the far right, there is much to learn from the Quilliam Foundation that Nawaz co-founded.
No sooner had the live streamed event (video above) finished, then twitter was awash with extracts from a recent Sam Harris interview, on profiling. Out of context, the quotes as presented had me shaking my head, and remembering Maajid saying that in dialogue we all will say stupid things. Yet when you watch the interview segment on profiling in full (see video below) it shows Sam saying that he needs to be considered a risk at airports (assuming not recognised as a celebrity atheist writer against Jihadism). In short, it should not be based on race or appearance, as much as by age at which people become radicalised to Jihadism.
If you listen to the following sound cloud, Sam Harris recounts the Twitter storm that met him when he finished the Boston event. The exasperation comes across, in the wearisome of here we go again house keeping. To have a genuine dialogue, and to explore differences and find agreed actions, we need to at least represent each other’s views correctly.
It is noticeable that before the book is published, this smear campaign is happening to the co-authors. A previous reblog on here looked at Nathan Lean’s comments about Maajid Nawaz. It ruins the narrative of Reza Aslan if the dialogue shows an anti-theist does embrace pluralism that includes Islam, but wants to try and deal with the violent tendencies which Islamist extremists advocate via their religious ideology. Let alone the anti-liberal views.
The smearing of both co-authors on social media should alert you that some really do not want you to read the book. Soon we will be able to show that we can make up our own minds, when we do pick it up.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog