Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013)

Is liberal democracy that provides equality and freedom for all consistent with the true teachings of Islam? Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish Muslim journalist and writer, thinks so.  In Islam Without Extremes Akyol tells about the foundations of Islam and then follows it’s development through history.  It describes struggles between rationalism and traditionalism.  Chapters four and five are particularly helpful in explaining the different streams of thought and how they diverged.  The results are played out in today’s headlines as many Muslims call for peaceful coexistence and others call for war.

Akyol is a Muslim that is not afraid to point out the inconsistancies between how Islam is being practiced and the ideals of Islam.   He supports freedom of religion.  He opposes violence. He looks to Turkey as a model for the future of Islam.  In this, he is sometimes criticized as too “westernized.” However, I think that his experience as a journalist and his connections to the west help him explain the struggle within Islam for the hearts of the adherents to Islam. He sees Islam at a pivotal point in history and he proposes a future path that embraces peace and liberty for all.

I highly recommend this book for those who want to understand some of the historical roots of the present day struggles. You might also enjoy watching his Ted Talk on this topic and interviews he did with Carl Medearis. To purchase the book and help support Segues International website, just click on the title above.