The Qur'an Problem and Islamism: Reflections of a Dissident Muslim
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Many in the West, including even some Muslims, think that they can discuss Islam and its needs on the basis of a few words fished at random out of the Qur'an. Barack Obama took an excerpt literally when he spoke of Islam as a religion of peace. That proved, he said, that the so-called Islamic State could not be Islamic. But Mansur's book shows that over the centuries Islam has believed many ideas, not all of them consistent with others.
In careful, clear prose, Mansur takes us through the tangle of theories and inner conflicts that have shaped Islam, in which Islamists have played a large plot. It's a pathology that encourages conflict with others who can be seen as enemies, such as Jews. This compulsion has "turned into Muslim-on-Muslim violence, a raging sectarian conflict of Sunnis against Shi'ites and ethnic conflicts of tribes against tribes or nations against nations." Many of these have come accompanied by new or altered doctrine.
At the end of the 20th century, most of us viewed Muslims as adherents of an outdated but harmless religion, limited to one region and one cultural group, the Arabs. Since the eruptions that followed 2001 we have been learning how wrong we were. Mansur's cool, intelligent overview of his own faith tells us we still have a lot to learn.
Robert Fulford is a Toronto author, journalist, broadcaster, and editor. He writes a regular column for The National Post and is a frequent contributor to Queen's Quarterly.