Being Muslim Today: Reclaiming the Faith from Orthodoxy and Islamophobia

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Product Details
Price
$25.00  $23.25
Publisher
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
Pages
336
Dimensions
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.74 inches | 1.07 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781538189320

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About the Author

Dr. Saqib Iqbal Qureshi is a bestselling author, angel investor, film producer, and Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he received his PhD in International Relations and Epistemology. With work featured in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Entrepreneur, and The Independent. Qureshi has produced two films and, in 1996, the BBC Two documentary, Al Dawaah, the first television documentary about the Muslim community in any Western country. He is the author of The Broken Contract and Reconstructing Strategy. See saqibqureshi.com.

Reviews

Contemporary Muslims are a more-than-diverse group. London School of Economics and Political Science Fellow Qureshi here explores assumptions made about being Muslim and questions of identity that contemporary Muslims often ask one another. The first part of the book explores the scriptures and early history of Islam in an effort to contextualize the teaching and fundamental beliefs of the religion. Qureshi's discussion is rooted in available historical evidence and takes into account conflicting interpretations. Woven into this narrative are strands on the burden of orthodoxy, but the author's main focus is on discovering Islam's essential spirit, laying the groundwork that this essence could serve as a basis for binding all Muslims. The second part focuses on answering questions of Muslim identity, leaning towards broad, inclusive criteria that tolerate differences of opinion and practice. Qureshi explores the idea that it's impossible to follow Islam while embracing Western culture, suggesting this is a false dichotomy. He also interrogates what Muslims "should" believe and do and ultimately advocates for following one's conscience. Overall, Qureshi promotes a moderate and inclusive view of contemporary Islam, with the intellectual underpinnings to support it.

-- "Booklist, Starred Review"

A critical assessment of modern Islam. In trying to shape his son's understanding of Islam, Qureshi began a journey of exploration that led him to realize how modern Islamic orthodoxy, on one hand, and Islamophobia on the other, had warped perceptions of Islam into something it is not. The author introduces lay readers to the history of the religion, humanizes its original adherents, and clarifies the message of the Qur'an, countering the messages of ossified leaders and bigoted detractors. Qureshi uses much of the same historical and literary criticism techniques that theology scholars have used since the 1800s in examining the origins of Christianity. The author reclaims Muhammad, his contemporaries, and his immediate heirs from the fundamentalist viewpoint of perfection, clearly demonstrating their humanity and even frailty. He shows these early leaders as people capable of doubt and discord, as opposed to the infallible saints of legend. Similarly, the author demonstrates that the Qur'an and the hadiths of Muhammad have far more nebulous origins than many present-day religious leaders would allow. Qureshi recognizes that many of his explanations of Islam are not only unpopular, but even dangerous.... Yet Qureshi believes an open-minded approach to Islam is imperative for its message to resonate with future generations. The author uses an informal, even lighthearted, style backed up by solid research.... A brave and challenging message for 21st-century Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

-- "Kirkus Reviews"

Being Muslim Today is a compelling and courageous call to twenty-first century Muslims to assert their freedom to interpret Islam for themselves and for their generation. Saqib Qureshi blends a compelling personal story with a deep grasp of contemporary scholarship to explore critical questions about what we can and cannot know about the earliest Islamic sources, and what this means for contemporary Muslims. Qureshi confronts Islamic orthodoxies and Islamophobic distortions with equal bluntness. Few sacred cows escape his scrutiny. But in the end, Being Muslim Today is a tremendously optimistic book that sees Islam and the West not as doomed to perpetual conflict, but as part of the same family.

--Daniel Brown, Director, Institute for the Study of Religion in the Middle East, Istanbul

Saqib Qureshi's Being Muslim Today is empathetic and persuasive--a book for the thinking Muslim. How it will impact readers I can't say for sure, but I suspect the change will be transformational. Clear and compelling, and rich with intimate historical detail, this book may just be a masterpiece.

--Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist, winner of UNESCO's Kalinga prize, author of Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality

A compelling, well-researched, and fun book to read. Qureshi blends serious research, open-ended questioning, critical insight, and bouts of humor with clarity and incisiveness. A must-read for students--Muslim or not--wanting straight talk on the history and trajectories of Islam.

--Anvar Emon, Professor of Law and History and Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto

Saqib Qureshi doesn't pull any punches. In clear, accessible, and punchy chapters he takes on the major misunderstanding, slanders, and controversies around Islam. With zero tolerance for cant or hypocrisy, Qureshi gives both Muslims and non-Muslims a deeply researched, yet fresh and accessible, take on the faith and its challenges. No illusion is left unpunctured, no idiocy standing. A powerful read on hard issues that will illuminate and spark conversation for years to come.

--Aziz Huq, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago

As a Jew whose life from very early age was bonded with Islamic civilization, religious learning, and cultural history, Qureshi's book and autobiography came as blissful addition to the existing rich literature I was already familiar with. This very readable and accessible book is a must read in a world where Islamophobia, fake news, and aggressive lobbies disable people from being acquainted with the richness and diversity of Islam and its potentials for the future. Qureshi's candid and courageous approach that does not shun critical scrutiny of Islamic orthodoxies is the best antidote, served as highly professional book interlaced with a great sense of humour, to the ugly wave of Islamophobia and provides an assured recipe for a much better world for Muslims and their western countries to which they belong.

--Ilan Pappe, Professor of International Relations at Exeter University and author of "The Largest Prison on Earth" and "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine"

Being Muslim Today is such an overdue project--it is a masterclass for us all that stimulates thinking and reflection to draw positive conclusions. I loved the book's sense of real optimism--which forced me to reflect seriously on the single most important threat to humankind--our inability to live together in peace. The conviviality to which the book refers to in Muslim Iberia marked a moment lost in history. Being Muslim Today is highly researched and is scholarly constructed, drawing upon the combination of the personal and real. Qureshi deserves to be congratulated, and his brilliant contribution demands that it be widely shared and discussed.

--Mark Hardy, Center for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations, University of Coventry

"Being Muslim Today is essential reading for those who want to understand a liberal Muslim perspective of what it means to be a practicing Muslim today. Honest, personal and easy to read, Qureshi's account sheds light on the pressures Muslims face from within Islam as well as from outside. The author seeks to challenge rigid conservative orthodoxy as well as critics of Islam and is willing to tackle Islamophobic prejudice. He depicts a pathway for modern Muslims to express their faith at a challenging time for religion and belief in general and for Islam in particular. Being Muslim Today dives deeply into the debates, danger, and dialogue that have characterized Islamic thinking since 7th century. Fascinating, important, and timely."

--Ed Kessler, Founder and President of the Woolf Institute and Fellow at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge

Contemporary Muslims are a more-than-diverse group. London School of Economics and Political Science Fellow Qureshi here explores assumptions made about being Muslim and questions of identity that contemporary Muslims often ask one another. The first part of the book explores the scriptures and early history of Islam in an effort to contextualize the teaching and fundamental beliefs of the religion. Qureshi's discussion is rooted in available historical evidence and takes into account conflicting interpretations. Woven into this narrative are strands on the burden of orthodoxy, but the author's main focus is on discovering Islam's essential spirit, laying the groundwork that this essence could serve as a basis for binding all Muslims. The second part focuses on answering questions of Muslim identity, leaning towards broad, inclusive criteria that tolerate differences of opinion and practice. Qureshi explores the idea that it's impossible to follow Islam while embracing Western culture, suggesting this is a false dichotomy. He also interrogates what Muslims "should" believe and do and ultimately advocates for following one's conscience. Overall, Qureshi promotes a moderate and inclusive view of contemporary Islam, with the intellectual underpinnings to support it.


A critical assessment of modern Islam. In trying to shape his son's understanding of Islam, Qureshi began a journey of exploration that led him to realize how modern Islamic orthodoxy, on one hand, and Islamophobia on the other, had warped perceptions of Islam into something it is not. The author introduces lay readers to the history of the religion, humanizes its original adherents, and clarifies the message of the Qur'an, countering the messages of ossified leaders and bigoted detractors. Qureshi uses much of the same historical and literary criticism techniques that theology scholars have used since the 1800s in examining the origins of Christianity. The author reclaims Muhammad, his contemporaries, and his immediate heirs from the fundamentalist viewpoint of perfection, clearly demonstrating their humanity and even frailty. He shows these early leaders as people capable of doubt and discord, as opposed to the infallible saints of legend. Similarly, the author demonstrates that the Qur'an and the hadiths of Muhammad have far more nebulous origins than many present-day religious leaders would allow. Qureshi recognizes that many of his explanations of Islam are not only unpopular, but even dangerous.... Yet Qureshi believes an open-minded approach to Islam is imperative for its message to resonate with future generations. The author uses an informal, even lighthearted, style backed up by solid research.... A brave and challenging message for 21st-century Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


A vivid, engaging exploration of issues of faith and Muslim identity. Qureshi's voice is bright, humble, and curious, and the author wears his considerable learning lightly. A valuable addition to explorations of how we think about engaging with religious traditions to live meaningful lives.


Broad ranging yet accessible, Qureshi's account of a viable and hopeful Islam embraces doubt as emancipatory while seeking a new confidence for those of his son's generation. Finding comfort in the spirituality of the Sufi path and better answers in the philosophical traditions of Islam, he argues for a modern Islam that does not shy away from asking difficult questions about the politics of violence, misogyny, and many other forms of religious oppression. Perhaps the ultimate lesson for us to take away is that living as a person of faith--Muslim or otherwise--in our world is both challenging and rewarding. And that is precisely why this book should be read, as it engages those challenges that are common to us all.


A courageous, candid, and personal account of the challenges of being Muslim in the twenty-first century, both within the global context and also within a highly complex faith community. Highly accessible and relatable, Being Muslim Today presents both a compelling insight into Islam's interpretation throughout the centuries as well as a prescription of how the true spirit of the religion's vibrant tradition and intended vision can be regained. A must-read for Muslims or anyone serious about understanding Islam.


Qureshi's Being Muslim Today is a welcome addition to the literature, advancing what Bauer calls a 'culture of ambiguity' in his forth-write and accessible prose about the 'basics' of Islam. Though racial justice is seldomly addressed, Qureshi does not shy away from tackling many of the central debates plaguing Islamic communities in the West. From gender equity to orthodoxy to propensity for violence, this work allows a young adult and general audience to gain the ability to parse nuanced knowledge on Islam while illuminating reductive messaging on the faith, both from within and 'outside' Islamic communities.


Being Muslim Today is a compelling and courageous call to twenty-first century Muslims to assert their freedom to interpret Islam for themselves and for their generation. Saqib Qureshi blends a compelling personal story with a deep grasp of contemporary scholarship to explore critical questions about what we can and cannot know about the earliest Islamic sources, and what this means for contemporary Muslims. Qureshi confronts Islamic orthodoxies and Islamophobic distortions with equal bluntness. Few sacred cows escape his scrutiny. But in the end, Being Muslim Today is a tremendously optimistic book that sees Islam and the West not as doomed to perpetual conflict, but as part of the same family.


Saqib Qureshi's Being Muslim Today is empathetic and persuasive--a book for the thinking Muslim. How it will impact readers I can't say for sure, but I suspect the change will be transformational. Clear and compelling, and rich with intimate historical detail, this book may just be a masterpiece.


A compelling, well-researched, and fun book to read. Qureshi blends serious research, open-ended questioning, critical insight, and bouts of humor with clarity and incisiveness. A must-read for students--Muslim or not--wanting straight talk on the history and trajectories of Islam.


Saqib Qureshi doesn't pull any punches. In clear, accessible, and punchy chapters he takes on the major misunderstanding, slanders, and controversies around Islam. With zero tolerance for cant or hypocrisy, Qureshi gives both Muslims and non-Muslims a deeply researched, yet fresh and accessible, take on the faith and its challenges. No illusion is left unpunctured, no idiocy standing. A powerful read on hard issues that will illuminate and spark conversation for years to come.


Saqib Qureshi's book is a well-written, easy to read, diagnosis of the state of Islam today. Framed as an answer of a father to his son explaining the nature of Islam, it contains a wealth of information. The book is formed of two parts. In Part I, Saqib Qureshi functions as a doctor examining a patient, leaving no stone unturned, no historical fact or process unexamined. Everything that the academic community knows about Islam, from the early years to the early modern age, is presented in a format which is both enjoyable and entertaining reading. In Part II, he presents his diagnosis and prescription for full health. While I would prescribe an entirely different medicine, and in fact found the reading both challenging and discomforting, he verbalizes what many Muslims are thinking. It is worthy reading of anyone who wishes to understand what a modern Muslim seeks of their leaders today.


As a Jew whose life from very early age was bonded with Islamic civilization, religious learning, and cultural history, Qureshi's book and autobiography came as blissful addition to the existing rich literature I was already familiar with. This very readable and accessible book is a must read in a world where Islamophobia, fake news, and aggressive lobbies disable people from being acquainted with the richness and diversity of Islam and its potentials for the future. Qureshi's candid and courageous approach that does not shun critical scrutiny of Islamic orthodoxies is the best antidote, served as highly professional book interlaced with a great sense of humour, to the ugly wave of Islamophobia and provides an assured recipe for a much better world for Muslims and their western countries to which they belong.


Being Muslim Today is such an overdue project--it is a masterclass for us all that stimulates thinking and reflection to draw positive conclusions. I loved the book's sense of real optimism--which forced me to reflect seriously on the single most important threat to humankind--our inability to live together in peace. The conviviality to which the book refers to in Muslim Iberia marked a moment lost in history. Being Muslim Today is highly researched and is scholarly constructed, drawing upon the combination of the personal and real. Qureshi deserves to be congratulated, and his brilliant contribution demands that it be widely shared and discussed.


"Being Muslim Today is essential reading for those who want to understand a liberal Muslim perspective of what it means to be a practicing Muslim today. Honest, personal and easy to read, Qureshi's account sheds light on the pressures Muslims face from within Islam as well as from outside. The author seeks to challenge rigid conservative orthodoxy as well as critics of Islam and is willing to tackle Islamophobic prejudice. He depicts a pathway for modern Muslims to express their faith at a challenging time for religion and belief in general and for Islam in particular. Being Muslim Today dives deeply into the debates, danger, and dialogue that have characterized Islamic thinking since 7th century. Fascinating, important, and timely."


A vivid, engaging exploration of issues of faith and Muslim identity. Qureshi's voice is bright, humble, and curious, and the author wears his considerable learning lightly. A valuable addition to explorations of how we think about engaging with religious traditions to live meaningful lives.

--Carla Power, author of If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Qur'an and contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Time Magazine

Broad ranging yet accessible, Qureshi's account of a viable and hopeful Islam embraces doubt as emancipatory while seeking a new confidence for those of his son's generation. Finding comfort in the spirituality of the Sufi path and better answers in the philosophical traditions of Islam, he argues for a modern Islam that does not shy away from asking difficult questions about the politics of violence, misogyny, and many other forms of religious oppression. Perhaps the ultimate lesson for us to take away is that living as a person of faith--Muslim or otherwise--in our world is both challenging and rewarding. And that is precisely why this book should be read, as it engages those challenges that are common to us all.

--Sajjad Rizvi, Professor and Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter

A courageous, candid, and personal account of the challenges of being Muslim in the twenty-first century, both within the global context and also within a highly complex faith community. Highly accessible and relatable, Being Muslim Today presents both a compelling insight into Islam's interpretation throughout the centuries as well as a prescription of how the true spirit of the religion's vibrant tradition and intended vision can be regained. A must-read for Muslims or anyone serious about understanding Islam.

--Saeed A. Khan, Associate Professor of Near East and Asian Studies and Director of Global Studies at Wayne State University

Qureshi's Being Muslim Today is a welcome addition to the literature, advancing what Bauer calls a 'culture of ambiguity' in his forth-write and accessible prose about the 'basics' of Islam. Though racial justice is seldomly addressed, Qureshi does not shy away from tackling many of the central debates plaguing Islamic communities in the West. From gender equity to orthodoxy to propensity for violence, this work allows a young adult and general audience to gain the ability to parse nuanced knowledge on Islam while illuminating reductive messaging on the faith, both from within and 'outside' Islamic communities.

--Hebah Farrag, Assistant Director of Research, University of Southern California, Center for Religion and Civic Culture

Saqib Qureshi's book is a well-written, easy to read, diagnosis of the state of Islam today. Framed as an answer of a father to his son explaining the nature of Islam, it contains a wealth of information. The book is formed of two parts. In Part I, Saqib Qureshi functions as a doctor examining a patient, leaving no stone unturned, no historical fact or process unexamined. Everything that the academic community knows about Islam, from the early years to the early modern age, is presented in a format which is both enjoyable and entertaining reading. In Part II, he presents his diagnosis and prescription for full health. While I would prescribe an entirely different medicine, and in fact found the reading both challenging and discomforting, he verbalizes what many Muslims are thinking. It is worthy reading of anyone who wishes to understand what a modern Muslim seeks of their leaders today.

--Rabbi Ben Abrahamson, Director of Al Sadiqin Institute