Islam without Extremes presents a provocative manifesto for an interpretation of Islam that synthesises liberal ideas and respect for the Islamic tradition. With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Mustafa Akyol traces the roots of political Islam. The years following the death of Muhammad saw an intellectual "war of ideas" rage between rationalist, flexible schools of Islam and the more dogmatic, rigid ones. The traditionalists won, fostering perceptions of Islam as antithetical to modernity. However, Akyol traces a flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and explores the unique "Islamo-liberal synthesis" of present-day Turkey. Only by accepting a secular state, he asserts, can Islamic societies thrive. Persuasive and inspiring, Islam without Extremes offers an intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic and social freedoms.
Mustafa Akyol lives in Istanbul and is a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. He has written opinion pieces for The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and Newsweek. Author website: www.thewhitepath.com