Is Islam incompatible with freedom?


  • 23/11/2011
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From furious reactions to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to the suppression of women, news from the Muslim world begs the question: is Islam incompatible with freedom? With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Turkish author Mustafa Akyol offers a positive answer in his new book, Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty.

Akyol first acknowledges the problem with authoritarian rules and attitudes in classical Islam, but also deconstructs their origins and offers arguments for reforming them. Through his careful reexamination of the currents of Muslim thought, he also points to the flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and the unique “Islamo-liberal synthesis” of present-day Turkey.

What he ultimately presents is a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms.

Mustafa Akyol is a Turkish political commentator and author based in Istanbul, Turkey. Akyol was born in Ankara in 1972 and had his early education there. Later he graduated from Istanbul Nisantasi British High School and from the International Relations Department of the Bosphorus University. He had his master thesis on the Kurdish question at the History Department of the same university.

Since 2002, he has been a regular commentator in the Turkish media. He is currently a regular columnist for Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s foremost English-language daily. He writes a regular column for a Turkish-language daily, Star, as well. He also appears regularly on Turkish TV, on political discussion shows. He has spoken on many platforms, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings Institution, Mont Pelerin Society, Cato Institute, Acton Institute, Discovery Institute, Mises Institute and many universities around the world. (His talk at TED, Faith Versus Tradition in Islam, was widely acclaimed.)

Over the years, Akyol’s articles have appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, The American Interest, First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, The American Enterprise Magazine, Huffington Post, National Review Online, The Forward, Tech Central Station,Bitter Lemons and IslamOnline.

A sandwich and soft drinks lunch will be provided.

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