Quilliam Chairman Maajid Nawaz Releases Islam and the Future of Tolerance with Atheist Sam Harris

14 September 2015

In his new book, Quilliam Chairman Maajid Nawaz emphasises Islam’s compatibility with peace and challenges extremist narratives.

Written with prominent atheist Sam Harris, Islam and the Future of Tolerance considers key questions of our time, among them “Is Islam amenable to reform?” and “Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism?”

Sparked by a 2010 Intelligence Squared US debate entitled ‘Islam is a Religion of Peace’, this book follows an accusation from Sam Harris that former extremist Maajid Nawaz spoke to shield a religion that fundamentally endorses jihad.

At the dinner following this debate, Harris claimed “The problem is that Islam isn’t a religion of peace, and the so-called ‘extremists’ are seeking to implement what is arguably the most honest reading of the faith’s actual doctrine.”

Nawaz recollects he feared following the premise that Islam is a religion of war would prompt conflict between “those who will proceed to engage in a war for it and those who will proceed to engage in a war against it.”

Following this contentious start, Nawaz and Harris began to exchange ideas and their findings amounted to the co-produced Islam and the Future of Tolerance.

Nawaz and Harris continued their dialogue in an effort to rethink some of the most controversial questions that some interpretations of Islam pose, including its place in the world, the nature of Islamism and jihad, the underpinnings of radicalisation and how to counter it, along with the importance of the relationship between scripture and practice.

The launch of Islam and the Future of Tolerance will be held at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at 6pm EST (11pm BST) later today 14 September 2015 and will be live-streamed here.

Shaikh Dr Usama Hasan, Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam, praises the efforts of Nawaz and Harris:

“This kind of free thought and rational inquiry once characterized the relative liberalism and humanism of ancient Muslim societies and civilizations. For example, the leading Sunni Imam, Abu Hanifa, would debate atheists inside the great mosques of Iraq. Sam and Maajid should be commended for conducting a frank and wide-ranging conversation about a number of key issues around religion, reform and Islam in the modern world. I hope that this debate will be a fruitful endeavor, and illustrate that, in our increasingly-polarized world, it is possible and even normal for people with different viewpoints to have a civilized conversation and to learn from each other.”

To buy ‘Islam and the Future of Tolerance’, please click here.

For media interviews with Maajid Nawaz, please contact his PA Annabel Toller by emailing [email protected] or by calling 02071827280.

Notes for editors: Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, prominent atheist, and author of five New York Times bestsellers, including The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and Waking Up. Maajid Nawaz is a former Islamist, past Amnesty International-adopted Prisoner of Conscience in Egypt, and, more recently, UK Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats, author of RADICAL and co-founder and chairman of Quilliam.