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Distributed for Gingko Library

New Thinking in Islam

The Jihad for Democracy, Freedom and Women’s Rights

Distributed for Gingko Library

New Thinking in Islam

The Jihad for Democracy, Freedom and Women’s Rights

In Rethinking Islam, Katajun Amirpur argues that the West’s impression of Islam as a backward-looking faith, resistant to post-Enlightenment thinking, is misleading and—due to its effects on political discourse—damaging. Introducing readers to key thinkers and activists—such as Abu Zaid, a free-thinking Egyptian Qur’an scholar; Abdolkarim Soroush, an academic and former member of Khomeini’s Cultural Revolution Committee; and Amina Wadud, an American feminist who was the first woman to lead the faithful in Friday Prayer—Amirpur reveals a powerful yet lesser-known tradition of inquiry and dissent within Islam, one that is committed to democracy and human rights. By examining these and many other similar figures’ ideas, she reveals the many ways they reject fundamentalist assertions and instead call for a diversity of opinion, greater freedom, and equality of the sexes. 

256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Religion: Islam

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“Amirpur’s masterful work on Islamic reform is an excellent exposition of the ideas and intellectual legacy of notable Muslim scholars who have made the Qur’an central to their understanding of Islam and the need for reform. The richness of the diverse concepts and ideas contained in this volume is worthy of exploration for those interested in the study of Islam and the importance of the Qur’an in modern Islamic thought. Amirpur offers a thoughtful and erudite examination of the nexus between modernity, the Western philosophical tradition, and Islam, particularly the Qur’an, within the ideological framework of some of Islam’s most creative modern scholars. Accessible to both scholars and non-specialists, New Thinking in Islam is recommended reading for anyone concerned with understanding the context and legacy of critical contemporary Muslim thought and the Muslim intellectual engagement with modernity and reform.”

Farid Esack, University of Johannesburg

“A well-crafted and deeply engaging book that captures the nuances and sophistication of recent reformist Islamic thought. Amirpur offers an insightful and accessible account of the lives and contributions of key intellectuals, focusing on their novel approaches to the Qur’an. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the contemporary Muslim world.”

Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS, University of London

Table of Contents


1. On the Way to the Modern
The Tradition of Reform Islam
Secularism and Islamism

2. Islamic Reformers Today
Islamic Feminism
Men on the Side of Women
Islam in and for Europe
Criticism as Self-Criticism

3. Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid: Who’s the Heretic Here?
A Born Conqueror
Africa, America, Asia
Severance from the Homeland
The Word of God
Does God speak Arabic?
Disaster Politics
Scholarship: The Personal is Political

4. Fazlur Rahman: from the Qur’an to Life, and Back Again to the Qur’an
A Traditional Scholar
The Decline of Muslim Societies
The Dictation Theory
The Qur’an as Ethical Guide
The People of the Book
Reception and Criticism

5. Amina Wadud: In the Midst of the Gender Jihad
A Muslim by Conviction
Why Islam?
Female, Muslim, Black
Gender in the Qur’an
What Does the Qur’an Say to Us Today?
Perspectives of Islamic Feminism

6. Asma Barlas: As Though Only Men Were Objective
A Eurocentric View of Islam
The Patriarchal Interpretation of the Qur’an
Islamic Feminism?
As a Muslim Woman in the USA
Liberation Theology
The Appeal for Another Image of God
Will the Best Interpretation Prevail?

7. ‘Abdolkarim Soroush: More than Ideology and State
A Revolutionary in the Name of Islam
From Court Theologian to Dissident
The Variability of Religious Knowledge
A Religious and Democratic Government
Against the Ideologization of Religion
Whose Qur’an?

8. Mohammed Mojtahed Shabestari: The Prophet Reads the World
Tradition and the Break with it
As a Cleric in Hamburg
Truth and Method in Iran
The Reception of Protestant Theology
Political Movements in Religious Garb
A Prophetic Reading of the World
The Qur’an as Narrative

The Future of Islam

Index of Persons

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