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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading
If I were to recommend one book to the complete novice that deals with issues as broad as the very basics of the Islamic faith, its scholarly and interpretive traditions, its being pushed into the position of global Evil, and the political import of not allowing it to remain in that position, this would be it. It is lucid and engaging throughout, and touches upon...
Published on 3 July 2007 by Dudley Moore

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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caution required?
Radicalism in Islam and simplistic Islam increasingly influence the thinking of non-Muslims about Islam. Much of the response from Muslims has been typified by charges of 'Islamophobia'. Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl evidently writes from a basis of extensive scholarship as a Muslim, a jurist and an academic at ease mainstream academe. Here he writes for non-specialists...
Published on 26 April 2009 by observer100


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading, 3 July 2007
This review is from: The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (Paperback)
If I were to recommend one book to the complete novice that deals with issues as broad as the very basics of the Islamic faith, its scholarly and interpretive traditions, its being pushed into the position of global Evil, and the political import of not allowing it to remain in that position, this would be it. It is lucid and engaging throughout, and touches upon classical and medieval history and contemporary post-colonial politics without ever losing sight of the fact that it is a book about Islam first and foremost. I consider myself fairly learned on this subject, but I still learnt a great deal from it.

Most importantly though it recognises what many books fail to address: that 'Islam' can be both violent and intolerant, or helpful and moral. The question is: which is the true form? Abou El Fadl shows comprehensively that, if one engages with the religion with a keen intellect and no prejudice, it is far nearer to the latter than the former. Moreover, because the author knows that fighting for this truth is of the highest importance he never allows the book to descend into wishy-washy moralism.

Certainly, the binary division between 'moderate' and 'puritan' that the book uses is just a little simplistic (although not so simplistic as to be useless). Similarly, it doesn't delve too deeply into the thorniest issues, such as the appropriate reaction of a Muslim living in Kashmir, Chechnya or Palestine. But it is overall a conciliatory book so one is tempted to be forgiving, particularly when it manages to show how the terroristic excesses of the 'puritans' are at odds with the main body of the Islamic tradition with such aplomb. I'm particularly tempted to be forgiving given the general dross that passes for criticism and scholarship at present: a brief look at the 'listmania' lists that no doubt accompany this very page should illustrate that much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Muslim account of the rise and influence of Islamic extremism, 13 April 2011
By 
R. L. Houghton (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (Paperback)
Non-Muslims often ask themselves why the moderate majority of Muslims do not stand up to the extremists. Khaled El Fadl's book does just this - admirably. He traces what he calls current Islamic puritanism to the Wahhabism that arose in 18th century Arabia. This brutal bedouin sect came to power be means of massacre (tens of thousands killed) and amputations (hundreds of thousands). The Wahhabi state was establshed on the basis of an alliance between the Wahhabi religious leaders and the Sa'ud family, an alliance which still exists. The support of the British, who wanted an Arab power to weaken Ottoman Turkey, was a key factor: they armed the Sa'udis.

An immediate consequence of the formation of the Wahhabi state was the Sa'udi guardianship of the two Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina which brought great prestige to the Sa'udis, and power since they control the Hajj. The next key factor to fall into place was the discovery of Saudi Arabia's immense oil wealth. This enables the Wahhabis to influence and control Islam world-wide through the free distribution of books (including Qur'anic translations with Wahhabi annotations), mosques, seminaries, schools, Islamic foundations, university publications, university departments, publishing and media outlets. Criticism of Wahhabism is thus eliminated.

Intellectual opposition to Wahhabism was hindered by the collapse of Islamic schools of law at the end of the 19th century; now anyone can c all himself an Islamic scholar and issue fatwas.

El Fadl demonstrates the falsehood of Wahhabi doctrines when tested against traditional Islamic law and values. He further demonstrates the consistency of the notions of democracy and human rights with Islamic values.

His book is essential reading for anyone interested in and concerned by prsent-day Islam. El Fadl is highly educated in both Islamic and American law.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most informative books I've read!! But an easy read..., 6 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (Paperback)
I converted to Islam about 2 yrs before this book came out and it really helped me differentiate between different kinds of Muslims. This book kept me Muslim when I needed it, also Islam and Jihad: Prejudice Versus Reality (Global Issues).. All I can say is its a MUST READ 4 Muslims and non-Muslims. Especially Muslims!!!
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caution required?, 26 April 2009
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This review is from: The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (Paperback)
Radicalism in Islam and simplistic Islam increasingly influence the thinking of non-Muslims about Islam. Much of the response from Muslims has been typified by charges of 'Islamophobia'. Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl evidently writes from a basis of extensive scholarship as a Muslim, a jurist and an academic at ease mainstream academe. Here he writes for non-specialists. He demolishes the arguments of simplistic Muslim ideologues who have such a wide following that he accuses them of 'The Great Theft' of Islam from its proper course. I am neither a Muslim nor a scholar in this area and it is for mainstream informed Muslims to make more definitive judgements. The book is also an argument for non-Muslims to see Islam in a more positive light.

Outside his expertise he stumbles. El Fadl argues that there really is no such concept as 'holy war' in Islam, in contrast to Christianity, quoting the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. This misreads the words and the sense of that hymn and illustrates the dangers of someone of one religion telling those of another what their religion is. No doubt a similar error made regarding Islam would be described as Islamophobic.

A note of caution: the Campus Watch website argues that Professor El Fadl, though anti-Wahhabi, is a sophisticated Islamist rather than the anti-Islamist he claims to be. It cites evidence of his effusive support for organisations which support or act as apologists for Islamists including violent Islamists, obscuring of issues such as the meaning of Jihad and the implications of Sharia in practice, his minimisation of terrorism by Muslims and his attribution to Western actions of shortcomings and violence in Muslim societies. It thus argues that the wide press coverage he has had as a moderate is misleading. You might wish to look at this evidence before judging the book purely in its own terms and without specialist knowledge.

This review was changed on 16th November 2009 to include reservations and condense the text. Two votes, one positive and one negative, had been registered for the earlier version.
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The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl (Paperback - 1 Mar 2007)
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