This second edition of a diverse collection of personal and political essays assesses the transformations that the 9/11 terrorist attacks wrought for America and the world.
According to Sockle, the United States, thus far, has been ill-equipped to engage in a fruitful discussion about the threat of terrorism from Islamic extremists: “Political Correctness, or hyper-annoyance and narcissism, has come to dominate and intimidate public discourse, impeding open, honest, meaningful and constructive confrontation of our greatest challenges.” In order to stimulate a “constructive conversation about the issues that should matter most,” the editor asked nearly two dozen writers from various professions and backgrounds to reflect on the challenges posed by violent Islamic ideology in a post–9/11 world. One of the common themes is the true meaning of the Muslim religion versus its political appropriation by terrorists. For example, Arif Humayun, an American, encourages his fellow Muslims to unite in purging their religion of doctrinal obfuscation and an agenda-driven commandeering. Likewise, Farzana Hassan, a Canada-based activist and notable commentator on contemporary Muslim issues, calls for a new ijtihad, an open-minded and progressive version of an ancient judicial measure designed to clarify one’s moral and political obligations not obviously discussed in the Quran. The scope of the perspectives presented is as broad intellectually as it is geographically—Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among other nations, are examined. Abdullah Craig Walker, an American-born convert to Islam, provides a nuanced comparison between the cosmopolitanism of globalization and the tribalism of traditional Pakistani communities as well as a path to negotiating the tension between the two. Each contributor not only diagnoses a particular problem, but also promotes a viable solution, making Sockle’s compilation as useful as it is philosophically engaging. In addition, some viewpoints not commonly represented are eclectically included: Rabbi Debra Kolodny, based in Portland, Oregon, explores the possibility of communion between diverse faiths through “shared prayer and practice.” And Ian Park, a Pacific Northwest humanities teacher, advocates an educational program that “asks students to challenge their core beliefs and understandings of the world.”
A challenging, varied, and ultimately optimistic assemblage of essays about Islamic ideology.