A slim, energetic apologia for Islam.
Ghazi starts out by telling readers what his book is not; he writes that he intends “to reintroduce Islam, not defend it—because Islam defends itself.” Yet that’s primarily what his volume is: a defense of the faith against some of the charges most frequently brought against it. Among these are a number of familiar critiques—that Islam is anti-women and anti-science; that Islam doesn’t respect other faiths; that Islam is hopelessly fractured among fighting factions—which Ghazi addresses with varying levels of success. Ghazi’s is a kinder, gentler Islam than the one often portrayed in the Western press. It is a faith that honors women and provides for them. It is a culture that produced some of the great scientific minds of the medieval era. It is a tradition that reveres the holy men and women of other religions. And it is an ethic that condemns cruelty to animals. The greatest strength of Ghazi’s defense is its accessibility. He writes in unpretentious prose that welcomes readers in as he peppers his chapters with frequent, pertinent references to the Quran. His readings of Islam’s holiest text are neither simplistic nor arcane, and they are illuminating for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. However, his arguments are often too broad, and his language frequently outstrips his evidence. For instance, in his discussion of Islam and gender, Ghazi writes: “Muslim men and women have the same rights and duties. Women in Islam have every right that men have.” Yet his own material undermines this claim; for instance, Muslim men have the right to take four spouses while women may take only one. Further, men may walk in public unveiled; women may not. Later, he writes, “there are Muslim scientists…behind almost every invention.” That Muslims contributed to many scientific advances doesn’t mean that they were behind “almost every” one of them. Finally, his suggestion that “there’s only one kind of Islam” is patently false, as millions of Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis would attest.
An ambitious book that reaches too far.