Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance

St. Martin’s Essentials. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781250256065. $27.99. REL
Akyol (Islam Without Extremes; The Islamic Jesus) outlines the development and evolution of Islamic religious thought, starting with the Umayyad Caliphate (the first Islamic dynasty), through the modern era. The intent of this latest book is to present a rich legacy of Islamic thought that was inspired by scripture and which aimed to give believers guidelines for a pious life and a framework for Islamic societies. Interestingly, indigenous notions of freedom, tolerance, and rational belief can be found embedded in Islamic religious thought. The narrative successfully outlines the interplay between religious and political structures within various Islamic societies, and how that interaction seeded novel ideas which addressed the needs of that society. The author continues to explore the intent of these ideas and how they can be applied to modern society. References to contemporary non-Islamic ideology are numerous and sprinkled throughout. Although all readers will gain insight, the book requires a basic understanding of Islam in order to be fully appreciated.
VERDICT This insightful book blends histories of religious belief, political change, and societal needs, to provide a coherent narrative outlining various undercurrents that shaped and ultimately determined predominant religious views. Highly recommended for readers interested in Islamic religious thought.
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