The road taken

Zidane Meriboute is a Senior Legal Consultant at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva He is also ICRC's Consultant for Global Affairs for Operations in the Muslim World. His first book, the winner of a major European literary prize is Islam's Fateful Path:The Critical Choices Facing Modern Muslims that has recently been translated into English, and is made available in India by Viva.

Asma Afsaruddin, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Univeristy of Notre Dame calls it ‘a timely and eloquent appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims to recognize their common values and the possibility for peaceful co-existence this shared heritage implies.'

Increasingly Islam struggles against negative stereotypes as a religion of intolerance, extremism and fear, which has failed to meet the challenges of modernity. Zidane Meriboute here proposes a fresh perspective on the crisis facing Muslims today. His novel and original approach looks to the Islamic Sufi tradition and the progressive liberal thought of the 12th century philosophers Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) as holding the key to a successful transition towards modernity.

The humanity and questioning which Sufism engenders, combined with the philosophical rigour associated with the works of Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina, can produce - according to the author - the foundations of a new Muslim world view contrary to the current and dangerous fundamentalisms. Salafi thinkers and others who claim to be returning to an austere and ascetic interpretation of early Islam have, in Meriboute's view, hijacked their faith and produced two negative outcomes. Firstly, they have blocked the path towards the evolution of any kind of modernist thinking among Muslims. And secondly, they have created a rhetoric and encouraged events (most notoriously, 9/11) which have resulted in the demonization of their tradition.

As the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds grapple to understand how Islam is likely to evolve in the 21st century, and beyond, the appearance of this book, highlighting the Sufi and The humanity and questioning which Sufism engenders, combined with the philosophical rigour associated with the works of Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina, can produce - according to the author - the foundations of a new Muslim world view contrary to the current and dangerous fundamentalisms.

Salafi thinkers and others who claim to be returning to an austere and ascetic interpretation of early Islam have, in Meriboute's view, hijacked their faith and produced two negative outcomes. Firstly, they have blocked the path towards the evolution of any kind of modernist thinking among Muslims. And secondly, they have created a rhetoric and encouraged events (most notoriously, 9/11) which have resulted in the demonization of their tradition.

As the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds grapple to understand how Islam is likely to evolve in the 21st century, and beyond, the appearance of this book, highlighting the Sufi and progressive philosophical traditions within the Islamic faith, is an enormously important contribution to a better understanding of one of today's most intractable problems.

In our Strategic Affairs section, in paperback, 256 pages, Rs 395. ISBN: 9781845117412

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