Over the last decade, at a time when the forces of 'Islamic fundamentalism' appear to be the dominant face of Islam in the West, a vibrant and equally significant discourse has emerged from a number of prominent Muslim thinkewho wish to reformulate some of the main premises of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. The central goal of these 'New Islamists' is to reinterpret popular notions of Islam that are consistent with the tenets of modern life. Their work touches on three broad themes: Islamic hermeneutics; Islam's relationship with modernity; and the relationship of Islam with democracy and civil rights. The thinkewhose work is showcased in this book represent some of the most notable Muslim intellectuals of our time. They include Tariq Ramadan, Abdul Rahman Abbad, Fethullah Gulen, Chandra Muzzafar, Yusuf al Qaradawy, Nasr Abu Zaid and Mohammed Arkoun. Despite their importance in their own countries, seldom before have their voices been heard by western audiences. This timely volume, which places the life, career and arguments of each thinker in their proper national and historical contexts, remedies that neglect.
Mehran Kamrava is Professor of Political Science at California State University, Northride. He is the author of a number of books on Middle Eastern offices and political development, including The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War (2005), Politics and Society in the Developing World (2000), and Democracy in the Balance: Culture society in the Middle East (I 998).