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Publisher's Summary

In this short book, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz invite you to join an urgently needed conversation: Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism? What do words like Islamism, jihadism, and fundamentalism mean in today's world?

Remarkable for the breadth and depth of its analysis, this dialogue between a famous atheist and a former radical is all the more startling for its decorum. Harris and Nawaz have produced something genuinely new: they engage one of the most polarizing issues of our time - fearlessly and fully - and actually make progress.

Islam and the Future of Tolerance has been published with the explicit goal of inspiring a wider public discussion by way of example. In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Harris and Nawaz demonstrate how two people with very different views can find common ground.

©2015 Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz (P)2015 Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz

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Must read for an honest debate on the topics

As the late Christopher Hitchens expertly said about arguments between two matched "opponents", it is very seldom that the position of both will remain exactly the same, changes and concessions will occur and the debate will advance. Even if only a little at a time.

In this book you can see Sam and Maajid views growing better and more refined about the topics of Islam, islamism, secularism, the muslim society, radicalization and tolerance.

I'd already read all of Sam's books, so Maajid was the greatest surprise for me and greatly enriched my views about radicalization (and the different levels it can happen) and islamic culture in general (specially the many possible interpretations of the Quran, the Hadith and other texts).

I'll be sure to read his book "Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism" as soon as possible.

This book is a must read for everyone who wants to honestly discuss the topics abovementioned and I highly recommend it.

(I'm sorry if there are any typos or mistakes, I'm brazilian and english is my second language)

62 people found this helpful

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Ready for re-listening

Both authors speak beautifully, leaving space for many thoughts about their probing ideas. Voice performance matters in an audiobook, and the even, calm of the authors' voices eased my way into challenging material. Since my background knowledge of Islam is limited, I had to really think about each concept presented. I am inspired to listen again to the book, and read the materials mentioned in the verbal bibliography.

17 people found this helpful

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A conversation we need

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I recommend this book because it is an intellectually honest conversation that presents carefully considered issues in Islam from two very different perspectives which, in my opinion, is the reason this book succeeds. It is also important that this book paves the way for other people to engage in similar honest discussions because we cannot stick our heads in the sand and ignore issues.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The authors represent themselves. I think Maajid Nawaz had a more central role in this discussion and made a compelling case as to how one can maneuver carefully and try to reform Islam in a way that will lead to secularism and human rights. On the other hand, Sam Harris was skeptical and made excellent points as to why some core issues of the faith may never be subject to a solution.

Which character – as performed by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz – was your favorite?

Sam Harris was very effective in showcasing the problem in western societies like the USA where a large group of politically correct groups of people are trying to control criticism of various ideas including Islam because it may offend or they think religion has nothing to do with the problems in Muslim majority countries. This is also a vital message of the book in my opinion.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really, but that was not the point. The problem demands that we cast aside emotions and arm ourselves with a rational and critical approach.

13 people found this helpful

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Sets red herrings aside

This is an amazingly enlightened honest conversation, between two individuals that focus on real root issues instead of grandstanding

13 people found this helpful

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Learned so much! Wow!

Eye opening, enlightening. Everyone confused on this topic (basically everyone), should read/listen to this book, the authors lay it out perfectly. Hey, I'm pretty liberal, but the "regressive left" needs an injection of this book to clear up the confusion on this topic.

10 people found this helpful

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The new standard for discussing Islamic issues.

This is the kind of book where I wish to listen to over and over again just to ingrain everything said in it into my mind. As a muslim struggling with other muslims, this book was the thing that set my mind free from a lot of weights that I felt on my shoulder. It tackled topics that have been eating my mind for so long in a way that pushed these thoughts towards progress for the first time in recent Islam history. I have to thank both sam and maajid for these results. Maajid for giving muslims the exact mentality that we should take for tolerance, and Sam for asking exactly the right questions that needed to be asked to push the conversation forward. This ability of Sam to know exactly what to ask and to take every topic to its logical end astonishes me every time I listen to him.

This should be the book that starts the new standard of discussing Islam. no beating around the bushes. Islam either can or cannot exist with modern society, and we need to push the conversation to find out.

other than that, the performance of both was amazing. It started with them sounding like they were reading from a book rather than talking, but slowly turned into a natural conversation. The additional conversation at the end after the book was published was also very humanizing.

9 people found this helpful

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Courageous and fascinating

There's a lot of food for thought in this interesting dialogue about one of the most pressing matters of our age. Arguments between the authors are laid out in clarity, directness, and civilized manner - a true delight. They're looking at reality with open eyes, sense of urgency, and concerns yet offering actions which could help the liberal civilization to remain on course.

9 people found this helpful

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Idealistic almost to a Fault

Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Nawab are tremendous spokespersons for their particular world views. Their ideas are rational and reveal a power and resourcefulness that are at times are both disturbing and provocative. When I listened to them what I heard was a deep familiarity with the Koran and the Hadith from Mr. Nawaz and an all business pragmatism from Mr. Harris. What this is is a conversation between an ex-jihadist and an unapologetic and proud atheist. That's interesting enough to listen to. But, the chances of what Mr. Nawaz proposes are slim to none. Look, I'm an idealist too! But, a billion and a third Muslims who would need to take it on themselves to literally change the way scripture is interpreted. They would have to reform. Intractable. Sorry.

8 people found this helpful

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A bridge to understanding "the other side"

This book does a good job of creating a foundation for common ground and the formation of unique opinions and belief in a still more polarizing world.

Additionally, it features a section of reader questions not found in the printed version, where the authors further expands on the arguments raised in the book.

7 people found this helpful

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Listen in on an actually productive conversation

What did you love best about Islam and the Future of Tolerance?

The authors discuss provocative issues without derailing the conversation, as is often the case when discussing religion.

The book clarifies the issue of Islamism to "liberals" of all stripes - liberal in this context being proponents of free expression, freedom from religion, advancement of equal rights, etc. - frankly, the values that allow for pluralistic societies.

After all, we should be able to criticize ideas which limit our liberal values, right? They do it.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

A liberal Muslim and liberal atheist discuss controversial topics and make headway. They base this discussion on their common ground as liberals. In the supplemental Q&A, they have clearly formed a friendship through the process. Listening in on their conversation is very helpful in having conversations of our own.

What about Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz ’s performance did you like?

Maajid educated me regarding the nuances of Islamists vs. Muslims, and in interpreting the texts. Sam, as always, honestly asks pointed questions with the aim of understanding. This conversation is pragmatic about finding common ground forward, therefore they avoid discussing the validity of the religion or their personal views on the truth of it. This was an honest conversation, and I trusted it.

If you could give Islam and the Future of Tolerance a new subtitle, what would it be?

An actually productive conversation. Go figure.

6 people found this helpful

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  • SleazyC69
  • 12-22-15

Essential, both for the listener and humanity.

This is what honesty sounds like when paired with a concern for all our futures. Excellent.

11 people found this helpful

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  • UMAGA
  • 02-22-16

unacademic + full of propaganda

He sees Usama Hasan as the cream of the crop. This is the same person who wants to change the fasting times at his own whims. His views are rejected by Muslims and seen as disingenuous by non-Muslims.

He quotes a poll that 27% of Muslims in Britain had sympathy with Charlie Hebdo attacks. This study and similar studies not have been comprehensively refuted. Majid exposes both his ignorance and his underlying agenda.

He feels that to counter extremism the argument should be made that there is absolutely no correct reading of scripture.
He later says he wants to re-interpret scripture, not noticing the irony.

Sam Harris justifies and sympathises with the crusaders. (Elsewhere he has suggested that we should pre-emptively nuke Muslims).

After Sam Harris spews a completely false and propganda-filled account of Islamic history, Majid simply responds, "your words about history are not incorrect, but incomplete."

He accuses CAGE of being a jihadist lobby group. All CAGE did was to suggest that we look at a holistic view of why people may become radicalised.

Delusions of grandeur - sam and majid feel their discussion have redrawn the starting point for these discussions, again overlooming the fact that their book was a compilation of drivel.

Honour killings is continously brought up by Sam Harris, though it has no basis in islamic scripture, and are in fact a Hindu problem, than Muslim one.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

10 people found this helpful

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  • robert
  • 01-04-16

My mind can be changed!

100% worth your time I've had my mind changed by listening to this... Very good...

8 people found this helpful

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  • KatieStar
  • 01-03-17

Bold

Bold conversation, one that is much needed. Educational, inspiring and shining a light on a way forward.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-16

The most important topic of our time

So pleased to have learnt about Maajid through Sam Harris. A true leading light with a humanitarian and reasoned voice we can all listen to - believers and non-believers alike.

It has helped me to understand a topic that I too once felt the need to obsfucate out of liberal tendency.

This is a very important book and I look forward to following the continuing dialogue.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Je suis Charlie
  • 02-10-16

A much needed book

Fantastic having the book read by both co-authors in a conversational style. Both make excellent narrators.

Such a rare exchange.
I do not think there is another book like this, but hope it will not stay that way for long. With any luck this book will pave the way for others of opposing viewpoints to seek dialogue instead of just debate, or worse, censorship and taboo.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 08-23-16

When Worlds collide new particles emerge


The dialog feels a bit stilted, because it is presented as spontaneous, but it is obviously a reading of ideas that have been distilled from questions they have asked each other and have answered in great detail and with deep knowledge of the subject. Also the reading gets more relaxed as they get use to doing this. Both this writers are more used to debate and of the cuff comments and ideas than reading from prepared text.

Maajid Nawaz added a lot new to this dialog as an ex islamist he understands the religious context and the political motivations of the islamic movements,plus his historical grasp of the movement is insightful and internal, his proposals for combating them in the west are in my opinion a bit timid but they are more than most politicians are trying now a days.

Sam Harris as usual is a conciliatory questioning interlocutor that presents reason and ideas as guiding points to this conversation and is extremely respectful of Majid's first book, where he openly stops defending islamist ideology and engages in the difficulties of demouncin the faith’s shortcomings and becomes openly secularist.

An excellent read if you are interested in cultural problem of the century, and excellent book to introduce you to the problems politicians dare not name.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Dean Bucknall
  • 06-30-16

essential

surely one of the most important conversations of our time. read it and encourage others to do so.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jas Singh
  • 09-10-16

A must listen

This is a conversation which had to be had. Majjid has opened my eyes to the possibilities that there is more than 1 interpretation of Islam based in history and fact

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jon
  • 06-13-16

Absolutely brilliant, a real eye opener

Constructive debate in the quest for Human rights values, a must for anyone who wants to educate themselves on this very prevalent topic.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 01-21-16

Vote 1 Maajid & Sam

Thank you for this thought provoking and mind opening dialogue. Maajid & Sam are refreshingly intelligent, well spoken men who together are leading the way forward in our troubled times. I look forward to them collaborating again in the future.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Carter
  • 07-09-16

I learned a lot

I've found myself very frustrated lately with one side's refusal to engage in any meaningful way with difficult questions and the other's refusal to show any empathy and this conversation does both. It's upfront and challenging but always respectful and seemingly quite thorough.

I think this is very useful reading for anyone wanting a better understanding of the topics, and for people expressing their opinions publicly backed only by assumptions and snippets of information from news headlines. It explains common terms that we hear all the time and many that I, for one, had never heard of but now see as forming the basis of important distinctions between beliefs.

Check it out. It's short and very well written.

2 people found this helpful

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  • GEOFFREY LOWE
  • 03-30-16

What the World needs now!

What a fabulously revealing conversation! Like Sam, I can honestly say I have had my views changed by this book - mostly by Majid's contribution (I was already familiar with Sam's views). The thing I appreciate most about both authors is their respect and unrelenting search for facts or, where facts are less relevant (pluralism in interpreting scripture, for example) for the most plausible and helpful answers or conclusions. They both always play the ball not the player. Never will they obscure an argument by running down an opponent, although neither shy away from sharing facts about their opponents that do the work for them! I love it!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dan
  • 01-13-16

A vital dialogue

The book is an excellent example of how 2 reasonable people with differing views can come together to have a rational and informed discussion around a topic with such far reaching consequences for civilisation. One of the first of many I hope. The book itself is rather short but the informal post dialogue was a treat and made up for the book's length.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Morgan James
  • 10-31-17

Respectful debate but very light on detail

A very good topic presented well by excellent intellectuals. However the book is rather short and does not explore the various topics to the detail expected for such a title. Good listen but not worth the coin.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cambell
  • 04-06-16

Important

This is one of the most important discussions being had at this time. Striving to find a peaceful outcome in this vastly complex situation is an admirable goal, and one that Sam and Maajid have tackled head on.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 01-25-16

Great conversation

These guys are really showing the way to have an actual discussion about this issue.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 01-20-16

Loved it

Thought provoking and brilliant. A great conversation between Sam and Maajid that really outlines the problems with Islamism and how both Muslims and non-muslims can come together to face this threat.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-22

Fair amount of good points, but a bit shallow.

Harris is a bit weak here on pressing Nawaz. Read Nabeel Qureshi for useful rebuttals.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-28-22

Although enlightening - sounds like more mental gymnastics

Overall I did enjoy this audiobook, I applaud what Sam and Maajid are doing, and I feel as though Sam didn’t push Maajid on some points as he recognised the importance of reforming Islam. However, it does at times make for a frustrating listen as Maajid goes off on odd tangents, and not being challenged for what seem to me to be obvious logical inconsistencies. He talks about how people assume the message of holy texts, yet it seems he does the exact same by assuming it seems that all or most all barbaric passages have some type of explanation due to context. My simple question would be, if this is the case for the violent or bad texts, and they can only be understood in their time or lost due to translation. Shouldn’t some of the peaceful or good passages, if you can call them that, come under the same scrutiny? Furthermore, if Islam is so distorted today, and we are still finding seeking to understand it, I wonder how or why Maajid ought to have faith in Islam in the first place? Surely one would think he would have more agnostic approach?