The Children of Rifaa

The Children of Rifaa

Product ID: 14418

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Author: Guy Sorman
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 288
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143031279


It is difficult, sometimes even painful, to be a Muslim.

In 1826, Rifaa el Tahtawi, a theologian in Cairo, arrived in Paris. His mission was to discover the secret of the scientific prowess of the West and find out if it was possible to reconcile the tenets of Islam with a modern and progressive outlook. By the time he returned to Egypt in 1831, after a thorough study of Western science, military power and jurisprudence, he had come to the conclusion that nothing in the Koran opposed the modernization of the Muslim world. His enlightened analysis led to what is known as the Arab Renaissance, a discernible shift towards modernity and democracy in the Muslim world, which lasted till the 1950s.

Over the last fifty years, this spirit of reform has more or less given way to a more fundamentalist and less tolerant approach. While Muslims themselves have largely given the moderate tradition a go- by, the West too has pandered to convenient stereotypes. Bin Laden, 9/11, Afghanistan and jehad have become the symbols of modern-day Islam, so much so that Muslims as a whole have been branded as fanatics and even worse as terrorists.

Guy Sorman’s scholarly study takes a look at Islam in the contemporary world, and asserts that contrary to popular perceptions there are still thinkers in the Muslim world who subscribe to a moderate and liberal view of Islam. These progressive Muslims, who call themselves the children of Rifaa, seek to reconcile globalization and modernity with the need to preserve the integrity of Islam. Calling upon both the West and the Islamic world to unambiguously express their solidarity with these free-thinking Muslims, the author emphasizes that this is a responsibility we can ignore only at our own peril.


Prologue: the Two Faces of Islam
A Humanist and a Believer
The 700 Year's War
A Liberal and a Muslim
The Origins of Poverty
In the Land of Bin Laden
The Taliban School
How Revolutions End
Towards an Arab Democracy
Muslim and Secular
An Islam of Enlightenment
Epilogue: Our Common Destiny