“No god but God” is a text written by Iranian-American Muslim scholar Reza Aslan. The book describes the history of Islam and argues for a liberal interpretation of the religion. He blames Western imperialism and the misinterpretations of Islamic law by past scholars for the current controversies within Islam, questioning the “clash of civilizations” thesis that people’s cultural and religious identity will be the primary source of world conflict in the post Cold War era.
A must-read book for anyone who is not only interested in learning more about the world of Islam in the past and nowadays, but also for all those who seek the historical truth of facts through the path of the Abrahamic religions.
Each chapter of the book deals with a specific topic within Islam. For example, one chapter is entirely devoted to the controversial, because often misinterpreted, issue of jihad, while others on the Ottoman Empire, the formation of al Qaeda, and so continuing in chronological order up to Osama bin Laden. Overall the book deals with the history of Islam from the perspective of the prophet, Mohammed as a social reformer fighting for equal rights for men. The author argues that the Qur’an does not command women to be covered with the veil, and that the concept of jihad was intended solely for defensive purposes. Aslan focuses primarily on the practices of early Islam, but also discusses life within the Abbasid Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the modern Muslim world.
According to Aslan, Islam is experiencing an internal struggle between individualistic reform and traditional clerical authority similar to what took place during the 16th century Reformation in Christianity. In short, a really interesting book for both Muslims and anyone who wants to know more about the origins and growth of this Abrahamic faith.
“Over the last few years, the Islamic world has produced more female presidents and prime ministers than both Europe and North America combined.”
Reality is neither emptiness nor illusion, reality is God. “Wherever you turn, there is the face of God” says the Qur’an “God is Mighty and Wise” (2:115). And since the doctrine of Tawhid insists on the oneness of God, the Sufis argue, then reality must also be unique.
“The atom, the sun, the galaxies and the universe,
certainly are nothing but names, images and forms.
In reality they are one and only one thing.”
In traditional Eastern philosophy, this notion of radical unity is often called monism: the idea that all things, despite their variety, can be reduced to a single “thing” unified in space, time, essence, or quality.
“One could argue that the clash of monotheisms is the inevitable result of monotheism itself. Whereas a religion of many gods posits many myths to describe the human condition, a religion of one god tends to be monomythic; it not only rejects all other gods, it rejects all other explanations for God. If there is only one God, then there may be only one truth, and that can easily lead to bloody conflicts of irreconcilable absolutisms.”
This last point bears repeating. The fact is that for fifteen centuries, the science of Quranic commentary has been the exclusive domain of Muslim men. And because each one of these exegetes inevitably brings to the Quran his own ideology and his own preconceived notions, it should not be surprising to learn that certain verses have most often been read in their most misogynist interpretation.”
An individual enters the final stages of the Way when the nafs [Arabic word for self] begins to release its grip on the qalb [the heart], thus allowing the ruh [Spirit]—which is present in all humanity, but is cloaked in the veil of the self—to absorb the qalb as though it were a drop of dew plunged into a vast, endless sea. When this occurs, the individual achieves fana: ecstatic, intoxicating self-annihilation. This is the final station along the Sufi Way. It is here, at the end of the journey, when the individual has been stripped of his ego, that he becomes one with the Universal Spirit and achieves unity with the Divine.
- Keddie, Nikki R. (April 7, 2005). “Taking History on Faith”. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
- “Author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam to speak on campus“. Stanford University press release. Published October 20, 2006. Accessed May 7, 2009.
- “God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror”. Bloggingheads.tv. Recorded April 10, 2009. Posted April 28, 2009.
- Shasha, David (January 2002). “No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam”. International Journal of Kurdish Studies. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-05-08.