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Being Muslim Today: Reclaiming the Faith from Orthodoxy and Islamophobia

By Dr Saqib Iqbal Qureshi

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Publish Date

May 07, 2024


Religion / Islam / Rituals & Practice



"Qureshi promotes a moderate and inclusive view of contemporary Islam, with the intellectual underpinnings to support it." - Booklist, Starred Review

Accessible introduction to Islam and the Qur’an that explains how Muslims live and avoids the extremes of Orthodoxy and Islamophobia.

The truths of every religion are typically challenged and re-written, serving as potent grounds for some of history’s most enduring debates and conflicts. Perhaps no other religious tradition suffers as much from the dualistic fallacy of good and evil than does Islam. What does it mean to be Muslim today? Orthodoxy’s interpretation is idyllic and omniscient, simplistic to a fault. Islamophobes at the opposite end of the spectrum, cultivating damaging stereotypes that present a religion that most Muslims cannot relate to.

In Being Muslim Today: Reclaiming the Faith from Orthodoxy and Islamophobia, bestselling author Dr. Saqib Qureshi silences the noise that obscures the message of Islam. He provides a compelling and accurate presentation of the faith’s beginnings, its evolution throughout the last 1,400 years, and its relevance for today. Being Muslim Today simplifies complicated academic debates and reveals the heart and soul of a growing faith tradition that claims more than two billion adherents.

Chapters include lucid discussions of the origins of Islam, the Prophet Muhammed, and the rise of Islam through the ages. Qureshi also describes the twin perils of Orthodoxy and Islamophobia, both of which, he contends, badly misinterpret the true message of the faith. In a final chapter, Qureshi confronts the stereotype of Islam as an inherently violent religion, asking the West to hold a mirror to its own voracious appetite for conflict and colonization. Throughout, Qureshi encourages Muslims to reject pious certitude―the faithful must acknowledge the diversity of approaches and principals in the Islamic tradition, he writes, and adopt an attitude of theological humility. Some things are simply unknowable.

Dr. Saqib Iqbal Qureshi is a bestselling author, angel investor, film producer, and Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he received his PhD in International Relations and Epistemology. With work featured in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Entrepreneur, and The Independent. Qureshi has produced two films and, in 1996, the BBC Two documentary, Al Dawaah, the first television documentary about the Muslim community in any Western country. He is the author of The Broken Contract and Reconstructing Strategy. See

ISBN: 9781538189320
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Published: May 07, 2024

Contemporary Muslims are a more-than-diverse group. London School of Economics and Political Science Fellow Qureshi here explores assumptions made about being Muslim and questions of identity that contemporary Muslims often ask one another. The first part of the book explores the scriptures and early history of Islam in an effort to contextualize the teaching and fundamental beliefs of the religion. Qureshi's discussion is rooted in available historical evidence and takes into account conflicting interpretations. Woven into this narrative are strands on the burden of orthodoxy, but the author's main focus is on discovering Islam’s essential spirit, laying the groundwork that this essence could serve as a basis for binding all Muslims. The second part focuses on answering questions of Muslim identity, leaning towards broad, inclusive criteria that tolerate differences of opinion and practice. Qureshi explores the idea that it's impossible to follow Islam while embracing Western culture, suggesting this is a false dichotomy. He also interrogates what Muslims "should" believe and do and ultimately advocates for following one’s conscience. Overall, Qureshi promotes a moderate and inclusive view of contemporary Islam, with the intellectual underpinnings to support it. A critical assessment of modern Islam. In trying to shape his son’s understanding of Islam, Qureshi began a journey of exploration that led him to realize how modern Islamic orthodoxy, on one hand, and Islamophobia on the other, had warped perceptions of Islam into something it is not. The author introduces lay readers to the history of the religion, humanizes its original adherents, and clarifies the message of the Qur’an, countering the messages of ossified leaders and bigoted detractors. Qureshi uses much of the same historical and literary criticism techniques that theology scholars have used since the 1800s in examining the origins of Christianity. The author reclaims Muhammad, his contemporaries, and his immediate heirs from the fundamentalist viewpoint of perfection, clearly demonstrating their humanity and even frailty. He shows these early leaders as people capable of doubt and discord, as opposed to the infallible saints of legend. Similarly, the author demonstrates that the Qur’an and the hadiths of Muhammad have far more nebulous origins than many present-day religious leaders would allow. Qureshi recognizes that many of his explanations of Islam are not only unpopular, but even dangerous.... Yet Qureshi believes an open-minded approach to Islam is imperative for its message to resonate with future generations. The author uses an informal, even lighthearted, style backed up by solid research.... A brave and challenging message for 21st-century Muslims and non-Muslims alike.A vivid, engaging exploration of issues of faith and Muslim identity. Qureshi’s voice is bright, humble, and curious, and the author wears his considerable learning lightly. A valuable addition to explorations of how we think about engaging with religious traditions to live meaningful lives.Broad ranging yet accessible, Qureshi’s account of a viable and hopeful Islam embraces doubt as emancipatory while seeking a new confidence for those of his son’s generation. Finding comfort in the spirituality of the Sufi path and better answers in the philosophical traditions of Islam, he argues for a modern Islam that does not shy away from asking difficult questions about the politics of violence, misogyny, and many other forms of religious oppression. Perhaps the ultimate lesson for us to take away is that living as a person of faith—Muslim or otherwise—in our world is both challenging and rewarding. And that is precisely why this book should be read, as it engages those challenges that are common to us all.A courageous, candid, and personal account of the challenges of being Muslim in the twenty-first century, both within the global context and also within a highly complex faith community. Highly accessible and relatable, Being Muslim Today presents both a compelling insight into Islam’s interpretation throughout the centuries as well as a prescription of how the true spirit of the religion’s vibrant tradition and intended vision can be regained. A must-read for Muslims or anyone serious about understanding Islam.Qureshi’s Being Muslim Today is a welcome addition to the literature, advancing what Bauer calls a 'culture of ambiguity' in his forth-write and accessible prose about the ‘basics’ of Islam. Though racial justice is seldomly addressed, Qureshi does not shy away from tackling many of the central debates plaguing Islamic communities in the West. From gender equity to orthodoxy to propensity for violence, this work allows a young adult and general audience to gain the ability to parse nuanced knowledge on Islam while illuminating reductive messaging on the faith, both from within and ‘outside’ Islamic communities.Being Muslim Today is a compelling and courageous call to twenty-first century Muslims to assert their freedom to interpret Islam for themselves and for their generation. Saqib Qureshi blends a compelling personal story with a deep grasp of contemporary scholarship to explore critical questions about what we can and cannot know about the earliest Islamic sources, and what this means for contemporary Muslims. Qureshi confronts Islamic orthodoxies and Islamophobic distortions with equal bluntness. Few sacred cows escape his scrutiny. But in the end, Being Muslim Today is a tremendously optimistic book that sees Islam and the West not as doomed to perpetual conflict, but as part of the same family.Saqib Qureshi's Being Muslim Today is empathetic and persuasive—a book for the thinking Muslim. How it will impact readers I can't say for sure, but I suspect the change will be transformational. Clear and compelling, and rich with intimate historical detail, this book may just be a masterpiece.A compelling, well-researched, and fun book to read. Qureshi blends serious research, open-ended questioning, critical insight, and bouts of humor with clarity and incisiveness. A must-read for students—Muslim or not—wanting straight talk on the history and trajectories of Islam.Saqib Qureshi doesn't pull any punches. In clear, accessible, and punchy chapters he takes on the major misunderstanding, slanders, and controversies around Islam. With zero tolerance for cant or hypocrisy, Qureshi gives both Muslims and non-Muslims a deeply researched, yet fresh and accessible, take on the faith and its challenges. No illusion is left unpunctured, no idiocy standing. A powerful read on hard issues that will illuminate and spark conversation for years to come.Saqib Qureshi's book is a well-written, easy to read, diagnosis of the state of Islam today. Framed as an answer of a father to his son explaining the nature of Islam, it contains a wealth of information. The book is formed of two parts. In Part I, Saqib Qureshi functions as a doctor examining a patient, leaving no stone unturned, no historical fact or process unexamined. Everything that the academic community knows about Islam, from the early years to the early modern age, is presented in a format which is both enjoyable and entertaining reading. In Part II, he presents his diagnosis and prescription for full health. While I would prescribe an entirely different medicine, and in fact found the reading both challenging and discomforting, he verbalizes what many Muslims are thinking. It is worthy reading of anyone who wishes to understand what a modern Muslim seeks of their leaders today.As a Jew whose life from very early age was bonded with Islamic civilization, religious learning, and cultural history, Qureshi's book and autobiography came as blissful addition to the existing rich literature I was already familiar with. This very readable and accessible book is a must read in a world where Islamophobia, fake news, and aggressive lobbies disable people from being acquainted with the richness and diversity of Islam and its potentials for the future. Qureshi's candid and courageous approach that does not shun critical scrutiny of Islamic orthodoxies is the best antidote, served as highly professional book interlaced with a great sense of humour, to the ugly wave of Islamophobia and provides an assured recipe for a much better world for Muslims and their western countries to which they belong. Being Muslim Today is such an overdue project—it is a masterclass for us all that stimulates thinking and reflection to draw positive conclusions. I loved the book's sense of real optimism—which forced me to reflect seriously on the single most important threat to humankind—our inability to live together in peace. The conviviality to which the book refers to in Muslim Iberia marked a moment lost in history. Being Muslim Today is highly researched and is scholarly constructed, drawing upon the combination of the personal and real. Qureshi deserves to be congratulated, and his brilliant contribution demands that it be widely shared and discussed.“Being Muslim Today is essential reading for those who want to understand a liberal Muslim perspective of what it means to be a practicing Muslim today. Honest, personal and easy to read, Qureshi’s account sheds light on the pressures Muslims face from within Islam as well as from outside. The author seeks to challenge rigid conservative orthodoxy as well as critics of Islam and is willing to tackle Islamophobic prejudice. He depicts a pathway for modern Muslims to express their faith at a challenging time for religion and belief in general and for Islam in particular. Being Muslim Today dives deeply into the debates, danger, and dialogue that have characterized Islamic thinking since 7th century. Fascinating, important, and timely.”