I just finished reading Reza Aslan’s No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. This is the third of Aslan’s books that I’ve read, the other two being Zealot and God: A Human History (which I posted about here and here, respectively). As I did the others, I found No God but God, a worthwhile and provocative read.
The book greatly increased my understanding of pre-Islamic Arabis, a history that I think helps understand some of how Islam developed. It also gave me a deeper understanding of the division between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims than I had before.
Apart from helping foster a greater understanding of Islam and the teachings of Mohammed, I found many of Aslan’s more general observations about faith traditions worth chewing on.
Perhaps most exciting about the book, however, is a promise of what the “next chapter of Islam,” and the replacement of “the archaic, rigid, and inequitable structures of tribal society with a radically new vision of divine morality and social egalitarianism.” That won’t be a simple move – and Aslan does not pretend otherwise – but I am bolstered by his conclusion that “the cleansing is inevitable, and the tide of reform cannot be stopped.”
I think this book is a good read for anyone, but I especially hope it will get some readership from those who fundamentally misunderstand Islam and the teachings of Muhammed, believing it to be an inherently violent faith with no respect for other faith traditions.