Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reza Aslan...Worth Checking Out

"They must strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islam -- the source and background of their Faith -- and approach reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas the study of the Qur'án..."

(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 49)

For people who are interested in hearing alternative and interesting voices about Islam I'd recommend a former fellow student of mine at Harvard Divinity School, Reza Aslan. He has emerged as a major voice of what he might refer to as an Islamic Reformation. You can view him here debating Irshad Manji.

You can also visit his website.

Here is his bio:

Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is a fellow at the University of Southern CaliforniaÕs Center on Public Diplomacy and Middle East Analyst for CBS News. He is also a featured blogger for Anderson Cooper 360. Reza Aslan has degrees in Religions from Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors for the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues, AbrahamÕs Vision, an interfaith peace organization, and PEN USA. AslanÕs first book is the New York Times Bestselling, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into thirteen languages, short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award in the UK, and nominated for a PEN USA award for research Non-Fiction. His next book, How to Win a Cosmic War will be published by Random House in April of 2009, followed by an edited anthology, Words Without Borders: Contemporary Literature from the Muslim World, published by Norton 2010. Aslan is cofounder and creative director of BoomGen Studios, a hub for creative content from and about the Middle East, as well as the Editorial Executive of Mecca.com, an on-line community for Muslim youth. Born in Iran, he now lives in Los Angeles where he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Riverside.