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May 26, 2015



He is a likeable, brave and honest man. I sincerely hope that his presumption is correct.


An expanded essay based upon the lecture is in the Sunday Times Review Section for 31st. You got the main points in your post except for this

"Returning to an appreciation of Muhammad’s role that is mystical rather than legalistic, and cosmic rather than earthbound, should do much to facilitate the emergence of an Islam that is both true to its own traditions and compatible with western norms."

"At the moment, the notion that Muslim beliefs are as historically conditioned as any other ideology inherited from the past is seen by most Muslims as highly threatening — but in the long run this will surely change. Recognising that the stories told about Muhammad are largely fictions bred of a particular context and period should facilitate the emergence, over the course of the next century, of a clearly western form of Islam."

On the one hand I desperately want him to be proved right, but on the other, I'm reasonably confident that someone claiming the core texts of Islam are allegorical rather than literal truths, is not going to be greeted with enthusiasm. Surely the current fundamentalism is driven by the fear of modernity. "It's all true" is a defence driven by the realisation that if some stories are rejected then the rest is open to challenge. No one confident that God will punish blasphemers in the afterlife would be so concerned to dish out earthly punishment.

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