The current state of social/political debate and discourse leaves a lot to be desired. In this Big Think Edge lesson (https://edge.bigthink.com/), Islamic reform activist Maajid Nawaz describes how to build a successful, respectful dialogue that can serve an actual purpose and spur progress. Nawaz is the co-author (with neuroscientist Sam Harris) of a new book called Islam and the Future of Tolerance (http://goo.gl/nvLsgb).
Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/maajid-nawaz-on-the-future-of-tolerance
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Transcript - Sam Harris and myself, Maajid Nawaz, we had a dialogue. Sam Harris is the leading atheist Islam critic, if you like, in the United States, and probably in the world, at the moment. I on the other hand have spent 13 years on the, you know, you couldn’t get more different. I’ve spent 13 years on the leadership of an Islamist organization that seeks to impose a version of Islam over society and erect a caliphate, establish a caliphate and spread it across the world. I was in prison for my membership of this organization in Egypt. I served four years in Egypt and returned to the UK and left the group. But that’s – I joined at 16 and left at the age of 28. So I spent most of my teenage years and youth for the Islamist cause. And so you can see Sam and I came at this debate from opposite ends. And we engaged in a dialogue about Islam and the future of tolerance. You know I’ve been on a journey. I’m now, to make it very clear, somebody who considers myself a small L liberal democrat. I’m somebody who’s secular who advocates for the universality of human rights. But to get to where I’ve got to, while remaining a Muslim, has been a long journey.
So Sam and I began a dialogue because I felt, and Sam felt, that this debate had become too polarized, in part because some of the abuse hurled at us for challenging Islamist extremism. We wanted to demonstrate that, actually if people have substantive conversations, they can make headway in this debate. If they simply talk to each other and listen to what each other is saying and respond to the actual substance of the conversation and not hurl insults and abuse, you know. It would have been very easy for me to call Sam a racist. It would have been very easy for me to call him a bigot. In fact that’s all everyone from my side of this conversation wanted me to do. And because I didn’t do that, it led to a backlash from my side of the conversation. So I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to have that conversation. I wanted to see if it was possible and I think we'll let the listeners and the viewers decide if they choose to read the book or listen to the audiobook whether indeed it’s something that did end up becoming a civil conversation. I like to think it was. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/tHazXq
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