- A few weeks ago, Sam Harris invited a writer and law student named Omer Aziz onto his podcast to discuss the latter’s scathing review of Harris’s recent book, a collaboration with former Islamist Maajid Nawaz entitled Islam and the Future of Tolerance. Aziz began by protesting, “I don’t care about your motives. For me, it’s about what the book says”. If that were true, listeners would have been spared the podcast’s tortuous first hour, and what followed it might have been more constructive.
But it is hard to accept Aziz’s professed indifference to Nawaz and Harris’s motives when he had decided to open his review with this:
>There are few get-rich-quick schemes left in modern publishing, but one that persists could be called Project Islamic Reformation. Writing a book that fits in this category is actually quite easy. First, label yourself a reformist. Never mind the congratulatory self-coronation the tag implies; it is necessary to segregate oneself from all the non-reformists out there. Second, make your agenda clear at the outset by criticizing what is ailing Islam and Muslims. The Qur’an is a good place to start because Muslims, especially in the Middle East, surely treat their holy book more like a military instruction manual than anything else. Third, propose a few solutions. Lest you be accused of nuance, the more vague and generic these are, the better. Fourth, soak up the inevitable publicity that awaits, and with it, your hard-earned cash. Voilà!