Review Essay

3 June 2023

Is Islam an Ethnic, Ethical, or Juridical Monotheism? Reflections on Revelation, Reason, and Power

REFORMING MODERNITY, by Wael Hallaq. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019, 360pp. ISBN: 9780231193887.

THE IDEA OF EUROPEAN ISLAM, by Mohammed Hashas. New York: Routledge, 2019, 312pp. ISBN: 9781138093843.

THINKING THROUGH REVELATION, by Robert Dobie. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 2019, 314pp. ISBN: 9780813231334.

ARAB POLITICAL THOUGHT, by Georges Corm. London: Hurst & Co., 2020, 368pp. ISBN: 9781849048163.

THE LAW OF WAR AND PEACE IN ISLAM, by Muhammad Munir. Islamabad: Iqbal International Institute, 2019, 560pp. ISBN: 139781495506495.

The Qur’an reveals historical Islam to be a revival of primordial islam (submission to the divine will) and a restoration of Abraham’s legacy. The advent of the Qur’an marks Islam as an eschatologically climactic faith which ends history. Non-Muslims dismiss such claims as unempirical and ahistorical. While one may see Judaism as ethnic and Christianity as ethical monotheisms respectively, it is harder to classify Islam, the last universal faith. The quintet of books above shall help us to explore this question by scrutinising the nexus of law, ethics and political power, a guerrilla training terrain for the alert Muslim mind. Read more

Book Release

18 January 2023

Ne Touchez pas à Mahomet !

L’exécution de toute l’équipe de rédaction du magazine satirique Charlie Hebdo en janvier 2015, ainsi que les attaques suivantes contre son siège social à Paris, montrent que la bataille pour la liberté d’expression fait toujours rage dans toute sa fureur. Le procès d’une douzaine de français musulmans accusés de complicité dans les assassinats du personnel de Charlie Hebdo a commencé en octobre 2020. Cependant, le conflit pour la liberté absolue d’expression a été initié en 1988 par Salman Rushdie avec son roman Les versets sataniques. Le livre Ne touchez pas à Mahomet de Shabbir Akhtar a été écrit à l’époque comme une critique classique de la provocation de Rushdie, mais reste aussi essentiel aujourd’hui qu’à l’époque aux débats sur le droit d’offenser les sensibilités religieuses.

Ne Touchez pas à Mahomet !
Salman Rushdie et la Bataille pour la Liberté d’Expression
2ème Edition avec une nouvelle Préface

Available in PDF version


5 November 2021

‘The Quran and the Secular Mind’ with Dr. Shabbir Akhtar: A Taseel Conversation 

In this engaging and innovative study Shabbir Akhtar argues that Islam is unique in its decision and capacity to confront, rather than accommodate, the challenges of secular belief. The author encourages his Muslim co-religionists to assess central Quranic doctrine at the bar of contemporary secular reason. In doing so, he seeks to revive the tradition of Islamic philosophy, moribund since the work of the twelfth century Muslim thinker and commentator on Aristotle, Ibn Rushd (Averroës).

Akhtar argues that reason, in the aftermath of revelation, must be exercised critically rather than merely to extract and explicate Quranic dogma. In doing so, the author creates a revolutionary form of Quranic exegesis with vitally significant implications for the moral, intellectual, cultural and political future of this consciously universal faith called Islam, and indeed of other faiths and ideologies that must encounter it in the modern secular world.

October 2021

Book Review

Be Careful with Muhammad!

29 September 2020

Newspaper Article

Killing for the sake of something called…ART: The Charlie Hebdo Affair

The trial of a dozen French Muslims, accused of complicity in the Charlie Hebdo killings, has started.  The French artistic elite repeat their mantra: ‘Relax: it is only satire.’ But why should we not take this genre seriously? Humour and mockery are powerful class weapons, especially when used to demean the voiceless and inarticulate, the multitudes who have little or no secure alternative sources of self-respect and dignity other than their naked identity as human beings. To ridicule such people is hardly a noble ambition. Read more

Be Careful with Muhammad!

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo trial, His Excellency Olivier Chambard, the French ambassador to Indonesia, lost no time in defending his country’s extremist secularist policy on free speech against the philosopher Dr Shabbir Akhtar’s rejection of it (see Jakarta Post, Oct 2 and Oct 1 respectively). 
Dr Akhtar argued that laicité (state-sanctioned secularism) was intolerant of diversity, a serious hindrance to the moral progress of a society claiming to be a multi-faith democracy.
The Ambassador’s fiercely dogmatic dismissal of Akhtar’s claims, coupled with an absolute and continuing commitment to a narrow secularism, demonstrates the illiberal spirit of the
French government policy on freedom of expression. 
Akhtar’s book Be Careful with Muhammad! will help the intelligent and thoughtful reader,
whether secular or religious, to see how the Republic can move beyond the juvenile platitudes
of its inherited but discredited and obsolete secularism. 

Be Careful with Muhammad!
Salman Rushdie and the Battle for Free Speech
2nd Edition with a New Preface

Available in eBook, Paperback and Hard Cover versions



Other books by Dr Shabbir Akhtar. Click on the cover picture for details.

The New Testament in Muslim's Eyes cover
The New Testament in Muslim Eyes (2018)
Islam as Political Religion
Islam as Political Religion (2010)
The Quran and the Secular Mind
The Quran and the Secular Mind (2007)
The Final Imperative an Islamic Theology of Liberation
The Final Imperative (1991)
A Faith for All Seasons
A Faith for All Seasons (1991)
Be Careful with Muhammad
Be Careful with Muhammad! (1989)

Shabbir Akhtar

Shabbir Akhtar philosopher University of Oxford photo

Dr Shabbir Akhtar is a philosopher who was trained at Cambridge University. He has published widely on pluralism, political Islam, Islamophobia, extremism and interfaith dialogue, besides Islam and Christianity’s differing responses to the challenges of modernity.

His books include The Light in the Enlightenment (Cassell, 1990) and his well-known Be Careful with Muhammad! (Bellew, 1989) which is considered a classic critique of Salman Rushdie. Dr Akhtar has also written The Quran and the Secular Mind (Routledge, 2007) and Islam as Political Religion (Routledge, 2010).

In 2018, he published The New Testament in Muslim Eyes: Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Routledge, 2018), the first such work on the Greek New Testament in Islamic history.

Dr Akhtar has published three volumes of poetry in English, and he has also lectured at universities in Malaysia, USA and the UK. His articles have appeared both in academic journals and in the UK press. Several of his books have been translated into the major Islamic languages.

Since 2012, Dr Akhtar is on the Faculty of Theology and Religions at the University of Oxford. 

Get In Touch

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