'Religious Freedom in Islam' Review: Politics and Pluralism

'Religious Freedom in Islam' Review: Politics and Pluralism
AP Photo/Dar Yasin

After revoking the Edict of Nantes, and with it the civil and religious liberties that the law had afforded Protestants in his realm, Louis XIV boasted that France had become the most intolerant land in Europe. At the time, intolerance was seen as a political virtue—akin today to the notion of "zero tolerance." It was a moral universe that would be upended in the following century when the American and French revolutions gave rise to a new political philosophy based on tolerance, secularism, freedom of conscience and religious liberty.

In the West, Islam is often criticized for not having experienced a similar revolution—a reformation, enlightenment or path to modernity that enshrines religious liberty as a fundamental human right. But these complaints too often come with scant understanding of Islamic theology or of the West's own complicated path to religious liberty—a path championed by both religious and secular voices.

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