Akbar Ganji is a journalist and one of Iran’s leading political dissidents. His May 2009 speech to the University of Chicago Law School has recently been posted in the school’s excellent podcast series. The speech delves deeply into different ways of understanding Islam, and Ganji offers some very liberal interpretations which, he says, have substantial support among the people of Iran, and some important Muslim clerics. It is a wonderfully refreshing alternative to the bleak views of some Westerners and all Islamists who contend that Islam is necessarily totalitarian. Well worth 88 minutes of your time.
Also worth a listen: This new episode of Bloggingheads.tv, featuring Abdullah Antepli (Muslim chaplain at Duke University) and Hussein Rashid (Religion Dispatches). Bottom line: the United States is the best country in the world for Muslims to live in, and today’s America is the most Shariah-compliant nation–because Shariah properly understood is not a legal code (contrary to what the governments of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan claim). While I didn’t agree with every single statement of the two speakers, their viewpoints were patriotic, honest, and constructive–a great alternative to the fifth columnists from CAIR and similar groups which the MSM too often present as representing “the” American Muslim viewpoint.