Introduction

The future of Islam has been a much-debated topic since September 11, 2001, which revealed what the most militant and fundamentalist followers of that religion are capable of. Many have argued that the faith should not be blamed for the actions of a few extremists. Others say that the hijackers merely carried out Islam’s teachings to their logical conclusions, and that many more such acts of terrorism would follow.

This debate has taken place tentatively, in an atmosphere of restraint. Many who would examine and critique Islamic beliefs are hampered by their unwilling-ness to appear intolerant. But can we afford such politeness, when, besides all else, human lives are at stake?

Free Inquiry intends to continue to provide a forum for a forthright discussion of this issue. In the pages that follow, four authors write on the topic of our special section, “Will Islam Come Into the Twenty-First Century?” Irfan Khawaja and Ibn Warraq’s articles are adapted from speeches delivered at the Council for Secular Humanism’s conference in Washington, D.C., in spring 2003, “One Nation Without God?” Their divergent views are being published under the auspices of the Court of Wisdom, initiated by S. Morgan Barber of California and introduced in the Spring 2003 issue of Free InquIry in its special section on physician-assisted suicide. Through the Court of Wisdom, Free Inquiry will periodically publish discussions of important moral issues facing society today. — Eds.


The future of Islam has been a much-debated topic since September 11, 2001, which revealed what the most militant and fundamentalist followers of that religion are capable of. Many have argued that the faith should not be blamed for the actions of a few extremists. Others say that the hijackers merely carried out Islam’s teachings …

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