Q&A: REZA ASLAN, AuthorWritten on May 30th, 2009
REZA ASLAN is the author of "NO GOD BUT GOD" and his new book, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror"
REZA ASLAN says the only way to win a cosmic war is not to engage in one.
That may seem obvious to some, but he's also saying that unless we recognize that we've been pulled into a cosmic war -- what that means and how it changes things -- we haven't got a chance of "winning" or even making the best of the situation.
"A cosmic war is a battle not between armies or nations, but between the forces of good and evil. The ultimate goal of a cosmic war is to vanquish evil itself, which ensures that a cosmic war remains an absolute, eternal, and ultimately unwinnable conflict. Cosmic wars are fought not over land or politics but over identity."
1900 - 1/2 of world's population identified as members of major religions
2000 - 2/3 of world's population identified as members of major religions
Aslan believes the days of wars between nation states are over. When globalization frees people from national identity, it's replaced by other identities - especially religion. We must strip the conflict between Islam and the West of its religious connotations, and we must address the actual grievances that fuel the Jihadist movement.
A recent Gallup poll (see below) appears to back him up. According to AP: "Joblessness and poverty are a more potent source of tension between Muslims and wider European and U.S. society than religious differences, [according to] one of the first major studies of Muslim integration since the Sept. 11 terror attacks."
REZA ASLAN has a fairly unique resume. Born in Iran, emigrated wih his family to Enid, Oklahoma as a child. Degrees in religion from UC Santa Clara, UC Santa Barbara, and Harvard Divinity School, as well as an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program. His first book, NO GOD BUT GOD: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam offers more than a history - and the guy can write.
The first time I interviewed him was just after Hamas had won the Palestinian election. We both hoped that having to actually run things would move Hamas in a positive direction. The US, Israel, and others weren't willing to find out.
We pick up the conversation this week, looking at the lessons of history, the lessons of the recent past, and hopes for the future.