After publicly clashing in a debate over the concept of Islamic reform in the Muslim world, prominent atheist philosopher Sam Harris and Islamist-turned-liberal-Muslim Maajid Nawaz reconnect several years later in an attempt at civil and honest dialogue. Sam and Maajid attempt to explore their real or imagined divides by clearly and rationally dissecting their disagreements. Through the course of their discussions, they tackle troubling passages from the Quran, the importance of the precision of language and terms (such as “Jihadism,” “Islamists,” and “radical,”) and the difficulty in finding helpful and honest responses in a fraught political terrain. Ultimately, this unlikely collaboration sheds light on the many confusions that afflict the public conversation about Islam and emphasizes how the virtues of open dialogue can help foster both understanding and tolerance in an increasingly polarized world.
Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations.
Meanwhile, Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organisation.
Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends.
Jay Shapiro is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in New York. While earning his degree at Clark University, he was awarded a fellowship to produce a documentary in West Africa titled Like Me, I Am Here. Over the next decade, his work enjoyed success at prestigious film festivals such as Toronto, Tribeca, RiverRun, and DOC NYC. His major directorial debut, Opposite Field, followed the journey of the first African team to play in the Little League World Series. It was bought by Netflix for digital distribution and has been shown in television markets around the world. It was featured in the New York Times and on ABC, ESPN, and CNN International. Shapiro recently directed All Rise, a feature-length documentary about the complexities of international law, which was filmed in 11 countries and privately screened at the United Nations.
Desh Amila has more than 11 years’ experience as an event producer and holds a degree in Film Production from Deakin University.
Suzi Jamil is the Owner and Director of Think Inc., a young Australian-based initiative dedicated to the promotion of intellectual discourse through world-class events. Launched in 2014, Think Inc. has become a platform for promoting big ideas; stimulating and engaging independent, rational thinking; and celebrating scientific discovery. Think Inc. has hosted Neil deGrasse Tyson, Steve Wozniak, Edward Snowden, Brian Greene, and other eminent thinkers.
Suzi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Juris Doctor from the University of New South Wales. She has more than six years’ experience as a professional communicator.
Desh is a Sri Lankan born entrepreneur, TV/Radio presenter and filmmaker. Desh has more than 11 years experience as an event producer and holds a degree in Film Production from Deakin University. As a radio host, he interviewed some of the leading musicians from around the world and went onto produce an award winning radio show “Word War One”.
Aaron is currently the Director of Audio Visual at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), on the Board of Directors at 3-Legged Dog Media + Theater Group, the Chairman of the Board for the non-profit, Ideas Beyond Borders, and a freelance Producer. Recent Producer credits include a co-production with BAM and WNYC for RadioLoveFest entitled ISLAMOPHOBIA: A CONVERSATION, a panel debate moderated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Aaron was formerly the Producing Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center where credits include 3LD’s co-production with The Public Theater of THE HUMAN SCALE, written/performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning Lawrence Wright, directed by Oskar Eustis (2010 New Yorker Festival); MAKING UP THE TRUTH, written/performed by “This American Life” regular Jack Hitt; SPY GARBO, the Drama Desk-nominated off-Broadway production directed by Kevin Cunningham; and the off-Broadway run of Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and Rachel Eckerling, now a major motion picture.
Other credits include 3LD’s video design and installation in The Modern Woman gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Aaron is also the author of a number of books including the 2003 novel, “Things That Hang From Trees” and the 2006 Aviles Street Productions screenplay adaptation. The film premiered in New Directors/New Films and SXSW and won “Best Film” in Corto Imola International Film Festival (Bologna, Italy) and “Best American Independent” in Troia International Film Festival. (Lisbon, Portugal) and was distributed by Radio London Films in 2007..
The collaboration has galvanised a movement in which courageous voices speak up (and speak louder) about the need for reform to correct Islam’s incompatibilities with 21st-century liberal values.
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