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Ziauddin Sardar argues that free thinkers are essential for any culture to survive and thrive; Aziz al-Azmeh outlines how Abbasid Culture established freethinking humanism; Oliver Leaman highlights the significance of the twelfth century Andalusian philosopher ibn Rushd; Ebrahim Moosa seeks meaning in the ethics of the tenth century blind poet and atheist, Al-Maarri; Robert Irwin examines the thought of the controversial Sufi Al-Hallaj; Abdelwahab El-Effendi explores the 'Second Islam' of the executed Sudanese thinker, Mohamed Taha; Aamer Hussein suggests that we need to embrace the ideas of the poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal; Eva Hoffman looks at the tion of free thought in the work of the Noble Laureate Czeslaw Milosz; Nazry Bahrawi is impressed by the 'heretical' interpretations of the Egyptian scholar Nasir Hamid Abu Zaid; Alev Adil vexes lyrical about Aisha, the youngest wife of the Prophet; and Johan Siebers is convinced that we need to free ourselves from all ideologies.
Ziauddin Sardar is a renowned writer, broadcaster and cultural critic. A former columnist on the New Statesman, he has also served as a Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He is professor of Law and society at Middlesex University, and the author of numerous books, the most recent being Reading the Qur'an (Hurst); Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim (Granta); What Do Muslims Believe? (Granta); and Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain (Granta). Robin Yassin-Kassab is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Road From Damascus (Penguin). Born in west London, he has lived and worked in France, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Oman. He is a regular contributor to the literary pages of The Guardian and The Independent.