Podcast: “Islam is a really complicated religion”

In a recent episode of the Brookings Cafeteria podcast, Senior Fellow Shadi Hamid spoke candidly about growing up Muslim-American and his research on political Islam. In a wide-ranging conversation, Hamid, author of the new book, “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World,” said that “One thing I’ve really come to appreciate more is that Islam is a really complicated religion, when you dive into the theology, history, and culture-it’s not the easiest religion to understand. I don’t think it’s conducive to sound bites.” Continuing, he shared that:

I have Muslim friends who will insist that Islam is a religion of peace … but what does it really even mean to say that Islam is a religion of peace? It also doesn’t make sense to say Islam is a religion of violence. Like most things, it’s somewhere in between. It depends on what interpretations we are talking about. Muslims are different. They have different views. So we can’t say that Islam is entirely one thing or entirely something else. And that’s why I think that we have to appreciate complexity. And those of us who don’t know as much about Islam, I think it’s important for Americans to learn more, to read more, and to resist the temptation to pigeonhole Islam as one thing or another.

Listen to the entire episode here, and find out what Hamid had to say about being Muslim-American; Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Islam and Muslims; and what he sees as the most misunderstood thing about Islam today.

Follow Shadi Hamid on Twitter: @ShadiHamid

See also, by Shadi Hamid:
Islamism, Salafism, and jihadism: A primer

What’s different about Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia?

Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims

Is Islam “exceptional”?

In 2004, Hamid was on the Brookings Cafeteria podcast to talk about Islamists, Democracy, and the Roots of Middle East Violence.