What is your outlook?
Reza Aslan is an internationally renowned writer, commentator, professor, producer, and scholar of religions. His books, including his #1 New York Times Bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, have been translated into dozens of languages around the world. He is also a recipient of the prestigious James Joyce Award. His newest book God: A Human History (2017) is out now.
Aslan’s first book, International Bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, has been translated into seventeen languages, and was named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by Blackwell Publishers. He is also the author of Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age (originally titled How to Win a Cosmic War), as well as editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities.
In 2006, Aslan co-founded BoomGen Studios—the premiere entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Middle East—which has provided an array of targeted services ranging from strategic messaging to grassroots marketing to publicity and social media outreach, to producers, studios, and filmmakers—including Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Netflix’s The Square, Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Weinstein Company’s Miral, Discovery and TLC’s All American Muslim, and National Geographic’s Amreeka.
Aslan’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University (Major focus: New Testament; Minor: Greek), a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University (Major focus: History of Religions), a PhD in the Sociology of Religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.
Aslan is a tenured Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside and serves on the board of trustees for the Chicago Theological Seminary and The Yale Humanist Community, which supports atheists, agnostics, and humanists at home and abroad.
Reza Aslan: I think Muslims, particularly young Muslims in the Middle East, are growing more and more comfortable in defining themselves in nationalistic terms. And again it depends what country you’re referring to, of course. But many Egyptians, many Turks, have no problems referring to themselves as Egyptians first, or as Turks first. And I think that sense . . . that rising sense of national identity, in particular this sort of overwhelming movement of individualism that is taking place within the Muslim world with the rise of the Internet and the widespread access to new ideas and novel theories; and the way in which these notions are being passed around in a new kind of community, a virtual community being created online. I think you’re seeing a sort of response to that geopolitical fragmentation that I spoke of; one that is at once comfortable with certain nationalistic identities, and yet also striving to create new identifies beyond borders, and beyond ethnicities, in an attempt to recreate the umma, the world wide Muslim community, and yet to recreate it not in the real world, but in a virtual world. And so we’re gonna see, I think, a lot more of that. As the region of the Middle East becomes even more fragmented and more fractured, I think people are going to go increasingly online to find new ways of creating collective identities that are simply not applicable anymore in the real world.
Recorded On: 7/5/07
"I think Muslims, particularly young Muslims in the Middle East, are growing more and more comfortable in defining themselves in nationalistic terms."
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