This is a really smart book, written by a proper scholar who shows that Islam is peaceful, progressive, and has a rich history.
It teaches us the vast intellectual landscape of Muslim theology, that it is intellectually diverse with many different point of views, but all of the Mazabs can still live in harmony (at least those at the [real] scholar level).
Most crucially, the book identifies Islam in Indonesia as rooted in the Syafi’i school of thought, which combine the observance of the Prophet’s (PBUH) sunnah with modern logic, while – I may add – the ever growing Wahhabi penetration in our country is rooted in Hanbali school of thought, which advocates Islamic teachings and way of life back to its purest root in the year 600s (if you feel that Islam is changing in Indonesia, this is why).
This, of course, only a small part of the topics discussed in the book. Other equally eye opening discussions include the history of religion, comparative verses with other religions’ holy text (like Matthews 22:37-40 with QS 6:151-154), inter-faith harmony (QS 5:48, QS 2:256, QS 18:29), how Muslims should not insult other religion (QS 6:108), the author also discusses Darwin’s theory of evolution, and many, many more, from the big picture till the smallest Islamic personal habits.
A true scholar, M. Quraish Shihab makes his points using very diverse set of references, such as Al Qur’an, Hadiths, all the Sunni and Shia School of thoughts, the Torah, the Bible, even the philosophies of Plato, Immanuel Kant, Nobel Prize winning doctor Alexis Carrel, and my favourite Seneca.
It’s a relatively thin book considering the range of topics that are covered, concised enough to be easily understood without losing its essense, very soothing and empowering, and imensely enlightening. Can’t recommend it enough.