What do I do?

Originally, I am from Istanbul, Turkey. For almost two decades, I was a columnist in two different Turkish newspapers (one in English, one in Turkish), often discussing Islam, politics, and society. I was trying to articulate "Islamic liberalism," which, for a while, seemed to be a promising idea in Turkey. For just a while, though, until the forces of illiberalism crushed it all.

In 2018, I joined the Cato Institute, as a senior fellow, focusing on Islam, modernity and public policy.

What I mostly do is to study the intersection of Islam and human freedom — realizing both the challenges and the prospects. I do believe that the Islamic world needs an "Islamic Enlightenment." By that, I don’t mean a wholesale adoption of Western Enlightenment, which had some dark spots of its own. I rather mean finding En- lightenment values—reason, freedom, and tolerance—within the Islamic tradition itself.

My 2021 book, "Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance," deals with these themes. Feel free to take a look, at least at its introduction chapter, here.

Or, for a shorter treatise, you can read my primer: Why, As A Muslim, I Defend Liberty.” Thank to the generosity of the Cato Institute, it is fully free here.

And, of course, feel free to follow me on Substack, which I just joined yesterday (Nov 22, 2022). I would be always happy to hear your thoughts.

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Islam, liberalism, religious freedom, revelation, reason


Mustafa Akyol

Senior fellow at the Cato Institute, focusing on Islam, modernity and public policy. Author of several books, including "Reopening Muslims Minds," and "Why, As a Muslim, I Defend Liberty."