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University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2005

Writers' Workshop Graduate Reza Aslan Reads From Book On Islam April 7

Iranian writer and scholar Reza Aslan, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop who was also a visiting faculty member in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Iowa, will read from his new book, "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam," at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The reading, hosted by WSUI personality Julie Englander, will be a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Noah Feldman, author of "After Jihad" and "What We Owe Iraq," wrote, "Elegant, accessible, and informed by historical scholarship, 'No god but God' offers a wonderful view into the rich world of early Islam. Reza Aslan brings to the life of Muhammad and the story of classical Islam a lyricism and deft touch reminiscent of Roberto Calasso at his best."

A preview in Publishers Weekly notes that Aslan sees a reformation occurring in Islam: "He astutely recognizes that the struggle between arch-conservative Wahhabi Islam and the innovative, reform-oriented Islam of the Prophet Muhammad are at war, dragging the United States and the West along. Aslan's brief but accurate analyses of polygyny (or polygamy), the veil, jihad and the devastating effect that European, particularly British, colonialism had on the Islamic world convey deep insight."

John Green wrote for Booklist, "Aslan's introduction to the history of Islam, which also devotes several chapters to the place of Islam in the contemporary world, tackles its subject with serious and well-informed scholarship. But, miracle of miracles, it's actually pretty fun to read. . . . this is an excellent overview that doubles as an impassioned call to reform."

Steven Cook, a Next Generation Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested, "Aslan's book should be required reading for all analysts and policymakers interested in the Muslim world."

Aslan studied religion at Santa Clara University, Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work has appeared in USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as many academic journals. When the World Trade Center was attacked in September of 2001, Aslan put his expertise of the Middle East to work for both the UI and the greater Iowa community by traveling the state speaking to public and private organizations, business, churches, mosques, universities and the media.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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