Radical Engagements: Essays on Religion, Extremism, Politics and Libya by Aref Ali Nayed

Kalam Research and Media

Review by Qamar-ul Huda, PhD

This is extremely important set of essays by a leading Libyan theologian, diplomat, scholar, and thinker who analyzes a wide range of pressing societal maladies. Amb. Aref Ali Nayed contemplates upon a new Libya; one that is beyond fascism, totalitarianism, or governed by unruly militias and Muslim Brotherhood networks sponsored by foreign countries. Rather, he meticulously explores holistic issues: from the narrowing Salafi interpretations of theology to modern challenges in kalam studies; from crisis of applied ethics to a real appreciation of historical theological works; from experiencing horrific atrocities of Daesh to trauma healing and reconciliation with the environment we inherited.

This is an extraordinary set of essays and speeches by Aref Ali Nayed because he poetically weaves a quilt of monumental thinkers including Sidi Ahmad Zarruq, Issac Newton, Imam al-Shatibi, Sheikh Ibn Ashur, Ernst Bloch, Hannah Arendt, Viktor Frankl, and Immanuel Kant (and more) to illustrate a global interconnected philosophy of interconnectedness and yet-to-be conscious. He eloquently reminds the reader that the ‘ilm al-tazkiya is inherently tied to each school of thought which cannot be disconnected from any historical interpretation, rather we need to remember and celebrate it.

For a Libyan scholar and diplomat who witnessed the fall of Gaddafi’s tyrannical rule and then witness the descent of Libya into chaos with foreign fighters, ISIS militants and tribalism, Aref Ali Nayed advocates a shukr al-ni’ma (appreciating gifts) with uluw al-himma (having exalted visions or aims). On the onslaught of militants killing civilians, he states “those who inflict omnipresent trauma, we need to develop omnipresent compassion and peace, and create a blessed neighborliness aiming to live together.” This is a phenomenal book filled with jewels of insight, wisdom, and a powerful vision to reconcile pain with compassion.