Robert R. Reilly

Robert R. Reilly is the Senior Fellow for Strategic Communication at the American Foreign Policy Council. He is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis (ISI Books, 2010) and The Prospects and Perils of Catholic-Muslim Dialogue (Isaac Publishing, 2013) .

Trivializing Freedom at Its Source

Let me begin by saying that I love France. It is a country to which I have traveled often, and whose language I have struggled to learn. I am grieved to see her harmed by these latest murderous attacks.

However, I am also ashamed for her. To see emblazoned in lights on the Arc de Triomphe the words, “Paris est Charlie” and to hear “Je suis Charlie” chanted by large crowds and reproduced on innumerable placards, moves me to say, “Je ne suis pas Charlie.” I would have been happy, by the way, to say, “Je suis Juif,” in solidarity with the French Jews who were executed in the Jewish grocery store on that terrible day. Why not Charlie?

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Is the Islamic State Islamic?

Islamic State flag waving on the wind

Nothing could be more curious to Muslims than Western non-Muslims telling them what their religion is about. Would not Christians find it odd to hear from Muslims what the true meaning of their religion is? Nevertheless, after almost every terrorist act against a Westerner, particularly the more gruesome ones like beheadings, Western heads of state reflexively react with protestations that such acts are absolutely un-Islamic, despite the explicit claims of their perpetrators that they are done precisely as religious acts, as they exultantly declare, “Allahu Akbar.”

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Instead, We Played Music


Reflecting on waning American influence in his country as shown by a recent poll, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble sarcastically said: “Perhaps now more of those in power in the United States will ask themselves: Why is America’s soft power, even though it is the indispensable nation, not so great as to be understood by the dumb Germans?” Actually, Americans in and out of power have for some time been asking themselves this question, as it applies to the entire world. It seems to puzzle us. Why have we lost our influence? Can’t the great communicators communicate anymore? Or is there…

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The Formidable Philosophical Obstacles to Islamic Constitutionalism

Sohail Hashmi makes what seems to be a very reasonable case for the compatibility of Islam and constitutional government, and for the role of a reformed sharia as the foundation for the development of constitutionalism today.  However, his case founders upon his not having given sufficient weight to the obstacles to this development, though his prescription for its achievement is essentially correct. Hashmi contends that "there is no obvious or inherent incompatibility between [constitutionalism] (or, for that matter, democracy) and Islamic political theory," though he leaves unmentioned the Islamic teaching of dīn wa-dawla (religion and state inseparably combined).   He then more…

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In response to: Islam and Constitutionalism

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Muslim States and the Protection of Fundamental Rights

In his essay, “Islam and Constitutionalism,” Sohail H. Hashmi boldly confronts a difficult question: Are Islam and constitutionalism compatible? On his account, a functioning constitutional system has three essential features: (1) limited and accountable government; (2) adherence to the rule of law; and (3) protection of fundamental rights. While virtually all majority-Muslim states have embraced…

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Islamic Constitutionalism and Human Flourishing

I’m deeply grateful for Professor Hashmi’s lead essay and would recommend it to anyone interested in the intellectual history of Islam or curious about the distinctions between a modern Islamic view of the relationship between government and religion and the modern, dominant view of the Christian and post-Christian West.  It is not, in fact, my…

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The Legacy of Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis’ new book, Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian, written at the age of 95, is essentially his autobiography.  Since he is, above all, a scholar, much of his life has been thinking and writing.  Not surprisingly, the book recounts the gestational process of a number of his major works.  Lewis is the author of more than 30 books.  This leads him to wonder, in 100 years, which of his works will be remembered?

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