An author who came to widespread attention during the past couple of months over the release of his book Zealot (July 2013) on the life Jesus, Reza Aslan has been known primarily as an authority on Islam and the Middle East. He has been hailed by an array of commentators, most notably the celebrity comedian Jon Stewart, who described him as "the fantastic Reza Aslan." But where did this reputation come from? More importantly, does it hold up to critical scrutiny?
To understand the rise of Aslan, one must turn to his 2005 book No God but God. Aslan was alarmed by what he saw as a supposed "clash of monotheisms" through polarizing rhetoric in both the West and Middle East. Denouncing "rising anti-Muslim vehemence that has become so much a part of the [Western] mainstream media's discourse about the Middle East," Aslan purported to demonstrate continuity between Islam and its predecessors, Christianity and Judaism. In other words, to demonstrate that there is no need for a "clash of monotheisms."
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