What is the situation of religious freedom in contemporary Islam? What are the positions of conservative and reformist Muslims on blasphemy, apostasy and heresy? Are there any substantive differences between Sunnis and Shi‘is on the main points of this subject? What is this book’s original contribution to scholarship? Although the focus of this book is the critical analysis of religious freedom and the penalty sanctioned for the commission of blasphemy and apostasy from a Shi‘i perspective, this inquiry would be incomplete without a review of the general outline of Sunni Muslim positions on the same subjects. Thus, Section one of this Introduction explores the literature review on religious freedom, blasphemy and apostasy in contemporary Sunni Islam. Section two, which is more detailed, engages in a similar literature review, but from the perspective of contemporary Shi‘i Islam. These two sections allow a comparative study of Islam’s two major denominations, their exchanges, influences and effects. Section three describes the story of how this book unfolded, analyses the genealogy of the author’s ideas in detail, introduces novel ideas applied by other Sunni and Shi‘i thinkers, and highlights the original contribution made by this book.
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