Book review of "Islam and the Discovery of Freedom" |

Book review of "Islam and the Discovery of Freedom"

Rose Wilder Lane

Those of us who grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie series are familiar with the name Laura Ingalls Wilder, its author and the main character of the series. Rose Wilder Lane is her daughter, who is also featured as a character in the series.

It was while covering World War II as one of the earliest female journalists in America that Lane first encountered Islam, Muslims, and the Middle East. Perhaps this was what led her to study more about the contribution of this faith and civilization to the cause of liberty.

This book is part of her work the "Discovery of Freedom", which is considered a seminal work in the American libertarian movement. In it, she described three sources of freedom: the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him; the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and Islamic civilization, and the American Revolution. She emphasized that ideas propounding liberty built on those of the past, and that each was critical to the development of the subsequent one.

Her chapter on the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is nothing like a regular biography. Although she made some small factual errors, her overall argument that Islamic civilization advanced the cause of freedom is very powerful. This is how I have grown up seeing the Prophet and learning about Islamic history.

Lane wrote in an era when not many writings by Westerners were positive about Islam, which makes her thesis even more surprising.

Although the original book is sometimes out of print, the section on Islam corrects small factual errors. It is a must read, especially in our day when “freedom” and “liberty” are the last words that come to mind when speaking of Islam and Muslims. I would highly recommend it for high school and college students, as well as non-Muslim neighbors.

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