In his book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam From the Extremists, Khaled M. Abou El Fadl compares the current divisions within Islam to the religious and ideological transformations that happened in Europe during the Reformation, when Protestants broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Islam, he argues, is inherently a peaceful religion with a rich historical tradition, which functions as a source of spiritual fulfillment to millions across the globe. And although there are two completely opposed worldviews within Islam, one of moderation and serenity and one of violent extremism, the majority of the non-Muslim world increasingly views Islam solely as a threat, leaving the voices of the moderate Muslims muted or at the very least diminished. With his work, Abou El Fadl is trying to speak above the shouts of minority extremists. On Tuesday at the Hammer, the distinguished UCLA School of Law professor will discuss Islamic extremism both here and abroad, with two other theology scholars, for “Hammer Forum: Islam's Growing Sectarian Divide.” Imam Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini, founder and director of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, and Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University, and author of The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism, will provide context for the growing schism within Islam and lend their voices to the unheard majority of moderate Muslims who thrive while using Islam as a guide for morality, ethics and tradition. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Tues., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000,

Tue., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2013

LA Weekly