With the rise of ISIS and a growing terrorist threat in the West, unprecedented attention has focused on Islam, which despite being the world’s fastest growing religion, is also one of the most misunderstood. In his new book “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam is Reshaping the World” Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different modes of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region’s descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don’t have to like it, but we have to understand it – because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.