In the two decades since Iran's Islamic revolution, the rapid pace of change in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa has focused attention on the societies there that proclaim loyalty to Islam. Is Islam on a collision course with Western civilization? Can adherence to its principles be reconciled with living and governing in a modernizing world? How will extremists that speak in the name of Islam affect the future of the Middle East and neighboring regions? These and many similar questions have been debated at length. Yet, after volumes of political, social, and doctrinal analysis, the impression remains that exaggerated fears and misperceptions, rather than understanding, continue to dominate our view of Islam.