Thursday, October 23, 2014

Islam and the World

Are terrorist attacks and suicide bombings a betrayal of Islamic teaching? Is the world truly enduring a "clash of civilizations?" Are the world’s one billion Muslims a monolithic community, or is the diversity of Muslim life the key to understanding Islam’s future?

Islam often has uneasy relations with what passes for "modernity" across the rest of the globe: separation of church and state, equality for women, acceptance of an independent status for other religions (other than as prefiguring Islam), a secular legal system.

Whether because of the perceived defeats inflicted upon Muslims by the outside world, or because of the derelictions of their governments, the past 25 years have seen a huge growth in Islamic fundamentalism. Many who see their countries as victims of Western economic and cultural imperialism want to show that they can do better. Thirty years ago, their pride sought refuge in nationalism. Today, they seek a sense of identity by turning back to the Koran.

Across the Muslim world, today’s crisis has produced inflamed discussions about the status of Islamic belief in this age of globalization. To open a global window onto these debates, Project Syndicate is publishing a series of commentaries by statesmen, scholars and activists, predominantly from within "the House of Islam." Edited by Clifford Chanin, Islam and the World displays the breadth and vitality of opinion within and without the Muslim world as it confronts huge pressures for change.

Contributing to this monthly series have been Jordan’s Prince Hassan, Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy, Kuwaiti democracy activist Ahmad Bishara, Iraqi intellectual Kanan Makiya, Turkish sociologist Nilufer Gole, Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi, Egyptian Islamist thinker Fahmi Howeidi, Egypt’s human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Indonesian modernist intellectual Nurcholish Madjid.

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