Islamic Evangelism

Many believe that religious revival and political radicalism among Muslims who reside in the West reflects the traditions and conflicts of the Middle East or the wider Muslim world. But Islamic Salafism (fundamentalist religious radicalism) is above all a consequence of the globalization and Westernization of Islam, and of the decoupling of culture and religion more generally.

All forms of religious fundamentalism rely on the notion of a "pure" religion independent of cultural variations and influences. Today's Islamic revival shares the dogmatism, communitarianism, and scripturalism of American evangelist movements: both reject culture, philosophy, and even theology to favor a literalist reading of sacred texts and an immediate understanding of truth through individual faith.

Recent books published in the West reflect this, with titles like What is Islam? , What Does It Mean To Be A Muslim? , and How To Experience Islam? It is easy to fast during Ramadan in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Egypt, even if one does not want to. But a Muslim living in Europe is confronted with the necessity of objectifying the religion. Ulemas (religious scholars) are useless for believers who must search for purely religious criteria that are no longer linked to a given culture.

The real issue is not a theoretical question about Islam, but concerns the religious practices of Muslims. The forms of religiosity in Islam today are more or less the same as those found in Catholicism, Protestantism, and even Judaism. Contemporary adherents insist more on personal faith and individual spiritual experience. Such "born again" believers rebuild their identities through their rediscovery of religion.