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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Understanding Islamic Culture -3

Continued from the Part 1, 2 -

Islam is the answer to most of the Muslims for a wide range of questions, whether they're social, or political, or personal, or spiritual. Within the sphere of people who have that view, and it's a large number of people in the Muslim world who disagree with bin Laden in his application, but agree that Islam is the answer. Islam represents a way of engaging the world through which one can achieve certain desirable goals. And the goals from the perspective of Muslims are, in principle, peace, justice and equality, but on terms that correspond to traditional Muslim teachings.  I am proceeding on 3rd part of essay series to understand the reason behind such views with these three interviews of the leading reformers in Islamic society ;

1- Q & A with Shereen El Feki: A glimpse of Arab society in a globalizing world :- Shereen El Feki is based in Cairo, where she works on issues related to health and social welfare in the Arab region. In the whole discussions, two paragraphs struck me too much (In Underlines).

Largely, the model in the West in society is the autonomous individual. The individual is almost like the atom of society. It’s the unit of society. And that’s how Western society has developed over the past few centuries. It’s very different in the Arab region. People don’t necessarily conceive of themselves as individuals. They really don’t see their place in society in that way. They see themselves as part of a collective. And that has really interesting implications on a number of levels, but it is also one of these really big differences between the West and the Arab world.

While she has worked in regional media, as a presenter with the Al Jazeera Network, and continues to write on social issues in the Arab world, her passion lies in the many projects in which she is involved which aim to better understand, and surmount, the social challenges facing Arabs, particularly young people.

It is interesting if you look at the Arab region, the majority of the population is young, as I mentioned, but most of the people who actually call the shots are much older and so they’re actually not part of an Internet generation. So for them, often when they react to the Internet or there are forms of censorship, it’s often because you’re talking about a generation that doesn’t get the net, that doesn’t adapt easily.

2- Interview with Hamid Dabashi : "Islam Is an Abstraction"

The US-Iranian intellectual Hamid Dabashi is among the most highly respected scholars of Islam in the US. In this interview with Lewis Gropp, he explains how Islam in Europe will change as a result of the influence of European culture and European Muslims.

"If in Europe, you have a – not secular but – cosmopolitan context, it is not out of the goodness of the heart of Christianity, but it is because the social context that has created an organic environment – particularly during the era of Enlightenment – forced Christianity to accommodate non-religious sentiments. The same holds true for Judaism, and a fortiori for Islam.

When people ask whether Islam is compatible with modernity, they have an entirely essentialist concept – not a historical, not a material conception – of Islam. If you leave it to Muslim theologians, the Muslim jurists, the clergy, the Mullahs – of course they want the whole world according to their vision. But the same is with the Christian clergy and the Jewish rabbis!
" says Dabashi.

According to Dabashi, Islam in Europe will be transformed not by Muslim intellectuals like Tariq Ramadan, but by social forces. I was thinking about abstract concept of Islam that will adapt to the Europe and will still be promoting concept of diversity.

In my conception of religion, which is Durkheimian, religion is an expression of a collective consciousness. You have a group of people here, and whatever it is they believe – metaphysically, religiously, and in terms of what is "sacred" to them – constitutes the religion. So forget about Europe for now – if you go to India and go to Saudi Arabia and go to Morocco and go to China you have four different kinds of Islam. Islam is not quintessential. It is a sacred language spoken in different dialects by people living different lives. So by the same logic when Muslims come to Europe, they will redefine Islam. And there is nobody on planet earth who can tell them, what you're doing is not Islamic, you're losing your religion. The successive generations will redefine Islam.

3- How to become a real Muslim- A media reliant on scandal has colluded with self-promoting but marginal Muslim clerics to create a cycle of self-reinforcing myths around the Mohammed cartoons, writes Kenan Malik. The fear of causing offence has helped undermine progressive trends in Islam and strengthened the hand of religious bigots.

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