This is part one of a three-part series on Muslims, faith and cultural change in the age of globalization.
One of the touchiest issues in the world today is the Muslim disquiet, especially in countries where Muslims are minorities. We often miss it and call it all kinds of names.
We call it Islamism. We call it radicalism, we call it extremism, we call it fundamentalism and we call it violence. We claim it springs from conflict-driven communities.
Those labels have a semblance of truth in them, because on any given day, some Muslims may display some of those characteristics.
But those labels don’t tell the story about what the causes of the disquiet really are. They don’t even begin to describe how to deal with it and how to manage it. In particular, they don’t tell how to bring peace to the soul of a community that is often uncomfortable in the context of the disquiet.
The existing disquiet, in turn, invites fear, suspicion and often hostility among non-Muslims. In some way, we have to tackle the issue head on. How do we deal with this problem? The way in which I have come to understand it is that the key lies in the theological assumptions of the Muslim community that were formed in times of dominance.
When Islam was an empire, when Muslims were the rulers and when they moved into Spain, they made theological assumptions about how they could live. They created the rules for how to engage with those who are non-Muslim (and how those others could live). That set the tone of the lifestyle that they could lead....