Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

Synopsis

In a Western world suddenly acutely interested in Islam, one question has been repeatedly heard above the din: where are the Muslim reformers? With this ambitious volume, Tariq Ramadan firmly establishes himself as one of Europe's leading thinkers and one of Islam's most innovative and important voices. As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslim becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context. French, English, German, and American Muslims--women as well as men--are reshaping their religion into one that is faithful to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American cultures, and definitively rooted in Western societies. Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western societies. He then shows how these principles can be put to practical use. Ramadan contends that Muslims can-indeed must-be faithful to their principles while participating fully in the civic life of Western secular societies. Grounded in scholarship and bold in its aims, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam offers a striking vision of a new Muslim Identity, one which rejects once and for all the idea that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West.

Excerpt

Someday we are bound to come back to the beginning. Even the most distant pathways always lead us inward, completely inward, into intimacy, solitude between our self and our self—in the place where there is no longer anyone but God and our self.

Paulo Coelho, in his novel The Alchemist, has brought in one of the most traditional and deep teachings of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). Go, travel the world, watch, look for the truth and the secret of life—every road will lead you to this sense of initiation: the light, the secret, are hidden in the place from which you set out. You are on your way not toward the end of the road but toward its beginning; to go is to return; to find is to rediscover. Go!…You will return. The apparent paradox of spiritual experience is the lesson that the constant effort, the jihad, that we make in order to purify, control, and liberate our heart is, in the end, a reconciliation with the deepest level of our being (al-fitra)—there where the spark gleams that God originally breathed into our heart, there where our conscience weds our being and gives in to peace (salam). The peace of recognition, the peace of submission (salam al-islam), is, deep down, a liberation.

God is “The one who created death and life to test you and to find out which of you would behave best.” Death, life, experiences, ordeals, pain, solitude, as well as joy and happiness, are so many lessons along the road to reconciliation. Wounds, separations, tears, as well as smiles, “say” something: if you live in unawareness, they touch you; with God, they guide and lead you. Where to? Where to then? Toward Him, toward you, close to Him in you. Such is the most beautiful and the most difficult lesson of Islam: you find God only by rediscovering your own nature, and the essence of your nature is the only thing that can free you from its appearance.… “I” must set out to discover another “I”: such is the meaning of life. Ordeals . . .

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