Friday, January 1, 2016

A Time for Reform

Published on shortly after 9/11/2001

The first piece I am linking here is one I wrote for in the aftermath of 9-11 - I believe in mid-2002. As many will recall, it was a time of extreme anxiety and change - the fruits of which we are beginning to see. It is remarkable that today - 13 years later - I still agree almost completely with all the things I had written then. Indeed, it is embarrassing to note that perhaps I expressed these thoughts better then compared to my more recent writings. Call it the "Facebook effect", where immediacy is valued more than expression. Of course, a lot has changed in the context too, and we are all thinking more complicated thoughts today.

After publication on chowk,com, this piece was included in the book "Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith", edited by Michael Wolfe and published by Rodale Books in 2004.

Unfortunately, has gone dark, but the article was picked up by another website called The American Muslim. While I am unfamiliar with this site, it does give me the opportunity to post a link to my old article here.

First, an excerpt:

In combination with the socioeconomic failure of almost all Muslim nations, this vision of Islam (which is partly responsible for the failure) has created a pervasive culture of grievance in the Muslim world. It is a culture that sees all problems afflicting Muslims as the result of a vast conspiracy—- variously orchestrated by the “usual suspects”: Jews, Christians, Hindus, ethnic Chinese, even Muslims of other sects. It takes real but mundane disputes over land, water, language, ethnicity and oil, and turns them into millennial confrontations. In this apocalyptic world-view, Osama bin Laden makes perfect sense. Without changing this mind-set, no amount of military action will rid the world of Islamic militants. The swamp that must be drained is not in the mountains of Afghanistan, but in the minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims. It is time for a new synthesis in Islam, and it can only be done from within by enlightened, informed, and faithful Muslims. The West, with all its cruise missiles and smart bombs, can only make things worse in the long run.

The crisis of September 11 has brought the Muslim world to a point of great opportunity. As the rest of the world discovers Islam, let it discover a progressive, enlightened, and dynamic faith suitable for the future, rather than an orthodoxy created by traditionalists still hankering for the past.

The full article is here.

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