Building aSharedFuture:Religion, Politicsand the Public SphereA joint publication of the British Council’s Our SharedFutur...
This work is licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0Unported License.ISBN: 978-0-9563743...
About the PublishersThese books were produced in conjunction with a conference titled‘Acknowledging a Shared Past to Build...
Table of ContentsIntroduction	                                                             1Executive summary	            ...
It’s time to fill thegap between academicexpertise and publicknowledge of Muslimsand Islam.                        ii
IntroductionDuring the last decade, debates on the role of religion in the public space, migration, social cohesion andoth...
Executive summaryRecent debates in Europe and the United States have highlighted tensions around the role of faith andthe ...
The question of ‘religion in the public space’ is fundamentally about ‘consider[ing] how religious beliefcan accommodate c...
Political participationBy Qamar-ul Huda, PhDThe changing political landscape in North Africa      peace building, developm...
mitigate violence and build institutions for            political activism for over sixty years. Thepeaceful purposes. As ...
Islam: The solution that wasn’tBy Mohammad Ayatollahi TabaarIn the 1960s and 1970s, the slogan ‘Islam is the           joi...
ideologies in popularity and posed most serious       and prepare them for action. Depending on thechallenges to the weste...
Religion and the politicalparticipation of Muslims in theWestBy Jocelyne CesariIn Europe and more recently in the US, thep...
American Muslims. For some groups, like Arab              religious attendance influences civic and politicalAmericans, re...
Islamist participation, westernanxieties and the question ofdemocracy in the Arab-IslamicworldBy Nader HashemiThe widespre...
rival secular political organisations have been        on its own terms, not on the terms of the West orsuffocated or crus...
Revisiting the role ofgovernance from Islamictraditions for future politicalparticipationBy Amjad SaleemIntroductionDemocr...
Debate also abounds on the nature of what              which also remains almost silent on fundamentalmodern democratic so...
amongst Rousseau, de Tocqueville, Foucaultand Habermas on the importance of religion inpublic life, the case is made for t...
‘You shall have your religionand I shall have my religion’:Religion, belief and secularismin contemporary Britain14By Mark...
between nations and cultures or to marginalise       communities in other times and countries, wherethe ‘other’ because th...
Overcoming empty debateson assumed incompatibilities:Inventing pragmatic answerson how to live together inpluralismBy Flor...
against Islam and thereby justifies his resistance      a powerful means to counter manipulation andto the influence of Is...
values’.5 This is particularly true for tensions onreligion in the public space, where a pragmaticfocus must be put on liv...
Embracing your neighbour:Pluralism and IslamBy Sajjad RizviCan Islam embrace pluralism?20 It would be a           action a...
of Islam address the individual as a person with        Political theology and accommodationobligations to fulfil moral ag...
Conceptual views on integrationprocesses and issues of Muslimcitizens/residents in the WestBy Prof. Abdellatif BencherifaD...
live together, side by side, with an objective          West exhibit a value system that is far closerdistribution of area...
Muslims in a liberal publicsphere34By Maleiha MalikSince 9/11 and 7/7, the topic of Islam and            been the subject ...
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere
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Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere


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During the last decade, debates on the role of religion in the public space, migration, social cohesion and other issues have revealed increasing social tensions and polarisation in public opinion. Misperceptions and misinformation often dominate public dialogue about relations between Muslims and others. Although they don’t speak with the loudest voice, academics, scholars and thought leaders have a key role to play in helping to rebalance these debates by providing fact-based opinion and informed arguments. In the ‘Building a Shared Future’ series, these opinion leaders offer insights into the issues facing Muslims through American and European communities today.

How successful have European models of integration been compared with the American model of multiculturalism? How can multiple layers of identity be accommodated in pluralistic societies? This volume explores a selection of these questions.

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Religion, Politics, and the Public Sphere

  1. 1. Building aSharedFuture:Religion, Politicsand the Public SphereA joint publication of the British Council’s Our SharedFuture project and the Centre of Islamic Studiesat the University of Cambridge a
  2. 2. This work is licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0Unported License.ISBN: 978-0-9563743-8-7A joint publication of the British Council’s OurShared Future project and the Centre of IslamicStudies at the University of CambridgeOur Shared FutureBritish Councilwww.oursharedfuture.orgPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic StudiesUniversity of Cambridge publication was supported in part by theCarnegie Corporation of New York.The essays in this collection reflect the personalviews of the participants. The British Council,the Carnegie Corporation, and the University ofCambridge bear no responsibility for the contentof the essays or the views expressed by theirauthors.© Photo by Mat Wright
  3. 3. About the PublishersThese books were produced in conjunction with a conference titled‘Acknowledging a Shared Past to Build a Shared Future: Rethinking Muslim/non-Muslim Relations’, convened at the University of Cambridge in March2012 by the following partners:British CouncilThe British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educationalopportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunitiesfor the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between themworldwide. We work in over 100 countries in the arts, education, society andEnglish. The Our Shared Future project, based in the US, aims to improve thepublic conversation about Muslims and intercultural relations in the US andEurope. Our Shared Future is supported in large part by a grant from theCarnegie Corporation of New York.The related Our Shared Europe project, a partner in convening theconference held in Cambridge, creates opportunities to discuss and shareperspectives on diversity, migration, community cohesion, inter-cultural andinter-faith dialogue in contemporary | | www.oursharedeurope.orgHRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University ofCambridgeThe Centre of Islamic Studies is at the forefront of research and publicengagement on the role of Islam in wider society. Working with partnersacross the University of Cambridge and beyond, from academic institutes tocivil society organisations and the government, the Centre has developed areputation for enriching public debate and knowledge through high-profileand innovative research projects about Islam in the UK, Europe and
  4. 4. Table of ContentsIntroduction 1Executive summary 2Political participation by Qamar-ul Huda, PhD 4Islam: The solution that wasn’t by Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar 6Religion and the political participation of Muslims in the Westby Jocelyne Cesari 8Islamist participation, western anxieties and the question ofdemocracy in the Arab-Islamic world by Nader Hashemi 10Revisiting the role of governance from Islamic traditions for futurepolitical participation by Amjad Saleem 12‘You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion’: Religion,belief and secularism in contemporary Britain by Mark Hammond 15Overcoming empty debates on assumed incompatibilities:Inventing pragmatic answers on how to live together in pluralismby Florence Laufer 17Embracing your neighbour: Pluralism and Islam by Sajjad Rizvi 20Conceptual views on integration processes and issues of Muslimcitizens/residents in the West by Prof. Abdellatif Bencherifa 22Muslims in a liberal public sphere by Maleiha Malik 24Seeing beyond nests of meaning: Extending our senses ofresponsibility by Hilary E. Kahn, PhD 26Rethinking Muslim/non-Muslim relations: Starting with the Muslimin the mirror by M.H. Vorthoren 28Rethinking Muslim & non-Muslim relations: A personal responseby Sheila B. Lalwani 30Endnotes 33 i
  5. 5. It’s time to fill thegap between academicexpertise and publicknowledge of Muslimsand Islam. ii
  6. 6. IntroductionDuring the last decade, debates on the role of religion in the public space, migration, social cohesion andother issues have revealed increasing social tensions and polarisation in public opinion. Misperceptionsand misinformation often dominate public dialogue about relations between Muslims and others. Althoughthey don’t speak with the loudest voice, academics, scholars and thought leaders have a key role to playin helping to rebalance these debates by providing fact-based opinion and informed arguments.In March 2012, the Our Shared Future and Our Shared Europe programmes in the British Council and thePrince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) at the University of Cambridge invited seventyscholars, civil society leaders, journalists and other influencers to the University’s Møller Centre for threedays of discussion, training and collaboration in a conference titled ‘Acknowledging a Shared Past to Builda Shared Future: Rethinking Muslim/non-Muslim Relations’.One of the key objectives of this conference was to help fill the gap between academic expertiseand public knowledge of cross-cultural relations involving Muslims. Participants broke into discussiongroups around five themes to pinpoint new, more inclusive narratives to reshape the conversation aboutintercultural relations. They explored areas of research and partnerships among institutions in the US,Europe, the Middle East and North Africa that can help shed light on deep connections between Muslimand non-Muslim societies in the fields of culture, the arts, humanities and science. Rounding out thesediscussions, participants had the opportunity to work with media professionals to develop effectivemessaging and gain practical skills to improve their engagement with online, print and broadcast media.The essays that follow reflect the ideas that participants arrived at the conference with as well as theconversations that ensued throughout its three days. We have produced four books covering each ofthe themes undertaken at Cambridge: The Power of Words and Images; Islam, Knowledge and Innovation;Citizenship and Identity; and Religion, Politics and the Public Sphere.While those who came together in Cambridge strive to take forward the ideas and opportunities that arosefrom the conference, we invite our readers to take up new calls to action and engage in dialogue informedby the arguments set forth in the following pages. We owe deep gratitude to our partners in organisingthe conference: the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Association of Muslim Social Scientists; theWoolf Institute; and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary Worldat the University of Edinburgh.To access the companion books in this series and explore further resources on improving the publicconversation about civilisation, identity and religion, please visit — Dr Emmanuel Kattan, Project and Partnerships Manager, Our Shared Future, British Council — Prof Yasir Suleiman, Founding Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of CambridgeJune 2012 1
  7. 7. Executive summaryRecent debates in Europe and the United States have highlighted tensions around the role of faith andthe expression of religious beliefs in the public sphere. Controversies have erupted over the wearingof the hijab, the construction and location of mosques, halal food in schools and public displays ofreligious belonging. These rows have provoked deep questions about balancing individual and collectivereligious rights in increasingly secular societies. How successful have European models of integrationbeen compared with the American model of multiculturalism? How can multiple layers of identity beaccommodated in pluralistic societies?Similar discussions on the role of religion in the political space have spread from the US and Europeancontext to North Africa and the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. Some transatlanticexperts, pundits and analysts argued before—and even after—the Arab Spring revolutions that Islam isincompatible with democracy. Does the rise of so-called Islamist parties and conversations about theintroduction of sharia into legal codes confirm their fears? Despite revolutions that called for ‘freedom,dignity and justice’, will the formal introduction of religion into politics threaten the future of democracy inthe Arab world, or can the emerging political systems accommodate both democracy and Islam?In two days of discussions at the University of Cambridge, the authors featured in this book came togetherto address these questions and came away with a series of key recommendations and messages.Inflated expectations from the Arab Spring revolutions have led to the mistaken notion that social andpolitical processes that have been stalled for decades can suddenly be fast-tracked to completion. Thereis an expectation that the nations that experienced revolutions will now simultaneously undergo transitionsthat spanned the entirety of the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and Modernity in Europe. Thesedevelopments take time; applying this narrative of transition to democracy to the American context, wemust remind ourselves that even ninety years after the country’s founding, a bloody civil war was foughtover some of its founding principles. We must also evaluate the Islamist parties emerging in the Arab worldthrough a historical lens, drawing upon comparisons and analogies to other religious parties of the past.The following contributions present nuanced ways of understanding the intersection of religion, politicsand the public sphere in the Middle East and North Africa today. Amjad Saleem writes in his contributionthat theological and historical connections between Islam and democracy are being conveniently ignoredand that Arabs should have the chance to develop their own vision of democratic governance based onIslamic ideological and legal principles. Nader Hashemi posits in his essay that Arab opposition to western-style democracy does not necessarily stem from revulsion to democratic values (‘freedom, justice anddignity’), but more from resentment for western support of Arab dictators like Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.The western notion of ‘secularism’ does not translate easily into Arabic, as it has multiple connotations andis associated with the old regimes.Qamar-ul Huda’s piece addresses the unrecognised but potentially powerful role that religious actorsand organisations can play in peace building and conflict transformation in the political and civic space.Moving to political participation in Europe, Jocelyne Cesari addresses the idea that ‘visible Islamicidentities are inversely correlated to civic and political loyalties’. She finds that any difference in religiosityand rates of political participation between American and European Muslims is likely due more to ‘thegeneral context of religiosity and social legitimacy of religions’. Politics is clearly not the only public spacein which religion has played a sometimes-controversial role. 2
  8. 8. The question of ‘religion in the public space’ is fundamentally about ‘consider[ing] how religious beliefcan accommodate changing social attitudes . . . [and] how people of faith can hold to their beliefs and stillparticipate in public life’, writes Mark Hammond. However, the common European notion of ‘integration’does not comfortably fit into this framework for thinking about religion in the public space, accordingto Florence Laufer, because, ‘integration is not the same thing as living together in diversity’. Manyintegration policies in Europe target Muslims who are already European citizens who hold Europeanpassports and participate fully in society but do not fit traditional notions of European national identity.Unlike in the United States, writes Maleiha Malik, where national identity is perceived to be more accessibleto immigrants who share ‘American’ values, ‘In Europe, national identity depends on complex factors suchas history, race and language’. Malik’s response to these challenges is a new brand of ‘pluralist liberalism’in which the goal is not reaching consensus as much as it is having a free and open public space toconstructively discuss differences and ideas.The essays that follow expand on these points and many others in an informative and thought-provokingcontribution to our collective effort to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. — By Tim Rivera, Our Shared Future Project & Partnerships Officer, British Council 3
  9. 9. Political participationBy Qamar-ul Huda, PhDThe changing political landscape in North Africa peace building, development and conflictand larger Middle East/Islamic countries reveals management, especially in conservativea resurgence of religious parties in political religious-based societies.participation. According to modernisation theory,religion was to have a minimalist and vanishing Religion is often associated, correctly orrole in politics and in the public sphere; however, incorrectly, as a central factor in inter-communalscholars now contend that the many-faceted violence in places as diverse as Pakistan,forms of ‘secularisms’ may have contributed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sri Lanka, Nigeria,the rise of religious resurgence and mass appeal. India, Northern Ireland, Nigeria and Uganda.The study of religion in international relations Negative perceptions of religious factors inseems to have swayed from one end of the conflict, a motivating factor for violence andpendulum, of being completely neglected or an driving communities apart, have tended toafterthought in global affairs, to being immensely predominate. At least as important, however,central to understanding security, terrorism is the power of religious ideas and voices toand threats facing fragile states. In the early persuade. Their resonance within communities,analysis of the Arab uprisings of 2011, there were the influence of religious leaders to speak ascountless questions on the role of the Muslim political or social voices and powerful religiousBrotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia and whether symbols all can be used constructively toreligious radicals would hijack the non-violent counteract extremist behavior, bringing aboutcivil unrest to create an Iranian-style theocracy. resolution and reconciliation. The recentWith elections in Tunisia and Egypt, we have crisis of the defamation of the Qur’an in Iraqwitnessed the Arab Spring experiment with the and Afghanistan and the West’s attempt toidea that religious-based parties may in fact be isolate Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood andthe most experienced civil society actors to al-Nour Party exemplifies the need to betterproduce social services while linking themselves understand the vital role of religious leadersto a tradition. and communities and their multidimensional function in maintaining peace and stability in theirReligion’s role in political participation is respective communities.complex, varied and usually the subject ofcontroversy. Is religion part of the problemor part of the solution in democratic reform Religion’s role in politicalor developing democratic institutions? Are participation is complex,religious actors sufficiently taken into account varied and usually thein political analysis/reform and in the picturefor mass political participation? Are US/western subject of controversy.government officials, policymakers and scholars There is a need to re-conceptualise the roleadequately factoring in religious actors in of religion and religious actors in politicalassessing reform and answers to tyranny? The participation, especially where peace buildinganswer is often no. Casting religious actors and conflict prevention is concerned. Religiousas villains or insignificant civil society actors actors are part of a multi-layered matrix whererelegates them to the margins, yet mainstream at times some religious actors are contributinginternational analysts are constantly facing to conflict while simultaneously competitiveobstacles by ignoring the role of religious actors. religious actors are working aggressively toReligion is integral to conflict management, 4
  10. 10. mitigate violence and build institutions for political activism for over sixty years. Thepeaceful purposes. As important members diversity of Islamists (Turkey’s Justice Party,of local civil society who have critical social, Jama‘at-e-Islami in South Asia, Muhammadiya ineconomic and political functions, religious actors Indonesia, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) illustrates thatand their faith-based organisations are essential ‘political Islam’ has not dissolved, as some havein resolving conflict. The roles played by religious argued in the 1990s, but rather, key fundamentalactors and faith-based organisations are diverse, notions of society, development, economicranging from high-level mediators to peace prosperity, social welfare and the freedom tobuilders through development at the grassroots. express cannot be divorced from tradition. TheReligion is not restricted to the confines of a political participation by religious actors is justchurch or mosque; rather, religious organisations as much a product of a post-colonial secularin the Middle East and other Islamic countries framework that inherently de-emphasised theare very much part of the development, role of religion in the public sphere. I think thehumanitarian, conflict resolution and social post-colonial, single-party/family rule, militarisedwelfare sectors. Their immense networks and secular state produced the Islamist parties tostrategic capacity as transnational actors have be champions of social services while at theenabled them to mobilise effectively and to same time winning the hearts and minds of therapidly support their war-affected communities, grassroots people who voted.mediate between conflicting parties and serveas primary civil society actors contributing to — Qamar-ul Huda, PhD is Seniorreconciliation, dialogue and reintegration. Program Officer in the Religion and Peacemaking Center at the US InstituteReligious political actors or religious civil society of Peace.members part of a faith-based organisationattempt to resolve inter-group and intra-groupconflicts; they have the most leverage whenthey have national or international reach anddurable relations with members at all levels ofsociety. Religious actors operating within thepolitical process have a complex notion of theirwork, their sense of the past and how they wantto recreate an alternative narrative for theirsocieties. However, there some religious actorswho view political participation as a distractionto their mission of a faith-based world view; forthese actors, social welfare projects are the mostviable option to improving lives. While inter-faith peace activities dominate some religiousgroups, the vast majority of work by religiousactors deals with social services, humanitarianaid, disaster relief, political manoeuvring andconflict resolution as well as participating inpeace agreements, offering health care andpsychological/trauma healing and contributingtoward national and international issues (e.g.water, sanitation, women’s rights and povertyalleviation).Political players (e.g. El-Nahda, Al-Nour, MuslimBrotherhood) emerging from the Arab Springmust be viewed in the larger context of Islamist 5
  11. 11. Islam: The solution that wasn’tBy Mohammad Ayatollahi TabaarIn the 1960s and 1970s, the slogan ‘Islam is the joined lay intellectuals, politicians and others insolution’ began to gain wide currency. Islamists an endeavour to heal the pain of their societies.blamed secular ideas for what went wrong in the Influenced by the success of the West as well asMuslim world. They claimed that Islam provides ideals of the French Revolution, constitutionalan answer for every human need from the cradle movements emerged throughout the Ottomanto the grave. Its divine shari’a is not for the other Empire and neighbouring Iran. Although theseworld, but precisely tailored to meet all worldly ventures had different degrees of success, inpolitical, economic, social and moral needs. the end, they failed to empower the people andIslam is the complete religion. The Prophet liberate their societies from the domination ofMohammad was the Seal of all Prophets, because colonial powers. The failure of constitutionalismhe perfected the messages of his predecessors. paved the way for nationalism and socialism, bothHe did not simply bring humanity shari’a law of which contained both western elements withand then leave us on our own. He created a anti-western rhetoric. Again, many intellectualsgovernment, became a statesman and executed as well as clerics joined these movements,the divine law. For over a thousand years, Islamic which once more failed due to a lack of strongcivilisation expanded and experienced a golden institutions and foreign intervention. The US-era militarily, scientifically, culturally, economically British-sponsored 1953 coup in Iran and theand politically simply by following the Prophet’s 1967 Arab-Israeli War were the final straws thatpath. Therefore, it was now incumbent upon put an end to nationalism in much of the IslamicMuslims to eschew secular western models, since world.their religion had it all and even more. Many onthe far right of the western political spectrumechoed this view of Islam as an all-encompassing Islam is not and neverway of life and government. These figures further claimed to be a mega storeargued that Islam is ‘essentially’ a political and filled with ready-madeviolent religion, since its Prophet himself wasa statesman who cut off hands and killed the commodities to satisfyenemies of his religion. Therefore, Islam is a every human need.cruel religion, although Muslims can be peacefulpeople. It was in this climate that many even hard-core leftists began to look at Islam as a weapon against the ‘evil’ West that was now dominating The realities on the ground them—not just their economics and politics, can very well transform but also their culture and very identity. The increasing appeal for religion, however, had a their religious doctrines. strong revolutionary component. They needed an Islam that could be used as a sword againstCommentators, pundits and even many scholars other political ideologies. As a result, an Islamicoften forget that that view of Islam was not ideology with a leftist Marxist vocabularypopular until recently. Indeed it was after the emerged. Muslim intellectuals in the 1960s andfailure of constitutionalism, nationalism and 1970s constructed an Islamic ideology highlysocialism in the Middle East and North Africa that influenced by popular western ideologies suchmany began to think maybe it was time to ‘return’ as Marxism and Existentialism. These Islamicto their religious roots. In the late nineteenth movements gradually surpassed all otherand early twentieth centuries, many clerics 6
  12. 12. ideologies in popularity and posed most serious and prepare them for action. Depending on thechallenges to the western-backed leadership of nature and strength of the establishment, themany Muslim countries. Islamists will develop and frame their religious and political narratives. Moreover, Islamic factionsThe Islamic Revolution of 1979 was the most can split once they dominate the scene. Newsuccessful of these movements. Grand Ayatollah factions are born with new perspectives on theKhomeini arrived in Tehran after thirteen years relationship between religion and politics.of exile to implement his theory of Velayat-eFaqih, which he had first articulated in his — Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar is abook The Islamic Government a decade earlier. visiting scholar in the Prince AlwaleedHowever, his naïve view of governance would Bin Talal Centre for Islamic Studies atsoon change. Political realities forced Khomeini the University of reverse his framework and put the survival ofthe state above the implementation of shari’a law.Those who succeeded Khomeini effectively andselectively pursued his secular legacy to furtherentrench both the Islamic state as well as theirown faction. Nonetheless, the Islamic solutionfailed to create the just and prosperous societythat Iranians had struggled to obtain for over acentury. Once the Islamic Republic was forcedto make major concessions in its foreign policy(i.e. acquiring weapons from the US and Israel tocontinue the war against Iraq in the 1980s), manybegan to wonder about the possible meaningsand implications of their religious ideology. Ifthe interests of the Islamic state were moreimportant than its ideological goals, then howfar off the table could those goals potentiallybe pushed? This in turn led many intellectualsas well as marginalised political groups in Iranto question the immutability of the dominantideology. Pushing for a ‘post-religious’ Iran, manyintellectuals asserted that Islam’s completenessdid not mean comprehensiveness. Islam is notand never claimed to be a mega store filled withready-made commodities to satisfy every humanneed. Religion has become obese. It has to beslimmed down and freed from ideology andjurisprudential dogmatism.Now, as the Islamists are coming to the centrestage in the Middle East, it is important to notethat their religious ‘agenda’ is not set in stone.They may enter with a particular ideology, but therealities on the ground can very well transformtheir religious doctrines. The international systemwill test those ideologies while at the same timethe internal political processes will further shape 7
  13. 13. Religion and the politicalparticipation of Muslims in theWestBy Jocelyne CesariIn Europe and more recently in the US, theperception of Islamic activities in public spaces In the same vein, most participants expressed a(mosques/dress code) has been increasingly positive appreciation of their resident country,interpreted as lack of civism. especially when it came to the political and religious freedom they experienced there. ThisThe assumption is that visible Islamic identities is something worth highlighting at a time whenare inversely correlated to civic and political Muslims are under suspicion for their lack ofloyalties. Such an assumption is not validated loyalty or appreciation of western values. Finally,by existing data about Muslims in Europe and in the focus groups’ discussions hinted at a positivethe USA. At the same time, none of the existing correlation between being Muslim and beingsurveys specifically addresses the following a good citizen; that is, the positive influence ofcontroversial question: Is Islam an obstacle or an religion on political participation. This seemsasset in the integration process? to converge with a broader trend abundantly documented among other religious groups in theFocus groups conducted between 2005 and United States and to a lesser extent in Europe.2008 in Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam andBoston by the ‘Islam in the West’ programme are Exploring the Influence of Islamicthe first attempt to provide the beginning of an Religiosity on Political Participationanswer to this question. Numerous surveys in the United States have shown that for all religious groups, religiousA Few Counterintuitive Facts from Our identification increases political and civicFocus Groups Results participation. The more a person attends religiousFirst, Islam is an important element of self- services and events related or associated with aidentification for Muslims but not necessarily the congregation, the more that person gets involvedmost significant or even the exclusive marker of in the greater mainstream political identity. In fact, it is often presented byour focus group participants as an imposition on When it comes to Muslims in the United States,social interactions with their mainstream society. it is not possible to assert as strongly the same positive correlation between religion and politicalSecond, multiple and conflicting meanings are participation, since there is less data to relyassociated with Islam. Conformity to orthodox on. However, the Gallup 2011 data on Muslimspractices (such as dress code and rituals) is often in America did suggest a relationship betweenput in opposition with ‘universal’ Islamic values mosque attendance and political participation:like honesty, justice etc. 50% of respondents who reported high levels of political participation attended mosque servicesThird, a contradiction emerged between at least weekly and 68% at least monthly.participants’ positive views of politicalparticipation and the fact that they actually don’t It is important however to highlight theparticipate that much, especially in formal politics unclear causal relationship between religious(political membership/voting). attendance and civic/political participation for 8
  14. 14. American Muslims. For some groups, like Arab religious attendance influences civic and politicalAmericans, religious engagement does positively participation, while that of others does not.influence political participation; for others, like Other dimensions such as ethnicity and classSouth Asians, it does not. To understand these probably influence both Muslims’ religiosity anddifferences, it is useful to distinguish between alternatively civic/political participation.mosque attendance and subjective dimensionsof religiosity (i.e. prayer and salience of religion Major Takeaways:in daily life). The latter do not have an influence Three major conclusions can be drawn from theon political participation, while the former discussions above. First, the gap is not betweendoes. In this regard, the mosque appears as a religious Muslims and secular Europeans/place for expressing your belonging (i.e. your Americans; it is between the European and theidentification) to the Muslim group. American contexts in which Muslims are living. Across European countries, the level of self-More generally, surveys point out the importance declared religiosity in the general population isof contexts in shaping Islamic group identity. In systematically much lower than it is in the Muslimother words, there is not a direct connection groups, while in the United States, this is notbetween the fact that someone can identify to the case. In other words, the general contextan Islamic group identity and the fact that this of religiosity and social legitimacy of religionsperson is born in a certain ethnic or cultural in each country is the real discriminatory factorMuslim group. Demographic characteristics, necessary to apprehend the situation of Islamnational origin, duration of US residency and and Muslims.age are important elements that influence theprobability for a Muslim to endorse such a group Second, Muslims—who by all indicators attendidentity. religious services more frequently than any other groups in Europe and who declare themselves to be more religious—should be more politically It is not surprising to find and civically engaged. But this does not jive with that some studies support our existing data. Instead, we see that Muslims in the thesis that Muslims’ both Europe and the US have less formal political participation than the average believer of other religious attendance faiths. It may be because other factors like race, influences civic and ethnicity, class and immigrant status weigh more political participation, while heavily than ‘Islam’ on political participation. that of others does not. Undeniably, more data is needed to reallyWhen it comes to Muslims in Europe, the evaluate which forms of religiosity influencechallenge of identifying a positive correlation which forms of political participation and in whatbetween religious and political participation is manner.even higher. First, Muslim religiosity is still largelyunknown and not properly investigated (beyond — Jocelyne Cesari is director of the Islamself-identification and mosque attendance). in the West programme, Harvard andAdditionally, the recent increase of surveys on Johns Hopkins University (www.euro-Muslims in Europe is not very helpful, because results cannot be compared to a controlgroup of other faiths. Instead, these surveyscompare Muslims with a fictitious ‘non-Muslim’population. Due to this lack of consistentdata, it is therefore not surprising to find thatsome studies support the thesis that Muslims’ 9
  15. 15. Islamist participation, westernanxieties and the question ofdemocracy in the Arab-IslamicworldBy Nader HashemiThe widespread and deep-rooted western evolve a form of government that will beanxiety about the prospects for democracy in compatible with their own historical, culturalthe Arab-Islamic world is captured by a famous and religious traditions and yet will bringstatement by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a former individual freedom and human rights to theAmerican UN Ambassador and neo-conservative governed as these terms are understood inintellectual. When asked to comment on the the free societies of the West?2relationship between Islam and democracy,she paused for a moment, thought about the In this essay, I want to offer a brief comment onquestion and then replied, ‘The Arab world is the this poorly understood subject.only part of the world where I’ve been shaken inmy conviction that if you let the people decide,they will make fundamentally rational decisions’.1 One cannot propagate the social conditionsWhile Kirkpatrick’s comments were made more that give rise to Islamicthan twenty years ago, in the aftermath of anAlgerian election that demonstrated pervasive fundamentalism and thensupport for the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), they expect secular liberalcapture an on-going concern in the West about democrats to emerge afterthe possibility of democracy in the Islamic world. the revolution.Two recent elections in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011have similarly revealed the popularity of Islamist To understand the relationship between Islamistparties and the weakness of secular and liberal parties and the struggle for democracy in theparties in the Arab world. Middle East, we must take an introspective look at western policy in the region.3 There isThe question that is being asked today is, Has a critical nexus between authoritarian regimesthe Arab Spring turned into an Arab Winter? in the Arab world, the western support thatOne prominent and influential interpreter of the bolsters them and the political ramifications ofIslamic world, reflecting a widely held concern this support for the future of democracy. Statedamong western intellectuals, has observed: simply, western support for authoritarian regimes in the Arab-Islamic world has had tremendous There is an agonizing question at the heart negative political consequences for the region’s of the present debate about democracy prospects for democracy. Decades of political in the Islamic world: Is liberal democracy repression, particularly of secular civil society, basically compatible with Islam, or is has forced political opposition to move towards some measure of respect for law, some more traditional sectors of society such as the tolerance of criticism, the most that can be mosque. The forces of religion have inadvertently expected from autocratic governments? benefited from the authoritarian policies of the . . . Is it possible for the Islamic peoples to post-colonial Arab state, in part because all 10
  16. 16. rival secular political organisations have been on its own terms, not on the terms of the West orsuffocated or crushed. The 2011 electoral from the perspective of European or Americanresults from Egypt and Tunisia, where Islamist political history. Yes, universal values do exist,parties emerged victorious and secular parties but to expect replicas of European secular andperformed poorly, confirm this point about liberal democratic parties to emerge triumphantoppositional politics in Arab-Islamic societies. in the Arab world is to impose western history onto the Middle East. This erroneous assumptionSimilarly, it is also instructive to briefly examine is misleading, because it assumes that the Middlethe case of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The East has experienced the same intellectual,rise of political Islam in Iran in the wake of the political and economic transformations as1979 Revolution makes perfect sociological those that led to the rise and development ofand political sense. The social conditions democracy in the the decades before the revolution thatwere a specific and direct by-product of the The sociologist Shmuel Eisenstadt coined theauthoritarian modernisation policies of the term ‘multiple modernities’.5 He argued that thewestern-backed Pahlavi regime created a fertile cultural programme of transformation and theground for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in basic institutional constellations that emergedIran. These authoritarian policies undermined the in Europe are not the only path to modernity.forces of democratic secularism and liberalism Other cultures and regions will travel diverse(in part, because they were overthrown in pathways and will have varied experiences ina 1953 CIA military coup) and inadvertently their modernisation processes. In other words,strengthened the forces of political Islam in one model does not fit the entire world. Thisthe lead-up to the 1979 revolution. In short, in observation should be kept in mind as wethe same way that the forces of political Islam attempt to understand the unfolding events inemerged from decades of authoritarianism as the Arab Spring today and the unique path ofthe only credible and organised opposition in democratic development that the Arab world isIran, a similar (though not identical) situation currently traversing.prevails in much of the Arab world today. Todecry this state of affairs is to overlook the — Nader Hashemi is Assistant Professorpolitical consequences of supporting repressive of Middle East and Islamic Politics atauthoritarian regimes. Ultimately, one cannot the Josef Korbel School of Internationalpropagate the social conditions that give rise to Studies, University of Denver.Islamic fundamentalism and then expect secularliberal democrats to emerge after the revolution.Given this enveloping political context, thestrength and popularity of religious movementsmakes perfect sociological sense in part due tolongstanding western support for Middle Easterndictatorships.4 In other words, that famousEnglish aphorism applies: ‘You cannot have your(democratic) cake and eat it too’.There is infinitely more to the question of whyIslamist parties are popular in the Arab world andthe consequences this will have on the futurepolitical trajectory of region. The major omission,however, in the western analysis and depictionof this issue is that the struggle for democracy inthe Arab-Islamic world needs to be understood 11
  17. 17. Revisiting the role ofgovernance from Islamictraditions for future politicalparticipationBy Amjad SaleemIntroductionDemocracy, especially in the Muslim World, is and transcendent principles revealed to himhighly encouraged but seems to be fraught but also sought the consent of all who would bewith obstacles. It is difficult to transplant affected by its implementation. This first Islamicfrom one environment to another, as there state established the importance of consent anddoes not appear to be ‘one model that fits all cooperation for governance by being basedenvironments’. Thus, the journey of democracy on a social contract that was constitutional inis a ‘generational initiative’ that must carefully character—and had a ruler who ruled with theconsider internal and external dynamics, explicit written consent of all the citizens ofcontexts and histories. It cannot be imposed on the state including language of pluralism andpeople, nor can it be expected to be understood citizenship. Yet despite this example, thereor implemented in a short period of time, as appears to be selective amnesia when it comesit is a dynamic process that has gone through to identifying governance mechanisms that area historical evolution. Yet it is important to appropriate for specific circumstances whilstunderstand that solid governance structures being based on eternal principles, and this doesand principles within communities and societies not explain the lack of democracy in manycan help to minimise violence, ensure peaceful Muslim countries. For most Muslim societies, atransformation of conflict through consensual large number of political models were imposeddialogue and politics and foster a sense of through other historical processes and were notenfranchisement of citizens as stakeholders in the product of organic development of politicaltheir own destiny as well as the destiny of their history. Thus, the explanation of why so manycountry. Muslim countries are not currently democratic has more to do with the historical, political,Challenges cultural and economic factors than religiousIn the wake of the Arab Spring, questions factors.are once again being asked about IslamicGovernance and the compatibility of Islam with The issue therefore becomes one of reconcilingdemocracy. Muslim scholars believe there to be a practical understanding of democracy andno inherent contradiction between Islam and governance with context and understanding thedemocracy, as at least 750 million Muslims live in theological framework. For example, Muslims citedemocratic societies of one kind or another.6 the principle of shura (consultative governance/ process) as the first step to democracy. WhilstThe Constitution of Medina is often cited as most scholars will agree that these principles canan example of the compatibility of democratic be a source of democratic ethics in Islam, therepractices and theories with Islam, demonstrating are also differences in its understanding in termsthe proper relationship between divine revelation of whether it is obligatory (3:159) or desirableand a constitution. The Prophet Muhammad (42:38).developed the constitution based on eternal 12
  18. 18. Debate also abounds on the nature of what which also remains almost silent on fundamentalmodern democratic sovereignty (a perception issues of politics, thereby giving the impressionthat it is only the human whim that constitutes that these matters are not to be consideredlaw) means a propos the concept of Islamic within the purview of divine revelation andsovereignty (the principle that God is the primary that the Caliphate, though based on Islamiclaw-giver while agents of the state, the Kalifa norms, was formed within the political norms[God’s agent on earth], enjoy marginal autonomy of the time and the milieu of the early Muslims.necessary to implement and enforce the laws of Abdelwahab El-Affendi8 goes further, sayingtheir sovereign). The issue, though, is not about that the Caliphate was ‘a means to an end’ andwhere sovereignty is placed but actually who not necessarily a blueprint for the future. Aliexercises it and how the de facto sovereignty of Allawi9 talks about a rethinking of the shari’a topeople can be ‘limited’. provide the mechanism through which a new understanding of the meaning of the sacred in Islamic political life can be realised, held together For most Muslim societies, by common values and institutions by conceiving a large number of political an alternative way of ordering people’s lives. models were imposed The concept of governance could be modelled through other historical along the lines of what Al-Farabi described processes and were not as an ‘ideal government’, describing it as the the product of organic ‘community state’ bearing the essentials of a development of political true democracy. The question then becomes, ‘Would the legal system be based on Shari’a history. Law?’ This raises interesting issues about incorporating elements of the Shari’a (which hasUnderstanding these principles and teachings different linguistic, legal and literal meanings thatfrom classical Islamic traditions can help to could give rise to understandings of differentinfluence communities in designing and agreeing definitions and interpretations) via a democraticgovernance structures both at a community and process or enacting it as an official doctrine.higher levels that attempt to address competing Abdullahi An-Na’im10 has argued that a coercivepriorities, avoid violent conflicts and accept enforcement of Shari’a by the state betrays thecompromise. Qur’an’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam and hence argues for a ‘secular’ state thatSome Ideas is neutral to religion and respects the right of itsThe questions related to Islam and governance citizens to live by their faith (i.e. allowing peoplestem from an understanding of the consensus, to be Muslim by conviction and free choice).particularly within Sunni tradition, that it is hard Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mustafato create a theocracy because there has been Ceric11 elaborates on the concept of the ‘socialno divinely guided human being since the contract’ as a way of integrating a communityProphet. Hence, the alternative is developing a ‘founded on the norms that are sanctioned bystate based on the ‘system’ that Islam ordains. religion through its beliefs, faiths and creeds’ withWithin this system, the concept of Kalifa (God’s a society based on ‘the norms of morality thatagent on earth) is key to opening up a pool of are sanctioned by public opinion which ariseseligible participants, even leaders, in governance. from common interests’.Furthermore, it is important to discuss thedifference between Islamic political structures Dina Abdelkader12 cites the classical scholarand Islamic political principles; the latter are Imam al-Shatibi’s work, Al-Muwafaqat, whichwell established, while the former are not provides a seminal contribution to the principletheologically mandated into a single, essential of public welfare in Islam by connotingmodel. issues such as modernity, civil society and governance, which by implication are thoughtMustafa Akyol7 states that there is no clear to be the essence of an ideal state. In drawingdefinition of government within the Qur’an, arguments from the consensus to be found 13
  19. 19. amongst Rousseau, de Tocqueville, Foucaultand Habermas on the importance of religion inpublic life, the case is made for the Muslim worldto develop ideological and legal principles thatdefine their own vision of governance, religionand reason. Andrew March13 uses Rawls’ theoryof liberal societies, relying on a consensusbetween a public conception of justice andpopular religious doctrines, to identify argumentsfor accepting the demands of citizenship in aliberal democracy. This in his mind balances thecommitment between traditional ethics and thereal-life circumstances of Muslim minority andmajority communities. It is important to understand that solid governance structures and principles within communities and societies can help to minimise violence, ensure peaceful transformation of conflictConclusionAll the previously mentioned viewpoints illustratedifferences in thought, which means that thereis considerable scope for discussion on Islamand governance, particularly pertaining tounderstanding issues of conflict resolution andtransformation, because it is misperception andmisunderstanding that set the scene for conflictto arise. — Amjad Saleem is head of communications at the Cordoba Foundation. 14
  20. 20. ‘You shall have your religionand I shall have my religion’:Religion, belief and secularismin contemporary Britain14By Mark HammondThe state of religion and belief in Britain today wider debates about the fundamental nature offeels that it may be at a crossroads. Not just with faith and belief—whether faith is an inherent orthe arrival of a new Archbishop of Canterbury adopted characteristic of a person’s identity andto lead the established Church, but with any whether this means that religious rights shouldnumber of issues that challenge the role of faith have a different level of protection to other rightsin public life. It seems that almost daily we have such as race or gender. How do we all resolveto consider how changing social attitudes can be issues where honesty and strongly held beliefsreconciled with religious belief: how to address are in conflict?the wearing of religious symbols and clothingrequired by belief; how people of faith can hold Increasingly, there is going to be pressure onto their beliefs and still participate in public how far society and governments are going tolife; or how we face up to and tackle fear and be willing to stop at the temple door and allowprejudice motivated by misunderstandings of the religions, or any other private institution, toreal shared history and values of Muslim and non- practice in private what would not be acceptedMuslim communities. in public. To address the challenges of modern life, we need to create much closer and broaderIn our work at the Equality and Human Rights relations with the communities of faith andCommission, we address these issues through those of no faith. It is not good enough for thethree pressing interests in religion and belief. Commission to sit and muse in our ivory tower;First, we have a compelling interest in how all we need to build partnerships with everyone,people and communities of faith live successfully even those who hold views that may be difficultin a modern, largely secular state and society. in the current legal framework of equality andHow can equalities and human rights both human rights. So my first conclusion is that inprotect people’s religion and belief and enable a modern Britain, we need the Commissionthem to live out their faith? Second, we have an to be more active and outward looking andequally compelling concern for how Muslims so help create the partnerships and alliancesin Britain today live, learn, work and worship that can tackle the difficult questions. Withoutalongside those of other faiths and of none. How that, dialogue and understanding progress andcan we start to overcome the challenges Muslim resolution will be impossible.communities and individuals face? And third, weshould be supporting opportunities to people The fundamental element of this dialogue andof faith to play a full part in the public space engagement is respect for pluralism and diversity.of modern Britain and not feel they are being In protecting and advocating our differentexcluded. traditions and customs, we celebrate the greatness and strength of our common humanity.Seeking answers to these questions leads us Pride in one’s culture should not be allowedinevitably into difficult arenas. It leads to much to ignite prejudice, to encourage polarisation 15
  21. 21. between nations and cultures or to marginalise communities in other times and countries, wherethe ‘other’ because they do not copy our norms the best choice appeared to be for Islam toand beliefs that may be peculiar to them. become purely a private faith without a public face. It has some sense, too, for those of usThe ultimate goal of dialogue should not be who administer the law, as it is a tenable andto change ‘the other’ but, rather, to co-exist consistent approach. In the face of continuedpeacefully with the other. I am no expert in pressures from some who would happily burstIslamic studies, but what I have read suggests the down the door and seek to regulate everythingQur’an supports freedom of choice, pluralism and that lies within, it is an approach that may well bereligious diversity when it says, ‘You shall have part of the overall answer.your religion and I shall have my religion’. But I feel that is far from a complete answer. ItI do not think you have to be a historian to be pens faiths inside the temple when there is soworried at times at the level of political and much more people of faith can contribute topublic discourse we have reached. Fact and public life. We must strive for more. The valuesknowledge are no longer the foundations of and examples of people of faith can contributeargument, just optional extras. The history and hugely to a public sphere that is often portrayedreality of Muslim communities in this country is as disenchanted with politics and politiciansclearly one of those areas where myth trumps and in need of better leadership and values thattruth. chime more closely with the challenges and pressures of their own lives. The power of private The power of private morality translated into the morality translated ethical life of the community is a transformative into the ethical life of power. And over time, it can change the laws that reflect and lead society’s views. With that in mind, the community is a as the Qur’an says, ‘Let us go forth and vie with transformative power. each other in doing good’.It is indisputable that Britain has benefited for — Mark Hammond is Chief Executivecenturies from its own Muslim heritage. There of the Equality and Human Rightsis much more to be gained from the sharing Commission.of culture and art, humour and humility. Fromthe positive links formed among differentcommunities in this country, we can reach outand help to promote understanding between thecountries of the Muslim world and Britain.There is a view—which has its merits—that thebroad answer to the problems of religion andbelief and public life in modern Britain is thetemple door response. The argument that inorder for communities of faith to hold onto theirbeliefs, they must recognise that they can holdonto what happens inside the temple or themosque door but not seek to apply it to theworld beyond.That argument is not without its supporters,and it has its parallels in the history of Islamic 16
  22. 22. Overcoming empty debateson assumed incompatibilities:Inventing pragmatic answerson how to live together inpluralismBy Florence LauferThe debate on religion in the public space is Quite another challenge is for western countriesoften based on misleading questions when to officially acknowledge that religious or culturalapplied to Islam in the West. First, ‘integration’ is homogeneity is more myth than fact, that theirnot the same thing as living together in diversity. societies have become increasingly diverse andWhile a part of the Muslim population in the that this is an asset. To advance this awareness,West has indeed an immigrant background, measures should support the whole of societylet us remember that Islam is rooted in the old in ‘integrating’ the new reality of diversity andcontinent’s history and that many if not most learning to deal with it positively.European Muslims are full-fledged citizens oftheir countries. For all of them, integration is not In the turmoil of economic and political crisesrelevant. on both sides of the Atlantic, the two principles above have been seriously mishandled and eroded. The bogey of ‘secularism under threat’ Conflict with religious then came in the spotlight, along with anxiety dimensions can oppose about the expression of religious beliefs in the clashing worldviews, public sphere. diverging actions, or reveal Most European and North American countries a tension between one’s have established a national secular identity at the worldview and the other’s core of their modern societies, albeit with very actions. diverse notions of what this implies. The shared history of struggle for the separation of State andWhen it comes to integration, the ‘rights and Church stands de facto as a common identityduties’ of Muslim immigrants are not different marker. This recent issue is still quite sensitive infrom those of non-Muslims. Western countries collective representations, as many wonder whatpride themselves on universal legal and social constitutes the essence of our societies now thatnorms that guarantee equal rights to all: The host Christianity seems to have been removed fromcountry provides the framework to welcome the public sphere and from most political andand support immigrants, and the newcomers moral debates.gradually increase their contributions andparticipation. In case of infringement to the For some, this sets the stage for a comparison—norms or ‘poor integration’, there is no reason or a competition—with other religions, whetherfor the relevant social or legal response to be explicitly or subconsciously. For instance, thedifferent, whether for a Muslim or a non-Muslim. Swiss right-wing politician Oskar Freysinger remarks that the West has lost the spiritual battle 17
  23. 23. against Islam and thereby justifies his resistance a powerful means to counter manipulation andto the influence of Islam. Despite the extreme populism.diversity in the practices of Muslims, claims aremade that Islam is expressed more visibly than Tools for transformation of conflicts with aother religions, and this is certainly at the core religious dimension should also be mobilised,of reactions of fear and rejection. As a result, as described by Simon Mason,15 Abbas Aroua,16Muslims in the West are faced with a terrible J.N. Bitter17 and Jonathan Benthall.18 On conflictsparadox: They are asked to engage proactively about expression of faith in the public sphere, weand prove that they belong, yet they are blamed have seen that religion acts as an identity markerof ‘flaunting their difference’ when too visible. rather than as a core issue. The parties to the conflict each have their own worldview, a culturalBecause this emotionally charged issue system of beliefs and values, in which they rootcombines the impossible equation of modern their attitudes and actions. A dynamic interactionnational identities with fear of cultural difference, exists between the two levels, and religion isit has become the topic of choice for political therefore a ‘worldview that is flexible, even as itinstrumentalisation. This is how ‘failure of remains coherent over time’.19 Religious systemsmulticulturalism’, equated with the visibility evolve constantly with internal re-adaptationof religious minorities, became a no-brainer between worldviews and actions, and this canunifying narrative. Due to misinformation and lead to noticeable tensions and uneven degreesgaps between policies and public perception, of coherence. This ‘intra-dialogue’ is influenced,such scapegoating catches easily and allows whether constructively or not, by externalxenophobic parties to gain political capital. factors.I would like to offer here a few ideas inspired Conflict with religious dimensions can opposeby the programme I coordinate with the clashing worldviews, diverging actions, orCordoba Foundation of Geneva, which promotes reveal a tension between one’s worldview andexchange between cultures and civilisations the other’s actions. Roughly simplified, theand contributes to advancing peace. Set up in French headscarf debates illustrate a case ofpartnership with the Swiss Department of Foreign disagreement on actions rather than on values:Affairs, our action research programme analyses French officials call to ban headscarves in thesocio-political and religious dynamics in regions public space (action), because they consider itat risk of conflict and implements tailor-made against gender equality and work opportunitiesconflict transformation strategies in the Muslim for Muslim women (values). French Muslimsworld and on Islam in the West. defend the right to wear the headscarf, because they consider that it protects women’s integrityCordoba’s approach of ‘collectively shared and enables them to lead an active life. Asknowledge’ can be helpful in steering public with positions and interests in mediation, wediscourse away from misleading questions recommend a ‘connect-disconnect’ exercisethat polarise and hinder real debates. It builds between worldviews and actions, a ‘back-and-understanding on conflictive issues in critical forth translation of meaning from the religious todialogue with political and religious stakeholders the political’.5 This helps parties grow aware of(at the same time subjects and actors) and allows the dual aspect of the disagreement and enablesfor an objective and empathic analysis that is accurate framing of the dialogue and negotiation.acceptable to all actors. The process createsspace to learn, exchange and build trust, and It seems fairly unethical and unproductive forit can identify practical entry points for conflict one to question the other’s religion based ontransformation. Bringing together academics, one’s own understanding (i.e. to step in betweenpolicymakers and community leaders, this an individual and his/her worldview), becauseapproach could be applied in the West to religion represents an absolute—albeit evolving—address sensitive issues around Islamic traditions, truth for an individual. The goal of the negotiationsuch as dress codes, ritual slaughtering, places should therefore not be to agree on values, ‘butof worship or family norms, and can prove to be to negotiate means of peaceful coexistence between parties that are compatible with their 18
  24. 24. values’.5 This is particularly true for tensions onreligion in the public space, where a pragmaticfocus must be put on living together. We need to re-centre the concept of citizenship on full participation in society rather than on ethnic or religious homogeneity.In the same line, I would argue that debates onnational identity cannot be constructive butonly polarizing at this stage. It seems unlikely toachieve satisfactory clarity on what is the Frenchworldview (rooted in universal human rights orin Christianity?), let alone the French Muslimworldview (evolving, very diverse). This is why weneed to re-centre the concept of citizenship onfull participation in society rather than on ethnicor religious homogeneity. Negotiation wherestakeholders invent the practical answers to thechallenges of coexisting in pluralist societies isthe best way forward to build a shared visionof society that overcomes faith and cultureboundaries. Transparent and inclusive processesof diapraxis (dialog through practice) will helpnot only to find solutions but also to build mutualrespect and trust. — Florence Laufer is programme director at the Cordoba Foundation of Geneva. 19
  25. 25. Embracing your neighbour:Pluralism and IslamBy Sajjad RizviCan Islam embrace pluralism?20 It would be a action as an expression of who we are.25 Eachbland world indeed in which everyone wore the of us possesses a basic autonomy to choosesame clothes, spoke the same way, had the same and assert our will, unencumbered by processestastes and thoughts. We intuitively know that it of coercion—thus, negative liberty becomesis good to differ in matters of taste. Reasonable one of the foundational myths of our time. Onedisagreement is a basic state of life and I would problem with such autonomy is that it could leadargue one that ought to be embraced—and I to a collectivity of selfish persons unaffectedinclude religious people embracing difference by others and unthinking in their pursuit of theiras well. While I do not adhere to the notion that will—subjectivism and emotivism gone mad.26conflict in our contemporary world is primarilyreligious in nature, I am also not convincedthat religious people can provide a theological An ethics and publicsolution to conflict.21 Conflicts, like much else in theology of mutualitylife, are neither monocausal nor monosoluble. needs to be more thanBut clearly, people of faith do need to articulatereasons for co-operation, for mutual respect and placing one’s beliefs in thecompassion to live fruitful and fulfilling lives in same basket as others andthis world. engaging in rational debate in the publicKnowledge and TruthReasonable disagreement is the norm in the The converse of this liberal autonomy is theworld; each of us is capable of providing a communitarian insight that in fact we are peoplerational account for our beliefs, and we take embedded in contexts and communities and thatour claims seriously.22 For many, this is the our personhood, identity and ability to exercisebasic reason why we ought to hold a relativistic moral agency is deeply attached to thoseconcept of truth and to embrace pluralism.23 A contexts in which we find ourselves.27 The dangerpragmatic approach to truth could be useful: with this position is that we see individualsThe Qur’an’s recognition of difference as a basic purely in terms of their membership of suchsocial fact, which is of no consequence, only groups and therefore consider both religiousprivileges the moral as a mark of distinction and political relationships to exist between thoseand not the epistemological.24 Similarly, the groups: The personhood of the individual isfamous poet Rūmī expresses this perspectival therefore dissolved in an extended corporatepragmatism and lack of understanding through personhood of the community.28 Autonomythe famous Buddhist parable of the blind men and selfhood are multilogically determined andand the elephant. Mutuality actually assists us in socially embodied. We need a philosophy notunderstanding—and pragmatism may well be the so much of the ‘I’ but of the ‘We’ in which the ‘I’best approach to epistemic pluralism. does not dissolve but is nurtured and nurtures the moral impulses of the ‘We’. Muslim societiesOntology of persons need to appreciate the need for balancing theOne of the fundamental features of modern life individual and the community in these termsis the desire to be true to oneself, to be free and to deal with the non-Muslim other at bothto determine one’s own ideas and courses of of these levels as well. The theological traditions 20
  26. 26. of Islam address the individual as a person with Political theology and accommodationobligations to fulfil moral agency (takl¯f), but they i Humanism requires states to recognise andalso address persons as believers with mutual embrace religiously inspired public policy andties and obligations (ayyuh¯ l-ladh¯n aman¯ ) and a i ¯ u to accommodate ‘theocratic communities’as humans (ayyuh¯ l-n¯ s). a a within the public sphere as long as they agree to certain ground rules, whether identified asReligiously inspired humanism the Rawlsian ‘original position’ or within theSo where does religion impinge in this rubric of the overlapping consensus withinpublic sphere upon the ontology of mutual deliberate rational, public discourse required ofpersonhood? Religious ethics often concern thinking citizens.33 An ethics and public theologythe moral psychology of persons: Our selfhood of mutuality needs to be more than placingemerges and is negotiated in the public sphere, one’s beliefs in the same basket as others andand our morality is enacted based on what engaging in rational debate in the public: Itwe are. If modern, post-Enlightenment ethics must also allow for the practice of faith, of ritualis primarily concerned with the value one engagement and of sharing of experience thatascribes to the act, then most religious ethics is far too often we find uncomfortable.concerned with the person. Both scripture andthe philosophical traditions of Islam discuss the — Sajjad Rizvi is Associate Professor ofmodes of human becoming, the life of a self that Islamic Intellectual History, Universitycomes into existence with a body to define the of Exeter.person, and the human traverses and developsin an almost unlimited manner in this worldexistence and continues the process of renewingand becoming with the death of the body, withits resurrection and with the further resurrectionsand lives of the self in the afterlife.Why does a believer read the Qur’an? The actof reading the Qur’an is a ‘reading act’ that hasboth lectionary and illectionary aspects. Theillectionary has the force of reading as a spiritualpractice in which the words and utterancesstrike the heart and have the effect of self-transformation, leading one to realise one’smutuality.29 The lectionary is the consistentreading of the exhortation to the good: for thehuman rooted in a religious consciousness to dogood, to seek good and to cooperate for and inthe good.30 The good cannot be achieved by theindividual or even just by a small group but ratherthrough mutuality and cooperation: The Qur’anexhorts competing with one another for thegood in the context of recognition of religiousdiversity.31 This religiously inspired humanism isabout activating the human imagination to seethe other as the self.32 21
  27. 27. Conceptual views on integrationprocesses and issues of Muslimcitizens/residents in the WestBy Prof. Abdellatif BencherifaDiscussions of the political, cultural and inter- that based comparatively on the lessons fromindividual relationships between Muslims and historical observation, the West does not seemnon-Muslims, widespread and baffling as they are to attach the appropriate importance to thenowadays (when issues of tolerance, mistrust, dimension of historicity in the cultural andviolence, cultural clashes etc. prevail), have been social change in the land of Islam; Islam isdetermined by a set of value assumptions and, at certainly one of the major old-world monotheisttimes, prejudices that imbricate politics, religion religions with fourteen hundred centuries behindand culture and are not always adequately and/ it. Incorporating the very historical dimensionor explicitly formulated. In western countries, would simply show that: (i) the way Islam appearsamong others, the focus discussion topics that today is not similar to what it was in the past;dominate the scene involve the question of how Islam has been (and still is) evolving, as areMuslims living in the West do actually express Muslims; (ii) In this, the general trend of Islamboth their religious beliefs and their cultural evolution compares to that observed in otherspecificity. monotheistic religions, though not in comparable speed or intensity. This evolution of Islam is ‘timeThis brief note argues for a conceptual staggered’ yet essentially similar to what the twoframework that pays particular attention to both other monotheist religions experienced (earlierthe vertical, time-bound (i.e. historical) dimension in time). It is however argued that, ultimately,and the vertical one (i.e. spatially defined by the results should at the end be similar. Thatthe areas where Islam does exist). In pragmatic is, there is no absolute deterministic fatality interms, such a relativistic framework may have the today’s reality of Islam. The argument is about anability to highlight the unquestionable facts and inevitable closeness of change, which the currentallow for the distinction with the unverified views discussions either overlook or marginalise.and assessments; ultimately, it would authorisea better and certainly optimistic perspective for Second, Islam is first and foremost about ainternalising the religious distinctions (and their religion, of course (i.e. a personal experienceimplications) within western countries. that involves the private life sphere). As a result of the abovementioned historicity dimension,The conceptual framework is based on three the ultimate stage of the evolution shall consistfundamental premises, which need to be taken of the limitation of Islam strictly speaking to thisinto consideration. individual, existential sphere. In fact, the rise of so-called political Islam in the last quarterFirst, the prevailing discussions of the status of century should not lead to blurring the viewof Islam and Muslim residents in the West, as of the kind of Islam that prevailed (and is stillwell as their relational implications, seem to be prevailing) from this perspective, which is aboutbased on absolutistic, if not totalitarian, views this individual sphere and experience. The(where Islam as a religion appears to be anti- practice of Islam in Islamic countries, with a fewwestern cultural elements and a threat to them). exceptions, is that of a quest of spiritual aim,Viewed from the perspective of an academic as much individually as the collective societaltreatment, this is simply misleading. It is argued processes allow. Shari’a and common laws 22
  28. 28. live together, side by side, with an objective West exhibit a value system that is far closerdistribution of areas of application. Morocco and to the ideal-typical one of the West than is theNorth Africa are good examples of this. In relation case within the Islamic countries and societiesto Muslims in the West today, it is interesting to themselves. The statistical observation may notnote that the first generations of migrants in the result in 100% being integrated, but should itWest were characterised by a peaceful, non- be 100% in the first place? Viewed as a social-conflict-oriented Islam—if not all of them, at least historical process, integration is actually working!the largest, docile majority (as it has been called). On many traditional stereotypical issues (e.g.The early Moroccan migrants of the 1950s and sexual freedom, abortion, gender equality,1960s in France, the Netherlands and Belgium as divorce, ascription etc.), results corroboratewell as the early generation of Turks in Germany this fact. In Islamic countries (say Morocco),in about the same period are good examples of seasonal trips of so-called migrants of secondthis distinction. and third generations show that their members do not have many cultural and behaviouralThird, the issues of integration of Muslim citizens similarities left, compared to the standards ofand/or residents living in western countries do their (supposed) country of origin (as perceivednot necessarily have to be related in a linear, in these countries). The change is gradual, in linemechanical way to Islam in Muslim countries. As with the historicity dimension; it is bound to growit is well documented, most of today’s Muslim and intensify with time. True, it is also argued thatcitizens/residents in the West are born in, have there are faster changes within western culturesgrown up in, and have known only their homeland at the same moment; could it then be that thein the West. Fresh migrants from Islamic areas gap is unbridgeable?rarely are associated with the set of issues thatinvolve their coreligionists from ‘indigenous’ The focus on groups that exhibit non-integrativegenerations. The diversity of contexts of Islam in features of western culture needs a betterIslamic countries prompts the necessity of taking explanation and in fact begs the question ofthe nature of Islam and Muslims in the West why this is so. Why is the change either slowjust as a type of culturally and geographically or discriminated? Should the treatment ofself-defined type, one that exists among other this question necessarily imply some kind oftypes! A locally grown chemistry is more likely built-in Islamic set of inevitable fate? Manyto account for this specific, rather than built-in, actually argue, based on evidence, that theredeterministic fate of Islam as a religion. is much to be done in the areas of tolerance, polarisation and stigmatisation; biases againstNext, let us turn to the intricate web of Muslim minorities; poverty etc., which have theirdeterminations in the issues of integration of explanatory share in this situation. A comparativeMuslims in the West. approach within western counties might help verify such a view: The case of Muslims living inThe issue of Islamic practice and tradition in the Americas (US, Canada, Southern Americanrelation with the question of integration of States) is far different from their situationMuslims dominates in the current debate in the in Europe and is in line with the previousWest. A careful investigation—say, for example, explanation. There, despite the relative latenessa statistically conducted one—may reveal that of mass migration of Muslims, no problems ofindicators of integration aspects are more such magnitude as in Europe are found. It isprevailing among Muslims of the West than what at least important to attach a proportionatethe media and the public discussion sphere importance to the very migrant policies at stakereveal; there seems to be a fashionable bias in the European countries to account for thistowards those non-integration indicators despite situation.their secondary statistical weight (just as adelayed train is discussed more than the many — Prof Abdellatif Bencherifa is tenured attrains that strictly adhere to their schedules). Rabat Mohammed V University and isThere are already data indicating that the largest the former president of Meknes Moulayproportion of Muslim citizens/residents in the Ismail University. 23
  29. 29. Muslims in a liberal publicsphere34By Maleiha MalikSince 9/11 and 7/7, the topic of Islam and been the subject of heated public debates andMuslims ‘and the West’ as well Islam and legal regulation.Muslims ‘in the West’ has become prominent.35Comparative analysis between the USA and In the USA, the Islamic headscarf has not causedEurope is important, but it needs to be related the same controversy as it has in the specificity of each historical, social But there have been other manifestations ofand political context.36 We need to examine anti-Muslim prejudice. One example is thecommonalities between nation states to mobilisation against a mosque at Ground Zeroexchange best practices and also because anti- by ‘Stop the Islamisation of America’. AnotherMuslim sentiment in western liberal democracies example is the American ‘anti-shari’a movement’has a transnational character. that has led to anti-shari’a legislation in Florida and other state legislatures. The political mobilisation against Islam and Muslims has also Challenge the orientalism had a transnational aspect. The French headscarf and racism that controversy has had influence beyond the misrepresents practice. territorial and jurisdictional limits of France in other countries such as Canada.38 Geert Wilders and Anders Gravers (Stop the Islamisation ofIn the USA, a strong national identity is perceived Denmark) travelled to the USA to support theto be available for all ‘newcomer’ Americans American political mobilisation against buildingwho wish to adopt it. The challenge is to extend a mosque at Ground Zero. This export–importconstitutional protection and democratic politics of anti-Muslim prejudice across nation-stateto include those groups who were historically boundaries requires a precise analysis ofexcluded or who are now marginalised because integration in a transnational context.of prejudice in the present.37 In Europe, nationalidentity depends on complex factors such as European and American Muslims can behistory, race and language. These seemingly more easily integrated if two strategies areimmutable criteria make it more difficult for simultaneously deployed. First, it is importantMuslim ‘newcomers’ to become integrated into to eliminate the orientalism and racism thatEuropean nation states. distort our understanding of Islam and Muslims in the public sphere.39 Second, Muslims needEurope and the USA have liberal democraticsystems for regulating Islam and Muslims. The to be included in deliberative discourses withinUS constitution safeguards freedom of religion mainstream political institutions as well as civiland equal protection for American Muslims. The society and the media.European Convention on Human Rights protectsfreedom of religion, but its unified framework Debates about integration often focus on howco-exists with significant diversity in the way in Muslims should adapt themselves to liberalwhich Muslims are integrated into the European democracy. But liberals should also undertakepublic sphere. In the UK, the Islamic headscarf introspection. They need to challenge thehas, mainly, been unproblematic. Yet, across the orientalism and racism that misrepresentschannel in France, the Islamic headscarf has practices such as the Islamic headscarf or mosque minarets as a threat to the nation rather 24