The Challenges and Opportunities of Islam in the West 2

When we hear about Islam in today’s world, it’s often articles like this one: Global outcry at death of Iraqi archbishop. We should all absolutely condemn this outrage, which has been attributed to al-Qaeda by Iraq’s prime minister.

Recently, I’ve seen another side of Islam at a 3-day symposium called Challenges and Opportunities of Islam in the West: The Case of Australia. There, we heard a keynote address by Tariq Ramadan in which he discussed three areas: Culture, Identity and Loyalty. This is my take on what he said:

Culture is not to be equated with religion. A religion exists in a culture, but culture is much wider. A Muslim is not defined by religion (just as a Christian is not).

Identity is not a single reality. A person is a child, parent, friend, Aussie, Liberal voter, Muslim … As in the case of culture, a person’s identity can not be reduced to a religious identity. All Muslims are not the same (just as all Christians are not).

Loyalty is something dear to Muslims, who see themselves as part of the umma, the world-wide fellowship of Moslem people. Yet loyalty to the umma should not be uncritical. If part of the umma is acting wrongly—e.g., in carrying out terrorist acts—others in the umma have a duty to speak out against it (just as Christians have a duty to speak out against offensive words spoken and acts done in the name of Christ).
Irfan Yusuf, another speaker at the symposium, and one with the skills of a stand-up comic, is one Moslem who is speaking out. I was interested in an article by Irfan the other day in the Sydney Morning Herald: Australian Islam needs an Aussie accent. If we’re looking for peace in the world, then I’d like to hear more of Irfan’s quest.


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