In the first of six articles on religious revivalism and Muslim-Western relations, Marc Gopin, James Laue professor of world religions, diplomacy and conflict resolution at George Mason University, explains the short falling of most post-Enlightenment policymakers and bureaucrats who are ill-equipped to understand and appreciate the new rise in religiosity around the world. “If religious revival is part of the illness of today’s extremism, the cure needs to appeal to the same thing – religious passion –in a manner that affirms the common bonds of social contracts in civil society. The best way to do this is by studying and supporting the extraordinary women and men who are doing just that.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 12 September 2006)
In the second article of a series on religious revivalism and Muslim-Western relations, Nader Hashemi, a post-doctoral fellow in political science at Northwestern University looks beyond religious doctrine to explain the current rise in fundamentalism. “In the context of the debate on Islamic fundamentalism, an explanation has often been sought by focusing on the doctrinal character of Islam and its alleged anti-modern ethos. While it is tempting to do so, especially in our post-September 11th world, focusing exclusively on ideology at the expense of sociology and history limits our understanding and clouds our judgment of this important and emotionally charged topic.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 19 September 2006)
In the third article in a series on religious revivalism and Muslim-Western relations, Abbas Barzegar, a graduate student at Emory University, considers the impact of militant Islam on Muslim societies and looks at existing resources that these communities and countries have developed to tackle it. “By recognising that Muslims the world over have strong and sincere ethical commitments toward the eradication of all forms of corruption, vice and extremism, Western leaders and thinkers might find successful partners in places they never imagined.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 26 September 2006)
In this fourth article in a series on religious revivalism and Muslim-Western relations, Amina Rasul-Bernardo, lead convener of the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, considers the roots of Muslim fundamentalism in the Philippines as well as the tools that are available, and are being employed, to provide productive alternatives to joining radical religious groups. “We need to ask ourselves: do we force these devout, young Muslims towards the path of violent radicalisation through prejudice, ignorance and neglect? Or do we provide them the space to live their lives, accepted as fellow citizens? I, for one, have always believed that the threads of diversity, when accepted and celebrated by the nation, create a beautiful tapestry of its peoples.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 3 October 2006)
In this fifth article in a series on religious revivalism and Muslim-Western relations, Kathryn Joyce, a New York-based writer, describes some of the messages and activities with which young people are being lured to Christian fundamentalism. Making a comparison across faiths, she argues that “It’s this fervour of submission, obedience and self-sacrifice taken to the level of self-annihilation that informs youth fundamentalist movements across the religious spectrum…”, and argues that “parents and community leaders share a joint responsibility in steering our youth away from robotic commitment, to a life of more meaningful choices.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 10 October 2006)
In this sixth and last article in a series on religious revivalism and Muslim—Western relations, Faiz Khan, a writer/lecturer on Islam and M.D., outlines some of the underlying relationships and similarities between the “Muslim world” and the West: “…there are underlying relationships between these supposed separate worlds that exist in the basic foundations of their cultures”. He further concludes that, “All humans – be they theocentric or theophobic — desire to spend their time on this earth with their rights secured, free to enjoy their pursuits within a peaceful and ordered society.”
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 17 October 2006)
The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
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