Thursday, September 13, 2007

A fifth column? Hardly

America's Muslims six years after 9/11. An analysis by Der Spiegel. American exceptionalism again.
It is almost 1 p.m., time for noon prayers, and Abdul Malik Mujahid, 55, is in his office on the second floor of Chicago's Downtown Islamic Center, preparing for his sermon. On his desk are a Koran, a pad of paper and a Blackberry. A telephone rings in the next room as people hurry through the corridors.

Soon Mujahid takes the elevator to the fourth floor, carrying the text of his sermon under his arm. The 200 men waiting for him in the prayer room are dressed in jeans and in suits. They have slipped away from their offices for lunch, removed their shoes and staked out their spots on the carpet. Now they want to hear Mujahid's Friday sermon.

He nods to the congregation. Mujahid is a short, elegant man. His gray beard is carefully trimmed and he has a smooth voice. He turns toward Mecca and recites the Fatiha, the opening Sura in the Koran. Then he quickly gets to his point: "My brothers, we can all contribute to reducing our energy consumption," he says. "That must be your very own jihad, your fight against global warming."
There is now a Muslim member in Congress (aside: one startling number leaped out in the breakdown given of members of Congress in the article: There are 153 Catholics. The largest single group. Really? Would one know otherwise?), a deputy mayor of Los Angeles is Muslim, a councilman from Houston. If there is any real chance for a moderate Islam to develop and grow, I suspect it's in the US.


Mac said...

There have been Muslim MPs and members of the Lords in the British Parliament and MPs in the Canadian Parliament for years and years. (The Reform Party of Canada's spokesman for French Canadian affairs was a Gujarati Muslim who represented a riding in Edmonton, Alberta, which indicated to some that those hyper-right wingers did have a sense of humour.) And there is certainly a moderate Islam in India and Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world other than in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

It's not really a matter of moderate Islam growing and thriving; that's been so for as long as Islamic civilisation has existed and it's immoderate Islam which is the new development. Rather, it's a matter of Muslims and non-Muslims feeling comfortable with each other. N'est-ce pas?

Gashwin said...

I should have clarified a bit: yes there are moderate forms of Islam in the South Asia, Southeast Asia and so on. However, it seems to me (or to my jaundiced eyes) that these -- perhaps even India, though I just don't know about about that -- are being marginalized by a very powerful and resurgent Wahabist strain of things.

It's also in a place like the US (and of course I should say North America and include Canada in this too) that there is a healthier interaction with modernity and democracy.

Just intuitions, which could very well be incomplete or even wrong.