A paranoid, abhorrent obsession

It was a pleasure to have read Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian:

Last week Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch polemicist, spoke to a gathering of what The Spectator called “Britain’s biggest brains – politicians, editors, academics”. She told them that they were “actually at war, not just with Islamism, but with Islam itself”. Apparently, a good Muslim has no choice but to strive “to establish Sharia law”. Martin Amis, too, has recently informed us that moderate Muslims, if they ever existed, have lost out to radicals in Islam’s civil war. In any case, Islam is “totalist”: “There is no individual; there is only the umma – the community of believers.”

Never perhaps in history has so much nonsense been so confidently peddled about a population as large and diverse as this planet’s billion-plus Muslims. Within the past decade an Islamic movement has led Indonesia towards democracy, while market reforms in Turkey have created a new and religious middle class that now challenges the power of a secular elite.

Each one of the national realities Muslims inhabit is prodigiously complex and ceaselessly evolving, shaped as much by geopolitics – imperial conquest, the cold war, the war on terror – as by internal conflicts of class, religion and ethnicity. Closely examined, Muslim societies briskly dissolve our complacent, parochial notions about religion, democracy, secularism and capitalism. They expose, too, the notion of a monolithic Islam pressing down uniformly on all believers everywhere as a crude caricature.

Read the full article here

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