Modernity & Islam

Bin Laden and Other Thoroughly Modern Muslims by Charles Kurzman displays the common negative viewpoint of Americans on the Islamic religion after the attacks of 9/11 and other violence that has occurred within the religion. The author goes into detail on how there is much more the religion of Islam than just extremism and violence, which is extremely true. However, the modern viewpoint of Americans and the west is that the religion is mainly based on danger and violence. This is also because this opinion is more globalized by the media, which “has portrayed the radical Islamism exemplified by Osama Bin Laden as medieval, reactionary, and eager to return the Islamic world to its seventh-century roots.” (Kurzman) This can be considered true to an extent, for a majority of Islamists regard early Islamic years as a “golden era”, and model their actions after the Prophet Muhammed and his early followers. However, this does not mean that all Islamists aspire to be violent and dangerous, they have sets of beliefs and methods of living similar to any other religion as well. For example, they believe that it is necessary for them to abide by the Islamic Sharia, which stems from the Prophet Muhammed’s teachings and serves as a guide for them to live life by. It is similar in some ways to the Ten Commandments for it is something that religious Islamic people follow very closely. Though there are both radical Islamists and those who practice Islamic Liberalism, they both share the same views in plenty circumstances. Many historical Radical Islamists, such as Osama Bin Laden, have received excellent higher educations in the west and that is something that Islamic Liberalists admire. The goal of each of these types of Islamic followers is to modernize to their full capacity, and getting an education in the west is one of the most modern things they are able to do. However, getting a western education and modernizing can cause them to forget their early traditions and ideals because they are busy keeping up with current day life and actions in the west. Americans also consistently get the wrong ideas from the media and do not keep up with the life of Islamists, so this causes many Americans to live in fear of the Islamists in their nation. Though this is a problem in our current day and time, there is still a possibility for peace to exist between Americans and Islamists. This issue deals with trust, which is where the views of Giddens come into play.

In Anthony Giddens’ book, The Consequences of Modernity, he has many different definitions of the word “trust”. On page 33 he quotes, “Trust is precisely the link between faith and confidence, and it is this which distinguishes it from “weak inductive knowledge.” A majority of American citizens to not have the “faith and confidence” in those who are Islamists, and this underlies the problem of trust issues with the religion. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, there was still a lack of trust in the religion as a whole, but it was far less than the lack of trust there was after. After the 9/11 attacks, the lack of trust became extremely serious. People felt unsafe seeing Islamists in the street, sitting next to them on the plane, and in many other circumstances. This is the problem, one set of radical Islamists furthered the poor set of views on the religion and its followers as a whole, and now many people adapted these views as a modern concept. However, there is still a chance that there could be peace between the west and Islamists. The group of extreme Islamists (which is not as large as it used to be a while back) must come to a realization of western ideals and learn to appreciate them, rather than practice the extreme acts they have learned all their lives. Upon doing so, we can live as one again, and Islamists can achieve the peace that they have long wished for.

5 thoughts on “Modernity & Islam

  1. Connor,

    I really loved when you said this: “the modern viewpoint of Americans and the west is that the religion is mainly based on danger and violence. This is also because this opinion is more globalized by the media…” This made me think back to a TV show that used to air on TLC. The show documented the lives of American Muslims and how they still faced discrimination though they were very Americanized. What is even more troublesome is how closely-linked Islam and Christianity are and yet many people are still very discriminatory. No matter how Muslims strive to “Americanize” themselves, do you think they’ll still face discrimination moving forward?

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  2. “A majority of American citizens to not have the “faith and confidence” in those who are Islamists, and this underlies the problem of trust issues with the religion” is a very true statement. You using the attacks on 9/11 is a really good and strong example of trust, faith, and confidence. After 9/11 the citizens of America loss all trust and faith for any Islam group. I am personally one of those Americans that have a bad though towards the Muslim faith. All thought we all know that only a small group of Muslim faith were part of the attack of 9/11 we are assuming they are all one.

    Would this happen to an organization that could be formed here in America? If a group of people formed a group acted the same way would the citizens of America think the same way of them?

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  3. As the world become more influenced by the west, so does the religion and the people who practice Islam. Violence is being spread through forms of extremist groups like ISL and Hezbollah, but that is only a small minority of actual Muslims.You are absolutely right when you say that this is how most Americans view Muslims, because ever since the attacks on 9/11, many stereotypes were formed. American’s ignorance of a culture leads to this single sided view as well. When you mention trust, and how we lost trust in Muslims because of these attacks you mention Giddens, when he talks about trust. If you want to travel the world then you have to trust in the mode of transportation you are taking. If someone sees a man with a turban on an airplane, you can bet that they will feel a little bit less safe, and that is only because they don’t trust them. Do you feel that we lost trusts in our government after 9/11 as well?

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  4. As the world become more influenced by the west, so does the religion and the people who practice Islam. Violence is being spread through forms of extremist groups like ISL and Hezbollah, but that is only a small minority of actual Muslims.You are absolutely right when you say that this is how most Americans view Muslims, because ever since the attacks on 9/11, many stereotypes were formed. American’s ignorance of a culture leads to this single sided view as well. When you mention trust, and how we lost trust in Muslims because of these attacks you mention Giddens, when he talks about trust. If you want to travel the world then you have to trust in the mode of transportation you are taking. If someone sees a man with a turban on an airplane, you can bet that they will feel a little bit less safe, and that is only because they don’t trust them. Do you feel that we lost trusts in our government after 9/11 too?

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  5. As you made clear in your post, the Islamic religion receives an unfair amount of discrimination based on a minority group. Like all massive groups, a small portion of people can ruin the image of a whole almost permanently. As much as I like to think that I have an open mind, I would be lying if I said that I haven’t felt uneasy when I see a man wearing a turban in an airport. I would like to think that those uneasy feelings would go away after time, but after more extremist groups in the east pop up, I find it harder to have trust in the religion as a whole. It’s a shame that this is the case for me and many other people, but until faith and confidence is restored, Muslims, both peaceful and extremist, will continue to be subject to lack of trust. Is the solution to this issue simply to become more open minded, or is it more complex than that?

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