Changes within, Challenges without
The Structure for an Inclusive and Progressive Understanding of the Faith
The thirteen articles I have chosen embody some of my deepest concerns about the Muslim community and humanity at this juncture in history. Global hegemony which impacts directly or indirectly upon Muslims everywhere is partly responsible for the spread of terrorism and the growth of bigotry within the community. It also explains why a siege mentality which has strengthened the hold of exclusive minded, conservatively oriented religious leader upon a significant segment of the community, has become more pervasive in recent years.
While global hegemony and other forces external to the community have shaped its outlook, there are also internal factors that have molded its thinking on religious issues. The religious elites developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the political elites of the day as they worked hand in glove to perpetuate their power. Certain conservative notions of the place of woman in society, the role of non-Muslim minorities, and the sacrosanct status of the Muslims criminal code can be traced back to this matrix of power forged by an incestuous religious-cum-political nexus.
The articles in this book show how the overwhelming authority of the religious elites has given rise ta a situation where prescriptions and prohibitions contained in Islamic jurisprudence are sometime more readily accepted by the Muslim mind than the more universal principles enshrined in the Noble Qur’an.