Is Islam compatible with [blank]?

Here’s a quick exercise: go to Google and start typing the following: “Is Islam compatible with.” What are some of the predictions Google gives you for the end of that sentence? I get: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam compatible with modernity? Is Islam compatible with secular pluralistic societies? Is Islam compatible with evolution?

Google search predictions for the phrase "Is Islam compatible with..."

In comparison, when I type, “Is Christianity compatible with,” I get evolution, capitalism, yoga, and free masonry. Hinduism gets only one prediction: Christianity. Buddhism gets science, Christianity, atheism, and Judaism. Incidentally, there are no predictions for “Is Judaism compatible with.”

When Google predicts the end of your search, they’re looking for results based on what others before have searched for frequently. So although the exercise is admittedly trite, the message could not be clearer. People (or at least people who use Google) question Islam’s compatibility with fundamental political ideologies (democracy, modernity, secularism) much more regularly than they do other religions. Continue reading

The Future of Egypt

Egyptian Women display their inked fingers after voting at a Cairo polling station. Image: Bela Szandelszky/AP/Press Association Images

Our recent Inside Islam radio show with Oxford University Professor Tariq Ramadan was a good history lesson for me. Ramadan talked about how both the western media and many of Egypt’s politicians are missing the boat: the role of Islam in future structures of Egyptian government is a relevant and important question, but there are much more pressing issues that need to be discussed. The western media has been especially interested in highlighting the headscarf or other tangibles that are symbolic of religious life, when there should be more of an emphasis on what Ramadan identified as the six themes all governments should work towards in their own way: rule of law, equal citizenship, universal suffrage, accountability of elected leaders, separation of power (executive, judicial, and legislative branches), and separation between religious and political power. He argued that it’s dangerous to have our sights on the trees when Egypt should be focusing on its future vision of the forest.

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Are Islam and Democracy Compatible?

Egyptian Protests

The protests in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the removal of the leaders of both countries have now spread to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Iran. According to some commentators,  these protests reflect a relatively new push for democracy by the Arab peoples. In other words, the democracy that Western nations have enjoyed is now appearing in the Middle East. The implicit explanation for this “delay,” for some, is that most Arabs are Muslim and Islam is not compatible with democracy.

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What’s at Stake for the Radical, Violent Islamists

Photo: Sarah Carr

Perhaps surprisingly, there’s nothing scarier for Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other radical groups–each aiming to achieve different goals–than the Arab people overthrowing their U.S.-backed dictators to achieve democracy and other freedoms.

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Islam and Politics

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” Antonio says to Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Religion is often used and misused by politicians to gain power. To understand the intricate relationship between Islam and politics, Brandon Kendhammer, a PhD candidate in political science at UW-Madison, went to Northern Nigeria and studied the implementation of sharia law in the region since the country’s democratic transition in 1999. He sat down with Inside Islam recently to share his experience and research findings. You can watch the whole interview by clicking on the video below. Continue reading

Douglas McLeod on Al Queda and the Digital Cultural Divide (Guest Entry)

The Internet in the Islamic World:
No Panacea for Democracy

Douglas McLeod

It doesn’t take an expert to realize that the Internet has revolutionized cultural and political life. Virtually anywhere in the world, one can observe Internet-related social change that touches the lives of vast populations. In many societies, even people who don’t own a computer can access the Internet in low cost, public cybercafés. As such, people around the world have become connected like never before. While the utopians among us have recognized the great promise that this interconnectivity presents in terms of access to information, expanded horizons, civic participation and the calling of democracy, there is a dark side to the Internet as well. Setting aside obvious Internet-associated perils such as pornography, scams and other forms of depravity, there are numerous other issues that bring cause for concern. Such dangers are particularly acute in the Islamic world.

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Here on Earth to host Moustafa Bayoumi Monday

Moustafa BayoumiHere on Earth: Radio Without Borders will have Moustafa Bayoumi on their show Monday to talk about Arab American youth in a post-9/11 world. He is professor of English at Brooklyn Collage and co-author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America The book features personal stories from the American Muslim community. Hear more about the book and stories from Arab American youth. Listen to past interviews with Bayoumi on Here on Earth’s archive’s page.

Comment on Muslim American perspectives post-9/11 before the show airs.

Leave a comment or email blogislam@insideislam.wisc.edu with your thoughts.

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