The other Islamic revolution


The other Islamic revolutionIslam is going through a quiet revolution in the West. This is not a revolution of blood and gunfire, but one of deep thought and radical ideas. Like all other revolutions in history, the final outcome is not predetermined. But there are very hopeful signs about its success.

This quiet revolution is carried out by ordinary men and women who happen to be Muslim, but are otherwise undistinguishable from the rest of the community. They live their daily lives according to a set of revolutionary, though not necessarily novel, ideals of being genuine citizens and true Muslims. Most do not consider this to be anything extraordinary. Herein lies the enormous force of this revolution. It does not depend on a cadres of dedicated revolutionaries, but on the everyday practices of ordinary people.

The guiding principles of combining Muslim faith and citizenship in a secular democracy are pretty basic. Muslims living in Australia, for example, do not have to turn their backs to religion in order to be good citizens. Quite the contrary: they turn to the essentials of their faith to fulfil their citizenship. The essentials of Islam, as those of other Abrahamic religions, are justice, fairness and equity. Although many cultural practices have been traditionally ascribed to Islam in different parts of the Muslim world, in essence, the core values are constant and consistent with the values that govern liberal democracies.

The reality of migration to Western secular societies for the first generation, and the experiences of the following generations of Muslims in Australia and elsewhere, have freed Islam from its cultural shackles. As Muslim intellectuals in Europe and North America have noted, the migration of Muslims from traditionally Muslim societies to secular liberal societies has allowed them to return to the essential kernel of their faith. This is made possible because the governing principles of the West, that draws on Judo-Christian ethical foundations, and of Islam substantially overlap.

Some observers have repeatedly called for an Islamic reformation- by which they mean accepting the separation of church and state. In reality, this reformation is already underway in the daily practices of Muslims who quietly observe social and legal codes of behaviour. They see no contradiction between performing their public duties and believing in Allah.

This revolutionary process, however, is challenged by Islamic radical groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir. They reject out of hand the very idea that Islam could be compatible with the West. For Hizb ut-Tahrir and its ilk, concepts of democracy, multiculturalism and inter-faith dialogue are ploys to separate Muslims from their faith and subjugate them to un-Islamic rule. These conspiracy theories, although unsubstantiated, do carry force for those who feel alienated and marginalised in society. These include youth who have not found their calling and are searching for a cause to rebel.

The other Islamic revolutionIn Australia, unlike the United Kingdom, Muslims have so far not given much attention to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Australian society has absorbed Muslims relatively well, and has offered them the opportunity to mingle and to move up the socio-economic ladder. This has not been a seamless process, but the overall picture is one of success, not of failure.

The threat of terrorism and the tendency of the media to sensationalise, however, have contributed to a pervading sense of distrust of Muslims. More Muslims now respond with a sense of hurt and indignation that they should be assumed guilty simply because of their faith. It is this sense of hurt and alienation that Hizb ut-Tahrir is now trying to exploit in order to push its divisive message.

In standing up to Islamic radicalism, Australian Muslims need the support of the broader Australian community.



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Existing comments

Shahram appears to be ignorant of what it is that Hizb al-Tahrir is contributing to Australian and other western societies. To disabuse him, the Hizb is at the forefront of challenging the predominant concepts that have thus far rendered Muslims ignorant of the transactional aspects of Islam and of the correct way for them to interact with non-Islamic societies. It is a pity that Shahram has not studied the literature of the Hizb to establish how the group encourages active participation in society yet with the aim of reforming Muslim practices so that these are in line with the Shariah instead of conforming to either lazy, blind imitation of all things western or obscurantist dogmatic adherence to traditional outmoded Muslim (rather than Islamic) cultures. If the Hizb was so easy to dismiss in the arena of ideas how is it that its membership continues to grow Shahram?!

Dr Steve Connolly | 20 February 2007  

I'm sorry to say that this writer seems to think he has a right to throw around wild accusations about hizb-ut-tahrir without any substantiation, and thinks he can get away with it just becuase he is a muslim. They are not against inter-faith dialogue or the other things he mentions, have a look at

Hassan Saleemi | 21 February 2007  

Muslims and the West will never integrate. Muslim concepts of honor create an unbridgeable cultural divide:

"In addition to honor and shame, and concomitant with it, comes the Muslim sense of manhood or manliness, which involves being capable of great violence and mayhem in defense of the family name or his religion. Our own concepts of tolerance seem hopelessly weak and pathetic to a culture such as this, and in no way makes us palatable to the Muslim male, who sees only weakness ... We would be wise to take into account these cultural characteristics, and not make the mistake that the compassionate liberal makes -- which is that given enough understanding and tolerance, the other fellow will see your point of view, and come in the end, to be as tolerant as you. In a sense, this is the illogic of tolerance, it assumes that tolerance is the logical endpoint of all understanding and culture. It is not."

Darren | 22 February 2007  

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