Those who hope to nurture genuine religiosity should first establish liberty.
In the 19th century, when Muslims were looking at Europe as an example, they were independent; they were more self-confident. In the early 20th century, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the whole Middle East was colonized. And when you have colonization, what do you have? You have anti-colonization.
What made al Qaeda retrieve the doctrine of militant jihad, and Breivik the ideas of crusade and reconquest, is a sense of siege. So, we should help both Westerners and Muslims get rid of that sense by easing their political tensions and by fostering dialogue between them.
The main bone of contention is whether Islamic injunctions are legal or moral categories. When Muslims say Islam commands daily prayers or bans alcohol, are they talking about public obligations that will be enforced by the state or personal ones that will be judged by God?
While no Muslim worthy of his name would lose his respect for God, the Prophet Muhammad, and other symbols of Islam, he might well refrain from using legal prosecution or violent reaction to those who do not show the same respect. My basis for this claim is nothing other than the holiest source of Islam,...
For the jihadists, Muslim women who embrace Western mores, and wear tight jeans or mini skirts, are hated symbols of corruption that need to be eradicated. For the ideological mentors of Breivik, a similar disturbance comes from the burqa, which is banned in France and Belgium, partly thanks to their efforts.
It is no secret that many Islamic movements in the Middle East tend to be authoritarian, and some of the so-called ‘Islamic regimes’ such as Saudi Arabia, Iran – and the worst case was the Taliban in Afghanistan – they are pretty authoritarian. No doubt about that.
There are strengths in Islamic tradition. Islam actually, as a monotheistic religion, which defined man as a responsible agent by itself, created the idea of the individual in the Middle East and saved it from the communitarianism, the collectivism of the tribe.