Secularism Confronts Islam
The denunciation of Islamic fundamentalism has slowly evolved into an attack on all Muslims and Islam. This hostility is rooted in the belief that ... Show synopsis The denunciation of Islamic fundamentalism has slowly evolved into an attack on all Muslims and Islam. This hostility is rooted in the belief that Islam cannot be integrated into secular and liberal society. However, as Olivier Roy makes clear, Muslim intellectuals have made it possible for Muslims to live concretely in a secularized world while maintaining the identity of a "true believer." They have formulated a language that recognizes two spaces: that of religion and that of secular society.Western society is unable to recognize this process, Roy argues, because it assumes religious practice is embedded within a specific, traditional culture. Instead, Roy shows that new forms of religiosity, such as Islamic fundamentalism and Christian evangelicalism, have come to thrive in posttraditional, secular contexts precisely because they remain detached from any cultural background. In recognizing this, Roy recasts the debate concerning Islam and democracy. He distinguishes between Arab and non-Arab Muslims, hegemony and tolerance, and the role of the "umma" and the sharia in Muslim religious life. Supporting his arguments with extensive research, Roy demonstrates the limits of our understanding of contemporary Islamic religious practice and the role of Islam as a screen onto which Western societies have projected their own identity crisis.