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Fear of Muslims is on the rise as Muslims are trying to search genuineness in Europe and North America as published in 2016 by Shadi Hamid. Hamid compares the religious background of Islam and Christianity and illustrates how spiritual transformation process in the west cannot be compared to the Middle East (Hamid 85). He also analyzes the Middle East reforms and recent manifestation. Lastly, Hamid proposes a change in perception in the democratic process in the Middle East. Hamid argues that Christianity and Islamic religion have different spiritual resources. The resources are described to be non-negotiable beliefs are used as the basis of the faith. Christian’s beliefs are based on Christ himself while Muslims beliefs are based on the Quran as the word of God (Hamid 131). Therefore this means that spiritual development must take different paths. The Quran offers critical scriptural resources about the law, state, and the government while the Bible provides spiritual resources which defy the parting of the church and state.
Western communities began to loss genuine moral virtues after the separation of church and state which led to modernization. Thus any virtue ethics was replaced with hyper-diversity and belief. However, the spiritual resources of Islam remained and resisted any historical course even under harsh forces of religious transformations, which enabled them to retain their moral accord even if it is undefined in some cases (Hamid 57). Hamid indicates that these spiritual resources are exceptional. Hamid faces some problems when comparing the religion and political paths in Christian view and the political and theoretical development as per Islamic view. On the contrary, Islamic exceptionalism brings a problem to those who try to argue that Muslims are same as everyone else in the harsh rising surroundings such as North America and Europe.
Spiritual uniqueness of the Islamic religion is challenged by the attempt to regulate Islam in the United States. However, according to Hamid the effort to normalize Islam in the United States is causing damage to any political analysis of the role of Islam in Middle East politics. Islamic exceptionalism seems to prove the argument that Muslims are different and not compatible with western values (Hamid 123). Hamid urges the centered way to understand Islamic political expression and consider what makes it exceptional. By doing so, there will be a better understanding of the political situations in the Middle East and will encourage appreciation of diversity between spiritual traditions especially between political view and Islamic religious view.
Hamid creates an argument to reveal how Islamic religious and political development is exceptional after Islamic exceptionalism is established as a foundation of his argument. Christian tradition transformation process in history took a different path compared to that of Islam. In 19th-century attempts of Islamic transformation grew out of the critique of autocracy and ideas of Shura
(Hamid 133). Shura was understood traditionally as consultation among the ulama and was linked to liberation, concept, and discussions and became same to western governing style. Later the ulama were removed from power by the powerful regimes and could no longer take a role in political authority. Political power was then reserved to sharia. Shura became the alternative to progress since ulama was justifying autocratic rule.
Reforms showed that Islam was flexible and could adapt to the western style as long as cultural and immoral values were removed. The Reformers viewed the Quran as a relevant religious resource to be used at all times. This indicates that it can provide ideas in socialism, capitalism, democracy, and nationalism (Hamid 89). The reforms led to the development of a new modern ground description of Islam which has not yet been seen in Christians spirituals and thinkers.in middle east, the Islam religion become filled with religious ideas. Islam began to be defined in relation to something else. The Islamic religion provided enough resources within the political doctrine to help the reformers to use religion as their source of ideas to resist the western authority and colonialism thus making Islam exceptional.
According to the author, reforms and Islamic modernization are seen as an attempt to raise challenges in religion transformation, European colonization and destroying the authority of the Ottoman era. Modern changes are different from the historical reforms since the recent improvements are political and ideological while the traditional reforms are based on the beliefs of the Islamic law (Hamid 134). Islamic reforms are based on politics since they attempt to Islamize the western ideas. Hamid is seen to be looking sources of changes and yearning to develop an Islamic political entity. The concept of grouping Islam as a group that uses violent means is irrelevant in this context, and the author has a longing to make Islam a great again.
The book present problems with no solutions. Hamid finds that many Islam is searching for a sense of belonging in their communities across the world. An example includes the raised anti-immigration movements in Europe and white nationalism in America. The search for genuineness is happening all over the world, but it is displayed differently when it comes to Muslims. The political manifestation in the search for openness and its opposing force is the problem (Hamid 87). The book does not provide solutions to the issues stated since the sense of belonging cannot be developed by replacing the Islamic values with the western reforms. The only means to end this is through democratic processes and elections. Western foreign policy should stop the obsession of viewing Islams as their opposition to the modern- nation-state.
The idea that the Quran contains two different messages is not straightforward and makes the Islamic religion rather complicated. Hamid does not state the founder’s statement or actions taken to respond to the religious position (Hamid 134). For example, he says that the religious attitude towards the governance can change with time and always change. He also indicates that religious have specific reactions to different life aspects that are determinant and the extent to which they are determinant depends on the founder's influence on religious change once the founder has passed away (Hamid 68). According to Hamid, Christianity has a less developed position in the governance as compared to Islam. The Islam more developed governance means easy to resists secularism than Christianity. The author also argues that the development moment is more vital to assess the relative distinct ability of a religion to acquire attitudes towards the politics and laws. This would demonstrate the uniqueness of Islam’s attitude towards the governance if harmed is correct.
Hamid, Shadi. Islamic exceptionalism: how the struggle over Islam is reshaping the world. St. Martin's Press, 2016.
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