Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith

Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith

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This book, which focuses on Muslim diversity and division, begins with an accessible overview of Islam's tenets, institutions, evolution, and historical role. Gregorian traces then traces Islam's origins and fundamental principles, from Muhammad's call to faith nearly 1,400 years ago to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and the subsequent abolition of the Caliphate. He focuses particular attention on the intense struggle between modernists and traditionalists, interaction between religion and nationalism, and key developments that have caused bitter divisions among Muslim nations and states. Gregorian also points out that today, Islamist views range across the entire spectra of religious and political thought, and Islamism is anything but a unified movement. While religious extremists have attempted to form a confederacy of like-minded radicals in many countries, much of the Muslim population lives in relatively modern, secular states. Gregorian urges Westerners to distinguish between activist Islamist parties, which promote sometimes violently Islam as an ideology in a theocratic state, and Islamic parties, whose traditional members want their secular political systems to co-exist with the moral principles of their religion. He also recommends continuing dialogues between modernist and traditionalist Muslims, as well as among the educated, secular elite and their clerical counterparts. He also urges U.S.-led efforts to engage and better understand the diversity of Muslim communities in the U.S. and across the globe.
Program: International Peace and Security