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discussing the crisis - 2
the first chapter in the crisis of islam, entitled defining islam, juxtaposes islam, as a religion and as a group of people following that faith, a pseudo nation if you will, against christianity and christendom encompassing the protestant, catholic and other related groups. considering the book is aimed at an american/western audience, its reach and appeal definitely is restricted in other areas, this is a good comparison, allowing the reader to compare islamic social and political structure with that of the modern western democracy.

religion, for different people, is different things. for the practicing muslim it is a complete set of rules and regulations which define how he does everything. there are recommendations on things like facial hair, the manner in which you drink water, the kind of food that is legal and the proper way to dress. with proscribed ways for such minor details, minor in the western context and not the islamic though, it is not surprising that muslims find it far more difficult to assimiliate with other cultures. they remain together as a cohesive group within larger communities, and stick to their own ways of doing things, speaking a subset of languages and practicing islam according to their perceptions, education and ability. a muslim tries to follow as much of this codified system as is possible, taking liberties based on his immediate social environment.

as far as mixing religion and politics, something if tried in the west immediately becomes a topic of derision and debate, is not an issue for a country like say pakistan or bangladesh, essentially because islam is not something you practice in your spare time, it governs the most basic of your everyday activities. a very simple example is the requirement to pray five times a day, at specific times and in a congregation. consider a muslim working on a regular 9 to 5 job, technically he would be required to take two breaks, each of atleast fifteen minutes, to fulfill this religious obligation. though most muslims would compromise in the interests of a career, there are people i know who would much rather not take up a position if it did not offer sufficient flexibility in this regard.

the essential presence of islam in a muslim's everyday life now evident, consider a democracy, say malaysia and what was once described to me as a benevolent dictatorship, saudi arabia. which country would i prefer living in? malaysia, because, from what i understand the government does not try and meddle with the everyday life of its citizens. by imposing its own interpretation of the sharia the countries in the gulf have tried to act as the agents of god. from my limited knowledge, islam is least about imposing your own understanding upon others. the quran is the ultimate reference for a practicing muslim and if he or she chooses to practice the religion in a certain way, it is not the government's responsibility to stop them, what else is the expected day of judgement for? the fairly large muslim population in india has remained comparitively immune to the effects of islamic radicalism because india allows the muslims genuine freedom of religion. there are other, deeper problems involving indian muslims, but those do not really concern this discussion.

in conclusion, instead of adapting islam to democracy, what truly is required is to try and adapt democracy to islam, something that has successfully, and with little compromise to the its ideals, been tried in countries like malaysia, indonesia and turkey. the push to try and force the islamic way of life into a democratic mold is erroneous and insensitive, and those ready to wage war for that alleged purpose, need to realize that.

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