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Austin Cline

Islam and Multiculturalism: Compatible?

By June 1, 2006

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There are many debates over the relationship between Islam and democracy and whether Islam is compatible with a democratic society. It is arguable, however, that the real problem is not democracy; rather, it is a multicultural society where a variety of religious and philosophical beliefs are accorded a generally equal status and none is given special privileges and consideration. Is Islam compatible with such a society?

Bhikhu Parekh has argued in the Daily Times that, no, it isn't:

Muslims are convinced of the absolute superiority of Islam, which is reflected in the constant invocation and desperate desire to revive past glory, as well as a positive duty to convert followers of other religions. They may marry non-Muslims, but do not allow others to marry their women, and expect those marrying within Islam to convert to it. This cannot be attributed to the current widespread feeling among Muslims that their identity is under threat. Even in the self-confident Ottoman Empire, where Jews and Christians enjoyed considerable tolerance, followers of these religions were second-class citizens. While free to convert to Islam, they were forbidden to convert Muslims or marry their women.

According to Parekh, Muslims tend to welcome multiculturalism when it provides them with equal rights in a society where they are the minority, but resent the fact that other beliefs which they find anathema are also given equal rights and a similar social status. If at all valid, this argument suggests that nations with a growing Muslim population are in for tough times ahead - and that Muslim leaders probably need to work on this to keep this conflict from occurring.

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Shughla(1)

it might interest you to know that your claim about Muslims being resentful towards multiculturalism when they are the majority is incomprehendible.

In fact, this is what the majority of the non-Muslim world is like – want quality, but only when it favours them. You say that we are all allowed to practise our religions and faiths without persecution, and yet when it comes to actually practising this tolerance, it is non-existent.

It might also interest u to know that islam is, in fact, the most accepting of all cultural and ethnic diversity – the Quran itself states that we have been made into nations and tribes so that we may understand one another – so how can it be that we as practising muslims would be resentful or intolerant, regardless of our being a minority or a majority?

You also make the false assumption that every single muslim in the word actually practises islam properly, and u attack islam by what you see through prejudiced eyes of a handful of people – just because one calls oneself a muslim does not mean that they practise it properly, does it mean that everything they do is according to islamic teachings.

Would it be fair of me to assume that u as an athiest/christian, etc. are responsible for the actions of everyone of your fellow athiests/christians/etc or that every action of urs is based on what ur belief system/lack of, teaches u??

it’s ridiculous. Next please actually learn about islam before you assume things based to random ppls’ actions.

May 15, 2006 at 10:50 pm
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it might interest you to know that your claim about Muslims being resentful towards multiculturalism when they are the majority is incomprehendible.

It might interest you to know that I am paraphrasing an argument from Bhikhu Parekh, whom I presume to be a Muslim. It might behoove you to pay more attention to what you are commenting on before you comment.

In fact, this is what the majority of the non-Muslim world is like – want quality, but only when it favours them.

I don’t say anything about “quality.” The question at hand is about whether truly equal rights are honored when a groups is in the majority, not the minority — and when it comes to Islam, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

You say that we are all allowed to practise our religions and faiths without persecution, and yet when it comes to actually practising this tolerance, it is non-existent.

Where, exactly, are you talking about. Your statements are “incomprehendible”.

It might also interest u to know that islam is, in fact, the most accepting of all cultural and ethnic diversity – the Quran itself states that we have been made into nations and tribes so that we may understand one another – so how can it be that we as practising muslims would be resentful or intolerant, regardless of our being a minority or a majority?

The Quran doesn’t teach that all faiths must be treated with absolute equality and neutrality. The Quran permits favoritism — favoritism towards Muslims over non-Muslims and favoritism towards “people of the Book” over everyone else. The Hadith is even more explicit in permitting favoritism. What many Muslims therefore resent is secular governments which refuse to engage in such favoritism. They themselves benefit from secular, neutral governments because anti-Muslim bigots are not allowed to discriminate against them; but if they were in charge, they wouldn’t treat other minorities with the same generosity.

You also make the false assumption that every single muslim in the word actually practises islam properly, and u attack islam by what you see through prejudiced eyes of a handful of people – just because one calls oneself a muslim does not mean that they practise it properly, does it mean that everything they do is according to islamic teachings.

I make no such assumptions, and the practice of favoritism towards Islam is not the practice of just a handful of Muslims. It is, instead, a minority of Muslims who are breaking away from that tradition.

Would it be fair of me to assume that u as an athiest/christian, etc. are responsible for the actions of everyone of your fellow athiests/christians/etc or that every action of urs is based on what ur belief system/lack of, teaches u??

Non sequitur, because I’m not ascribing responsibility to any one Muslim for the actions of all other Muslims.

it’s ridiculous. Next please actually learn about islam before you assume things based to random ppls’ actions.

I’m not saying anything about any random people’s actions — and you haven’t demonstrated that I have misrepresented or misunderstood Islam in anyway.

May 16, 2006 at 6:39 am
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Shug(3)

sorry i think i meant EQUALITY not quality when i typed that last comment. m mistake.

and i don’t get what u mean when u say it’s incomprehendible.

and how much plainer can “we have made you into nations and tribes so that u may understand each other” be??? it’s about multiculturalism, right? and?

how so does the quran favour the people of the book in terms of equality and acceptance?

obviously u are not going to follow a religion , and accept it as a path of righteousness, if not following that religion is going to give you the same reward, right? why would God (swt) not favour those who follow Him in comparison to those who do not heed Him?? Would you, as an employer, reward a worker who does not follow the guidlines you set, as much – or at all – as someone who does??

i have to go now, but i;ll cmment again later. It might behoove u to know that i have demonstrated you lack of understanding. If u think that i have not, then that’s ur business. it’s just that your wording isn’t very representitive of what u say you’re saying. bye.

May 22, 2006 at 10:51 pm
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and i don’t get what u mean when u say it’s incomprehendible.

Well, for one thing “incomprehendible” isn’t a word. For another, it’s more difficult to read when you keep using “u” instead of “you” and don’t capitalize words.

and how much plainer can “we have made you into nations and tribes so that u may understand each other” be??? it’s about multiculturalism, right?

No, multiculturalism is about different cultures and religions being fully equal in the same community, not simply about different cultures existing.

how so does the quran favour the people of the book in terms of equality and acceptance?

They are favored because they are allowed to live and follow their religions; other religions aren’t allowed to exist. People of the book, though, are explicitly discriminated against so they have a second-class status next to Muslims.

obviously u are not going to follow a religion, and accept it as a path of righteousness, if not following that religion is going to give you the same reward, right?

So, you’re saying that the only reason you and other Muslims follow your religion is not because it’s true, but because you hope to get some reward for doing so? That’s a pretty cynical and negative view on human nature. Personally, I’m willing to do things that are right even if I don’t get rewarded — I don’t need to have rewards dangled in front of my face in order to do right or necessary things.

why would God (swt) not favour those who follow Him in comparison to those who do not heed Him??

Non sequitur, again. I don’t care whether you think your god will reward you in some afterlife; I care whether you believe you should be accorded special privileges and rights in human society today. That’s the subject here.

It might behoove u to know that i have demonstrated you lack of understanding.

It might behoove you to explain where I have made mistakes instead of simply claiming that I have demonstrated a lack of understanding. Anyone can make a claim like that — and this is the second time you have done so, now after being explicitly told that you should support your accusations. If you continue to do so, it will suggest that you know you cannot support what you are saying — and this would mean that you are dishonest.

May 23, 2006 at 6:16 am
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Todd(5)

“It might also interest u to know that islam is, in fact, the most accepting of all cultural and ethnic diversity”

ZOMG! Like u r teh n00b! Gag me with a spoon, totally, whatever!

“Islam is the religion of peace, and we’ll kill you to prove it!”

There is nothing tolerant about Islam, or any of the other major religions. Most religions have a superiority and entitlement complex, and a policy to convert or kill. The fact is that any religious text can be used to justify doing anything the reader wants and they are not required to back it up with any real evidence. Worse yet, we feel we must be tolerant of intolerance, so there is little we can do about it.

I’d have to say Islam has perhaps the worst record when it comes to tolerance. If you are not one of them, you are an infidel to be killed so they can go to heaven. They will even kill each other over for that and other inane “reasons”.

June 5, 2006 at 1:18 pm
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peter powell(6)

Gods that tell you to grow your hair,cut your hair,hide your faces,eat this, dont eat that,worship me because i need flattery. Perhaps i am Dr Who in the 21st century ( or whatever you call it) But this is preferable to be in the company of ancient bigots.

February 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm
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Joyce(7)

Thank you for expressing your different opinions on muslim and multiculturalism concept. It helps me in my masteral report on multiculturalism.

February 8, 2011 at 5:25 am
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