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Muslim Responses To Westernization: Retreat from the Secular Path

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IAS Common Ground

Ground Floor, South Wing

UCL, Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

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UCL CREDOC Lecture

Muslim Responses to Westernization: Retreat from the secular path

John Esposito, University Professor & Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington, USA

In contrast to the past when modernity or becoming modern was equated solely with a Western secular paradigm, we live in a more cosmopolitan world today of “multiple modernities” that go far beyond the standard, homogenous western secular paradigm for modernization. The conventional wisdom in the late 20th century, which assumed the centrality of secularism, separation of church and state, and viewed religion as a private affair, has been challenged in much of the Muslim world.

The resurgence of Islam in Muslim politics and society in the late 1970s signalled a “Retreat from the Secular Path”. For more than three decades, Islam has been a major force in public life: in newly created Islamic states and republics, mainstream political and social movements and in major jihadist movements. While some seek Islamization from above, increasingly many opt for a process of Islamization from below, through political and social change.

Muslim social scientists, scholars and political pundits rethink the meanings of secularism and its relationship to state, law and society. Many discuss and debate the relationship of religion to secularism and democracy. However, too often, these discussions are “about them”, failing to sufficiently listen to, consider or reflect diverse Muslim voices: religious leaders and intellectuals, Arabs and non-Arabs, neo-traditionalists and Islamic neo-modernists or post-modernists. This discussion will also be placed within the broader context, the realities on the ground - what major polls (Gallup and PEW) have reported majorities of Muslims, the silent and often the silenced majority, have to say about the West and the role and relationship of Islam to state and society.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion the next day, Friday 8 December, 5-7pm, on Muslim Responses to Westernization: Living in Non-Islamic Societies. Details here.

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IAS Common Ground

Ground Floor, South Wing

UCL, Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

View Map

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