Will enlightened Islam win?
Almost every thinker has an opinion about terrorism, immigration and identity
As the US presidential race intensifies, speeches related to Muslims are increasing and refugees continue to flee to Europe, where right-wing movements speak up against hosting them. Experts have begun to talk more about tolerant Islam and violent Islam.
Almost every thinker has an opinion about terrorism, immigration and identity. These have become the common subjects of different academies and media. The technological revolution and social media have made it easier to access information, and to form an image about Islam and Muslims. Unfortunately, the loudest, most extreme voice has always been most able to attract attention.
Electing Sadiq Khan as mayor of London was significant. He is a British citizen with a British identity and mentality, even though he is a Muslim of Pakistani origin. European institutions are able to integrate people - those who integrate well, of course - and this was the case with Khan.
Prominent French philosopher and academic Bernard-Henri Levy described Khan’s election as a “clear victory” of enlightened Islam against fanatical Islam. “What we’re witnessing now with the election of Khan is not a defeat of democracy but a victory of enlightened Islam, which is capable of comprehending civil values. Therefore, British democracy must be proud, not just because it welcomed Islam, but because it helped it adapt.”
We cannot view European Islam the way we view Islam in places with poorer quality of life and less understanding of the concept of the state, law and institutionsTurki Al-Dakhil
Researchers describe European Islam as a social fabric. Islam, its interpretation, tools and rhetoric in Europe are very different than in Raqqa, Kabul, Islamabad and Kandahar. There is an environment that embraces and changes concepts. Civil, media and educational institutions also influence interpretations and understanding of these concepts.
We cannot view European Islam the way we view Islam in places with poorer quality of life and less understanding of the concept of the state, law and institutions. Enlightened Islam was expressed via the election of a British Muslim who is open-minded, educated and well-integrated. In Europe, which hosts millions of Muslims, there is no escape from supporting enlightened Islam, which produced Khan and similar figures.
German sociologist and philosopher Jurgen Habermas said of the issue of Muslims in his country: “There’s a common basis on which integration must happen, and that must be the constitution. These principles must be discussed during an expanded and democratic debate. I think this discussion will be launched again in our [country].
“We must expect every person we host to commit to our laws and learn our language. When it comes to at least the second generation [of refugees], we expect that their understanding and adoption of the principles of our political culture has become solid.”
This article was first published in Al Bayan on June 1, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.