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  • Christoph Burgmer

Audio: Critical Islam

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Aspects of a global religion

Cairo book fair
Cairo book fair

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Islam is, contrary to what public perception in the West would have us believe, a very rapidly changing world religion. So-called Islamic fundamentalism is a radical expression of this dynamic and not, as is commonly assumed, an expression of Islam's stagnation or even backward-looking nature. This dynamic is comparable to the radical, sometimes militant Christian revival movements known from Europe since the end of the 19th century and still known today from South America, the Philippines, South Korea or the USA. In the globally disconnected post-colonial societies of Asia and Africa, Islam often takes on a regulatory function and thus fills a gap. The radical anti-imperialist impetus of Islamic revivalist movements also has its roots in the post-colonial realities of failed states from Afghanistan to Mozambique and Mali. Nevertheless, it would be short-sighted to reduce the transformation of Islam only to these radical movements. Despite all the public attention, they are too marginal for that. Rather, the dynamics of modernisation in Islam have their roots in a broader education, in increasing urbanisation and mechanisation, and in the lack of opportunities for participation among the culturally Islamic populations, especially the young. Those who believe that a Western superposition, as expressed in Islamophobic sentiments and anti-Islamic protests, can stop these dynamics and their global consequences at European borders are not only adhering to conspiracy patterns. These so-called "critics of Islam" often turn out to be right-wing authoritarian populists who, by stylising Islam as a threat, are themselves advocating an anti-enlightenment and anti-emancipation social order. In the discussions, the changed religious self-conception in Islam is traced. The analysis of causes logically leads to questions about the consequences for Muslims and non-Muslims.

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