Can Islam and the West Coexist ? – List of Articles

Posted on September 6, 2010

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, we have had almost a decade of reaction and overreaction on the part of both Christians, Jews and Muslims.

No matter our views or our stand, all people of intelligence seek further information on why they feel the way they do about something.  Here are the search terms I used to find the following articles.  Use it and you will find others:

islamic law and western society can they coexist

Some of the more thoughtful results included:

1. How We Can Coexist

Islam and Secularism

The signatories to the American paper focused on the necessity of the separation of church and state, and they considered this to be a universal value that all the nations of the Earth should adopt. We Muslims approach the problem of the relationship between religion and the state differently. Our understanding is to protect the will of the majority and their rights while also protecting the rights of the minority. Islam is a comprehensive religion that has specific laws addressing all aspects of life. It is difficult for a nation to be respected and taken seriously by its people in an Islamic environment without adopting the laws of that religion in general. State adoption of the religion does not mean an infringement on the particular needs of the minorities who live within it or their being forced to abandon their religion and embrace Islam. The idea that there is no compulsion in religion is firmly planted in the Muslim mindset and is clearly stated in the Qur’ân. The separation of church and state that the American thinkers are calling to in their letter shows a lack of understanding of how religion acts as a formative basis for culture in Islamic societies. We see secularism as inapplicable to Muslim society, because it denies the members of that society the right to apply the general laws that shape their lives and it violates their will on the pretext of protecting minorities. It does not stand to reason that protecting the rights of the minority should be accomplished by violating the rights of the majority. We see that the real concern of a religious minority is the protection of its rights and not the violation of the rights of the majority, since infringing upon the rights of the majority is not conducive to social stability and peace, whereas the rights of the minority in Muslim society are protected.

2. Can Muslims and the West co-exist, peacefully?

If force were the method of conversion, then regions under Muslim control for centuries, such as southern Spain and India, would have been wholly converted. On the contrary, the sword of Ferdinand and Isabella converted the Iberian Peninsula to Catholicism. With the expansion of Western colonialism, Muslims were forbidden to openly express their beliefs and culture. Often, they had to adapt to the culture and society of the ruling country. This still occurs.

In time, a minority of Muslims expressed anger at their neglect and rejection. Some reverted to ancestral practices of the “glory days” of the 11th and 12th centuries. One group characterized by this activity are the Wahhabis. A small, fanatical faction has created resentment towards the sect as a whole. Not all Muslims, however, can be characterized as similar. From the foundation of a few hundred initial followers, Islam has grown to 1.4 billion adherents worldwide. Apart from the Koran and the religion’s five pillars, there exists an extreme amount of diversity in culture, language and perception of ideals. There is no cohesiveness in Islam apart from the Koran, but this religious cohesion is stronger than other aspects of society.

In most countries, the Koran is read in its original Arabic and application and interpretation is seldom provided in the local language. Therefore, few may have little concept of its content. This practice is only recently changing in select locales. In numerous areas, Wahhabi religious schools called Madrases were established during the past several decades by rich Arab states to promote a strict religious upbringing. This has a profound effect on poor societies where there is little interaction with those of other religions and where there is little economic opportunity. Children taught in this manner are often narrow minded and are exploited by radicals who extract small portions of the Koran and use it to justify violence.

This phenomenon in the Islamic world mirrors what occurred in Christianity eight centuries earlier. Only after many years of maturity, Christianity (as a whole) was able to reach its current state of tolerance and acceptance of the beliefs of others. Outside of the extreme right wing of Christianity there is a focus upon individuality and less on society. In Islam, however, the focus is on society and less on the individual. Because of this, I believe that it will take longer for Islam to reach the level of tolerance found among Christians.


You can visit many sites that are proponents of the Western or the Islamic point of view. But make sure that the tenor and tone there is conducive to everyone being honest and forthright and respectful when delivering their views rather than combative. This is a day to try to make sense of what has happened; not to increase the pain of it through intolerance.

©On My Watch…the writings of SamHenry.  Registration Pending