ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Diversity among Muslims in Asia

Modes of Engagement: Muslim Minorities in Asia edited by Rafiq Dossani, The Walter H Shorenstein, Stanford, Asia-Pacific Research Centre, 2014; pp xxii + 200, $24.95.

Conventional wisdom informs us that Muslims, with a few exceptions, are fundamentalists and jihadists in their attitude and always strive to establish a theocratic state and oppress non-Muslims. They resort to terrorist violence and are at constant war with non-Muslims. They are even at war amongst themselves, for example, the Shia–Sunni conflict in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. The mainstream media naturally tends to focus more on conflicts rather than comprehensively analyse a society, nation, religion or community. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the conflict entrepreneurs wanted new demons to sustain their arms build-up and to be a politically dominant power in the new world order. Yesteryear leaders of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban, who had been invited by the then United States President Ronald Reagan to the White House and felicitated as “freedom fighters,” suddenly became demons and a threat to democracy and freedom, and indeed, a threat to the world.

Samuel Huntington propounded the clash of civilisations between the West and the “rest”—primarily the “Islamic” civilisation. Huntington has been sufficiently critiqued. However, Huntington too defined a civilisation on the basis of religion, completely ignoring historical, regional, geographical, linguistic, cultural and social diversities within communities following Islam.

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