The Allam Conversion: Challenges and Opportunities

Hamza Mohammed Ýí 2008-04-02

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In the wider context, Mr. Allam's conversion will to serve as flash point in the current context of deteriorating Islamic-Roman Catholic Church relations. In traditionalist and Islamist circles, Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church will be viewed as the primary enabler of Mr. Allam's defection, which will only contribute to the Muslim world's warped sensibilities about the Pope and the role of the Church. Still, this event provides further opportunity for the Holy See to assert the principle of &quot;reciprocity&quot; as a governing principle for ongoing Muslim-Church relations. This event could be interpreted as evidence of a paradigmatic shift in the framework of &quot;inter-faith dialogue,&quot; which has traditionally focused on &quot;polite&quot; discussion and the common aspects of the Abrahamic faiths, towards an uncomfortable, but necessary, discussion on the core tenets of religion &ndash; that of Islam in particular. <br />
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In any case, the Allam conversion, and the controversy that ensues, will present both challenges and opportunities for ongoing Muslim/non-Muslim relations. For one, it provides another test of Islam's commitment to universal human rights, and, to a great degree, the faith's compatibility with &quot;Western&quot; values. For Western Muslims in particular, however, the Allam conversion affords an opportunity to demonstrate respect for freedom of religion, as it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This will demand the express refutation and rejection of the Islamic traditionalist approach to the issue. Opportunities for Western Muslims arose in the context of the Pope's remarks on Islam and the publication of the Danish cartoons, but these opportunities were wasted. It falls now to genuine moderate Muslims and reformers to play a key role in this regard, as the divide perceived to separate Islam from the West has only widened. <br />
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The event also provides further impetus for a fundamental shift in policy thinking in the West, in terms of dealing with Islamic issues. Far too often, policy makers have been guided by concessionary thinking towards the Muslim world, without demanding corresponding reciprocity as a precursor for the &quot;constructive dialogue&quot; and inter-faith dialogue. There is a real opportunity to meaningfully link discussions with the Muslim world to meaningful compliance with universal human rights. Notably, Italy and the Vatican, which previously played a key role in providing state protection to Afghani &quot;apostate&quot; Abdul Rahman, now find themselves in a unique position to lead some of this thinking and set an example. <br />
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Because they occupy a unique position between the West and the traditional Muslim world, Moderate Muslims and reformers will offer a key contribution to the challenges and opportunities presented by Mr. Allam's conversion and the ensuing events. These Muslims have the responsibility, and are able, to help shift the balance of thinking away from the cultural relativist analytical framework that afflicts the Muslim and non-Muslim world to one that demands compliance with universal human rights. It is their contention, in the end, that this shift in thinking will profit both parties. <br />
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بطاقة Hamza Mohammed
تاريخ الانضمام : 2006-11-11
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بلد الميلاد : United States
بلد الاقامة : New Zealand