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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

On 9/11 the West woke up to its ignorance of Islam and the state of Muslim public opinion - in the Middle East and the diaspora. This debate was our response. Initiated by London’s Goethe Institute, European cultural institutes, in conjunction with openDemocracy, have collaborated in a series of live debates featuring leading scholars of Islam from Europe and beyond on the relationship -historical, theological, social and political.

The Left and Hamas

In attempting to extend solidarity to those resisting imperialist power today, European leftists suffer from a debilitating failure of imagination, particularly acute when it comes to Islamist resistance.

Anatolian Muslimhood: humanising capitalism?

The influential network of the Islamic Turkish thinker Fethullah Gülen is a challenging fusion of faith and modernity, finds Max Farrar in Istanbul.

British Muslims and the Muslim Council of Britain: the next decade

The three years since the London bombs of 7 July 2005 have been a time of great intellectual and organisational ferment among Muslims in Britain. As it continues, the process should include a rethink by the high-profile Muslim Council of Britain, says Yahya Birt.

What do we actually know about Mohammed?

The early years of Islam compose an exciting field of current scholarship that is yielding fresh insights and understanding, says Patricia Crone, professor of Islamic history at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

(This article was first published on 31 August 2006)

Islam and ideology: the Pakistani connection

The formation of Pakistan is a case-study in the argument over whether religion can be understood as a variant of political ideology, says Izzud-Din Pal.

Turkey’s “Islamic reform”: roots and reality

A group of theologians at Ankara University is examining early Islamic sources in order to distinguish core elements from the accretions of later history. The process has intellectual significance beyond as well as within Turkey, says Mustafa Akyol.

Sharia: practice of faith, politics of modernity

The logic and application of sharia law need to be understood in their theological and historical context if intense controversy is to be succeeded by calm and constructive debate, says Sami Zubaida.

Multicultural citizenship and the anti-sharia storm

A thoughtful lecture on legal pluralism by a Christian leader has been succeeded in Britain by a torrent of ill-informed and prejudiced comment about Islam-based law and influence. This is a moment to reaffirm the principles on which social harmony is founded, says Tariq Modood: foremost among them the intertwining of citizenship and multicultural recognition.

Islamic law in a secular world

The argument over the application of sharia in Britain highlights the difference between Christian and Muslim visions of law, says Roger Scruton.

Rowan Williams: sharia furore, Anglican future

The spiritual head of England's state church has exposed the social rupture between religion and liberalism and thus highlighted a larger identity crisis, says Theo Hobson.

Rowan Williams and sharia law

The furious media and public reaction to an address on religious law by the head of England's established church is an index of Britain's deep social crisis, says Tina Beattie.

The Other’s new face: Austria, the Habsburg empire and Islam

Two great states and empires confronted each other across boundaries of imagination as well as arms between the 14th and 17th centuries in Europe. As conflict receded so the vision of the enemy changed. How did this happen, and are there lessons for today?

The end of postmodernism: the “new atheists” and democracy

The conflict between science and religion promoted by secular intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens is a smokescreen. Behind it, a far more important argument about global power and justice in a post-postmodern age is becoming unavoidable, argues Tina Beattie.

Secularism confronts Islam

The vigorous debate about Muslims in Europe and their relationship to the west's understanding of itself needs to be informed by an understanding of history's duality and the present's fluidity, says Olivier Roy.

Muslim liberals: epistles of moderation

The second letter of a group of Muslim notables to Christian leaders is a case-study in both the state of religious thinking and the democratisation of sovereignty in the global arena, says Faisal Devji.

Morocco’s illusory democracy

A pre-election journey across Morocco is for KA Dilday a lesson in the consequences of civic disempowerment.

The Swedish cartoon: art as provocation

The depiction of a "roundabout dog" with a Muslim-related theme has inflamed public passions in Sweden. At the heart of a kaleidoscope of issues is the artist's responsibility, says Birgitta Steene.

Arab Christians: a lost modernity

Arab Christians for centuries played a pivotal role at the heart of Arab societies. The last generation has seen the beginning of a great retreat. Tarek Osman maps the forces that have shaped an epic story.

Nadia Yassine’s journey

The social entrapment of millions of poor Moroccans feeds a hunger for improvement. Can the the charismatic reformist Islamism of Nadia Yassine be the vehicle to deliver it, asks KA Dilday.

Islam(s) and politics: post-traumatic states in Algeria

“Mosques have never been so full, nor hearts so empty”. In the painful aftermath of civil war, amid domestic economic and social pressures, Algerians are struggling towards new forms of accommodation between religion and politics, reports James McDougall.

Multiculturalism’s civic future: a response

openDemocracy's debate on Tariq Modood's new articulation of multiculturalism focused on issues of liberalism, communalism, cosmopolitanism, and transnational Muslim identity. Here, Tariq Modood replies to his interlocutors.

The many faces of multiculturalism

Tariq Modood's revised multiculturalism acquiesces in rather than critiques the essentialising, religious mythology that surrounds the subject, says Sami Zubaida.

Beyond formula: a civic multiculturalism

A mix of civility, locality, dialogue, faith among new “micropublics” can help make real Tariq Modood’s democratic multiculturalism, says Abdul-Rehman Malik.

Multiculturalism: a view from Sri Lanka

The perspective of war-torn Sri Lanka casts a different light on the multicultural framework advocated in Tariq Modood's new work, says Nira Wickramasinghe.

Diversity's horizon

Tariq Modood’s reconsidered multiculturalism needs to be extended to a global and cosmopolitan canvas, says Yahya Birt.

Multiculturalism and the discontents of globalisation

Tariq Modood's reconsidered multiculturalism needs to be extended to a global and cosmopolitan canvas, says Yahya Birt.

Multiculturalism and citizenship: responses to Tariq Modood

Tariq Modood’s new book and openDemocracy essay argues that a developed multiculturalism can incorporate the recent focus on Muslim experience and national identity to enrich democratic citizenship. openDemocracy writers engage with his approach.

Multiculturalism, citizenship and national identity

The idea of multiculturalism faces intense criticism from voices who blame it for accentuating social division, reinforcing Muslim separateness and undermining national identity. But a developed view of multiculturalism can complement democratic citizenship and nation-building, says Tariq Modood.

'Jihad': idea and history

The notion of jihad is one of the most contested in the modern Islamic and political lexicon. In a four-part essay, Patricia Crone makes it comprehensible: by identifying its textual sources, examining how early Muslims translated it into practice, asking how they made sense of it ethically, and exploring its contemporary relevance.

Children's education and adult politics

The past three years have seen a stream of reports - in Britain and elsewhere - on Muslims and education. In a post-11 September 2001 context of rising religious fundamentalism across all faiths, this does not surprise groups such as the international network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). Its 2002 conference and research it published in 2004 on the "warning signs of fundamentalisms" found education and youth to be a major ideological battleground between the authoritarian religious right and secular and pluralist forces.

Islamism's failure, Islamists' future

Islamist movements' entry into the electoral arena is changing them from within, making the choice for their western adversaries stark, says Olivier Roy.

Veiling the issues: a distractive debate

The face-veil worn by a small minority of Muslim women in Britain has become the site of fierce political controversy. The problem is that it is the wrong discussion, says Tina Beattie.

Two types of veiling

Do veils oppress or liberate? It depends on why you're wearing one, argues David Shariatmadari

Between Pope and Prophet

Muslims' response to Pope Benedict's address at Regensburg is a fresh chapter in the arrival of global Islam on the world's political stage, says Faisal Devji.

Pope Benedict XVI's citation of a medieval text disparaging the Prophet Mohammed, in his address at the University of Regensburg on 12 September 2006, has allowed Muslims across the world to mount yet another spectacle of their religion's globalisation.

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