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Constitutional conventions: best practice

Here we host debates on values, ethics, philosophy, spirituality, religions, and belief systems. There has never been a more important time to understand ourselves and one another better.

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.

Following the cross: a journey with Russian pilgrims

For generation under communist rule religion was largely discouraged and heavily persecuted. But nearly twenty years after the collapse of the USSR worshippers and pilgrims are once again flocking to the country's revered shrines. Stella Rock joined Russian pilgrims in their spiritual attempt to unify and cleanse post-Soviet Russia.

Rediscovering Traditionalism

One year after re-introducing the Tridentine Mass and two years after the Regensburg address, Benedict XVI's popular new traditionalism has re-ignited the Catholic culture wars.

A debt in the life

The bursting of the credit boom is a lesson in the human as well as the financial cost of debt, says Mark Vernon. 

The neighbor in the self

Religions and States, even when apparently open, are subject to "auto-immune" reactions which make them turn against the other within. They need to make the effort to recognise the other as a constituent of themselves.

The Anglican vision after Lambeth

The Church of England's leadership has survived a testing and divisive challenge. But the tides of history pose it a larger challenge of modernisation, says Theo Hobson.

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.

Australia’s apology: the shadow on the sun


The new prime minister's official apology to the "stolen generations" of indigenous Australians may find itself trapped in the legacy of his predecessor, says Tim Rowse.

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 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.

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.

Science and mysticism: a tainted embrace

Scientists who indulge mystical and religious fantasies in the interest of popularisation are betraying their professional calling, says Yves Gingras.

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.

"The Islamist": a radical journey

Ed Husain’s political and intellectual trajectory reveals much about the seductions of dogma, says Tahir Abbas.

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.

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