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Reader comment on item: Faces of American Islam[: Muslim Immigrants]

Submitted by Dr. Yannis Toussulis (United States), Aug 15, 2002 at 18:59

For the past six years, I have taught graduate courses on the psychology of inter-cultural conflict focusing on "Islam and the West." Although I disagree with Daniel Pipes on a number of issues, "Faces of American Islam" provides readers with a number of important facts. We can no longer afford to be ignorant about the composition of an increasingly significant minority in our own midst. Just as it is important to appraise the dangers of Islamic militancy, we can no longer afford to treat Muslims as a single grouping with a presumambly unifocal ideology.

Particularly provocative is the following obervation: "Fashioning a separate American Islam, away from such historic centers as Egypt and Pakistan, will be a great challenge. And both the United States and Islam are likely to be deeply affected by their mutual encounter."

Many Muslims believe that the United States offers the best opportunity for Islamic reform and revival. The revival they seek is not "Islamist," nor is it simple "modernization." Instead, increasing numbers of Muslims seek an alignment of Islam with the ideals of the European Enlightenment. An opportunity exists for mutual renewal of these two "unfinished projects." The two principle obstacles to frutiful interchange are religious fundamentalism (whether Christian or Muslim) and unnuanced views of our current "clash of civilizations." The current article contributes to a more balanced view.

Dr. Yannis Toussulis
Adjunct Faculty Member
Monterey Institute of International Studies

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