During a recent visit by a former senior colleague, who is now a philanthropist of some merit and renown, we talked about the limitation of reason in acquiring knowledge. Being a devout believer, my friend argued that pure reason is not competent to deal with metaphysical problems.
In the face of negative stereotyping against Islam and Muslims in the post 9/11 world, it is very important for Muslims to return to the pluralistic vision of the Quran and establish cooperative dialogue and relations with other religions in their communities. A dialogue is also necessary to learn about the beliefs of other people. The text books that deprecate other religions and inculcate abhorrence of Christians, Jews, and Hindus, also need to be revised or replaced. Our differences and disagreements are not to be feared, rejected, or stamped out. God wants us to use our differences to learn, through dialogue, about ourselves, about others, and about truth.
The West and Islam have had an uneasy relationship for a very long time, which dates from even before the Muslims appeared on the world stage as the conquerors and led to the horrifying Crusades. Both developed a rhetoric against each other in order to define oneself by reviling the other.
While political movements that function in the name of religion have been a world phenomenon for centuries, in the modern age it is only Islam that, in the recent times, has become associated with radical fundamentalism in an essentialist manner.
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