Additional Material
for Key Chapters

Chapter 20

Chapter 20 Globalization

Some Definitions of “Globalization”

"The tendency of world investment and business to move from national and domestic markets to a worldwide environment."
"A complex series of economic, social, technological, cultural, and political changes seen as increasing integration, and interaction between people and companies in disparate locations.
"Globalization refers in general to the worldwide integration of humanity and the compression of both the temporal and spatial dimensions of planetwide human interaction. ...”
"(Globalization, cultural ) a phenomenon by which the experience of everyday life, as influenced by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, reflects a standardization of cultural expressions around the world. ..."
Source: definition&meta=&aq=0&oq=globalization

The Organization of the Islamic Conference changed its name to The Organization of Islamic Cooperation on 28 June 2011.

What is Terrorism?

Like other tendentious terms, it is hard to define, but I would suggest the following characteristics:
1. It involves violence or the threat of violence to people or damage to property.
2. It has a political or ideological goal.
3. This goal is immoral (otherwise they are “freedom fighters”)
4. Its victims may usually be described “innocent” or “non-combatants” in relation to the goal in question.
5. It is public, aimed at an audience that it seeks to terrorize into doing or not doing something, or to influence the action of a government or weaken a government.

Terrorism before al-Qaeda

(Incomplete list; some may not qualify because of item 3 in the previous frame)
• Russian anarchists in the late 19th century
• Jewish groups in Palestine about 1945-8,
• Palestinian groups, secular and Islamist, especially since 2000.
• Protestant and Catholic groups in Northern Ireland;
• Greek Cypriots before independence (1950-60)
• Mau Mau in Kenya before independence (1950s)
• Basque separatists in Spain
• Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka 1983-2009 (said to have carried out more “martyrdom” operations than all the others together).
• French and Muslims in Algerian war of independence (1954-62)
• Algerian government and Islamists in the 1990s.
• Mujahidin-i Khalq in Iran carried on “martyrdom” attacks on government leaders in 1981
Terrorism is less an “Islamic” phenomenon than a “modern” phenomenon.

A Muslim statement on “9/11”

“The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States which resulted in massive killing, destruction and attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur'an: 'No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another' (Surah al-Isra 17:15).”
[Signatures include leaders of the Muslim Brothers, Jama‘at-i Islami, Hamas and others]
(MSANews, September 14, 2001)

Suicide in Islam?

It is commonly said that suicide is forbidden in Islam. Here are two hadith that bear on the subject. The first bears directly on it and is often referred to. The second bears less directly on it but might be used by those favouring “martyrdom operations”. (SAAS abbreviates the Arabic for “May God bless him and grant him peace”).

A man went to the Messenger of God (SAAS) and said, "I bear witness that you are truly the Messenger of God. The Prophet said, "What is the matter?" He replied, "The person about whom you just mentioned that he was one of the dwellers in the Fire and the people were surprised at this and I said to them that I would bring news about him, and then I went out in search of him till I found him very seriously injured. He hastened his own death. He placed the blade of his sword on the ground and its tip at his chest and then pressed himself against that and killed himself." Thereupon the Messenger of God (SAAS) remarked, "A person performs the deeds which to the people appear to be the deeds befitting the dweller of paradise, but he is in fact one of the dwellers of the Fire. And in truth a person does an act which in the eyes of the public is one which is done by the dwellers of the Fire, but the person is one among the dwellers of Paradise." (Sahih Muslim)

Awf ibn Harith said, "O Messenger of God, what makes the Lord laugh with joy at His servant? He answered, "When he plunges into the midst of the enemy without armour." Auf drew off the coat of mail that was on him and threw it away; then he seized his sword and fought the enemy till he was slain. [Sira of Ibn Ishaq]

The Islamic State[IS], aka The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):
This is a violent offshoot of al-Qaeda that has come to scholarly and media attention only since the completion of the text of Introducing Islam. Unlike al-Qaeda it seeks to take and hold territory. At present (9 January 2015) holds parts of Iraq and Syria. It aims to become a world-wide caliphate with authority comparable to the classical caliphate. It is extremely anti-Shi‘a and its violence has led al-Qaeda to disown it but some al-Qaeda groups have apparently given allegiance to it. A couple of websites are listed in the section on Websiters. I hope to post more about it here in the future.

Muslim Diaspora

Some Figures on Muslim Populations of Four Countries





















United States*





2009 Population Data (CIA World Factbook,, accessed 15/12/09
Pew Research Center report of Mapping the Global Muslim Population, as of 8 October, 2009 accessed 15/12/09
*Another source, Muslim Population Worldwide for 2008, gives figures similar to the CIA except for the U.S., for which it gives 6,420,000 and 6.12%. This disparity of figures for the U.S. is well known.

Four countries: immigration and attitudes


Large scale immigration from:


Attitude of host country



N. African



1962 inter-gov’t agreement



United Kingdom


South Asian

Multi-culturalist (with reservations)

United States



(with reservations)

Assimilationism: immigrants should identify fully with host country and take on its culture.
Separatism: immigrant should remain separate within host country (except for economic contribution) and probably return eventually to the country of origin.
Multi-culturalism: immigrants should identify with host country but retain cultural distinctiveness, which is affirmed by the home country.
Integrationism: immigrants should identify fully with host country but retain some elements of their culture, possibly contributing some of these to the host country (“melting pot”)

Tariq Ramadan on the basis for living in a Western country:

1. A Muslim is involved in a contract with the country in which he lives.
2. European legislation allows Muslims to practice at least the basics of their religion;
3. Concept of Dar al-Harb is outdated; Europe is Dar al-Da‘wa or Dar al-Shahada, “the West is space where the shahada can be pronounced, respected and witnessed.”
4. Muslims should see themselves as full citizens.
5. European legislation does not prevent Muslims from making choices in accord w their religion. 
6, “Dialectical” relationship to the environment, “. . . a coexistence which would not be peace in separation but living together in  participation

Can the Shari‘a be applied among Muslims in the Western world?

Some points.

• Certain aspects of Shari‘a are already followed, e.g. in ṣalāh, zakāh etc.
• Matters relating to marriage etc. are sometimes adjudicated by arbitration by Muslim scholars and recognized by the state (e.g. UK)
• What about matters where secular law and Shari‘a law differ, e.g. in matters of human rights, gender issues.
• Who determines the interpretation of the Shari‘a in given cases?
• Must one system of law, that of the state, have the final say in all cases and for all people?
• Must there be a set of moral principles outside of any particular system of law that is recognized by all?

From “Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective” Archbishop Rowan Williams  07 February 2008.
I have been arguing that a defence of an unqualified secular legal monopoly in terms of the need for a universalist doctrine of human right or dignity is to misunderstand the circumstances in which that doctrine emerged, and that the essential liberating (and religiously informed) vision it represents is not imperilled by a loosening of the monopolistic framework.

Liberal/progressive Islam

Fazlur Rahman on Prophetic Revelation

“There were moments when [the Prophet], as it were, ‘transcends himself’ and his moral cognitive perception becomes so acute and so keen that his consciousness becomes identical with the moral law itself. “Thus did we inspire you with a Spirit of Our command: You did not know what the Book was, But We have made it a light.” (Qur’an 42:52). But the moral law and religious values are God’s Command, and although they area not identical with God entirely, they are part of Him. The Qur’an is, therefore, purely divine. . . . When Muhammad’s moral intuitive perception rose to the highest point and became identified with the moral law itself . . . , the Word was given with the inspiration itself. The Qur’an is thus pure Divine Word, but, of course, it is equally intimately related to the inmost personality of the Prophet Muhammad, whose relationship to it cannot be mechanically conceived like that a of a record. The Divine Word flowed through the Prophet’s heart.” (Fazlur Rahman, Islam, London: Widenfeld and Nicolson, 1966, pp. 32-33)

Abdulkarim Soroush on Prophetic Revelation

But the Prophet is also the creator of the revelation in another way. What he receives from God is the content of the revelation. This content, however, cannot be offered to the people as such, because it is beyond their understanding and even beyond words. It is formless and the activity of the person of the Prophet is to form the formless, so as to make it accessible. Like a poet again, the Prophet transmits the inspiration in the language he knows, the styles he masters and the images and knowledge he possesses.

But his personality also plays an important role in shaping the text. His personal history: his father, his mother, his childhood. And even his moods. If you read the Koran you feel that the Prophet is sometimes jubilant and highly eloquent while at other times he is bored and quite ordinary in the way he expresses himself. All those things have left their imprint on the text of the Koran. That is the purely human side of revelation.

A human view of the Koran makes it possible to distinguish between the essential and the accidental aspects of religion. Some parts of religion are historically and culturally determined and no longer relevant today. That is the case, for instance, with the corporal punishments prescribed in the Koran. If the Prophet had lived in another cultural environment, those punishments would probably not have been part of his message.

(The Word of Mohammad An interview with Abdulkarim Soroush By Michel Hoebink December 2007, accessed 28/7/2008)

Soroush on Diversity

(Interview published in the Tehran daily Jameah in 1998 and in the book: Siyasat Nameh)


. Are you weakening the traditional outlook or are you basically trying to negate monolithic thinking? Or is your quarrel the same old quarrel of the mystics and the jurists. Or is the whole thing simply a product of your political extremism?


. What I’m doing is introducing rivals, alternatives and companions. That is to say, if you imagine a solitary figure standing on the stage, what I’m doing is introducing a few other figures, who may be taller or shorter, onto the stage. In the realm of knowledge, I seek plurality. I came upon this notion when I was studying the philosophy of history. Before the revolution, the only such philosophy current in our country was the Marxist philosophy of history. Motahhari and Shariati’s philosophy of history, too, was the Marxist one in another guise. They asked the same questions. The only difference was that they offered different answers. Bear in mind here that the framework of any technique is the questions it asks, not the answers it presents. In fact, the agenda had been set by the Marxists, not by them . When I was studying the philosophy of science and the history of science abroad, the first thing that caught my eye was not that the Marxist philosophy of history was wrong but there were a number of other schools of thought on the subject. However, the only school of thought that had engaged and gripped our minds - making us ask questions about « the engine of history » and « the stages of historical development » - was Marxism. One side replied that the engine of history was « class struggle », the other replied, no, it is « religion ». But they were both answering the same question. That’s when it dawned on me that there was a need for other frameworks in which other questions could be raised. This was enough to break the unwarranted spell cast by the Marxist philosophy of history.

I stressed this same point repeatedly later in a book I wrote on the philosophy of history and in the various courses I taught at university. In other instances, too, I have done exactly the same thing. The fact of the matter is that the history of humanity has developed in an inherently pluralistic way. In other words, history is full of alternatives and parallel lines. Linear and one-dimensional history is a figment of the imagination of history professors, not a product of the history-making masses. Looking for and seeing parallel lines gives one an open-mindedness and breadth of vision that can solve a host of problems.

Yes, if other viewpoints and traditions are brought onto the stage, the traditional viewpoint will no longer be the be all and end all of all history and knowledge. But why should I worry about that? I have only presented the rivals, I haven’t created them.

(Interview published in the Tehran daily Jameah in 1998 and in the book: Siyasat Nameh)

Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi on interpretation of the Qur’an

The Qur'an, as the revelation of God, is the main source of the Shari‘a, but interpreting it is a complex task which requires considerable background knowledge.  Almost all of the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to particular situations which are the "causes of revelation" (asbāb al-tanzīl  or asbāb al-nuzūl ) and which must be known and taken account of since they determine the meaning of the text.  He insists on "causes" (asbāb ) not "occasions" (munāsibāt ) of revelation if by the latter one means a purely external or accidental relation between the event and the text. For example, that favorite Islamist text, "Whoever does not rule (yahkum) by what God has revealed, they are the kāfirs", was revealed in relation to the Jews of Muhammad's time who refused to put certain rules of the Torah into effect and was not intended for Muslims, according to Al-‘Ashmawi.  Likewise, the passage, "Do not take Jews and Christians as friends. . .", was directed to a particular situation of conflict with the Banu Qurayza and is not to be taken as a general directive on intercommunal relations.  One must also pay attention to the meanings of terms at the time of revelation, for many, have changed their meanings since then, as has the term sharī‘a itself.  For example, at the time of revelation the word ya kum, in the passage cited above, did not refer to government but to the action of a judge or mediator.  The Qur'an uses another term for the political actions of rulers, amr (command).  Hence it is inappropriate to apply this passage to government.
(W. Shepard, "Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi and the Application of the Shari‘ah", International Journal of Middle East Studies 28 (February 1996): 44.)

Amina Wadud on interpretation of the Quran

Therefore each new Islamic society must understand the principles intended by the particulars. Those principles are eternal and can be applied in various social contexts.
For example, in Arabia at the time of the revelation, women of wealthy and powerful tribes were veiled and secluded as an indication of protection. The Qur’an acknowledges the virtue of modesty and demonstrates it through the prevailing practices. The principle of modesty is important – not the veiling and seclusion which were manifestations particular to that context. These were culturally and economically determined demonstrations of modesty. Modesty is not a privilege of the economically advantaged only; all believing women deserve the utmost respect and protection of their modesty – however it is observed in various societies.
“This method of restricting the particulars to a specific context, extracting the principles intended by the Qur’an through that particular, and then applying those principles to other particulars in various cultural contexts, forms a major variation from previous exegetical methodologies. The movement from principles to particulars can only be done by the members of whatever particular context a principle is to be applied. Therefore, interpretation of the Qur’an can never be final.”
(Wadud, Qur’an and Woman, Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Fajar Bakti, 1992, p. 10)

“A hermeneutical model which drives basic ethical principles for further developments and legal considerations by giving precedence to general statements rather than particulars could solve many problems in applications. (Ibid. 30)
Overall, my analysis tends to restrict the meaning of many passages to a particular subject, event or context. These restrictions are based on the context of the verses or on application of general Qur’anic concepts of justice.  (Ibid. 63)

Web Resources

Has considerable information on European Muslims. See, e.g., Country Profiles and Latest News.

Muslims for Progressive Values

An American website with a lot of material and links to liberal groups.

All the fatwas are against.

© William Shepard

Book Information / Buy the book