All posts tagged: Islam

Malaysia’s Struggle to Preserve Religious Pluralism

For observers of contemporary Malaysia, much has been written about the tropical nation’s creeping Islamization. To define this more specifically, the observable interjection of Islamic morality into its institutions, its legal systems, and its political discourses and practices. The move towards a more puritanical and intolerant Islam has raised alarm bells for a country whose identity is rooted in its cosmopolitan and pluralistic character, raising the ugly specter of ethnic and religious conflict in one of Southeast Asia’s most developed economies. However, the shock victory of an opposition coalition in a historic general election in May 2018 raised hopes of a “New Malaysia.” The incumbent political coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front), composed of race-based parties, with the dominant United Malay National Organization (UMNO) component explicitly espousing Malay-Muslim supremacy, was ousted after 61 years of uninterrupted rule since the country’s independence from the British in 1957. With a new administration under the Pakatan Harapan (Coalition of Hope) coalition, and with veteran leader Mahathir Mohammed back in power in his second stint as Prime Minister (at the …

A Night Out with a Muslim and an Atheist

On Dec. 10, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance” held its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles after an extended two-year production period. Starring Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, the documentary is based on the conversation-turned-book between the two on the subjects of Islam, Islamism, and Muslims. The film premiered at the Pacific Theatres at the Grove, near the synagogue where a Somali man tried to ram worshipers with a car just two weeks before. Even though that attack came on the heels of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, it did not receive much media coverage. “There’s a fear of the subject,” said Jay Shapiro, the film’s co-director. “There’s even a fear of the title.” He tells me the documentary wasn’t picked up by film festivals despite the warm reception it has received where it’s been shown. This is Mr. Shapiro’s first foray into this subgenre of documentary. His previous films have been more traditional documentaries. For the most part, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance” is a near-celluloid version of the 2015 book of the …

What Makes a ‘Self-Hating’ Muslim?

I’ve recently returned from a study tour to Israel. As a Muslim visiting Israel I was put through considerable security, but was otherwise treated well. Since my return, I have been surprised by the level of negative reaction I received from other Muslims, including some close friends and relatives. It’s as if visiting Israel equates with ardent support for Zionism and the wholesale rejection of the Palestinian people, neither of which I adhere to. However, I have returned with a more complex understanding of the issues at stake. Wajahat Ali is an American attorney and writer, known for his contributions about the Muslim experience in The New York Times and The Atlantic. He writes eloquently about this strong faith. He also visited Israel recently. He interacted with Jewish settlers on the West Bank via a  program run by a group called the Shalom Hartman Institute and its Muslim Leadership Initiative. Based in Washington, the center has the laudable goal to help engage Muslim leaders and Jewish thinkers. Given Ali’s high profile, he made for an ideal …