Global Politics & Economy-Islam and the challenges of Modernity

This article, “Islam and the challenges of Modernity” appeared in Quadrant (May 2005). The magazine and the author, Wolfgang Kasper, have kindly allowed us to reprint it on our site:

Many comments published nowadays about the challenge to
modernity posed by Islam are reminiscent of what was said in the late
century about the inability of the Catholic societies to embrace the
industrialisation of the Protestant north, though the current Islam
debate has the sharper edge of terrorism to it.

…Reforms were not imposed in the Catholic or Confucian countries from
the outside, indeed such interventions sometimes led to hostile
reaction. Rather, the evolution of societies mired in poverty,
ignorance, piety and banditry was triggered by changes and economic
success at the fringe.

…It is my contention that the Islamic world, too, will be changed by
material aspirations and ideas. These will not be imposed directly from
the outside, let alone by force, but will percolate from the fringes of
Muslim civilisation as new generations notice the advantages of adapted
values to material well-being. To make this point plausible, I will
first have to discuss the crucial role of values and institutions in
hindering or helping economic progress, and then highlight the
considerable obstacles to openness and change in Mid-eastern Islam.

Read more on the Henry Thornton website here.

Peter Fray

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