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Understanding Islam

November 3, 2006 • Volume 16, Issue 39
Is Islam compatible with Western values?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Muslim men pray at a mosque in suburban Annandale, Va., during Ramadan in October 2006.  (Getty Images/Stefan Zaklin)
Muslim men pray at a mosque in suburban Annandale, Va., during Ramadan in October 2006. (Getty Images/Stefan Zaklin)

With more than 1 billion adherents, Islam is the world's second-largest religion after Christianity. Within its mainstream traditions, Islam teaches piety, virtue and tolerance. Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, however, many Americans have associated Islam with the fundamentalist groups that preach violence against the West and regard “moderate” Muslims as heretics. Mainstream Muslims and religious scholars say Islam is wrongly blamed for the violence and intolerance of a few. But some critics say Muslims have not done enough to oppose terrorism and violence. They also contend that Islam's emphasis on a strong relationship between religion and the state is at odds with Western views of secularism and pluralism. Some Muslims are calling for a more progressive form of Islam. But radical Islamist views are attracting a growing number of young Muslims in the Islamic world and in Europe.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Islam
Feb. 01, 2013  Unrest in the Arab World
Aug. 07, 2012  Islamic Sectarianism
Dec. 2007  Future of Turkey
Nov. 2007  Radical Islam in Europe
Nov. 03, 2006  Understanding Islam
Mar. 24, 2000  Islamic Fundamentalism
Apr. 30, 1993  Muslims in America
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Islam
Middle East Conflicts
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
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