How Muslims can live in a Modern Age?
The question assumes that Muslims are recalcitrant to a progressive period of time characterized by meanings and criteria describing modernity. A Muslim who stay foot, hold and paralyze from the past and severely impacted by serious beliefs accounting from practices, norms, folkways and mores of a particular time. If this is the case, then, the question leads us to a premise that there is something wrong with the means, ways and lifestyles of a person who profess his/her faith to Islam. The wrongs that I am thinking are the perennial questions that others (non-Muslims) instigated and somehow are bewildered. These are the posited inquiries on how Islam treats issues such as democracy, women’s status in the society, minority rights, and other ideological conflicts with the so-called West.
Still, these questions colored the way others think about Muslims thus if left unanswered hostility aggravates and enmity increases. However, if Muslim scholars provide substantial and grounded answers most, if not all, of the others lack the amenities of comprehension, some stays ignorant, and some refutes especially those who are one-night-instant-expert of Islam. For the Muslim part, because of these mixed reactions they are getting, they also tend to become aloof and built their own understanding of the others especially on issues on westernization, imperialism, post-colonization, and other contrasting ideologies that beset the Muslims toward them.
How can we unlock the door that keeps this long, deep, and winding gap between Muslims and the others? The answer lies among themselves, acceptance as the mean and socialization as the end. These two key elements I suggest are the main focal points of bridging the gap. Accepting the fact that not only Muslims live in this world but there are also others exist, and try to encounter, make some contact, reach out and live with them even for a short duration of time. From there you will be able to discuss, converse and talk about differences in a civilized and humanely manner without resorting to coercion or force.
On the other hand, I contend the way the title of this essay is posited which leads to a diminutive, parochial and pejorative imposition of defining Muslim as inadvertently incapable, conflictual and in discord with the Modern age. Delineating time periods into ancient, medieval and modern is also problematic. This understanding is very Eurocentric and scarcely unable to describe polarized cultures from different great civilizations and plurality of world societies. Arnold Toynbee concurred that the idea of nation-state is only a modern term for tribalism. Should we categorize world history into three different periods and based it on the fixated Eurocentric ancient-medieval-modern historicity?
Where do we start? Is the ancient time of Europe same as the ancient time of Mesopotamia? Is the medieval time in Europe same as the medieval time in Islamic civilizations? Is the American modern times same as to Chinese modern times? Fixating modern age consonance to Europe also imposed their culture, norms, folkways, customs, and beliefs. If Muslims should submit to this way of thinking then they should surrender all those beliefs and practices in contrast with Western beliefs and practices. Is this the solution we are asking for? Is this the way which will solve everything and create harmony? Why we cannot just respect and accept that differences exist in the human world, whereby we can have dialogues based on interfaith, transborder or transnational schemes of mutual understanding?