Do Muslims Belong in the West?

In this discussion, Talal Asad identifies the problematic ways in which the presence of Muslim communities in Western contexts has been characterized in response to outbreaks of violence such as the recent events in Paris. Asad argues that many of the critiques to which Muslims are subjected, namely their dependence on transcendent forces, also inhabit the intellectual assumptions of secular and atheist commentators.  He further expresses the need to examine Islam as a “tradition” in order to avoid precisely the types of sweeping generalizations and focus instead on the complexities and particularities of the various ways in which Islam is lived. The inability to historicize Islam as a tradition has played into the calls for a “reform” of the religion and resulted in the inability to confront the underlying causes of the recent eruptions of violence. This interview was conducted in New York on 17 January 2015. It was later transcribed for publication. Click here


‘Shaykhy Crushes’: Trials in the Life of Men of Knowledge

When I first began studying Islam and getting involved in Islamic work, one of the major motivators for me was that this field would keep me away from the fitnah of the opposite gender. For every young man and woman, one of the greatest trials we face is dealing with members of the opposite gender without falling into sin. Originally, and it was naive of me, I thought Islamic work would put me in a position in which I would not have to deal with these situations. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Continue reading here