Influential Scholar Says the Muslim World Must Change

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In a new opinion piece in Tingis magazine, scholar Anouar Majid -- one of today’s foremost thinkers on Islam and the West -- argues that rather than just decrying Donald Trump’s latest incendiary comments calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., we should be taking a hard line with Muslim-majority nations and pressuring their leaders to bring their countries in line with 21st century values.

Anouar Majid

“Muslims lead double lives almost everywhere these days. With feet firmly implanted in modernity, their heads remain enchained by the decrees of a medieval religion and can’t seem to break free from its mighty powers. Religion can be comforting, for sure,

In a new opinion piece in Tingis magazine, scholar Anouar Majid -- one of today’s foremost thinkers on Islam and the West -- argues that rather than just decrying Donald Trump’s latest incendiary comments calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., we should be taking a hard line with Muslim-majority nations and pressuring their leaders to bring their countries in line with 21st century values.

In the piece, titled "Trump, Islam and the West,” Majid writes that if we are serious about combating terrorism we must convince Arab and Muslim nations to make their political and cultural institutions consistent with those found throughout the rest of the modern world. These nations, argues Majid, must give citizens the chance to form a self-identity based on more than merely their adherence to a “religion that tells them they are the best people in the eyes of God and that being a good Muslim is what matters most.”

Majid says it is time for “…Muslim-majority nations to open up their societies to free thinkers, protect religious and cultural diversity, give equal rights to women, and change laws to make them consistent with life in the modern world.”

While most commentators take the politically correct approach of defending Islam and the Koran, and positioning the current problem as one involving a relatively small number of individuals on the margins of a great religion, Majid is far more critical, especially of the governments that use Islam as the basis for their foundation. He writes, “Muslims lead double lives almost everywhere these days. With feet firmly implanted in modernity, their heads remain enchained by the decrees of a medieval religion and can’t seem to break free from its mighty powers. Religion can be comforting, for sure, but, in the case of Islam, it has become a serious impediment to progress.”

Described by Cornel West as one of today’s “towering Islamic intellectuals,” Majid has published widely on the relationship between Islam and the West, and his books Islam and America and A Call for Heresy are required reading in many college cultural studies programs. He lectures around the world and has appeared on Bill Moyers Journal, NPR, Al-Jazeera, and scores of other U.S. and international media channels. He serves as vice president for Global Affairs at the University of New England, oversees UNE’s campus in Tangier, Morocco, and is founding director of the UNE Center for Global Humanities.

To learn more about Anouar Majid or to request an interview, please contact Crystal Canney at ccanney1(at)une.edu or 207-615-5968.

About Tingis

Co-founded by Anouar Majid in 2003, Tingis started as a quarterly Moroccan-American print magazine. In recent years, it has moved to an online format and its scope has expanded to address issues of global cultural significance and provide a forum for progressive and liberal writers engaging in a critical analysis of Islam in its broad historical context. In so doing, the magazine remains motivated by a deep concern for the future of Muslim-majority nations and Muslims around the world.

About the University of New England

The University of New England (UNE) is Maine’s largest private university. It offers dozens of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs and is home to Maine’s only medical and dental schools. With coastal campuses in Portland and Biddeford, Maine, and one in Tangier, Morocco, UNE attracts internationally recognized scholars in the sciences, health, medicine and the humanities. It is one of a select group of academic institutions with a comprehensive health education mission that includes programs in medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine, nursing and an array of allied health professions. Visit http://www.une.edu. Innovation for a healthier planet.

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Jennie Aranovitch
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