An interesting new blog / video on Integral Life:

Why We Desperately Need an Integral Islam, by Amir Ahmad Nasr

The Child of a Fragmented World Gone Slightly Mad

It was sometime around early 2009, and to most of my friends, I was a cheerful happy guy, but what they didn’t know is that deep inside, I had never felt more mentally and emotionally tormented.

In just two short years, growing up religiously dogmatic in childhood up to the late 90’s had given way to a new reality in which my relationship with Islam was in shambles.

Blogging and the open vastness of the Internet had a lot to do with it.

From war-torn Sudan to oil-rich Qatar, I had experienced living in traditional, religious, and conservative societies that honored their tribal roots and heritage.

We enjoyed the fruits of modernity–cars, communication technology, and medical drugs–but most of us didn’t necessarily embody it as a worldview. In many ways, our tribal, traditional and modern identities were in tension and lacking in harmony and reconciliation, let alone deep coherent integration.

It got a lot worse when my family moved to Malaysia in 1997 and I got enrolled into a British international school with a liberal and Westernized environment. I was almost 11 years old.

For my parents, the move had its challenges for sure. For my siblings and I, the cultural and linguistic ordeals we confronted were on a whole other level.

All of a sudden modernity and post-modernity came crashing on us, and challenged our identities and worldview in ways that we were not prepared for.

They challenged a worldview I had inherited but never really critically conceptualized on my own. A worldview that wasn’t truly mine throughout a short unexamined life that hadn’t gotten thoroughly examined until much later.

The result should have been obviously predicable: distress, confusion, and anxiety. Then puberty hit, and boy oh boy was that fun. I am of course being sarcastic.

So I did what I could do: repress, ignore and continue as if nothing worthy of resolution was really going on.

That is until I accidentally stumbled upon the liberal Arab blogosphere in early 2006. Continuing to sweep doubt under the rug seized to be an option. Heck, the rug disappeared, and now I had to confront the persistent question marks head on.

[Continued Here.]

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Sam Harris interviews Graeme Wood on ISIS:  The True Believers.

Thanks, reading it now. I'm struck by this early on statement that has a much broader application for those of us who too rigidly try to fit everything into our hegeholonic categories and ideologies:

"Much of the initial wave of reaction has come from people who desperately wanted it to say one thing or another, and who reacted by assuming that it fell into their predetermined classifications of pieces about politics, Islam, or terrorism. It is gratifying to write a story so resistant to classification that people have to pretend it says things it doesn’t just so that it fits in their mental categories."

Wood also makes clear distinctions about Islamophobia, in which he most definitely does not find Harris to engage. Those who claim such are being led per above by their own prejudices.

"Many enemies of Islam, and I consider you one of them even though I exempt you from this charge of misreading, have wanted to read the story as claiming that Islam is responsible for terror, or that ISIS is Islam. In fact it denies these claims explicitly and has a long section about literalist Muslim objections to ISIS. Many Muslims have, ironically, read the piece in exactly the same way, assuming it blames Islam for ISIS. That misreading, I think, is because it’s easier to argue against the anti-Islam point of view than to reckon with the possibility that Islam contains multitudes, like other religions, and that some of them are very, very nasty indeed, even though they share the same texts as the not-nasty ones. People are also frustrated by the fact that the piece discusses religion but has no time for talk of a “clash of civilizations,” and in fact argues that one of our main policy goals should be to avoid this. Finally, some readers are desperate to see my article as a portrayal of Muslims as savages, and cannot process that I am actually arguing something like the opposite, and specifically about ISIS. Its members aren’t brainless brutes who cannot think—that’s the Orientalist view, and ironically it’s the view that a lot of people who would call themselves anti-Orientalists take when reading the piece. ISIS members are often highly sophisticated people, just as capable of intelligent critical thought as anyone else. They are simply evil."

Steve McIntosh has a new paper out on a related topic:

Fostering Evolution in Islamic Culture

"The ongoing rise of radical Islamism in the twenty-first century is a difficult and dire problem, for which cultural evolution is really the only viable permanent solution. But to overcome this growing threat to world peace and security, not only will Muslims themselves need to evolve, the developed world as a whole will need to grow and mature into a more moral form of civilization. Recognizing how the challenges of militant Islamism can serve as a powerful stimulus for the further evolution of all the forms of culture that are contributing to the problem—pre-modernity, modernity, and postmodernity—is the focus of this paper by ICE President Steve McIntosh.

Building on the work of moderate Muslim intellectuals, McIntosh argues that the Islamic cultural reform needed to overcome radical Islamism depends on the underlying reform of the religion of Islam itself. Yet in order to persuade moderate Muslims to reform their religion, the necessary vision of a reformed Islam must retain the deeply spiritual convictions upon which Islam is founded.

Muslims are arguably the most religiously devout people in the world. And their stalwart faith prevents them from settling for a secular, watered-down version of Islam as the future course of their religion’s development. In order for a reformed version of Islam to be sufficiently attractive to Muslims so as to persuade them to transfer their loyalties to a more modernist-friendly form of their faith, a post-secular cultural perspective will be necessary. In response to this challenge, the evolutionary worldview advocated by ICE can provide just the kind of post-secular understanding of the evolution of human faith that is needed to foster the reform of this venerable religion."

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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