Cultural Patterns and the Perception of Change in Islam. A Religious Model for Reality: the Islamic Worldview

  • Bassam Tibi


Cultural diversity in Islam contradicts the political notion of Islam as a monolithic unity and of Muslims as one umma. This notion can be found equally — albeit for different motives and with varying degrees of emphasis — in both Islamophobic writings and in the fundamentalist apologia of the Islamists. In contrast, I maintain: Islamic symbols are contingent upon both time and place, and the form they take varies accordingly. Social behaviour also changes, both directed by these symbols and at the same time affecting them. Nevertheless, we can also speak of an Islamic scriptural canon binding for all Muslims but slightly modified through this real and manifest diversity. In this sense, the diversity is connected to varying perceptions of the canon contingent upon time and place. While acknowledging the cultural diversity in Islam I maintain that there is a specific Islamic view of the world shared by all Muslims.


Muslim Community Islamic Teaching Islamic Civilisation Islamic Philosopher Islamic Fundamentalist 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bassam Tibi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of GöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Cornell UniversityUSA

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