This chapter analyzes Muslim responses to the various challenges and opportunities associated with modernization, and processes of globalization. These two processes have aroused anxiety, suspicion, and opposition, especially in the Muslim world. Muslims regard modernity and globalism as a Western, particularly American, project for world domination. They believe that America's attempt to homogenize the world would degrade all other countries into servants. When members believe their core faith is being corrupted, many are angered and some organize to rectify matters. The Western media, barring few exceptions, have mainly taken note of “Islamic fundamentalism” in its most violent manifestations — blowing up apartment blocks, kidnapping geologists and razing the WTC towers in New York to the ground. The West deploys “Islamic fundamentalism” as a pejorative term to disparage and discredit Muslims “as irrational, irresponsible and extremist forces, dedicated, actually or potentially, to the goal of international terrorism.” It is unfortunate that Muslim concerns about the global system and the globalization process have been sorely neglected by the dominant forces in the West. Is modernization and globalization compatible with Islam? How do Muslims perceive this process of globalization? What is the nature of their response and what alternatives do they provide to the ongoing process of modernization and globalization?
MODERNIZATION, GLOBALIZATION AND ISLAM
Modernization refers to the processes whereby society becomes modern. It implies industrialization, economic growth, increasing social mobility, and political participation. At the level of values, the process of change has sometimes been described as one of cultural “secularization” — a decline in the influence of religion and of traditional ideas as to the “naturalness” of social inequality, and correspondingly the spread of materialistic, this-worldly values and the ideals of universal equality and liberty. At the ideological level, this found expression, firstly, in nationalism and then in various formulations of democracy, whether the liberal parliamentary democracy of Western states or the more radical communist version.
In the past two decades, modernization has been accelerated and accentuated by globalization. Modern institutions like the nation-state and liberal economics, with its emphasis on the creation of markets, have become the means through which the world is being made one.