Many Voices, One Umma: Sociopolitical Debate in the Muslim Community

As a religion expands beyond its original setting, it encounters new historical, economic, social, and geopolitical forces. The resulting clash between sacred truth and secular reality creates ideological tensions within a religious community that leads its followers to engage in a process of dialogue, reform, and reconciliation. This process of dialectical exchange occurs both between members and the community and between the community and outside forces. Often it gives rise to traumatic, even violent, conflict and frequently leads to schisms and the establishment of breakaway religious movements. The history of religion provides abundant evidence that the ability of a nascent religious community to deal effectively with these dialectical tensions is a crucial factor in determining whether it will remain a tradition of limited influence or become one of lasting, worldwide significance.

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