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The Islamic Dilemma

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UNLIKE Donald Trump, or at least the demagogue he’s playing, most Americans probably don’t want to seal our borders against Muslims.

But most Americans do look at Islam and see a problem. It isn’t just Trump supporters or Republicans. In a poll the Public Religion Research Institute conducted before the Paris attacks, 56 percent of Americans agreed that “the values of Islam are at odds with American values.” In a more recent YouGov poll, 58 percent of Americans viewed Islam unfavorably, just 17 percent viewed it favorably.

But what should devout Muslims see when they look at America, or at the wider West?

This is the issue lurking behind a lot of Western anxiety about Islam. On the one hand, Westerners want Islam to adapt and assimilate, to “moderate” in some sense, to leave behind the lure of conquest, the pull of violent jihad.

But for several reasons — because we don’t understand Islam from the inside, but also because we’re divided about what our civilization stands for and where religious faith fits in — we have a hard time articulating what a “moderate” Muslim would actually believe, or what we expect a modernized Islam to become.

And to any Muslim who takes the teachings of his faith seriously, it must seem that many Western ideas about how Islam ought to change just promise its eventual extinction.

Read more at NYTimes.com…

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