The Currents of Islam

In City Journal Dalrymple identifies two separate tracks of Islamization: the old-line Wahhabi or Salafist track and the “New Left” one represented by the Muslim Brotherhood:

These two strains are somewhat different. The former might be called the New Left, or Gramscian, wing of Islamism, the latter the Old Left, or Stalinist flank. While the Wahhabist Old Left cleaves to literalism, the New Left Muslim Brotherhood claims (at least for public consumption) an “interpretive” reading of the Koran. The Brotherhood even has a feminist wing, led by Malika Hamidi, a sociologist with a doctorate from Paris who serves as director of the European Muslim Network and vice president of the International Group for the Study of and Reflexion on the Woman in Islam. Hamidi says that wearing the veil is not an enforceable religious obligation, and she argues for equality of the sexes “of and by means of Islam.” This equality, however, would be put to “the service of a religious view of the world.” By contrast, for the Wahhabis and Salafists, the obligation for women to wear the veil is simply incontestable.

His conclusion – “Integration, it seems, is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon” – seems to mark a break from his earlier position (detailed in my favorite Dalrymple essay, “When Islam Breaks Down“): “What I think these young Muslim prisoners demonstrate is that the rigidity of the traditional code by which their parents live, with its universalist pretensions and emphasis on outward conformity to them, is all or nothing; when it dissolves, it dissolves completely and leaves nothing in its place.”

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