Whereas Islamicate might have had a short break, society perpetually carries on – a lot has happened and challenging events continue to transpire. Although contributors to Islamicate have been on leave, many have been otherwise engaged in political and religious affairs, continuing engagement with Muslims and non-Muslims alike; expanding their experiences, hearing from different voices, interacting with diverse opinions, and thinking about the numerous issues that require exploration. These questions are not limited merely to major matters of policy, theology and law, or social issues around culture and society, but also philosophical considerations on the way we see things and why we do so.
Amongst some there are increasing levels of pessimism (with subsequent disaffection) on both the religious and political fronts, but it is the excitement of embracing the challenges that confront us that brings contributors together at Islamicate. Whilst there is a common goal to build a meaningful narrative that explores a whole host of diverse matters, ranging from fiqh and aqidah to discussions on British social integration, writers often disagree with one another on the details but concurrently appreciate the assembly and opportunity to explore new ideas that might help Muslims mature and progress. In many respects the situation that confronts us today and the manner in which we grapple with it may be pivotal to shaping the future of Muslims in Britain.
Where do we go? There is a growing realisation that mechanised presentations of ancient fatawa or ijtihad framed for the medieval period are not exactly holistic solutions for the modern era. Equally, it is a common theme when talking to British Muslims that turning to religious scholars and thinkers in foreign countries can prove ineffective, and often counter- productive. Of course, that’s not to diminish their standing or the service they offer the people of their societies, but to consider their lack of experience or limited understanding of ours.
By adopting an approach of contextualised analysis – where we first work out what the context is, and then adopt a solution-based approach that holds revelation and its sensible application as an integral component of formulating a position, not only will we be better placed to put forward sensible ideas, but we should find ourselves well on the road to laying the foundations of a Muslim British populace that is intelligent in its outlook and committed to the revealed word. If we are able to achieve this as a faith community, catalysed by the testing times we currently face, we might look back to this period as a blessing in disguise.
One reader described Islamicate as a thought factory, where writers show that the world and issues regarding our faith are far from simple. Amongst the many objectives of Islamicate contributors is to adopt a proactive approach suggesting educated ways in which we might respond to political events, considering all the political, social and religious permutations in constructing a measured and robust outlook. They also hope to offer readers an inspiring religious narrative; one that makes them think deeply about God and re-connect with revelation in such a way that it brings a newfound confidence back into the practice of faith. On social matters, there is a lot to be said of the interplay between abstract theology and culture – how religion might be framed and understood within the dominant culture, and how the ethno-cultural norms of other societies have framed Islamic religious outlook in the UK.
To overcome the mire of sectarianism and unproductive bias, Islamicate aims to create a space that fosters the idea of evaluating a viewpoint on the strength of the argument, rather than militant ascription to a denomination or sect. In a bid to provide a space for intelligent conversation, Islamicate welcomes contributors from various fields to present ideas that develop our processes of thought and action, or provide insight that might positively inform what we do, or how we do it. With contributing specialists from a range of fields, as well as attracting added intelligent and alternate voices, we pray that Islamicate is of service to God, of benefit to the believers, and a cultivating force for good.
Praise is for God, Lord of all things.