Religious Pluralism And Islam Essay

1813 words - 8 pages

The Shahadah, or testimony, is the first of the five pillars of Islam. In order to officially convert to Islam, it is required to recite the Shahadah three times, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This has been a practice within the Islamic faith for hundreds of years. Yet, even within the Islamic faith there are differing versions. Those who practice Shia Islam add, “and Ali is the friend of God” to the end of the Shahadah. This, among many other practices, is an example of the religious plurality that exists within the Islamic world. The Islamic world is home to a large and diversified religious community that, on the surface, seems homogenous in its religious practices. But many religious schools of jurisprudence, schools of theology, and other religious movements exist under the umbrella of Islam, these schools bring religious diversity to Islam that seek to meet the diverse needs and wants of the religious marketplace of the Islamic world. Though the United States is often used as the example to describe religious pluralism, there are many instances in the Islamic world that can even rival the plurality of the American religious market. The Muslim Brotherhood is a prime example of an Islamic organization that has become deeply entrenched in society. Through the extensive use of social services and extreme religious power, the Muslim Brotherhood has been able to enjoy a large membership base, devoted to their cause, and dedicated to its principles. Every year, many Muslims will embrace Sufi Islamic practices into their lives. The Islamic world is not an exception to the religious economies model and is, in fact, a very religiously diverse region of the world.
The religious economies model argues that high levels of religious practice are predicated upon high levels of religious pluralism within a society. This is based off of a supply and demand, or supply-side, argument that explains that in order to attract and retain members into their religious organization, clergy must find ways to set themselves apart from other firms, and offer a religious or spiritual benefit to their membership base that other firms cannot supply. Many nations in the Islamic world have placed severe restrictions on the practice of free-religion outside of the Islamic faith. Yet, despite such severe restrictions on religious practice, we see a very high level of religious participation and competition within the Islamic world.
A high religious diversity is largely dependent upon the religious competition between firms. The United States is a prime example of a competitive religious market with a high level of religious practice. Because there is little religious regulation, the religious economy will be very pluralistic. Religious firms are then faced with a competition dilemma, either the firm innovates and specializes, to meet the needs and tastes of various niches to win over a larger share of the religious market than their...

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