Reza Aslan's Advice to Young Muslims

Reza Aslan: My advice to young Muslims living in the traditional Arab and Muslim world is do not be afraid of the changes taking place in the world around you. Do not be afraid at the fracturing of the Muslim world. Do not be afraid of the rise of individualism that is gripping you and your friends, and your neighbors and your community. Don’t be afraid at the way in which Muslim communities all around you are beginning to redefine themselves in nationalistic terms, more so than in sort of wider trans-Islamic terms. And don’t be afraid of technology. It’s inevitable. You are going to be evolving. You’re going to change. You’re in an interesting position right now to take advantage of what the world and the globalized economy has to offer. Do so. Take advantage of it.For my advice to people in the west with regard to the Muslim world is leave them alone. They’re perfectly fine. They’re perfectly capable of creating their own societies, their own cultures, their own democratic frameworks. They don’t need our help. They could use our financial help. No question about it. I think that we could do a lot more in investing in the civilian and democratic infrastructures of countries like Egypt and Iran; but the way that our foreign policy in the United States and in the larger western world has been almost single mindedly focused on our economic and security interest in that region, that has in some ways retarded the development – the social and political, and even religious development – of that region. “We’re not helping,” is what I would essentially say. But we can help. We can help by offering a platform and a venue for oppositional forces in that region, even if those oppositional forces are religiously inclined in order to express themselves and share their views, and their ideas within the larger marketplace of ideas; and to allow the Muslim world, and particularly these nation states, the citizens of these nation states, to make decisions for themselves about what kind of country that they want, what kind of government they want. We can’t simply shut down the democratic process if the people that we want to get elected don’t get elected. That’s not how it works. And so we have to understand that a process is underway in the Middle East. It’s gonna be a long process. It gonna be a violent process, and it’s gonna be a bumpy one. It’s gonna happen with or without us. It’ll happen more smoothly with our help; but that help has to come with the recognition that our sole purpose is to foster these kinds of reform movements, not to define them.

 

Recorded on: 7/5/07

Reza Aslan says do not be afraid of the changes taking place in the world around you.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less