Multiculturalism as a political idea has gained significance with the encounter of Islam and liberalism in the West. Although the idea is not limited to Islam and Muslims in the so-called liberal societies, the debates surrounding it in the United Kingdom has taken on this unique dimension. Liberalism as an offshoot of Enlightenment has always had a troublesome relation with Islam and its advocates. Attempts have been made to reconcile the two, but with disapproval from certain quarters amongst Muslim intelligentsia and western liberals. Islam’s relation with western modernity and enlightenment, as argued by many, is espoused to be contributory and complementary.
Islamists are at pains to show how European enlightenment was partly triggered by its encounter with the mediaeval Islamic philosophical and scientific endeavours. Meanwhile, post 1960s, the critique of enlightenment values and modernity has gained currency within western academia and left-liberal circles.
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