Ahmet Karamustafa, "Islam: a civilizational project in progress", in Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, Omid Safi, ed. (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003), pp.98-110.
We are now in a position to identify Islam as a sprawling civilizational edifice under continuous construction and renovation in accordance with multiple blueprints (these are the numerous Islamic cultures at local, regional and national levels encompassing innumerable individual, familial, ethnic, racial, and gender identities) all generated from a nucleus of key ideas and practices ultimately linked to the historical legacy of the prophet Muhammad. It is vital to realize that nothing about this edifice is ever fixed or frozen in either space or time and that the construction itself is in constant flux. Alternative plans of new construction, renovation, even partial demolition emerge, rise to prominence, are implemented to different degrees and fade away, while the core ideas and practices themselves, visible only through these very plans, assume different shape and color depending on the blueprint one uses to view them. What ties all this together is the commitment of Muslims to a shared stock of ideals and key ideas along with their willingness to express these in a shared idiom, a common language. In short, Islam is a civilizational project in progress; it is an evolving civilizational tradition constantly churning different cultures in its crucible to generate innumerable, alternate social and cultural blueprints for the conduct of human life on earth.
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