I welcome (sane) arguments supporting the premise or against it. Try not to veer off-topic when commenting on this post.
Islam has always been a public faith and specifies certain ways of doing things which may or may not be interpreted in various ways. But off late, there has been a very visible change in the attitudes of many Muslims about seeking to implement the writ of “one interpretation of Islam” in their lives. Maybe its the work of televangelists like Zakir Naik or its because of the ready availability of Arab influence in this information age.
This post is inspired from certain observances that highlight the fact that there is something happening in Islam which is rather different from the general direction other religions are taking. Let me illustrate:
1) The Pakistani cricket team. Well, everyone knows about them. Seems as if they cannot start a sentence without giving thanks to Allah publicly in Arabic. Their training sessions are punctuated by collective prayers and many of the players now sport beards and indeed are active proselytizers.
2) Use of “PBUH” everytime mention is made of any prophet in the Judeo-Islamic tradition. I have seen this happen on this blog as well as other places. This strikes me as particularly dumb. Respect cannot be ritualized like this. Its a symptom of unquestioning acceptance which leads to fossilization of thought and serves as a detriment to cultural growth.
3) A very distinctive “Muslim attire” and “look” seems to have developed over the last 10 years. (Again maybe it was there before. But I have a hunch it was just one of the many styles. Now the acceptability of one particular style makes it very visible) For the men its a salwar-kameez with a skull cap and a conspicuous style of beard and mustache. For the women its a choice between niqab, hijab, burqa, none of which are very different from each other. Whats surprising is that this is no longer a holiday or festival attire. Its everyday work-wear.
And its not as if all these norms are accepted among a certain class of Muslims. True, among more well off people the percentage of strict adherence may be lower, but it is still significant and growing. Among the lower middle class its almost universal now.
To really imagine the contrast one has to visualize a large percentage of Hindus going about their daily business sporting visible caste marks and threads around their shoulder, wearing dhotis, eating on the floor off banana leaves.
High levels of ritualism does not bode well for any community. Its a mark of a inward looking, non-creative mentality.