Akbar Ahmed: I think again Michelle I would correlate it to the three categories, for the mystic I mean put yourself in the shoes if you’re a mystic Muslim you’re more interested in trying to reach God and along your journey whether someone next to you is a Jew or a Christian like the great [Rumi], you are sitting in the [Rumi] forum the one of the greatest mystics of all time is Mawlana Jalal din Rumi we all love him we revere him. Now his followers included Jews and Christians and people of no faith because they saw in him a man advocating love and universal compassion.
So your priorities would be different you maybe involved in democracy, you may not be involved in democracy, you may be living on a different plane as a lot of these mystics do. Rumi himself was offered all kinds of honors and titles which he didn’t accept, then you come to the modernist now the modernist has no problem with democracy because modernism means modernist Muslim wants democracy. Pakistan, going back to Pakistan was created by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan represented modern democracy. His idea was a democracy which would balance tradition and modernity, women’s rights, minority rights, the law, the rule of law, upholding the constitution this is what Jinnah visualized for Pakistan.
Then you have the literalists now the literalists will say we want our lives to approximate as closely as possible as literally as possible to the time of the holy prophet of Islam in the 7th century and there you have a problem because physically today it’s very difficult to approximate to the 7th century without creating all kinds of problems in society, and that debate is taking place in Muslim society even today and it’s not a new debate, it’s not a post 9/11 debate, it’s a debate that began in the 19th century and in America you have exactly the same situation. So if you went to a mosque which is a literalist mosque you may have a much more closer adherence to literalist Islam meaning that people would be hoping, desiring to dress and behave as if they were in 7th century Arabia. In no way contradicting or challenging the rules or the structures of the contemporary state but wanting to be left alone to worship in their own way. The modernist would have no problem they would want to be involved in local politics, want to be involved in the local media and so on.
Michelle: I thought it was interesting that you went to mosques which I mean it makes sense obviously but that’s an institution that’s in a lot of flux right now, and actually I was in a mosque in Central Virginia last week and the Imam there was explaining to people that it was election time and he was trying to explain to the importance of being participant in the mosque and being voting and that kind of thing. And he was saying that even though you know it’s a large not new community that that’s still a challenge that for an Imam you know these are the issues that’s more of a regular issue trying to get people involved in the board and that kind of thing. So anyway I thought that was interesting that you picked mosques because even though it’s obviously it’s a central place, it’s a place that’s in transition. A lot of people still just come and go from the mosques so I was wondering if you talked about looking at other institutions or how are you, if you found you know anything particular [IB]…