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PacNet #1A – Middle East influence boosts Islamic conservatism in Aceh?

The fundamental problem facing Muslims and others seeking to understand Islam is not that there are too many versions of Islam. There is only one Islam, but there are a thousand possible interpretations of its texts and precepts. All lay people claim to possess the indisputable truth, all claim that no version but their own can be true. An unfortunate omission in current critiques of Islam is that they usually ignore the fact that competing interpretations of the faith have caused more conflicts within Islam than outside of Islam. Setting aside the nuances, the most important division for challenging intolerance and antidemocratic beliefs is the divide between moderate and conservative adherents of the faith. In contrast to the latter, moderates advocate a civil Islam based on tolerance, an Islam compatible with democratic ideas and modern life.