I liked Charles Kurzman’s book The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists (Oxford: 2011) very much, and I think it an enormously important contribution. Here’s a passage that hit me personally, describing my own personal experience quite well:
Many of us who chose to study Islamic subjects prior to 2001 find it somewhat disconcerting that our field is suddenly in demand. The more that non-Muslims fear Islam, the more that security threats are hyped, the more attention Islamic studies gets. It’s not just that the field benefits from Muslims committing atrocities, but that it benefits also from non-Muslims’ ignorance and paranoia. As a result, responsible scholars of Islamic studies spend much of their time in the limelight trying to dispel the very stereotypes that helped bring them to prominence. (172)
Now, of course, it’s not all “fear” and “ignorance and paranoia,” though fear and paranoia do often play a definite role. There are legitimate reasons for concern. But they’re often overblown, and they’re sometimes unjustifiably generalized into a fear and even a hatred of all Muslims and a contemptuous disdain for the whole of Islamic culture. This is where greater knowledge can really help.
Response to my two blog entries “Designing a Temple for Dubai” and “Back to Designing a Temple for Dubai” continues to be mixed. Some seem to imagine that, submissive dhimmi that I am, I advocate betraying our theology and our own temple-architectural traditions in order to curry favor with Muslims by creating a pseudo-mosque, perhaps even one featuring faux minarets.
But this is not at all what I have in mind. I simply believe that, in fulfillment of the words that President Russell M. Nelson spoken when announcing the Dubai United Arab Emirates Temple, the building could easily incorporate traditional elements of Islamic art and architecture, which (as it happens) lend themselves beautifully to modern design.
Much in the way that the Indianapolis Indiana Temple pays unmistakable homage to a landmark in that city and and in much the same way that the Tucson Arizona Temple reflects the architecture of its area:
“As you notice around the valley and throughout the city, there’s multiple domes or cupolas, and we took that into our design so that it would be able to fit in and match the area itself,” said [Tucson Arizona Temple project manager Calvin] Caldwell.
Incidentally, I don’t expect that Dubai’s temple will feature a golden statue of Moroni at its apex. If asked, I would certainly counsel against it. (Islamic art is aniconic, and particularly so in connection with places of worship.) But I believe that the Brethren and our Church architects are both inspired and savvy enough not to need my advice on the matter.
Moreover, just to be clear, mosques need not have domes.