Over at Reset Dialogues on Civilization, Marco Cesario makes the case:
What is the meaning nowadays of teaching about the Islamic religious phenomenon rather than the Islamic religion as such? The International Institute of Religious Thought in Paris (IIIT) attempted to answer this difficult question during a study day attended by intellections and experts on Islam. Speakers included Mohammed Mestiri (director of the IIIT), Mustafa Cherif, a philosopher and the director of the Masters in Islamic Studies at Barcelona University, Stéphane Lation Professor at Fribourg University and Charles Saint-Prot, Director of the Institute of Geopolitical Studies in Paris.
The debate showed that nowadays Islam should no longer be considered a spiritual subject or an organisation of worship of the divine, but rather a phenomenon. This new and ambitious paradigm also involves the Humanities; philosophy, sociology, history, epistemology and anthropology. Islam is above all a reality, a phenomenon that extends over time and space through a diversity of eras and societies. All too often the historical, anthropological and the generally scientific perspective has opposed the religious, theological or spiritual. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary they should cooperate in the multi-disciplinary character to allow Islam to move forwards in the 3rd millennium.
Only if one considers Islam as a religious phenomenon and not a collection of irrefutable dogmas, and only if its analysis is accompanied by the scientific discipline of the Humanities, will communities be allowed to improve and integrate with modernity without trauma.