Thoreau over at Unqualified Offerings writes:
In a report on Indonesia, the Economist makes the interesting point that urban Muslims in Indonesia are actually more likely to be drawn to more austere, fundamentalist versions of Islam than their rural counterparts. The rural Muslims prefer religious practices that blend Islam with elements of Hinduism and indigenous faiths that were practiced there prior to Islam. No generalizable point here, just an interesting observation on how complex matters of religion and culture can be.
This is actually a point that sociologist Olivier Roy has been making for years now—most memorably in his excellent Globalized Islam. Like most faiths that actually persist in practice for long periods of time, local versions of Islam have accumulated a whole array of local traditions and practices layered atop the official holy writ—and also moderated some of the most potentially radical tenets of the system in the process of accommodation to the practical demands of real social life. It’s urbanites and cosmopolitans who are most likely to come into contact with the many variations between the local versions of Islam. Now, if you’re a believer convinced that there’s one uniquely authoritative set of commands and practices that have been divinely ordained, this can provoke enormous cognitive dissonance—and prompt a search for the “true” version of Islam purged of all these regional variations. Insofar as this also purges the system of its evolved adaptations, the result is apt to be more radical, and potentially more dangerous.