The people of the world — and Muslims in particular — were confronted with a host of questions and assertions about the proper place of Islam in society. Must Muslims strive for the establishment of an Islamic state? Is the Shariah compatible with modernity, democracy, and human rights? I daresay that every Muslim has been exercised in one form or another by the ascendance of political Islam — whether recoiling in alarm, perplexed and anxious, or enthusiastically embracing a more assertive role for religion in politics.
For a long time, the two worlds of Islam, the outer world of political and social action and the inner world of spiritual and moral realization, seemed entirely at odds with each other. One was angry at Islam's subordination, insistent on recognition and power, on challenging the status quo; the other was serene, introspective, and immersed in the intangible. The canvas of the first was societies and nations; of the second, the self and the individual.