Been there, done that. Good article:
The real test came, as it usually does on my own in the school environment, where many new ideas are thrown in to challenge my own, and it was through this initial confusion at the challenge, and then alarm that I began to examine my own position as a Muslim in a Western society and realization my ideology and beliefs weren’t susceptible to the same attacks and perversions that terrorized my Christian companions.
The reason for this intrigued me, and after much soul searching I realized that the underlying logic of Islam was based on a simple all-pervading belief in God and his Will; implying that one’s definition of Good was irrelevant in the face of the daily challenges that themselves defined and changed what it was to be human.
This idea made me keenly aware of my own moral self, and that the strict discipline and seemingly authoritarian regime I had felt subjected to as a child was in fact the basis of an intellectual immune system that would allow me to both absorb the good in other ideologies, while rejecting those principles that would lead to chaos and confusion.
Reminded me of this Tariq Ramadan interview – supposedly a rare one which he focused almost exclusively on philosphy as a subject:
The point is that among these trends within the same tradition—the classical Islamic tradition throughout history—there is a struggle to say what the main principles are. And, in the end, you have schools coming from different views—some saying, “The main point is the oneness of God, and everything else is not so important,” and others saying, “if you look at anything to do with social affairs, there are six principles.” In my book Radical Reform, I say: “These six principles were enough in the Middle Ages. They are not enough today.” Why? Because we are dealing with so many different dimensions and the complexity of knowledge today means that we need to specify the objectives—meaning the applied ethics—in every single field. For example, the inner life: When we speak about stability and about well-being, the right response to the capitalist system’s assertions about well-being as GDP is to speak about well-being as something which reflects the inner dimension, your spiritual well-being. We have to come with this. This is what I mean by ethics.
So, I would say that the core of a tradition is never fully determined or finally decided. Even if you have, once again, a set of principles, priorities change depending on what you are talking about, and I think that this is something that is quite important for any tradition.
Now, where does faithfulness lie? This is why you have some principles—for example, in Islam I would identify the oneness of God, loving Him and being loved by Him, and then serving Him. And then there are principles that are the principles of worship; these are, in fact, the pillars. Now, we ask which principles allow us to deal with human societies, and which values are going to promote well-being. There are things that are immutable, constant, and permanent—when it comes to dignity, for example. We need this: the dignity of the human being, the dignity of man and woman, and the equal dignity of men and women. All these things are very important. As I said, depending on where you are, the dynamic between men and women could change, and we have to accept this. And the priorities could change, the level of urgency sometimes could change, depending on whether you are under a dictatorship and things like this. But I still think that tradition is complex. Faithfulness is not always easy to define, but we still have a set of principles that we can rely on to know where we are heading.
…I would say that to de-center yourself from this struggle, to come to the essence of who you are, and to have a projection, a vision for the future—all this could help you to decide for yourself what the true principles are. This is where and why you go towards transformation and adaptation.