Islam is perceived as such as problem today that Muslim scholars or intellectuals are often called upon to explain what Islam is not in light of current challenges. However, Islam is first and foremost an answer for the majority of Muslim hearts and consciences, echoing a quest for meaning at the core of rich and industrialized societies. This is hardly ever mentioned, and yet this is where the essence of religion lies: millions of Muslim women and men experience religion as spiritual initiation, reconciliation with meaning, and question for the liberation of their inner selves in a global world dominated by appearances and excessive possession and consumption. To be a Muslim Westerner is also to experience the spiritual tension between a faith that calls for liberation of the inner self and a daily life that seems to contradict and imprison it. This is a difficult experience whether for a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim; it is a difficult experience for all human beings who wish to remain free with their values and who would also like to offer their children the instruments of their freedom. It would be worthwhile, at the core of all those debates, not to disregard that essential religious, spiritual, and philosophical dimension.
-Tariq Ramadan, What I Believe, p. 33-34