Indecent Exposure

What is it? Westerners have no problem with bare flesh on billboards but pray in private. Muslims keep quiet about sex but pray in public five times a day. How the two codes clash

Steve Herbert / Atlaspress

Afghan soldiers participate in afternoon prayers.

Reams have been written on the differences between Islamic and Western societies, but for sheer pithiness, it's hard to beat a quip by my former colleague, a Pakistani scholar of Islamic studies. I'd strolled into his office one day to find him on the floor, at prayer. I left, shutting his door, mortified. Later he cheerfully batted my apologies away. "That's the big difference between us," he said with a shrug. "You Westerners make love in public and pray in private. We Muslims do exactly the reverse."

At the nub of debates over Muslim integration in the West lies the question, What's decent...

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