Just as there has not been any meaningful "Christian world" since the Holy Roman Empire, there has been no unified "Islamic world" since the Middle Ages. For centuries thereafter, Turks, Persians and Arabs squabbled over ideological hegemony. Sunni versus Shiite is just one of Islam's divides today, reminding the world that the faith has no supreme authority to which all believers adhere. By using the term "Muslim world," we only elevate the likes of Mullah Omar or Osama bin Laden, whose rhetoric turns archaic Islamist fantasies into self-fulfilling prophecies. Speaking to all Muslims is speaking to none of them.This is an interesting approach. It got me thinking about our own work on the reception of evolution in the Muslim world - or for that matter, Islamic creationism. Is this a valid approach? I think it works - as long as we highlight (which we always try to do) the cultural diversity inhabiting the Muslim world. In fact, sorting out the commonalities and differences tell us a lot about individual countries and of their influence to and from Islam. Second, the importance of religion features quite highly in almost all Muslim majority countries (and also in Muslim diaspora). Thus, I think, it is reasonable to assume certain key cultural factors shaped by religion - and sometimes treating these countries as a collective. The existence of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) - a collection of 57 countries - further underscores this point and shows how these countries see themselves.
What about the term Latin America? We know that they are quite different individually. However, it is also often useful to talk about them as a collective. While many (all?) of them are strongly Christian, the dominant identity is shaped by their Latin heritage (though, that in itself is shaped by Christianity). In the same way, I think, many Muslim countries may be geographically separated - but their dominant identity is shaped by Islam. This is not the case for all Muslim majority countries and there are indeed some strong exceptions: Former Soviet republics, like Kazakhstan, or some non-Arab African Muslim countries. However, I don't think we loose individual identity of countries when we use the term Muslim world any more than when we use the term Latin America.
Yes, as mentioned in the article, there are some political disadvantages in using the term Muslim world by the US. But there are some advantages too. After all, Obama can claim (and he does) to have a connection to the whole Muslim world through his Kenyan father and from his stay in the largest Muslim country by population, Indonesia. So, I'm not convinced by the argument presented in the article even from a purely political perspective. Overall, I think this is an excellent example of the tension between identity, culture, and the idea of nation states. The term Muslim world has its pros and cons. The key point is to realize the diversity that underlie the umbrella term of Muslim world.
In any case, read the full WP article here. My disagreement aside, it is an interesting idea.