Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ever the twain shall meet

Clockwise from top left: "Gnostic Has A Vision Of Angels Carrying Trays Of Light To The Poet Sa'di" and "Yusuf Preaches to Zulaykha's Maidens in her Garden", Haft Awrang of Jami, 1565, Persia; Icon with the Archangel Gabriel, 13th c, Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai; "Abraham sacrificing Ishmael" and "Adam and Eve", illustrated manuscripts by Zubdat Al-Tawarikh, 1583, Constantinople

This article is good in that it presents a different point of view in relation to the topic of the misunderstandings between West and Islam.

The article is written from an Islamic point of view and therefore I cannot stand behind its contentions. However, that being said, it does have merit if in nothing else another point of view is spoken. As well, some of the issues it raises regarding modernity are issues dear to me as well.


In the first of a series of articles on the occasion of Ramadan, Eric Walberg traces the historical roots of Western-Islamic misunderstanding since Christianity's great rival swept across the Middle East and beyond in the 7-8th cc, culminating in continued attempts to conquer the Muslim world, both physically and spiritually __________________________________________________________________

The world today is experiencing unprecedented crisis, with war raging and environmental degradation threatening the entire planet. Who is responsible? The West argues that its agenda of extending US hegemony, capitalism and trade is the answer to the crisis, but is stymied by a backward and fractious Muslim world unwilling to embrace modernity. For its part the world of Islam sees the West as irreligious, continuing its age-old struggle to undermine the dar al-salam (the house of peace). Having strayed from the "straight path" long ago, it continues to do the bidding of Iblis (Satan). Clearly relations between East and West continue to be plagued by mistrust and misunderstanding; however, the fact of the global village means we must on the contrary strive to understand and trust the eternal "other".

Western, i.e., Christian and now secular, views of Islam have varied considerably, ranging from the traditional bigotted dismissal as idolatry of the Prophet Mohammed (most strange in that it is in the first place a refutation of polytheism) to disparagement as a Christian sect or heresy. One of the more sympathetic views of Islam popular in the West is that it is an adaptation of Christianity for Arabs, that Mohammed was the Arabs' prophet, though in fact Arabs constitute only a minority of the world's Muslims.

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