Official Blog Entry #8: A Clash of Ignorance Indeed

Islamic fundamentalism is an issue that comes up time and time again and will most likely continue to do so as the West continues to get riled up about the Islamic world.  Edward Said’s article “The Clash of Ignorance”, and Charles Hirschkind and Saba Mahmood’s article “Feminism, the Taliban, and Politics of Counter-Insurgency” come as relief in light of all the one-sided opinion that western media constantly bombards on us.

In relation to Said’s article, I have to say that I agree entirely with his labeling of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations Theory as “Clash of Ignorance”.  Viewing the world as consisting of seven to eight civilizations with each pitting against each other trying to come out victorious is the most inhumane way to perceive the human race.  Homo sapiens did not mysteriously emerge out of seven to eight distinct areas; moreover we have shaped each other’s customs, traditions, and morals throughout the passage of time.

The West would not be as we know it had it not been for the works of great Muslim thinkers such as Al-Farabi or Ibn Sina (Avicenna).  It is also important to keep in mind that these were not just Arabs, they were themselves very diverse.  Equating Arab with Muslim is a great misconception and needs to be adjusted in western mentality.  The mystic and poet Jalal-ul-Din-al Rumi was himself a Persian, and so was Ibn Sina.  It is through the works of Muslims, through Arabic translations, that the West first came to know of Aristotle.  All this is to say that the West that we know would not have been as we know it had it not been for the Golden Age of Islam (during the times of the Abbasid Empire).

Instead of summarizing Said’s article, I would like to focus in on something that he did not elaborate much into, and that is Western Muslims.  Muslims living in the west are an integral part of western society.  They are in every field, working side by side with their non-Muslim colleagues.  Would Mavis Leno like to say that the Western Muslim females are oppressed?  That the choice of an American Muslim to don the religious head scarf as ordained by her Lord to be oppressive?

"Afghanistan has become increasingly militarized. Is this the 'freedom' Afghans longed for?"

What does it mean to be a Western Muslim then?  To become Western, does one have to “openly kiss in public”, “eat bacon sandwiches”, and wear “mini skirts”, as Salman Rushdie states in his quote in the article by Hirschkind and Mahmood?  I would like to believe that this western supremacist view is not something embedded in western thought, it is more of a political nature, part of a political agenda to stray the public’s focus from the things that matter, the faults of their peers.  Why has the American public not raised criticism on the fact that the American government supplied $3 billion dollars to the mujahideen in Afghanistan?  Why is the fact of Afghan women and children being raped all over the country today not an issue that célèbre figures like to voice?  Political agendas?  Western Media?  Propaganda?

Under the Taliban regime, there was safety.  A woman was free to walk without the fear of being raped out on the streets knowing that the rapist would be heavily condemned.  Indeed, there was the issue of them being reprimanded for breaking religious rules, but the safe environment was definitely there.  The women of Afghanistan today are by no means safer than under the Taliban regime?  They live in a country greatly controlled by the United States, a country that has become increasingly militarized thanks to our neighbours to the south (their government at least).  It is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world which came to that condition due to the dramatic reduction of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.  My point in this is to highlight that Islam is not to blame.  Even the Taliban are not to blame entirely.  There were systems set in place to bring the country down to its knees.  Afghanistan was and is a deliberate attempt to show the Muslim world who is in charge.

Hence, we as westerners, Muslims and non-Muslims, must rise up to the challenge to dismantle this theory of the Clash of Civilizations, because if we do not, this “cultural warfare” will continue and will result in great destruction on all sides.  There is no victor in a war.  Let’s band together as brothers and sisters in one human race to banish the seeds of ignorance from our times.

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