Friday, March 10, 2006

A clash of epochs not civilizations

One of the mistakes many lefties or Isolationists make when it comes to debating Terrorism and the Middle East is the automatic assumption that the people in the Arab and Muslim world use the same common sense on whatever issue that arises as they do.

It can simply be summarized as "If Scenario A arises, I would act in such and such way, ergo, Middle Easterners would also react the same way".

This can be on anything from war to cultural exchange. For months I've been struggling with myself as to how to explain that the ideologies and common sense used over here in the west, cannot be assumed to be taking place in the Middle East. Well luckily for me, a brave Arab American women by the name of Wafa Sultan summarizes just what exactly the clash between the two worlds can be described as:

"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations," she said. "It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete."

She's right in every way. Many practicing Muslims (myself included) do not prescribe to the ideology that's dominating the Muslim World. And there are many more like me. All of us interpret our religion in some way, but not all of us arrive at the same conclusion as the Islamists back home. So it can't be purely all about religion. And Arab civilization has progressed in terms of economy and (to a much lesser extent) culturally.

The clash comes down to ideology. This is the one area where the Muslim World as a whole has not progressed at all since the Middle Ages. Remember the Dark Ages in Europe when a corrupt body of the Church dominated all aspects of human life. And where corruption reached the highest levels of civil power?

The Muslim World is going through the same thing. And what should concern Westerners is that its this lack of progress in ideology that helps feed the ignorance that's widespread today, leading to matters like suicide bombings and the burning of embassies. Our civilizations cannot co-exist peacefully while one is still corrupted by its ideological ignorance.

No amount of "Peace Treaties" or "Cultural exchange for better understanding" will change any of that. And its the reason why people shouldn't expect immediate change following the Iraq war. Europe didn't come out of the Dark Ages in 4 years and people shouldn't assume the same with the Middle East.


At Friday, 10 March, 2006, Anonymous Don said...

It wasn't bad until you made the glaring historical error of calling the Middle Ages the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages refer to a period after the Fall of the Roman Empire to around 700 AD and during this time most literacy and education retreated to monasteries. The Middle Ages in Europe came next and lasted to the Renaissance.
The second error is the statement that a "corrupt body of a Church" dominated an entire millenium and more. Civil power always dominated Europe during the Middle Ages. Whatever powers any church had were given it by the civil authorities. I'm not saying that the Catholic heirarchy (and later Protestant ones) was free of corruption - there were periods of intense corruption followed by intense periods of rooting out corruption and getting back to things spiritual. However, I think that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick's penchant for pillaging and burning every monastery he came across sort of put to rest any idea that any church could actually threaten civil powers in Europe in the Middle Ages and then Renaissance.

At Thursday, 15 July, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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