Term Paper: Islam and the West

Pages: 11 (3702 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 11  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The author also argues that as religion has been banished from the political spheres, its presence in other cultures becomes a yardstick through which these secular cultures consider them progressive. (Pasha) That is to say those Western cultures consider secularism as a fundamental for the existence of any state, and those which have religion as their ideology are considered old and hypocritical. This is because the state and the church were the same in medieval West. However as the advanced through time and became intellectually enlightened the role of the church was marginalized. Western scholars being Eurocentric hence consider that as their region progresses other cultures too will progress, therefore those states which have religion as the underlying political ideology, in their opinion are in the dark ages.

Another perspective as detailed by Hutchings (Hutchings)[footnoteRef:7] indicates that the move towards other ideologies typified as 'non- West' is in itself ethnocentric at best and then comes to identify how the Western world views all other ideas that originate in different parts of the world, clubbing then together in a kind of an out-group category. [7: Hutchings, Kimberly. "Dialogue between Whom? The Role of the West/Non-West Distinction in Promoting Global Dialogue in IR." Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2011).]

He further goes on to indicate that:

"Firstly, whatever the differences between them, 'non-Western' experiences and perspectives remain defined in a negative relation to 'West'; and, secondly, the idea of 'non-Western' IR preserves a link between truth and cultural/geographical location.

Rather than opening up the conversation, these differences delimit potential dialogue in ways that may reinforce or reverse the predominant binary hierarchy, but which do not fundamentally provincialise it. To the extent that 'non-West' necessarily carries a negative reference to Western thought, it always threatens to reinvent the binary oppositions that its use was intended to overturn. And as soon as 'non-West' is identified with a 'what' or a 'where', then dialogue becomes constructed in terms of a governing difference or sameness." (Hutchings)

Therefore, the author goes on to indicate that due to the negative nuances associated with alternate ideas as external influences, there has been a conflict scenario which prevents people belonging to various ideologies to come together.

The author goes on to indicate that in order to change the scenario and in order to bring about a fundamental change in the way that things are done in the international arena, there needs to be dialogue on the basis of which different parties can learn from each other and in the process be able to deliver a new way of conducting international relations and activities that are best able to address the changing needs of the world today. (Hutchings)

Another important point that a scholar, in relation to the importance of change indicates is that a culture which is most adaptable to the changing environment is the one that wins in the end, and is more successful than the one that is rigid and doesn't change. (Amineh) according to the author of "The Challenges of Modernity: The Case of Political Islam"[footnoteRef:8], she indicates that the need for Islam as a basis for political ideology came about as a need for the culture to preserve itself in the face of the weakening of the Islamic empire and the rise of Europe as a world power and as an increasingly popular movement. (Amineh 196) Europe was characterized by wars and revolutions that led to the rise of the bourgeois, as free markets and capitalism came to the forefront as economic and political ideologies that allowed the people to deviate from the ranks that they were born into to be able to make a living for their own. This popular drive heralded a change in the way that people thought and made the notion of capitalism popular. [8: Amineh, Mehdi Parvizi. "The Challenges of Modernity: The Case of Political Islam." Perspectives on Global Development & Technology 6.1-3 (2007): 215-228.]

It was in the face of such challenges that Islam as a political ideology came to the forefront. The author follows up her theory with the resulting environment where Europe was colonizing countries and in its wake left a trail where the colony country populations could either change or could remain in their shells. She says that (Amineh):

"In general since the colonial period, developing countries have been confronted with a dilemma: they could either spurn their own culture and start a "catch-up" program to become equal in wealth and power with the West, or adhere to their own culture and religious traditions while remaining materially weak" (Amineh 220)

According to another set of authors (Abbas, Amin and Ahmad),[footnoteRef:9] looking at how the Islamic world has responded to modernity, he suggests that the response from the Islamic world has ranged from an extreme of total acceptance to that of complete and absolute blondness and oblivion to western ideology. For complete acceptance he gives the example of the Ottoman Empire and as backed by another scholar, (Djedi)[footnoteRef:10] it is suggested that as the Ottoman Empire was under European jurisdiction and was as weak as it was, it blindly and completely accepted western ideologies, which in turn was not acceptable to a vast Muslim majority and to Muslim clerks and this simmering dissent has come to proportions as can be seen today that have culminated in international terrorist groups. (Djedi) [9: Abbas, Rana Zamin, Dr. Muhammad Amin and Dr. Zulfqar Ahmad. "Muslim Response to Modernity and a new strategy of peace in the world." Interdisciplinary Journal Of Contemporary Research In Business 2.9 (2011).] [10: Djedi, Youcef. "Max Weber, Islam and Modernity." Max Weber Studies, 11.1 (2011): 35-67.]

While it is true that the Islamic world was divided in its response to the western ideologies as proposed and propelled in the manner by the Europeans, the fact that there was a shift in dynamics was a fact that even the Muslim clerics at that time couldn't deny.

Yet another perspective is that of S.N. Eisenstadt, as mentioned in (Amir Arjomand). [footnoteRef:11]Eisenstadt initiated the idea of societies that had changed over time to their conventional form, from being a traditional religion. In that the change in Islamic ideology as a political ideology in the Middle East and North Africa, where the centers of Islamic power were, and where they were more financially autonomous. As compared to this area, the area of sub-Saharan Africa and south East Asia, which were the main areas that were colonized Islam was not an ideology but a religion. [11: Amir Arjomand, Said. "Axial civilizations, multiple modernities, and Islam ." Journal of Classical Sociology 11.3 (2011): 327-335.]

Oppositional or Complementary

As far as the view on Islam as being a complementary or an oppositional element is concerned as far as western rhetoric goes, Mustapha Kamal Pasha is of the opinion that Islam is not going to offer anything different from Western thought in the sense that there will be a consolidation of power in some people's hands and the state of affairs will be the same. However to convert to Islamic ideology will be a tedious process and the switch might not be worth the effort if it plagues the world with similar problems as capitalism and liberalism have. (Pasha 120) This goes to imply that while Islam might be a complementary system relative to western modernism, there is too much similarity for the change to be worth it to this alternate system in order to make international relations better. On the other hand, (Tickner)[footnoteRef:12] J. Ann indicates that world leaders more specifically western thought leaders should indulge in composite dialogue that can enable them to understand ideologies other than their own, and hopefully make the world a less conflict-prone and a more just place to be. She indicates that (Tickner): [12: Tickner, J. Ann. "Dealing with Difference: Problems and Possibilities for Dialogue in International Relations." Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2011).]

"As I stated earlier, we also need to think about how we could construct an IR that is more conducive to dialogue across geographical as well as methodological boundaries. We live in a world in which the majority of the world's population does not live in the West. Yet most of us do not feel any responsibility for reading and assigning texts that are not authored in the West or by non-English-speaking scholars." (Tickner 617)

This makes the case for Islam as an alternative methodology that should be allowed to be studied and written about in terms that are relatable to its own. She also indicates that positive scientific research should not be the only means by which to evaluate the success of a particular school of thought. Each methodology and discipline has different criteria and scholars in non-Western disciplines should not be asked to conform by… [END OF PREVIEW]

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