"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Defining Things

A few things I noted from The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization by Columbia University history professor Richard Bulliet ...

"Books offering new looks at Islam -- this one included -- appear every month. The problem is integrating this mass of information about Islam with the perspectives of those charged with determining government policies.  The policy community, and the scholars on its fringes, continue to shun alternative visions of modernity that might embody a Muslim rather than a western perspective. At worst, they posit Islamic politics as a malignant and inveterate foe, debating the best strategies for holding the Muslims at bay while simultaneously whining 'Why do they hate us?'"  (pg. 115)

This made me wonder how people view modernity.  How would you describe it? Must you own a smart phone or Kindle in order to be modern?  How might a Muslim differ from a Western perspective on this subject? What mights an alternative view of modernity include or exclude?

"Like latter day missionaries, we want the Muslims to love us, not just for what we can offer in the way of a technological society, but for who we are - for our values. But we refuse to countenance the thought of loving them for their values."  (pg. 116)

Do you think this is true? If so, how do we remedy this problem?

"Virtually all thoughtful Americans shudder at the idea of Islamists forming governments, even through free elections. But they are generally hazy on what the world 'Islamist" actually means.  Liberals shudder because of the illiberalism they see at the heart of Islamic movements. Conservatives shudder because of the anti-Americanism they see in those same movements."  (pg. 125)

This reminds me so much of what is happening in the Arab world this year. I recall when Egypt was going through its peaceful revolution, many people here kept saying the Muslim Brotherhood was behind it and they might gain power and put in some very anti-American government that kept minorities within Egypt (whether that were the Coptic Christians or women) down.  How do you define Islamist for yourself? And does the thought of Islamists in power make you shudder or squirm?  Why or why not?

"From the dawn of Christianity down to the nineteenth century - and still today in evangelical Christian circles - the winning of souls took precedence over wealth and power as a sign of success."  (pg. 41)

This was said in context of Islam and Christianity spreading. The author noted that Islam spread to many areas that already had a monotheistic view of God compared to Europe which tended to have the idea of many gods or spirits.  But what I wanted to ask about this is how do you define success? For yourself and/or for others (i.e., societies, governments, etc.)?

You know how you often read about Westerners not crediting Muslims for the scientific achievements and not recognizing cultural superiority during the time when Europe was in its dark ages?  The author draws this parallel. 

Postcolonial thinkers from lands subjected to imperialism concentrate on forms of subjection involved with European imperialism that were virtually unperceivable to past generations of traditional European intellectuals. The latter were prone to stress the economic and technical benefits of relations with Europe in the imperialist era, a phenomenon usually described as westernization or modernization, even as they grudgingly acknowledged the oppressive nature of the colonial system.  People from formerly colonized societies see these as benefits for which no one is owed any gratitude, given the immensity of the burdens inflicted by the putative imperialist benefactors. In exactly the same manner, the Latin Christian of the twelfth through fourteenth centuries (as well as their descendants today) saw no reason to express gratitude toward, or to recognize the scientific and artistic superiority of, the Muslims societies from whence they were obtaining the ideas, techniques, and industrial processes that would soon catapult Latin Europe along a new and immensely fruitful developmental path. Borrowers have their pride.  (pg. 32)


P.S. --  I hope you all had a nice Easter yesterday!


Lat said...

Well I think,one to be modern means to have an attitude to embrace the new technology avaliable to whatever he believes and acts accordingly.

"..But we refuse to countenance the thought of loving them for their values."

That's because one's values are rated higher than the other for which they believe are obvious reasons and therefore shouldn't be doubted?

"Do you think this is true? If so, how do we remedy this problem"

that sounds so difficult :)You know when equality is spoken of,most are in for it.But what actually happens is that a superior notion does enter into the equation which breaks down eventually.

Maybe I'm wrong but the way the term Islamists is used does refer to one who engages in arm struggles to uphold his ideals.So maybe it can become dangerous,depending upon his ideals.

To me success is an accomplisment of certain aspects of what you wanted to do in your life,and thus attain happiness and peace as a result.But what if this success brings about the doom for another? is that real success? Again the superiority complex comes into the picture,be it govt,race or religion.

It's a heavy-topic post :) don't know how to answer really.I'm not that politically inclined to discuss this.Thanks for sharing this book with us,Sussane.I like the last line,
"Borrowers have their pride" Who doesn't? :)

Susanne said...

Yes, I think this was a rather deep book in some aspects and those are maybe tougher questions. But YOU are so wonderful and brave that you tackled them! I'm so thankful as I enjoyed your answers! I appreciate your feedback. You make tons of sense! :)