Faulty Paradigms in Constructing the Islamic
EXCERPT: "...Samuel Huntington's 1993 "clash of civilizations" thesis was a virtual gift from heaven to the rage-full new Christians. There was the highly intellectualized, sophisticated and historically-justified vindication of the type of worldview for which this group yearned. With the clash of civilizations thesis, they felt entirely justified in their outrage at the idea of sharing the spoils of war or even in seeing Islamists as co-partners in bringing down the Soviet Union.
"Although this is not what Huntington intended or perhaps even desired, the clash of civilizations
thesis was all the fuel needed for their stubbornly and triumphalist exclusivist view of history. With no apologies, the West's civilization is superior to all; and with no apologies, this civilization is anchored in Judaeo-Christian values and nothing else; and more importantly, this prized civilizational achievement entitles the West to its privileges and exceptionalist status around the world..."
EXCERPT: "...These various cautionary points are intended to emphasize that claims of civilizational distinctiveness and conflict are fraught with conceptual pitfalls. Claims about civilizational clashes must necessarily reduce complex social and historical dynamics into essentialized and artificially coherent categories.
"From a pedagogical point of view, such claims are likely to degenerate into powerful vehicles for the expression of prejudice. As such, they tend to further misunderstandings and promote conflict. It is no wonder that when one examines the arguments of the Western proponents of the clash of civilizations, one finds that they invariably ascribe most of what they perceive to be good and desirable to the West, and most of what they find distasteful or objectionable to Islam or the Islamic Civilization.
"As a means of maintaining the air of impartiality and objectivity, quite often the proponents of the clash of civilizations, rather condescendingly, assert that the values of the "other," as foreign and unacceptable as they might be for Westerners, ought to be respected.
"Despotism, oppression and degradation, for
example, might be terrible for Westerners, but they are acceptable for Muslims because, after all, Muslims themselves do not consider their social institutions as despotic, oppressive, or degrading.
"What for Westerners, for instance, might be considered egregious violations of human rights must be considered bearable for Muslims because Muslims have a distinctly different set of social and cultural expectations than the Judeo-Christian West.
"The effect of the doctrinal commitment to the paradigm of clashing civilizations often serves to obfuscate the real dynamics that are, in fact, taking place in Islam. There are significant tensions within contemporary Islam that are bound to materially impact the world today..."
Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl explains the history and rise of white-nationalism and the forces that gave rise to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. He explains the various arguments that justify the vilification of Islam, including arguments around the "clash of civilizations" thesis, the so-called superiority of the "West," and the redefinition and use of the notion of "Judeo-Christian values" as a cover for racism, bigotry and white privilege. He discusses how the Trump administration and cabinet appointees have expanded the definition of "Radical Islamists" to include all Muslims and the religion of Islam, and how this redefinition will become the basis of the persecution to come. Muslims, as the "low-
hanging fruit" and test cases for the new
administration will pave the way for the persecution of other minority groups that will be next in line after the Muslims. Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses what Muslims can expect with a Trump administration and what Muslims must do in order to prepare for the likely battles ahead. Professor Abou El Fadl spoke to the Islamic Center of Southern California on December 18, 2016.