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Introduction

  • Aaron Tyler
Chapter
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Abstract

Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (1997), acclaimed by many policymakers and foreign affairs analysts in the West for its reasoned realism but also castigated by intellectuals for its infidelity to multiculturalism and challenge to the exportation of liberalism, attracted international attention for its assertion, following the dismantling of Cold War rivalries, that Islam would emerge as the most potent and violent challenge to Western civilization.1 In a 1999 keynote address delivered at Colorado College, Huntington stated: “For the foreseeable future, the relations between the West and Islam will be at best distant and acrimonious and at worst conflictual and violent.”2 Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, many again harkened to Huntington’s prescient predictions. The September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks, described by most world leaders as senseless and cowardly acts of violence, inaugurated what has become a global war on terrorism. While careful to emphasize that Islam is a peaceful religion and that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceable and law-abiding, Western leaders and citizens are cognizant of how the recent rise in terrorism is a product of Muslim extremism.

Keywords

Political Theorist Islamic Civilization Islamic Tradition Colorado College Cultural Confrontation 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Huntington’s hypothesis was first articulated in a 1993 Foreign Affairs article entitled “The Clash of Civilizations?” The hypothesis was expounded at book length in 1997. Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72 (Summer 1993): 22–28;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. and Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone, 1997). See Stanley Kurtz, “The Future of History,” Policy Review 113 (June/July 2002).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The divisive terms dar al-kufr (or dar al-harb: “abode of war”) and dar al-Islam are regularly utilized by Muslim extremists. Concomitantly, many westerners also nurture a binary perspective that contrasts a “peace-loving,” “civilized” West with a “backwards,” “belligerent” Muslim world. Muslim intellectual Khaled Abou El Fadl describes how this dichotomous view of the world—dar al-harb versus dar al-Islam—was derived by Muslim jurists writing during a developmental era for Islamic law, from the eighth to eleventh centuries. This medieval period was characterized by incessant reciprocating threats and forays between rival states and kingdoms, where territorial dominance was a geopolitical necessity. Abou El Fadl rightly references historical context—not religious conviction—as the prevailing impetus behind the incorporation of these divisive geographical distinctions into Islamic jurisprudence. (Neither the Qur’an nor Sunna, the two most important sources of Islamic law, legitimates these distinctions.) Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 223–28. Arguably, in today’s global context of proliferating transnational migration and growing cultural pluralism, a two- or even three-abode world is untenable, even though it is still embraced by pundits and citizens in both Western and Islamic cultures. Despite the geographic and demographic realities that complicate this binary perspective, one must nonetheless address the intellectual and sociocultural arguments that continue to bolster this dichotomous worldview.Google Scholar
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    Fred Dallmayr, “Beyond Monologue: For a Comparative Political Theory,” Perspectives on Politics 2 (June 2004): 250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Dallmayr, 252; see also, Anthony J. Parel, “The Comparative Study of Political Philosophy,” in Comparative Political Philosophy: Studies Under the Upas Tree, 2nd ed., ed. Anthony J. Parel and Ronald C. Keith (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003), 14.Google Scholar
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    Michael Walzer, On Toleration (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 2.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 174.Google Scholar
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    “Exploring the Possibilities and Limits of Collaboration: Commonalities and Differences in Coexistence and Related Fields,” prepared for Coexistence International by Isabella Jean, with Jessica Berns and Cynthia Cohen (May 2006), 7, available at http://www.brandeis.edu/coexistence/linked%20documents/BarometerReport%20FINAL%20June%2006.pdf. For further reading on coexistence see also EugeneWeiner, ed., The Handbook of Interethnic Coexistence (New York: The Abraham Fund, 2000);Google Scholar
  9. Muhammad Abu Nimer, Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory and Practice (New York: Lexington Books, 2001);Google Scholar
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  13. 17.
    John Christian Laursen, “Orientation: Clarifying the Conceptual Issues,” in Religious Toleration: “The Variety of Rites” from Cyrus to Defoe, ed. John Christian Laursen (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999), 2.Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Ibid. For a greater examination of the differences between tolerance and toleration see Andrew R. Murphy, “Tolerance, Toleration, and the Liberal Tradition,” Polity 29, no. 4 (1997): 593–623; Michael Walzer, xi;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    J. Budziszewski, True Tolerance: Liberalism and the Necessity of Judgment (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000), 221.Google Scholar
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    See Cary J. Nederman and John Christian Laursen, eds., Difference and Dissent: Theories of Toleration in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996);Google Scholar
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    Istvan Bejczy. “Tolerantia: A Medieval Concept,” Journal of the History of Ideas 58, no. 3 (1997): 367.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Mehdi Amin Razavi and David Ambuel, eds., Philosophy, Religion, and the Question of Intolerance (New York: State University of New York Press, 1997);Google Scholar
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    Cary J. Nederman, Worlds of Difference: European Discourses of Toleration, c. 1100–c. 1550 (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
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    J. Budziszewski, True Tolerance: Liberalism and the Necessity of Judgment (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000).Google Scholar
  26. 29.
    Khaled Abou El Fadl, “The Place of Tolerance in Islam,” in The Place of Tolerance in Islam, ed. Joshua Cohen and Ian Lague (Boston: Beacon, 2002).Google Scholar
  27. Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Aaron Tyler 2008

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  • Aaron Tyler

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