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« Apologies To My Readers | Main | A Skeptic »

Stuck In The Past

Tarek Heggy bemoans the lack of scholarship among Islamic scholars:

I have been engaged in meetings with a number of scholars from the Vatican. I always bemoan and wonder why the Vatican abounds with men of religion with such splendid educational, intellectual and encyclopedic cognitive backgrounds in their various areas of knowledge, while our scholars know nothing about the great fruits of human creativity in many of the different branches of social and human sciences.

At a conference held seven years ago, I saw a scholar who is considered by some as the greatest Muslim jurist and preacher of his time. He was an Egyptian with Qatari nationality who fled from Egypt during the clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamāl Abd al-Nāsir in 1954. At the conference, he used more than one interpreter, and never got involved in discussions about modern streams of thought. On the other hand, the Vatican scholars were using four or five languages in their discussions that covered vast fields of knowledge. I will not hide the fact that I felt ashamed of him that day. He seemed so primitive in his thoughts and approaches. It appeared as if he was a primeval human from the forests of ' Borneo Island.'

We need a generation of Muslim religious scholars who have studied other religions, human history, world literature, philosophy, sociology and psychology and can speak a number of languages; the languages of civilization. Until this happens, our Muslim scholars will remain primitive and stay at their level of naivety, shallowness and isolation from the path of civilization and humanity.

But I guess that I shouldn't point out things like this. It makes me (like Tarek) an Islamaphobe (see comments).

[Update at 9:30 AM EDT]

Christina Hoff Sommers has some thoughts on Muslim women, and the failure of western feminism to take up their cause. Makes perfect sense to me, though. They can't blame the treatment of Muslim women on dead white European males. Or at least they haven't come up with a way yet.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 14, 2007 06:28 AM
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This is an excellent article. It is a good read.

Christianity went through its "nutty" period, where like radical Islam today it was mechanical, not very thoughtful, and heavy on "leadership" which could easily be corrupted. Galileo is an excellent, but not unique example of when the "west" was wrapped up in its dark period of religion.

As a culture we stumbled out of it, because we had brave people who challenged it AND because other societale forces (including western expansion to the "Americas") enhanced it. The situation in Northern Ireland might hopefully be our (western) moment of such nuttiness.

Although we have tinges of it in our society on both sides of the political spectrum.

There is nothing that says Islam evolves and there is nothing that says that extreme culture does not spread like a stain through the world. We have been in dark ages before...ages where periods of massive social and other advancement simply stopped.


Posted by Robert G. Oler at May 14, 2007 07:05 AM

The women’s movement in America is a proud chapter in the ever evolving and self correcting democracy we enjoy today. Unfortunately as with almost every political organization that attains its primary goal it has been set adrift by those that created it, perceived by the majority to have succeeded. Those that came after its heyday now oversee an organization that is primarily a supporter of other groups political goals, and in as much it has become a cheerleader (how ironic) for groups that it relies on for funding and support. To take on the goal of relieving the real, horrific oppression of women globally places them in the wrong political camp. As with Galileo suppressors, it is more important to look after your own survival than to side with a detractor, whose facts are uncomfortably accurate, and stand in the way of genuflection to your masters.

Posted by JJS at May 14, 2007 08:55 AM

JJS makes good points. If the feminist groups changed their focus from domestic political controversies to real oppression of women in other parts of the world, the feminists might lose all or part of the substantial financial and sweat-equity investments they have made over the years in developing their lobbying and fundraising systems. This is a problem that faces any agenda-driven group when conditions change.

Posted by Jonathan at May 14, 2007 03:39 PM

... might lose all or part of the substantial financial and sweat-equity investments they have made over the years in developing their lobbying and fundraising systems. This is a problem that faces any agenda-driven group when conditions change.

It's not just "agenda" groups, but any bureaucracy. The classic case study of this is the March of Dimes. They started out to help victims of Polio, licked it with the vaccine, and then morphed into a group to help fight birth defects.

Posted by ech at May 15, 2007 08:31 AM

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