Dissertation, University of Kent (2003)

For more than a thousand years, Islam has been the hostile `other' of the West. Not only does the West feel threatened by Islam, but also many Muslims feel threatened by the West. The dialectical relationship between Islam and the West has gained a new impetus since the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan on September I Ith, 2001. A central issue in this dialectic is what is perceived and understood by `Islam' by both Muslims themselves and by non-Muslims. Whilst conflict may suggest support for Samuel Huntington's `Clash of Civilisations' thesis, with Islam as the prime candidate for this clash, this thesis will aim to show that such a clash is a consequence of only one of many understandings of Islamic identity. Islam and the West, it will be argued, are not as incompatible in a civilisational or ideological context as history might suggest. Compatibility can be better appreciated by examining what are regarded by Muslims as key paradigms that make up Islamic identity: that of the Qur'an, Muhammad, Medina as the first `Islamic state', and the four `rightly-guided' caliphs. To be Muslim is to accept certain archetypes as central to belief. This is not what is in contention. However, what is a matter of contention is how one approaches these paradigms, particularly amongst such renowned Islamic revivalist scholars as Mawlana Mawdudi, Muhammad Iqbal, Sayyid Qutb, and Jamal alDin Afghani. This thesis argues that the approach has been dominated by what is termed the `Transhistorical': mythologizing the paradigms to the extent that they have become `idols' which its adherents are unwilling to question or even, if necessary, to shatter. The Muslim philosopher Mawlana Mawdudi will be represented as symbolising this Transhistorical approach. However, another approach can be usefully adopted, that of the Historical, that perceives the paradigms within the context of time and place, thus allowing for flexibility of constant renewal and reassessment. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche can be helpfully employed in examining the Historical approach. Whilst Nietzsche rarely spoke specifically about Islam, his admiration for it as a religion is in sharp contrast to his criticism of Christianity. Whilst Nietzsche was addressing an audience of a different culture and age, this thesis aims to show that his philosophy can make an important contribution to the dialectical understanding between Islam and the West. `Returning' to Islam in what is perceived as its Golden Age is nothing original nor would be seen by Islamists as unorthodox. However, Nietzsche's own originality, creativity, and psychological, philological and historical insights allow for a fresh and enlightening approach to key Islamic paradigms that show that Islam and the West are quite capable of ideological and civilisational reconciliation.
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Economy and Society.Max Weber - 2013 - Harvard University Press.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra.Friedrich Nietzsche - 1961 - New York: Viking Press.

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