March 17, 2004


No one can put up with too much of that nonsense at a time, so after I finish chapter eight, I think I'll take a short break from Milestones. For my sanity, I've been reacquainting myself with Anthony Burgess, and am now reading the regrettably out-of-print Napoleon Symphony. I first read Burgess in my teens -- the Napoleon Symphony was one book I'd wanted to read by him back then but didn't get around to. It was definitely worth the wait, although one drawback is that I've forgotten a good deal of French Revolutionary history. While Paul Barras was still familiar, Jean Lambert Tallien didn't ring a bell -- and that's just on the first page.

I thought in the meantime I'd offer this appraisal of the attitude toward the West -- the Jahillayah -- of Sayyid and Muhammad Qutb from Nazih Ayubi's rewarding work, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World:

According to the thesis of the two Qutb brothers, which is echoed by all subsequent neo-fundamentalists, a complete epistemological break has to be effected with modern civilization if Muslims are to be real Muslims. In order to arrive at this conclusion, modern civilization has to be divorced in their analysis from its intellectual sources, and a simplistic reading of its shortcomings and drawbacks is offered, taken mainly from Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi's critique of Western civilization (which in turn is based on the reading of a few basically conservative and pessimistic European critics of this civilization). Modern culture (capitalist and socialist alike) is abridged into a few simplistic categories that can be easily understood by people with modest education and that show it as being basically materialist and anti-human (especially anti-Muslim). Furthermore, the critique of modern civilization is not presented as a thesis that may be discussed and debated, to raise consciousness of the self and of the other, but rather as a militant ideology that does not lend itself to discussion because it is premised on a sincere devotion to a divine method and design.

Posted by Ideofact at March 17, 2004 11:54 PM