Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Reformist Muslim Warns The West About Wishful Thinking Regarding Islam



Syrian-born Bassam Tibi, who claims to be a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed and teaches political science at Goettingen University in Germany, appealed for intellectual honesty between both parties in these exchanges.

"First, both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms these mean different things to each of them. The word 'peace,' for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or 'House of Islam' -- to the entire world," explained Tibi, who is also a research scholar at Harvard University.

"This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought, a concept developed by (18th-century philosopher) Immanuel Kant."

"Similarly, when Muslims and the Western heirs of the Enlightenment speak of tolerance they have different things in mind. In Islamic terminology, this term implies abiding non-Islamic monotheists, such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, as second-class believers. They are 'dhimmi,' a protected but politically immature minority."

According to Tibi, the quest of converting the entire world to Islam is an immutable fixture of the Muslim worldview. Only if this task is accomplished -- if the world has become a "Dar al-Islam" -- will it also be a "Dar a-Salam," or a house of peace.

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