Table of Contents

I. Prospectus
-
II. Circles of Antagonism: Popular Culture
-
III. Circles of Antagonism: The Intellectual Idiom
-
IV. Causes of Antagonism
-
V. Constructive Attitudinal Change
-
VI. Structure of the Islamic World
-
VII.Conspectus
-
Appendices
-
Afterword by Javeed Akhter
-
About the Author

Back to ISPI Home
 

Prospectus

The waning of the twentieth century has been characterized by the irrepressible effervescence of Islam. The end of empire released powerful forces partially suppressed by colonialism. The effect of this explosion has been global and profound, benign and sinister. It has produced reactions of fear bordering on panic and hope for the recovery and radiation of values held dear by all civilizations.

During the past decade two new idioms affecting the perception of Islam in the West have commanded attention. The first, caricaturing Islam as the "Green Menace" replacing the Soviet "Red Menace," is significantly negative. The second is a slowly emerging recognition in ecclesiastical, intellectual and political circles of the theological validity and demographic, hence political, weight of Islam. This latter idiom, is somewhat more positive in its effect. These two themes co-exist in a dialectical relationship. The dominance of one over the other cannot be clearly foretold. If militant radical trends among a minority Muslim group increase and expand spatially, then the emerging global respectability of Islam will be in eclipse. If these radical militant actions subside, a new globally–triumphal recovery of Muslim identity linked with spiritual growth and political influence could very well be the result.

These themes can be better understood by analysis of their content and by a survey of the structure of the highly complex world of Islam. The religious paradigm of the Muslim belief system has been exhaustively examined for several centuries in an enormous corpus of literature in many languages, hence no replication, or even summary, of that monumental bibliographic accretion is attempted in this essay. We seek instead to classify and evaluate elements of the paranoia towards Islam and to balance it with countertrends suggestive of a tranquil, constructive meeting of cultures. There then follows a tentative taxonomy designed to suggest an order for a complex world of ethnic, geographic, political variations united in a central theme of transcendental importance: Islam.