Winds of Change.NET Cairo correspondent Tarek Heggy (see his article archive, and read his book "Culture, Civilization and Humanity") is back with a new series. I have some issues with his analysis, especially when it comes to his take on American culture. Nevertheless, his articles are always thought provoking and so we're always happy to present them here. The Future of the Moslem Mind, Part 2: Muslims & The Clash of Civilization by Tarek Heggy The mentality of violence is the product of internal factors, a variable that has emerged only in the last four decades, and its inclusion as a constant in the ‘clash of civilizations’ paradigm is not only forced but belongs more to the realm of science fiction than political analysis. A case in point is the famous book by Samuel P. Huntington, whose theory is closely linked to the issue of mentality of violence. First published as an article in 1992 under the title “Clash of Civilizations?” it was expanded into a book and published the following year under the same title – but without the question mark. The significance of the omission will not be lost on the reader. The book was a publishing event, selling more copies and provoking more controversy than any other book that year (with the exception of fiction bestsellers). While I cannot pass the same kind of sweeping judgment against the author, his motives, aims and intentions as those passed against him in various parts of the Arab and Islamic world, I will say that I found the book to have three major flaws:
The first is that the author talks of Islam as though the Wahhabi model is the only Islam. In fact, Wahhabism was not a major trend in Islam until the alliance that took place between Mohamed ibn-Abdul Wahab and Mohamed ibn-Saud in the second half of the eighteenth century. Prior to that, there were ideas similar to the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam but they were completely marginal. Mainstream Islam was quite distinct from the Wahabbi interpretation of Islam and its culture. The only relationship between the Ottoman Empire, which represented Islam politically as a superpower for several centuries, and Wahhabism was one of extreme animosity. I would have been willing to accept most of what Huntington wrote about the probable clash between the West and Islam if he had used the term ‘Wahhabi Islam’ instead of Islam. I can only conclude that Huntington is not very well versed in the history and factors which led to the rise of the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. The second is that he did not present any evidence to support his theory of an impending clash between the West and what he calls ‘Confucian’ societies, making the theory closer to fiction, specifically the writings of H.G. Wells, than to political analysis. It also owes much to Noam Chomsky’s equally unfounded theory that the United States needs an enemy to survive, and that this role was filled by the eastern bloc from 1945 to 1990. Following the collapse of communism, Chomsky believes Islam is now the prime candidate for the role! But if so, how to explain the enormous progress made by the United States between 1500 and 1900, without any external conflicts and without any clear enemy during this period of the development and completion of the American Dream? How to explain that despite Winston Churchill’s efforts from 1939 to 1941 to convince the United States to join the war on the side of the Allies, it was only after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 that his efforts were crowned with success? How could the United States have resisted the opportunity to benefit from the existence of a ready-made enemy which, according to Chomsky, it needed for its very survival? The third is that he did not devote enough space in his book to the largest conflict in the history of humanity, World War II, which was fought between forces belonging to the same Western civilization. It was also a conflict within the Christian world, but nobody ever mentioned religion as a factor in this huge conflict, which was primarily a conflict between European Fascism and European democracies. Next: The Mentality of Violence... and the Games Nations Play! » For more of Tarek Heggy's writtings in English, please visit www.t-heggy-site-contents.org and for Tarek Heggy's writings in French please visit www.metransparent.com/authors/french/tarek_heggy.htm.