Sunday, February 14, 2010

"The encounter between the West and Islam

(between civilizations, nations and/or citizens) will not be achieved constructively and positively through mere wishful thinking, by optimistically recalling the existence of common values. The problem lies further upstream. All of us show should humility, respect, and consistency. Humility, by admitting that nobody, no civilization or nation, holds a monopoly on universals and on the good, and that our political and social systems are not perfect; respect toward others because we should be convinced that their richness and achievements can be beneficial to us; and last consistency, because the other's presence acts like a mirror in which we should confront our own contradictions and inconsistency in the concrete, day-to-day implementation of our noblest values. This is a difficult exercise but an imperative one. Instead of unfairly comparing the ideal of our theoretical values with the other's practical deficiencies, we must compare practices, shed light on contradictions and mutual hypocrisies, and together impose a double requirement: clarifying the area of our common values and striving to be ever more faithful to them intellectually, politically, socially, and culturally. This strict, staunch commitment has caused me to be perceived as a "traitor" by some Muslims and as "fifth column infiltrated agent" by some of my Western fellow-citizens.
-Tariq Ramadan, What I Believe, p. 21-22

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