The idea that, following the collapse of communism, the world was to become one-dimensional impressed me as misguided triumphalism, as a misjudgement typical of what ‘Third World’ people denounce as cultural imperialism: the eager expectation that sooner than later – the ‘project of modernity’ (profanely known as the ‘American Way of Life’) was to become the obligatory model for all other societies around the globe – as if there was no alternative left. Not much later, Samuel Huntington enlarged on this naive idea by implying more concretely that the Muslim world was bound to disappear or to become fully marginalized – a prejudice traceable back to European thinking of the Age of Reason, if not before then, to the infamous era of the Crusades.
Since the 18th century, European man, in his arrogance, convinced himself that he was the measure of everything, and that his superb rationality would assure him the highest peaks of knowledge, power, and happiness ever achieved in human history. This is quite amazing. Although in this century unspeakable atrocities were committed by this ‘rational man’ – two savage world wars (including the use of atomic weapons in the second) the holocaust, Stalinism, and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Bosnia – such bestialities were not enough to shake his conviction. Quite to the contrary, Western man remains convinced that his civilization is the ultimate one, deserving universal dominance. His international law, his charter of human rights, his economic system, his supposedly ‘value-free’ scientific approach, his philosophical epistemology, his agnosticism and atheism are all regarded by him as essential ingredients of an emerging world culture – ‘Made in the USA’. In a ‘brave new global village’ eating habits, fashion, male and female ideals of beauty, the management of leisure, sexual mores, architecture, music – you name it – are all to ape the Western model. What will be left will be the West – and the (insignificant) rest.
And yet, there is an alternative to the Western paradigm , and that is Islam True, this religion and its civilization is hardly ever presented by Western media as a valid alternative that can cope with the world’s problems as it enters the 21st century. In fact, Western audiences are bombarded by material presenting Islam as backward, even irrational and aggressive (if not downright terrorist).
[Extracted from the Preface to the author’s book “Islam the Alternative”]