International Consultation of Muslim Intellectuals on Islam & Politics

Stimson Center & Institute of Policy Studies

This two-day discussion brought together experts and scholars from Bangladesh, Egypt, India,Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan and Sri Lanka representing academia,non-governmental organizations and think tanks. Among the participants were a number of former government officials and one sitting legislator. The participants were also chosen to comprise abroad spectrum of ideologies, including the religious and the secular, cultural, political andeconomic conservatives, liberals and radicals.The following themes characterized the discussion:1. Western and US (Mis)Understanding There is a fundamental failure by the West to understand the rich variety of intellectual currents andcross-currents in the Muslim world and in Islamic thought. What is underway in the Muslim worldis not a simple opposition to the West based on grievance (though grievances there also are), but are newal of thought and culture and an aspiration to seek development and to modernize withoutlosing their identity. This takes diverse forms, and cannot be understood in simple terms. There is particular resentment towards Western attempts to define the parameters of legitimate Islamicdiscourse. There is a sense that Islam suffers from gross over generalization, from its champions asmuch as from its detractors. It is strongly urged that in order to understand the nature of the Muslim renaissance, the West should study all intellectual elements within Muslim societies, and not only professedly Islamic discourse.US policy in the aftermath of 9/11 has had several effects. It has led to a hardening andradicalization on both sides of the Western-Muslim encounter. It has led to mutual broad brush(mis)characterization of the other and its intentions. It has contributed to a sense of pan-Islamicsolidarity unprecedented since the end of the Khilafat after World War I. It has also produced adegeneration of US policy, and a diminution of US power, influence and credibility. Finally, theUS’ dualistic opposition of terror and its national interests has made the former an appealing instrument for those intent on resistance to the West.

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Filed Under: EgyptFeaturedHamasIkhwan & WestMuslim BrotherhoodPalestineStudies & ResearchesSyriaSyrian MBUnited States & Europe

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