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ROOTS OF MISCONCEPTION

IBRAHIM KALIN

In the aftermath of September 11, the long and checkered relationship between Islam and the West entered a new phase. The attacks were interpreted as the fulfillment of a prophecy that had been in the consciousness of the West for a long time, i.e., the coming of Islam as a menacing power with a clear intent to destroy Western civilization. Representations of Islam as a violent, militant, and oppressive religious ideology extended from television programs and state offices to schools and the internet. It was even suggested that Makka, the holiest city of Islam, be “nuked” to give a lasting lesson to all Muslims. Although one can look at the widespread sense of anger, hostility, and revenge as a normal human reaction to the abominable loss of innocent lives, the demonization of Muslims is the result of deeper philosophical and historical issues.
In many subtle ways, the long history of Islam and the West, from the theological polemics of Baghdad in the eighth and ninth centuries to the experience of convivencia in Andalusia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, informs the current perceptions and qualms of each civilization vis-à-vis the other. This paper will examine some of the salient features of this history and argue that the monolithic representations of Islam, created and sustained by a highly complex set of image-producers, think-tanks, akademiker, lobbyists, policy makers, and media, dominating the present Western conscience, have their roots in the West’s long history with the Islamic world. It will also be argued that the deep-rooted misgivings about Islam and Muslims have led and continue to lead to fundamentally flawed and erroneous policy decisions that have a direct impact on the current relations of Islam and the West. The almost unequivocal identification of Islam with terrorism and extremism in the minds of many Americans after September 11 is an outcome generated by both historical misperceptions, which will be analyzed in some detail below, and the political agenda of certain interest groups that see confrontation as the only way to deal with the Islamic world. It is hoped that the following analysis will provide a historical context in which we can make sense of these tendencies and their repercussions for both worlds.

de 500 most influential muslims

John Esposito

Ibrahim Kalin

The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be anannual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslimworld. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, thatis, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the factthat they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the differentways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how peopleare living as Muslims today.Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influensmeaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like themoon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanitytoo. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over thelives of a large number of people on the earth. The 50 most influential figuresare profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they areunified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Kvinnor, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Media, Radicals, International IslamicNetworks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds ofways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: InternationalIslamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnationalnetworks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whoseimportance is due to current issues affecting humanity.