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Moustafa Cherif's "Islām wal-ḥidāthah"

Moustafa Cherif's "Islām wal-ḥidāthah"

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Published by Jeremy Farrell
Short review of one of Cherif's earlier works on the intersection of Islam and modernity.
Short review of one of Cherif's earlier works on the intersection of Islam and modernity.

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Published by: Jeremy Farrell on Jul 13, 2013
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07/13/2013

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Jeremy FarrellArabic 120, Winter 2010Dr. PoonawalaSince their publication, and increasing since the events of September 11, 2011,works asserting that the operational basis for societal interaction is conflict, such asSamuel Huntington's
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
haveinfluenced discussions surrounding international relations between Eurocentric liberaldemocracies and the Muslim world. Positing that civilizations interact mainly in terms of competition is no new concept; one could look to Herodotus to find the elements of sucha theory. Nor indeed is the notion that a dominant "world order" seeks to impose culturaland economic hegemony ancient; one need look no further in the past than the Cold Warfor proof of that. In light of these two suppositions, Huntington's work views thesignificance of these issues in our time through the lens of globalization: no longer dosingle nations or states seek the imposition of their particular system on others, but ratheran amalgamation of competing interests and powers on a world-wide scale that divideand classify humanity. Specifically, Huntington identifies these influential actors as"modernization and westernization" and relates that they cause conflict most readily upongeographical fault lines, the broadest and most hotly contested of which is the southernand eastern reaches of the Mediterranean basin, or the "Intermediate Zone".
1
The extentto which the debate on international relations has been shaped by Huntington's theorems
1
Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. (New York)Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 63.
 
is nearly impossible to overstate: debate surrounding its release was torrid and continuesto elicit responses at a healthy rate, nearly 15 years after its publication.
2
 It is within this context of mistrust and assumed conflict between the West andIsl
ā
m that the work under discussion falls. Mustapha Cherif's
 Al-Isl
ā
m wal-
id 
ā
thah: Hul yak 
ū
n ghad-an lil-
ʿ
ā
lam al-
ʿ
arab
ī 
?
3
is a direct response to Huntington's line of thought. Though the author makes no explicit mention of Huntington in the work, bothhis professional career and affiliations as well as the views put forth in this book belie hisopposition to the theory of a permanent and irreconcilable divide between Isl
ā
m and theWest.First, a note about the author. Algerian by birthand educated both in Algeria andFrance, he holds Ph.D.s in both Political Philosophy and Sociology. He is a member of "principal world forums for inter-religious and cultural dialogue" and bases his world-view on that of the 19th century Algerian dissident and rebel Emir Abdelkader (d. 1883),an "emblematic figure of amity and universalization".
4
His academic career has seen himsplit time between Algeria - where he holds a positions at the University of Algiers inboth philosophy and Isl
ā
mic Studies - and Western Europe - both in Spain, where he hashelped open the Department of International Relations at the Universitá Obierta deCatalunya, and in France, where he frequently holds guest lectureships at the Collége deFrance. He served as the Algerian ambassador to Egypt in the 1980s and was also the
2
One recent response to Huntington: Yusuf, Moeed. "Revisiting Huntington's Clash of CivilizationsThesis" Paper presented at ISA - ABRI JOINT INTERNATIONAL MEETING, PontificalCatholic University, Rio de Janeiro Campus (PUC-Rio), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 22, 2009.
3
Cherif, Mustapha. Al-Isl
ā
m wa al-
id
ā
thah: Hul yakun ghad-an 'Alim 'Arbi?! (Cair o) Dar al-Shrouq,1999.
4
From his website:http://mustapha-cherif.net/?page_id=4. Translations mine.
 
Minister of Education in Algeria in the early 1990s. After the publication of al-
 Isl
ā
m wal-
 Ḥ 
id 
ā
thah
, he continued to openly take part in ideological and inter-religiouscorrespondence. He has engaged in open debates with Western intellectuals, notably in2003 with Jacque Derrida on relations between Isl
ā
m and the West
5
and in 2002 withJacque Berque
6
; in 2005 he was granted an audience with Pope Benedict XVI after thelatter made remarks which some viewed as offensive towards Muslims.
7
The book itself takes up the same challenges that Huntington outlined:Westernization, Modernity and the balance between these entities and Isl
ā
m. The sevensections of the book may be broken down into three categories:
Framing the assumptions surrounding the relationship between Isl
ā
m andmodernity 1, 7 (Ch. 1
al-Isl
ā
m wal-
 Ḥ 
id 
ā
tha;
Ch. 7
Al-
ʿ
 Al
ā
qah m
ʿ
a al-ghayr wal-'
ā
lam
)
Challenging the trappings of modernity, especially the "New WorldOrder" (
 Al-Ni
 ẓā
m al-Dawl
ī 
al-Jad 
ī 
) and the World Economy (
ʿ
 Al
ā
m al-
ū
q
) in Chapters 2 and 3 (
Tasa
ʾ
ulat 
ʿ
an al-
 Ḥ 
id 
ā
thah, Al-
 Ḥ 
id 
ā
thah f 
ī 
 
ṣū
rat al-Ni
 ẓā
m al-Dawl
ī 
al-Jad 
ī 
d wal-
ʿ
 Ā
lam al-S 
ū
q
)
Questions of special importance to Isl
ā
m in confronting the modern world:Political Isl
ā
m and reading the Qu
ʿ
r
ā
n
!!
4-6 (Ch. 4
al-Isl
ā
m wal-
5
Now published in a book, Cherif, Mustapha. Isl
ā
m and the West: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida(trans. Teresa Lavendar Fagan). (Chicago) University of Chicago Press, 2006.
6
Now published in a book: Cherif, Mustapha. Orient-Occident, Jacques Berque. ed. Jean Sur, (Algiers)Édition Anep, 2003.
7
http://www.arabesques-editions.com/algeria/mustapha-cherif-holds-dialogue-with-pope-benedict-xvi-142311

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