Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting it Right

One of the advantages of reading books about world events, several years after they were written, is seeing if they were, or are, right.

The 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, is, and here is an excerpt from the author’s examination of Islamic Resurgence.

“This Islamic Resurgence in its extent and profundity is the latest phase in the adjustment of Islamic civilization to the West, an effort to find the “solution” not in Western ideologies but in Islam. It embodies acceptance of modernity, rejection of Western culture, and recommitment to Islam as the guide to life in the modern world.” (pp. 109-110)

“The strength of the Resurgence and the appeal of Islamist movements induced governments to promote Islamic institutions and practices and to incorporate Islamic symbols and practices into their regime. At the broadest level this meant affirming or reaffirming the Islamic character of their state and society. In the 1970s and 1980s political leaders rushed to identify their regimes and themselves with Islam. King Hussein of Jordan, convinced that secular governments had little future in the Arab world, spoke of the need to create “Islamic democracy” and a “modernizing Islam.” King Hassan of Morocco emphasized his descent from the Prophet and his role as “Commander of the Faithful.” The sultan of Brunei, not previously noted for Islamic practices, became “increasingly devout” and defined his regime as a “Malay Muslim monarchy.” Ben Ali in Tunisia began regularly to invoke Allah in his speeches and “wrapped himself in the mantle of Islam” to check the growing appeal of Islamic groups. In the early 1990s Suharto explicitly adopted a policy of becoming “more Muslim.” In Bangladesh the principle of “secularism” was dropped from the constitution in the mid 1970s, and by the early 1990s the secular, Kemalist identify of Turkey was, for the first time, coming under serious challenge. To underline their Islamic commitment, governmental leaders—Ozal, Suharto, Karimov—hastened to their hajh.” (p. 115)