Western (mis) conception of islamic tradition

Western (mis) conception of islamic tradition

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Western (Mis) Conception of Islamic Tradition


            After the West was able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate state in the first quarter of the twentieth century, no one could have imagined that it will be restored. Islam, however, surprised the world and began to re-assert itself in the international arena, and the Muslims took up the rebalancing of the cultural struggle in the world through their religion – Islam. Realizing this, the West under the pretext of the “war on terror” launched its insidious campaign to prevent the re-emergence of the Righteous Caliphate.

            The truth is that no one can hide, is that Western capitalist culture, based on the separation of religion from life has reached its climax. The world does not remain another culture, other than Islam, capable of leading it. That is why all attempts to escape from the Muslims of Western oppression and establish the Caliphate West considers a serious and real threat to their culture and influence, so the global war conducted by the West against terrorism is nothing however a war against political Islam. Moreover, Muslims are forbidden to be on the western side of the camp and to oppose the return of Islamic rule.

            Thus, this paper is aimed at regarding the key (mis)concepts of the Western understanding of the Islamic traditions. This issue of a particular interest, since the relations between Islam and West are characterized with a special tension, and it is necessary to analyze the perception of the both religions (Islam and Western trends in religion) in order to be able to forecast the key directions in the future development of the relations between the West and Arab region.

Islam and its Essential Characteristics through the Prism of Western Outlooks

            The century we live in is full of the great confusion and uncertainty. One of the dominant ideas of today is the search for means to save humanity. Despite the fact that the modern world is characterized by a highly developed material civilization and technological progress in relation to the spiritual and moral values of humanity is experiencing is not the “golden age”. And the search for an ideology, religion in our time is very relevant.

            Islam is a religion not in the Western sense of the word. Western understanding of the term “religion” is connected with the relationship between the believer and the God. Islam is a religion that regulates all aspects of life at the individual and societal level. Islam defines the relationship of man with God, himself, children, relatives, neighbors, guests, and other people. Islam clearly establishes the duties in all these respects. Islam establishes a clear system of worship, civil rights, laws, government, war and peace, determines the conduct of economic relations, the order of marriage and divorce, laws of inheritance, code of conduct, ethics everyday Muslim (Rageh 5).

            Islam is a perfect code of life, moreover, is the religion of life, for the compulsory use every day. It is a guide of life in all its aspects: social, ethical, economic, political. Islam emerges as a legitimate constitution; hold a Muslim from the confusion, because this religion is logical and rational. We illustrate these statements following characteristic of the Islamic provisions: God is one and does not have sons, not the Trinity. He just sent his servants as prophets to preach His word to the people (Philips 2). Allah does not kill to save. Relations between God and man do not need any mediation. Islam organizes human nature; however, it does not go against it. In Islam, there is no class of clergy, and no celibacy. The development of science and technology often leads to very interesting results.

Orientalism and its Role in the Concepts’ of Islam Western Perception

            In the last two decades, studying in Western historiography phenomena of colonialism, a new time, and a whole interaction between East and West has reached a qualitatively new level. This level cannot be imagined without the intensive and critical debate on Orientalism, imperialism, nationalism, modernization and lately globalization unfolded on based post call traditional epistemology that dominated European intellectual thought since the Enlightenment. The result is a so-called “colonial discourse theory” deconstruction subjected former hegemonic Western representation of the East and other non-European societies. The theory of “colonial discourse” as a whole focuses on the inevitable relativity of all knowledge resulting from the set of linguistic forms, cultural performances, and power positions of those who create it. From these positions appeal to the past does not aim to establish scientific truths and focuses on the identification of the special conditions under which the various types of knowledge about the other created and made effective (Kutub). Therefore, we can talk about a paradigm shift in the study of colonialism, the relations between East and West, shifting the focus of research to socio-economic and political to the cultural history.

            Who is the center of power of Orientalism has shifted from Europe to the United States (its main criticism here falls mainly on the American Arabic studies). This is because, on the one hand, now more than ever Orientalists are directly related to the formation of government policies and politicians, on the other hand, the stereotypical knowledge of Orientalism can get almost instant global dissemination through the mass media (Ashraf 2).

            Orientalism is one of the areas of science, which from the beginning of development, from the first day of education to our days is interested in Eastern religions, its material and moral culture, history, and philology. People who have devoted themselves to this science known as Orientalists. Even before the emergence of Orientalism as a sphere of science, Western scholars engaged in research on the emergence of Islam, the history of Islam and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Only these studies, despite the exceptions, in addition to general research and find out the truth, were polemical, denigrating, and profane purpose. For centuries, the Orientalists study used data, and “use” the main sources of the history of Islam, headed by the Koran, analyzing them in this direction.

            In the West, the study of the Prophet, from the beginning, based on a variety of prejudices and bad attitude towards him. While many Orientalists emphasize the exclusiveness of Islam, however none of them refuses the definition of Islam as a purely human phenomenon. Islamic tradition should be understood as a civilization, the axis of which is the divine revelation, or in other words, the center of which Allah. In contrast, the main feature of modernity is its anthropocentrism / humanism. Otherwise speaking, the main feature is its modern secularism. Despite the radical differences between each other, modernism and post-modernism are both anthropocentric, that is, are secular and humanistic character. In accordance with the arguments, we can say that the Islamic tradition and modernism with post-modernism are at opposite poles. As the exclusive benefit of modernism and post-modernism denied, and Christianity defines itself as the last religion, Islam is understood by Orientalism as a cultural and historical phenomenon. We have already pointed out that modern science is the basis of knowledge of the concept inherent in the Orientalism. A characteristic feature of modern science is its positivistic nature.

            Globalization leads to comprehensive development and complexity of cultures (civilizations), combining different traditions within a single community. Human societies have always faced with foreign cultures, however it is the era of globalization creates a completely new level of multiculturalism and diversity, which are a challenge to the traditional cultures of the nations. During pre-modernism period, that is, before the Enlightenment world religions were global in the sense that they are not very aware of their (non) global because of the absence and (or) underdeveloped systems of communications and transportation. Before the advent of modern communication systems of the world’s religions have been localized, the links between cultural centers developed slowly and were determined mainly trade relations. In the modern era possibilities for creating global religious systems have increased significantly affects the development of transport, communications, there are other opportunities for interaction between the previously isolated from each other centers of culture. However, these same factors contributed to an increase in tension because of the ambitions of certain religious systems in a competitive global environment, as well as between the various fundamentalist version of Islam, conflict with each other in the struggle for influence and power in specific countries and regions (Jensen 83).

            This global communication system made possible the globalization of Islam for the first time in its history. He always aspired to the status of a universal religion, however before the advent of modern means of communication simply did not have the opportunity to become a truly global and universal. The paradox is that this modern means of communication, on the one hand, provide a mechanism for the spread of Islam is a global message of Allah and the Prophet, while exposing him to temptations of Western society.


            Studying Islam, the Orientalists pay attention, in fact, only to a narrow area of ​​the whole subject of the study, i.e. the external factors contributing to the formation of this religion, and history. The faith is given because of the tradition or completely ignored or lost in cultural forms, elaborated by Islam. In communication, history of Islam and Allah Orientalists do not see or want to see. From this point of view of Islam, first, it has no special advantages as a religion, and secondly, not particularly original as a historical phenomenon.

            With this approach, there is a natural conclusion about the necessity of reforming the religion. At the same time the very notion of reform at the Orientalists and Muslims are very different. The Muslims’ reform is the effort to live in accordance with Allah’s command; the Orientalists for the reform of Islam seem to be necessary in order to maintain its influence in the political, economic, and social life, for his “success.” According to them, for this a person needs to change a number of principles creed, political structures, etc. Thus a reform of Islam Orientalists often implies its Westernization, changes simultaneously with Western values. Jihad is one of the most misunderstood concepts of Islam. The west understands it to mean war but the Koran depicts it as a struggle live a good life that follows God’s path (Skinner 2)

Works Cited:

Ashraf, Syed A. and Maanu, Hyderabad. “Islam and Orientalism.” The Quran Foundation. 25 Sep. 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2015

Jensen, Erik G. “Confronting Misconceptions and Acknowledging Imperfections: A Response to Khaled Abou El Fadl’s Islam and Democracy.” Fordham International Law Journal 27.1 (2003): 81-90

Kutub, Muhammed. Islam: The Misunderstood Religion.

Philips, Abu. The True Religion of God. 1994. Print

Rageh, Mohammed. Misconceptions about Islam and responses.

Skinner, Kelli. “Fundamentalism and Jihad.” Rivier Academic Journal 3.1 (2007): 1-7

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