CH-09 - To present the Muslim confrontation with the West...

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Unformatted text preview: To present the Muslim confrontation with the West as the principal organ- izing theme for interpreting modern times in the entire Dar al-Islam is not to embrace the simplication of an unchanging East stirred up by a dynam- ic West. No, the different parts of the Muslim world had not opted out of history until the West arrived and, depending on your politics, (a) disrupted a society whose many different peoples had formed a coherent organism or (b) played the role of the prince whose kiss awakened the long sleeping princess. Major changes were taking place within various parts of the Muslim world before the Western presence and peril became predominant. Major changes continued within the Muslim world thereafter unrelated or only remotely related to the Western factor. To mention only a few, it was as long ago as the sixteenth century when the great Indian Muslim reformer, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi ( 1564 1624 ) resisted the efforts of the enigmatic Moghul emperor Akbar ( 1542 1605 ,r. 1556 1605 ) to synthesize Islam,Hinduism,Christianity, and Zoroastrianism into a unified state religion. 1 The same century witnessed significant advances in the Islamization of Indonesia with a concomitant par- tial de-Hinduization of its peoples and cultures. Even in the eighteenth century, which brought what soon became mas- sive Western intrusions, many developments bespoke a dynamism that was both ushering new converts into the Islamic umma and intensifying the absorption into mainstream Islamic culture of those already nominally Muslim.The broad-ranging activities of the Naqshbandiyya brotherhood or the early Wahhabiyya in Arabia are examples. 9. Meeting the Western Challenge: The Early Establishment Response Yet all such developments did usually converge, sooner or later, with the dominant motif of the Western challenge. The Moghul vacillations in reli- gious policy can be seen, in retrospect, as having eased the task of the British East Indian Company in conquering India.The Wahhabiyya, not to mention other Muslim revivalist tendencies, contributed to developments that served either to question existing political authority or to change it. Then, as Western penetration proceeded, these indigenous stirrings blended into the emerging pattern of Muslim peoples facing this dual threatmaterial and ideologicalimposed by the alien infidel. Confrontations of cultures occur in a context of power disequilibrium. One side is more powerful than the other, sometimes very much so, some- times only slightly. One side (often but not always the most powerful) is better able to change, to adapt, to innovate. The politically and militarily weaker may be stronger economically or, for that matter, in cultural achieve- ment (however difficult that may be to measure). Or one side in the con- frontation may have assembled an awesome combination of strengths vir- tually across the board. Moreover, the several different power indices are ever shifting even while the process of acculturation proceeds. It is neverever shifting even while the process of acculturation proceeds....
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CH-09 - To present the Muslim confrontation with the West...

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