Islam - Initial Reflections

Islam - Initial Reflections - Casey Dynan Religion 255...

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Casey Dynan Religion 255 Professor Dille September 9, 2007 Initial Reflections For me, like many Americans, our knowledge of Islam is clouded by centuries of misunderstanding and animosity, by images of far away mosques and ancient crusades. The sociological concept that knowledge is socially located couldn’t be truer when dealing with relations between Islam and the West. As Americans, much of what we see and believe of Islam is seen through a broken lens. But how is that so? Historically, literature and the visual arts have transmitted these negative stereotypes of Islam and embedded them firmly into Western thought. In the book Covering Islam, Edward Said gives a sound description of the history of the relationships between the Islam and the Christian West worth quoting at length; “From at least the end of the eighteenth century until our own day, modern Occidental reactions to Islam have been dominated by a radically simplified type of thinking that may still be called Orientalist. The general basis of Orientalist thought is an imaginative and yet drastically polarized geography dividing the world into two unequal parts, the larger, “different” on called the Orient, the other also known as “our” world, called the Occident or the West. Such divisions always come about when one society or culture thinks about another one, different from it; but it is interesting that even when the orient has uniformly been considered an inferior part of the world, it has always been endowed both with greater sized and with greater potential for power (usually destructive) than the West. Insofar as Islam has always been seen as belonging to the Orient, its particular fate within the general structure of Orientalsim has been to be looked at first of all as if it were one monolithic thing, and then with a very special
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This note was uploaded on 09/10/2008 for the course REL 255 taught by Professor Dille during the Fall '07 term at Gustavus.

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Islam - Initial Reflections - Casey Dynan Religion 255...

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