How to Resolve the Religious and Political Conflict between the West and the Middle East – Essay Example
The paper "How to Resolve the Religious and Political Conflict between the West and the Middle East" is a worthy example of an essay on social science. One of the most pressing, yet misunderstood topics in Western culture is that of Islam and the Middle East. While in the last few decades this dialogue has been driven by the conflict between the West and the Middle Eastern states, a nearly equal level of concern has been the long-standing internal strife in the region. The conflicts have been so fierce and complex that they have confounded rational peace discourse. One of the most prominent attempts to approach these concerns has been proposed by Amr Hamzawy. Hamzawy contends that modern Islamists follow principles of democratic order, the rule of law, human rights, and are against violence. Nonetheless, these individuals find themselves in a continual battle with more extreme forces. Hamzawy argues that if the United States and Europe hopes to establish democracy in the region they must work with more representative ‘moderate’ Islamic groups. This essay examines the validity of Hamzawy’s argument and considers potential alternative solutions.
One of the central considerations in the argument is the development of a more realistic understanding of the Arab world. Much Western conceptions of the Middle Eastern world are the direct product of extremism, leaving a skewed paradigm in the view of Western society. A general examination of Arab culture reveals that there is a deep-rooted sense of respect, virtue, and wellness. In terms of mathematics Arab culture is recognized as the first to implement the ‘zero’ as a functional tool ("Adc"). When one considers that one of the cornerstone elements of Western society is mathematics and engineering, it is not a stretch to say that Arab insights are woven into the very fabric of modern Western existence. Another prominent contribution Arab’s made to society is through geography and navigation elements. Indeed, the world’s earliest geographical and navigational charts were developed during the medieval period as Arabians built on inventions established by the Egyptians. Similar to mathematics, one considers that there is an essential quality to these developments that places intimately links Arab culture with the West. One considers that there are many elements in Islamic literature that point towards a functioning democratic order. Consider Lyo who writes, “Few had any doubts that God had sent the earthquake to punish Antioch for its wanton and profligate ways” (Lyon, p. 1). While such a statement can function as a metaphor of a modernist critique of capitalism, it also demonstrates a strong commitment to moral virtue. The core of Hamzawy’s argument then is to find the moderate Islamists, harness their moral virtue, and fit it structurally into a democratic order.
While there are a number of prominent supporting elements behind Hamzawy’s argument, one recognizes that there may be elements of Arab cultural development that are antithetical to submission to democratic order. Hamzawy argues that there are less extreme forms of Islam. While such an assumption is clearly accurate, it seems that she fails to acknowledge that at the essence of Islam is a direct and impassioned connection with a higher order. Even as Arab culture foregrounded much architecture the major direction of these projects was not always social betterment, but the glorification of a higher order. One considers historical literature. In constructing a new imperial castle, Abu Jafar Al-Mansur was intimately informed by the logic of religion. For instance, it is noted that his architects, “consulted the heavens and declared that July 30, 762, would certainly be the most auspicious day for work to begin” (Lyo, p. 55). While such an understanding seems superfluous, in reality it speaks to the core of Islam. Islamic meaning is the glorification of this religious essence and virtue. Democracy is the collective and worldly integration of competing values and perspectives. Ultimately, it’s impossible to bring democracy to Islam without Islam ultimately becoming democracy.
In conclusion, this essay has examined Amr Hamzawy’s argument that the United States and Europe must target moderate Islamists if they hope to institute democracy in the region. The essay has argued that conceptually the notion of bringing Islam to democracy is logically impossible. If Hamzawy’s intentions are to convince these individuals to abandon the essence of Islamist practice for democratic order than it seems this may be possible. If Hamzawy believes it is possible to subsume Islam within democracy in its current form then she has misinterpreted the essence of Islamic practice. Ultimately, the literature demonstrates that Islam is what happens when religion or art dominates politics.