Having a foot in both worlds, Moosa offers insight into some of the kind of reform that the Muslim world needs to help alleviate its poverty, illiteracy, relatively weak economies, and its non-representative governments. He argues that part of the problem lies in the kinds of Islamic states that have been pursued, and are still being pursued, by many in the Islamic world for well over a century. This brand of Islam (and the circumstances in which it lives, including against Western points of contact and colonial involvement) can lead to the kind of violent extremism that provoked the terror attacks that have helped to provoke the American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moosa suggest that working toward some sort of moral equivalence between the American and Muslims worlds (a way of valuing Afghan and Iraqi lives as much as our own, or at least recognizing the deaths as individuals and letting it sink in) is a worthwhile goal for Americans. Pragmatically, this could help alleviate some of the moral outrage in the Muslim world that is being directed toward destructive aims against the West. Morally, I find this interesting though it would need to be clarified.
Politically and diplomatically however, as something of a skeptic, I wonder how much ground we should give politically and diplomatically to the Muslim world for its internal problems, or at least to its violent extremists when we have our national security at stake.
Perhaps, in extending such moral thinking to Muslims in religious doctrine, we run a potential risk of pitting Christianity against Islam, and Al-Qaeda, for example, would like nothing more. There are drawbacks to such an approach and both monotheistic religions have had competing interests in seeking to proselytize, and so often conquer, the more tribal parts of the world in the name of their God (though I don’t count myself an atheist, nor among the secularists).
On the other hand, human rights groups, groups for aid, groups for sustainable economic development etc. are clearly vital and often the first points of contact between the West and the Muslim world, but sometimes they don’t necessarily solve the problems they intend to solve. Perhaps they can’t. Without the Muslim world making its own destiny (which could still lead to points of conflict), they are likely inadequate. Simply including Muslims in the web of Western moral relativism, for example, has led to some of the worst Muslim-European ghettoes and a lot of sloppy thinking and the potential to back our way into more conflicts.
Food for thought. Any comments are welcome.
Also On This Site: Daniel Deudney has some ideas on how to build a world raft, though it might have some drawbacks: Repost: Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads
Fareed Zakaria points out that terrorism and the Pakistani state have a close relationship: Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’
Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West?: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…
Do you stand up to the Muslims in Western societies who threaten free speech?: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast