In this remarkable book, ten round table discussions in which American experts on Islam exchange views with Muslim intellectuals and activists. The result is a mind expanding demolition of the prevailing views of the relationship between Islam and the West. Western non-Muslims will learn that Muslims are not monolithic in their views and Eastern Muslims will learn that Westerners are not monolithic in their views. Both will learn that there are Muslims who are Westerners. American Muslims will see, finally, in print, an intelligent discussion of the common ground between Islam and American concepts of the rule of law. The Table of Contents and Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad's preface to the volume are reproduced below.
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Islamic Movements and Western Interests: Strategic Imperatives 21
A Diplomatic Perspective on the Islamist Movement 39
Robert G. Neumann
Origins of Political Islamic Movements: A Western Perspective 67
Stephen C. Pelletiere
The Intersection of Islamic Resurgence and Democracy 95
Charles E. Butterworth
Islamic Movements at the End of the Twentieth Century: Where Now? 115
Michael C. Dunn
Islamist and Secular Regimes: Is Violence Inevitable? 153
Stability and Political Reform in North Africa 175
The Challenge to Liberal Modernity: Christianity, Islam, and the Future 195
Antony T. Sullivan
A Quest for a Model for Conflict Resolution/Management in the Relations Between the States and the Islamic Movements 215
I. William Zartman
Capsule Biographies of Roundtable Participants 248
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful,
For many years there has been a call from both Muslims and
for a dialog between the two. Scholars like John Esposito have
made the case that we need such a dialog, but until now little real
has taken place. Conferences too often consist of panels of
experts on Islam and representatives of the estab-lishment of Muslim
No non-Muslims, however objective and open-minded, can replace the
engagé in providing insight into the Islamic revival. Nor
can any establishment Muslim, however sincere in faith, substitute for
the critics of his establishment in explaining the Islamist cause.
The United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) series is remarkable in its truly roundtable format, which allows Muslim intellectuals and activists who identify themselves with the Islamic resurgence to speak to the Western experts on an equal level. This constitutes a dialog in the true sense. Such a format allows the experts to add a new dimension to their understanding while at the same time giving the Muslims a more intimate perspective on the problems of communication with the West and in-sights into how those problems may be overcome.
We desire that the benefits of these conversations extend be-yond the room in which they were held and to provide a record to which all engaged in the study of the Islamic re-vival and its political dimension may refer. We are pleased that UASR and the American Muslim Foundation (AMF) have undertaken the publication of the edited proceedings of these roundtables and grateful to the Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI) for sponsoring the editorial costs. Our objective is to make the contents and the style of the roundtables available to policymakers, scholars, journalists, and the general public.
Having moderated all but two of the discussions presented in this volume, I am particularly pleased that this first volume in what shall, in shâ Allah, be a series, is de-voted to an exchange of perspectives between Muslims–both American and from the Muslim world–and non-MuslimWesterners. (We plan to focus the next volume in the series on regional assessments of the Muslim world.) The fundamental problem confronted by the Islamic revival in the West is the failure of Muslims to articulate their desires, standards, and concepts to Westerners in a language they can understand. Conversely, too few Muslims have had the opportunity to hear the frank in-formed views of knowledgeable Western scholars in a setting comfortable to themselves. By engaging first-class Western experts on Islam in a direct dialog and publishing those results in a format at once accessible and scholarly, we open the door to a fruitful and constructive relationship between Muslims and Westerners in general.
The reader who explores these pages will walk away with the realization that neither the Muslim world nor the West is monolithic. Our presenters are all Americans, but they range from conservative to liberal, from diplomats to policymakers, from the academic community to the in-telligence community and to the media. One presenter is an analyst from an institute situated at the U.S. Army War College while another is a fellow with the U.S. Institute for Peace. Muslim participants include an Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) parliamentarian, Muslim journalists, presidents of Islamic think tanks, and directors of Muslim advocacy groups. Most of the participants are both Muslims and Americans. Brief biographies of all the participants will be found in the list at the end of this volume.
The format for all discussions was the same: an opening presentation by the featured speaker followed by a frank discussion with the featured speaker at the hub. I served as moderator for all the discussions in this volume except for those featuring Robert Neumann (moderated by Osman Shinaishin) and Joyce Davis (moderated by Ahmad AbulJobain). The procedure for editing discussions for this volume was the same in all cases except one. The editors worked collaboratively with the presenters to revise the presenter’s typescript or the transcripts of the formal presentations into a final typescript. The editors worked directly from the taped transcript to edit the main discussion. Wherever the final text selected for inclusion has not been reviewed by the quoted participants, we have used brackets and/or ellipsis marks to indicate all but minor changes. The goal was to make the text as readable as possible while remaining faithful to the style and senti-ments of the participants.
The one exception to the above procedure is the roundtable with Stephen Pelletiere. Due to the presenter’s affiliation with the intelligence community we agreed not to tape the discussion. Instead, the points he covered have been taken from his previously published text “A Theory of Fundamentalism: An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of the Movement,” (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 1995) which we have adapted and abridged to cover the subject of the roundtable. Since no transcript of the open discussion was possible, a series of comments and questions put to Dr. Pelletiere in writing along with his responses have been appended to the text here in the same format as the discussions which follow the other presentations.
Despite the range of perspectives covered in this volume, there are certain themes that keep returning as a subtext, occasionally emerging at the center of the discussions. Among them: the relationship of politics and religion; the positive and negatives aspects of the Enlightenment; the degree to which “Western” or “Islamic” values may actually be universal values; the multifarious definitions of democracy and how they conflict with each other; the fact that conflicts within the West or the Muslim world may actually be more significant than conflicts between them; the problems posed by the systemic ten-dency of politicians to sacrifice the long-term best interests of their people and country to short-term expediency; the suggestion that the real conflict in the future may be not between the Western and Islamic cultures but between secular culture and religious culture of whatever denomi-nation. Not a few of these issues have significance beyond the scope of the immediate subject matter of Islam and the West. I believe that readers who carefully explore the dia-log that follows will be well rewarded.
The present format is one of frank, direct, face-to-face dialog among participants with both a wide range of views and a solid knowledge of the subject matter. We be-lieve this format brings out the distinctions and shadings of thought within both the Western and the Muslim camps more clearly and reliably than can be found in any previous single volume. We want Westerners to understand the Islamic movement and Muslims to understand the West. We also want the inclusion of American Muslims in the discussion to be a reminder of the intersection of the two cultures. If we have succeeded even partially in these goals, all praise belongs to God. If we have fallen short, the re-sponsibility is ours. We ask God to judge us by our inten-tions and forgive us our faults.
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