Relations between Islam and the West: Repairing Cultural Bridges

Relations between Islam and the West: Repairing Cultural Bridges

  • 6 October 2003

Mobashar J. Akbar asked: what is meant by the term
“cultural bridge?” Is a McDonald’s restaurant in Dubai
a cultural bridge, or a kebab shop in Washington? The
speaker said that it is often difficult to find a harmonious
middle ground when old and self-sustaining cultures
meet and interact; as there is often friction between
deeply-held views of life. Strong sentiments, including
a sense of identity and honor, are attached to such
views. However, such friction becomes dangerous when
competing societies actively protect their own mindset
by attributing civilization to their behavior patterns and
barbarism to alternative mindsets. He confirmed that
the cultural relationship between Islam and Christianity
is another more volatile dimension. The two faiths, so
close to each other and yet so far apart, are divided
by the different ideals of the prophetic line. While
Muslims respect Jesus as the second to the last and one
of the greatest prophets, Christians have occasionally
represented the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as an
“impostor.” Although this viewpoint can be understood,
it does not justify, nor condone, the enormous cultural
damage done by the scurrilous attacks upon the Prophet
of Islam, which have permeated throughout Western
literature, theology, and popular attitudes over the course
of history—which continues, in some form or other,
even today. The speaker concluded that a solution to
this problem must be based on honesty as well as a
willingness to appreciate that the wrongs of the past must
be eliminated from the relationships of the future.

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LECTURER

Monday 6 October 2003

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Monday 6 October 2003

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