Friday, July 15, 2005

A Poverty of Dignity in the Modern World

"Islam has a long tradition of tolerating other
religions, but only on the basis of the supremacy
of Islam, not equality with Islam. Islam's self-identity
is that it is the authentic and ideal expression
of monotheism. ...

Part of what seems to be going on with these young
Muslim males is that they are, on the one hand, tempted
by Western society, and ashamed of being tempted.
On the other hand, they are humiliated by Western
society because while Sunni Islamic civilization is
supposed to be superior, its decision to ban the reform
and reinterpretation of Islam since the 12th century
has choked the spirit of innovation out of Muslim lands,
and left the Islamic world less powerful, less
economically developed, less technically advanced ....

"Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a
civilization they consider morally inferior, and they
are humiliated by the fact that, while having been
taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations
seem to be doing much better," said Raymond Stock,
the Cairo-based biographer and translator of
Naguib Mahfouz. "When the inner conflict becomes too
great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick
prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust
occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence'
in our own."

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about
the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger."

Thomas L. Friedman
"A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage"
New York Times
July 15, 2005


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