A'alaa AlMajnouni

Bulliet’s New Perspective Case of ‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’ against Huntington’s and Lewis’s Western Dogmatism

In My Research Papers & Essays on February 10, 2011 at 6:10 am

This Paper had been submitted as a fulfillment of the course of Islamic civilization and the West. I was squeezed and running out of time, i had a litterateur analysis over Richard W Bulliet’s Book, only the first two chapters. I am planing to develop this paper, once i find the time. Enjoy it


September 11, 2001 is never like any September for America! It was a titanic storm of ambivalent feelings spread throughout the globe! Mixed with Western deep emotions of being betrayed, stabbed in the back with the emotion of cheer in devious mountains caves in the East. There, once again the old black confrontations restarted and the two civilizations rushed to their history, only rushed to approve what they think are justifying reasons!

Thus, Richard W. Bulliet, a professor of history at Columbia University and former director of its Middle East Institute, swallowed by an overwhelming urge to do something supportive to America as any resident after the cataclysm of the World Trade Center (Bulliet vii). Richard W. Bulliet attempted by publishing the book of The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization to detach any American confusion after 9/11 attacks. In spite of his quarrel that the book was not an “apologist for terrorism”(Kevin 1), he found it an opportunity to share with the globe his new case of ‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’. Along with a scientific disputation against the analogous dogmatism of Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis towards Islam and Muslims nation.

Bulliet is noticeably irenic in his contribution. Despite the marginalization of U.S medias, he brought a new perspective towards Islamo–European relations which diverged many Islamo-phobics. He came-up with a fresh analytical vision in the historical interactions between Islam and Christianity, and as a historian; he discriminated the fundamental relations of Islam in the Middle East with Christianity in Western Europe. A statement by Bulliet declared that ‘History is not Destiny’! (p. 6) intensified the West’s acknowledgment of “Judeo-Christian civilization” and asserted a faith on the civilizational reconciliations via the case of “Islamo-Christian civilization”. Shortly, Bulliet accept as a truth that past is not restricted by our ancestors, past is over and we can create a future where foes of the olden times are the friends of the tomorrow. He supported his statement by selected incidents; like the old reciprocated animosity between Christendom and Jews and again with Russia “rejoining” Europe after the fall of Soviet Union affords a comparison (p. 6-11).

Yet, Bulliet’s indifferentism led to a conciliatory tone advocated to Islam unlike Huntington’s and Lewis’s ones, which deliberately distorted and boasted Western superiority!  In Bulliet’s perceptions both of Huntington and Lewis promoted unfair confrontational theories regarding Islam and Muslims during the recent years and particularly after the 9/11. Thus Bulliet intended by the case to mend Western’s Islamic image before youths of West misapprehend the actualities! To argue with Islamo-phobics Bulliet provided evidence to the siblinghoodness of Christendom-Islam by a concise indication to ‘Abrahamic Religions’ that no religious conviction is primitive, we are all ‘Christians, Muslims, and Jews’ share the same origin. And in order to sustain this argument, Bulliet stated; “‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’…Intertwining of sibling societies enjoying sovereignty in neighboring geographical regions and following parallel historical trajectories.” (p. 10).

Bulliet as a prologue to his Case, rebutted Samuel Huntington’s[1] thesis “A Clash of Civilizations”, by arguing; “Civilizations that are destined to clash cannot seek together a common future” (p. 5). He assumed there is no authenticity in Huntington’s based-comparable thesis between Islamic nation in the Middle East and “…an idealized ‘Western Civilization’ based on Democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and globalization, with economic, social, and political structure…” (p. 2) and that Huntington’s scheme is never fluctuated from the old prevailed cosmic theories of modernity due to the Post-War I-II secularism. Moreover, Richard Bulliet found out a coincidental employment of civilizational clash-ness similar to the Protestant missioner Basil Mathew’s Young Islam on Trek: A Study in the Clash of Civilizations.  Although both Huntington and Mathew might vary still they made-up a resembled salvation for youthful Muslims by the first in Secularization of Islam and the other in Protestant Christianity. Hence, Bulliet objected Huntington and Mathew impractical solutions to liberalized Islam or any other creed; “It is hard to strip religious terms of religious contents” (p. 2-5). For the inevitability of civilizational class-ness goes against the Nature of World! Yet, Civilization is never confined to a certain nation, race, or religion. It is pot to various cultures and different origins of ideologies (Altweejry 2).

The historical question of Bernard Lewis “what went wrong?” is a fictitious expression according to Richard Bulliet! In the second chapter of the book, Bulliet stated a consideration versus Lewis’s analysis following 9/11 aftermath. In his statement “Its important to ask the right questions, but one cannot do so until one has explained why the question that is currently being asked does not work.” (p. 47) Bulliet drawn a vital wonder into the readers’ consideration when it comes to debate; especially into the case of Middle East to; “whose perspective is involved when the question is raised for the Middle East?” (p. 48). For Lewis in his book What Went Wrong?: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response[2] hypothesized a belief where Muslims are resentful of the West’s advanced civilization that exceeded Islamic nation in the East.  But in the prospect of Bulliet, Lewis’s assessment is erroneous for several reasons. First, the relation between Muslims and the West is prehistoric, and none can deny the geographical or the historical background. Second, Western Europe itself passed through evolution that produced cultural models like Nazism and Fascism, regardless of West it-self did not know which direction to chase. So, how Muslims and Arab nations are resented! Nevertheless, Bulliet fearlessly proclaimed Lewis’s question of “What Went Wrong?” answered itself by its self!  He addressed Lewis by “ …It’s not the unnamed ‘people in the Islamic world’, but rather Lewis himself.” (p. 53). What Bulliet meant by his address is say publicly that the actuality of the only ‘wrongness’ is in Lewis’s mind! Who observed the issue from his western dogmatic angle! Because Bulliet found the dilemma lied not only in the Arab and Islamic communities but also in the West and America (p. 55).

To sum up, Richard Bulliet sought after a rational peace in the case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. Opposed noted intellectualists of America like Samuel Huntington the instigator of “Clash of Civilization” and the orientalist Bernard Lewis for their factitious Western idealist beliefs towards Middle East and Muslims Civilization. In a scientific debate Bulliet’s book provided a fair deal of historical records, however, the book is not error-free. For example, when Bulliet referred to Islamism’s rapid triumphant in the Eastern countries for Muslims were fortunate enough to not have Pagan trips! Unlike the Christendom proceeding to the Pagan trips in Western Countries.  It is so untrue, Arab countries were extremely Pagan and Islam suffered its share!

Works Cited

Beck, Kevin A. “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization: A Review – Kevin A. Beck.” Presence: a Center of Learning for Personal Transformation. Web. 28 Dec. 2010.

Bulliet, Richard W. The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. New York: Columbia UP, 2004. Print.

Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, 1993. Web.

Lewis, Bernard. Islam and the West. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.

“صراع الحضارات في المفهوم الإسلامي.” Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – ISESCO –. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2011. <http://www.isesco.org.ma/arabe/publications/Civ/page6.php&gt;.

[1] Samuel Huntington coined the phrase “Clash of Civilizations” in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism, when the growing power of Islam as a civilization and geopolitical force was beginning to challenge Western hegemony

[2] Released in January 2002, shortly after the September 11 terrorist attack, but written shortly before. The nucleus of this book appeared as an article published in The Atlantic Monthly in January 2002.


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