Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales. He is well known as a scholar of South-east Asia, especially the Muslim bits. In the past week he has published on current events in Europe in an article entitled A rage against history in New Mandala, an online publication of the College of Asia and the Pacific of the distinguished Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. The ANU is one of the world’s top 50 universities, according to the Times higher education supplement.
It’s an article well worth reading to see the professor’s account of the source of the troubles now being experienced in Europe and a possible remedy for it. But it’s rather long, so I attempt a summary here with selected quotes from the article.
Recent “Islamist” crimes in Europe and elsewhere have their source within the wounded soul of contemporary Islamic civilisation and of the modern Muslim world generally.
This is because, among other things, Islam sees itself as the successor to and the completion of the Abrahamic faith tradition of ethical and prophetic monotheism. To Judaism and then Christianity. And it sees itself as complete because it sees itself (or so its scholarly traditions assert), unlike Judaism and Christianity, as equipped with a fully developed social and political “blueprint”, a divinely prescribed plan for the organisation and political management of society.
… after Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt the world of Islam was overwhelmed. The collapse and humiliation of the Islamic world was accomplished by what we now call “modernity” —— social, economic, administrative, technical, military, intellectual and cultural. It was defeated and routed by the application of modern attitudes and techniques, born of the Enlightenment and the new scientific revolution, that the European powers commanded and developed and began to deploy ever more thoroughly, and which the world of Islam lacked. That is how Napoleon and those who followed him succeeded; that is what Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt powerfully demonstrated and announced.
Today, the radical Muslims, or militant Islamists, do not merely feel the pain of this deep wound within the soul of Islam. They also seek to act, with violent means, forcibly to “set things right again”. They are possessed and driven by a conviction that “history has gone wrong” on them —— that it has done so wrongly, and so has wronged them —— in defiance of divine historical assurances and guarantees of political primacy, ascendancy, sovereignty and success.
And, it will simply not do to cut these violent people loose, allowing them to do as they please, by saying “what they do has nothing to do with Islam”. It has everything to do with Islam.
There is no other way to explain it. It makes no sense without reference to Islam. What the violent militants do may have little to do with “Islam as decent, progressive people choose to understand it”. But it exists within, feeds off, and is explicable only within Islam and Islamic terms, and with reference to the travails of modern Islamic history generally.
Please read Professor Kessler’s very thorough article, long though it is, but well worth the effort, if only to see Professor Kessler’s recommendations, at: