Hacettepe Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden emekli.

Keywords: Religion, culture, civilization, Islam, Europe, colonialism, modernisation


-- Jacques Berque

The term Islam involves both geopolitical deployment and the social and moral content of the youngest monotheistic religion. Having emerged in the first half of the seventh century in Arabia, Islam spread through conversion, cultural attraction and conquests. It is still one of the liveliest systems of the world though that is not recognized by many. This article is a historical and sociological analysis made by Jacques Berque renowned French social scientist of the twentieth centuryone week before his death on European and Arab worlds; and the relations between Islam and the West. Berque draws attention to geographic and human position and cultural differences of Islam in other words, to differentiated extents of that rooted civilizationwith a compact and concise expression. He emphasizes that the international meetings between the Islamic countries cover local and temporal affairs rather than discussing the main problems of the Islamic Civilization; and he examines the essential issues of Islam at our age within a global content. For him, Islam was better understood in West in the Middle Ages, for instance, by Pierre Abélard (1079-1142) and Ramon Lull (1235-1315). The attitude of the West against Islam and China changed after the Industrial Revolution. Conceit and conception of supremacy prevailed. The imperialism or “spreading of the Industrial Revolution” damaged the exchange mechanism among the communities and cultures. For two or three centuries, Islam has not maintained working the Western rationality, which it actually had used in past. Productive ideas of Averroes or Ibn Khaldoun could not find followers. Such a great civilization lacked mechanical performances. It fell into the “disease of imitation”. Its relations with the West were set on the base of “acridty and otherness.” Today the West approaches to Islam in a completely negative way. It does not blame Japan, and is afraid of it. China is a great and useful client. “Metaphysical inclination” of India renders it harmless. However, when it is about the Muslims, they are “perpetual Saracens”. They could be more dangerous with the worst modernism. The West accuses Islam of three matters: “Aggression that sometimes leads to terrorism; tendency to use religious officials in politics; reluctance for respect to civil rights. The issue of rights of the women is a definite measure of it.” Berque explains the reasons of those and answers them. He states that observing those problems in Islam would not efface the destruction of the Western history and suggests avoiding “Eurocentrism”. For Berque, Islam began to lose a part of its morality. Most of the Muslims see Islam as a shelter against foreign conspiracies, failures of regimes and evil of the people. This role prevents its moral role. Democracy is condemned. This kind of attitude of certain groups resulted in blaming all Muslim communities for bigotry and intolerance. These accusations are completely “unfair”. But today’s Islam do not satisfy masses. A “development Islam” and a dynamic Islam that maintains its genuineness and keeps pace with the state of affairs of the World needs to be built.