Ibn Warraq: L’islam et le terrorisme intellectuel (Debunking Said)

_edward_said_1Turbans of the mind are disallowing and disavowing proper intellectual engagement with Islam. Aldous Huxley once defined an intellectual as someone who had found something in life more important than sex: a witty but inadequate definition, since it would make all impotent men and frigid women intellectuals. A better definition would be a freethinker, not in the narrow sense of someone who does not accept the dogmas of traditional religion, but in the wider sense of someone who has the will to find out, who exhibits rational doubt about prevailing intellectual fashions, and who is unafraid to apply critical thought to any subject. If the intellectual is really committed to the notion of truth and free inquiry, then he or she cannot stop the inquiring mind at the gates of any religion — let alone Islam. And yet, that is precisely what has happened with Islam, criticism of which in our present intellectual climate is taboo. (…) Said not only taught an entire generation of Arabs the wonderful art of self-pity (if only those wicked Zionists, imperialists and colonialists would leave us alone, we would be great, we would not have been humiliated, we would not be backward) but intimidated feeble Western academics, and even weaker, invariably leftish, intellectuals into accepting that any criticism of Islam was to be dismissed as orientalism, and hence invalid. But the first duty of the intellectual is to tell the truth. Truth is not much in fashion in this postmodern age when continental charlatans have infected Anglo-American intellectuals with the thought that objective knowledge is not only undesirable but unobtainable. I believe that to abandon the idea of truth not only leads to political fascism, but stops dead all intellectual inquiry. To give up the notion of truth means forsaking the goal of acquiring knowledge. But man, as Aristotle put it, by nature strives to know. Truth, science, intellectual inquiry and rationality are inextricably bound together. Relativism, and its illegitimate offspring, multiculturalism, are not conducive to the critical examination of Islam. Said wrote a polemical book, Orientalism (1978), whose pernicious influence is still felt in all departments of Islamic studies, where any critical discussion of Islam is ruled out a priori . For Said, orientalists are involved in an evil conspiracy to denigrate Islam, to maintain its people in a state of permanent subjugation and are a threat to Islam’s future. These orientalists are seeking knowledge of oriental peoples only in order to dominate them; most are in the service of imperialism. Said’s thesis was swallowed whole by Western intellectuals, since it accords well with the deep anti-Westernism of many of them. This anti-Westernism resurfaces regularly in Said’s prose, as it did in his comments in the Guardian after September 11th. The studied moral evasiveness, callousness and plain nastiness of Said’s article, with its refusal to condemn outright the attacks on America or show any sympathy for the victims or Americans, leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of anyone whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted by political and Islamic correctness. In the face of all evidence, Said still argues that it was US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere that brought about these attacks. Ibn Warraq

Islam and Intellectual Terrorism

Ibn Warraq

Dec 01, 01

Turbans of the mind are disallowing and disavowing proper intellectual engagement with Islam.

Aldous Huxley once defined an intellectual as someone who had found something in life more important than sex: a witty but inadequate definition, since it would make all impotent men and frigid women intellectuals. A better definition would be a freethinker, not in the narrow sense of someone who does not accept the dogmas of traditional religion, but in the wider sense of someone who has the will to find out, who exhibits rational doubt about prevailing intellectual fashions, and who is unafraid to apply critical thought to any subject. If the intellectual is really committed to the notion of truth and free inquiry, then he or she cannot stop the inquiring mind at the gates of any religion — let alone Islam. And yet, that is precisely what has happened with Islam, criticism of which in our present intellectual climate is taboo.

The reason why many intellectuals have continued to treat Islam as a taboo subject are many and various, including:

– political correctness leading to Islamic correctness; – the fear of playing into the hands of racists or reactionaries to the detriment of the West’s Muslim minorities; – commercial or economic motives; – feelings of post-colonial guilt (where the entire planet’s problems are attributed to the West’s wicked ways and intentions); – plain physical fear; – and intellectual terrorism of writers such as Edward Said.

Said not only taught an entire generation of Arabs the wonderful art of self-pity (if only those wicked Zionists, imperialists and colonialists would leave us alone, we would be great, we would not have been humiliated, we would not be backward) but intimidated feeble Western academics, and even weaker, invariably leftish, intellectuals into accepting that any criticism of Islam was to be dismissed as orientalism, and hence invalid.

But the first duty of the intellectual is to tell the truth. Truth is not much in fashion in this postmodern age when continental charlatans have infected Anglo-American intellectuals with the thought that objective knowledge is not only undesirable but unobtainable. I believe that to abandon the idea of truth not only leads to political fascism, but stops dead all intellectual inquiry. To give up the notion of truth means forsaking the goal of acquiring knowledge. But man, as Aristotle put it, by nature strives to know. Truth, science, intellectual inquiry and rationality are inextricably bound together. Relativism, and its illegitimate offspring, multiculturalism, are not conducive to the critical examination of Islam.

Said wrote a polemical book, Orientalism (1978), whose pernicious influence is still felt in all departments of Islamic studies, where any critical discussion of Islam is ruled out a priori . For Said, orientalists are involved in an evil conspiracy to denigrate Islam, to maintain its people in a state of permanent subjugation and are a threat to Islam’s future. These orientalists are seeking knowledge of oriental peoples only in order to dominate them; most are in the service of imperialism.

Said’s thesis was swallowed whole by Western intellectuals, since it accords well with the deep anti-Westernism of many of them. This anti-Westernism resurfaces regularly in Said’s prose, as it did in his comments in the Guardian after September 11th. The studied moral evasiveness, callousness and plain nastiness of Said’s article, with its refusal to condemn outright the attacks on America or show any sympathy for the victims or Americans, leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of anyone whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted by political and Islamic correctness. In the face of all evidence, Said still argues that it was US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere that brought about these attacks.

The unfortunate result is that academics can no longer do their work honestly. A scholar working on recently discovered Qur’anic manuscripts showed some of his startling conclusions to a distinguished colleague, a world expert on the Qur’an. The latter did not ask, “What is the evidence, what are your arguments, is it true?” The colleague simply warned him that his thesis was unacceptable because it would upset Muslims.

Very recently, Professor Josef van Ess, a scholar whose works are essential to the study of Islamic theology, cut short his research, fearing it would not meet the approval of Sunni Islam. Gunter Luling was hounded out of the profession by German universities because he proposed the radical thesis that at least a third of the Qur’an was originally a pre-Islamic, Christian hymnody, and thus had nothing to do with Mohammed. One German Arabist says academics are now wearing “a turban spiritually in their mind”, practicing “Islamic scholarship” rather than scholarship on Islam. Where biblical criticism has made important advances since the 16th century, when Spinoza demonstrated that the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses, the Qur’an is virtually unknown as a human document susceptible to analysis by the instruments and techniques of biblical criticism.

Western scholars need to defend unflinchingly our right to examine Islam, to explain its rise and fall by the normal mechanisms of human history, according to the objective standards of historical methodology. Democracy depends on freedom of thought and free discussion. The notion of infallibility is profoundly undemocratic and unscientific. It is perverse for the Western media to lament the lack of an Islamic reformation and wilfully ignore books such as Anwar Shaikh’s Islam — The Arab Imperialism, or my Why I am Not a Muslim. How do they think reformation will come about if not with criticism? The proposed new legislation by the Labour government to protect Muslims, while well-intentioned, is woefully misguided. It will mean publishers will be even more reluctant to take on works critical of Islam. If we stifle rational discussion of Islam, what will emerge will be the very thing that political correctness and the Government seek to avoid: virulent, racist populism. If there are further terrorist acts then irrational xenophobia will be the only means of expression available. We also cannot allow Muslims subjectively to decide what constitutes “incitement to religious hatred”, since any legitimate criticism of Islam will then be shouted down as religious hatred. Only in a democracy where freedom of inquiry is protected will science progress. Hastily conceived laws risk smothering the golden thread of rationalism running through western civilisation.

(First published in the Guardian and reproduced by kind permission of Ibn Warraq.)

Debunking Edward Said:

Edward Said and the Saidists: or Third World Intellectual Terrorism

by Ibn Warraq

Consider the following observations on the state of affairs in the contemporary Arab world : “ The history of the modern Arab world – with all its political failures , its human rights abuses , its stunning military incompetences , its decreasing production , the fact that alone of all modern peoples , we have receded in democratic and technological and scientific development – is disfigured by a whole series of out-moded and discredited ideas , of which the notion that the Jews never suffered and that the holocaust is an obfuscatory confection created by the Elders of Zion is one that is acquiring too much – far too much – currency; ….[T]o support Roger Garaudy , the French writer convicted earlier this year on charges of holocaust denial , in the name of ‘ freedom of opinion ’ is a silly ruse that discredits us more than we already are discredited in the world’s eyes for our incompetence , our failure to fight a decent battle , our radical misunderstanding of history and the world we live in .Why don’t we fight harder for freedom of opinions in our own societies , a freedom , no one needs to be told , that scarcely exists ? ”[1][1]. It takes considerable courage for an Arab to write self-criticism of this kind , indeed , without the personal pronoun ‘we’ how many would have guessed that an Arab , let alone Edward Said himself , had written it ? And yet, ironically , what makes self-examination for Arabs and Muslims , and particularly criticism of Islam in the West very difficult is the totally pernicious influence of Edward Said’s Orientalism [2][2]. The latter work taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity – “ were it not for the wicked imperialists , racists and Zionists , we would be great once more ”- encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s , and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam , and even stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims sensibilities , and who dared not risk being labelled “orientalist ”. The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called “ intellectual terrorism ” , since it does not seek to convince by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism , Eurocentrism ,from a moral highground ; anyone who disagrees with Said has insult heaped upon him. The moral high ground is an essential element in Said’s tactics ; since he believes his position is morally unimpeachable , Said obviously thinks it justifies him in using any means possible to defend it , including the distortion of the views of eminent scholars , interpreting intellectual and political history in a highly tendentious way , in short twisting the truth . But in any case , he does not believe in the “truth” . Said attacks not only the entire discipline of Orientalism , which is devoted to the academic study of the Orient , but which Said accuses of perpetuating negative racial stereotypes , anti-Arab and anti-Islamic prejudice , and the myth of an unchanging , essential “Orient” , but he also accuses Orientalists as a group of complicity with imperial power , and holds them responsible for creating the distinction between Western superiority and Oriental inferiority , which they achieve by suppressing the voice of the “oriental” , and by their anti-human tendency to make huge , but vague generalizations about entire populations , which in reality consist of millions of individuals .In other words , much of what was written about the Orient in general , and Islam and Islamic civilisation in particular , was false. The Orientalists also stand accused of creating the “Other” – the non-European ,always characterised in a negative way , as for example , passive , weak , in need of civilizing .( western strength and eastern weakness ) But “Orientalism ” is also more generally “ a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “ the Orient ” and (most of the time ) “ the Occident .” ”[3][3] Thus European writers of fiction , epics , travel , social descriptions , customs and people are all accused of “orientalism ”. In short , Orientalism is seen “as a Western style for dominating , restructuring , and having authority over the Orient .” Said makes much of the notion of a discourse derived from Foucault , who argued that supposedly objective and natural structures in society , which , for example , privilege some and punish others for noncoformity , are in fact “ discourses of power ”. The putative “objectivity ”of a discipline covered up its real nature ; disciplines such as Orientalism participated in such discourses . Said continues , “ …[ W]ithout examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage –even produce – the Orient politically , sociologically , militarily , ideologically , scientifically , and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period .”[4][4]

From Pretentiousness to Meaninglessness. There are , as I shall show ,several contradictory theses buried in Said’s impenetrable prose , decked with post-modern jargon ( “ a universe of representative discourse ”, “Orientalist discourse ”[5][5]) ( and some kind editor really ought to explain to Said the meaning of “literally ” [6][6] and the difference between scatalogical and eschatological [7][7] ) , and pretentious language which often conceals some banal observation , as when Said talks of “textual attitude ”[8][8] , when all he means is “ bookish” or “ bookishness ”. Tautologies abound , as in “ the freedom of licentious sex ”.[9][9] Or take the comments here [10][10] “ Thus out of the Napoleonic expedition there issued a whole series of textual children , from Chateaubriand’s Itinéraire to Lamartine ’s Voyage en Orient to Flaubert’s Salammbô , and in the same tradition , Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians and Richard Burton’s Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to al-Madinah and Meccah . What binds them together is not only their common background in Oriental legend and experience but also their learned reliance on the Orient as a kind of womb out of which they were brought forth .If paradoxically these creations turned out to be highly stylized simulacra , elaborately wrought imitations of what a live Orient might be thought to look like , that by no means detracts from their strength of their imaginative conception or from the strength of European mastery of the Orient , whose prototypes respectively were Cagliostro , the great European impersonator of the Orient , and Napoleon , its first modern conqueror .” What does Said mean by “ out of the Napoleonic expedition there issued a whole series of textual children” except that these five very varied works were written after 1798 ? The pretentious language of textual children issuing from the Napeolonic expedition covers up this crushingly obvious fact . Perhaps there is a profound thesis hidden in the jargon , that these works were somehow influenced by the Napoleonic expedition , inspired by it , and could not have been written without it . But no such thesis is offered . This arbitrary group consists of three Frenchmen , two Englishmen , one work of romantic historical fiction , three travel books , one detailed study of modern Egyptians . Chateaubriand’s Itinéraire ( 1811 ) describes superbly his visit to the Near East ; Voyage en Orient (1835) is Lamartine’s impressions of Palestine , Syria , and Greece ; Salammbô(1862) is Flaubert’s novel of ancient Carthage ; Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians ( 1836 ) is a fascinating first –hand account of life in Egypt , particularly Cairo and Luxor , written after several years of residence there ( first 1825-1828 , then 1833-1835), Burton’s account of his audacious visit to Mecca was first published in three volumes between 1855-6 . Lane and Burton both had perfect command of Arabic , Classical and Colloquial , while the others did not , and Lane and Burton can be said to have made contributions to Islamic Studies , particularly Lane , but not the three Frenchmen . What on earth do they have in common ? Said tells us that what binds them together is “their common background in Oriental legend and experience but also their learned reliance on the Orient as a kind of womb out of which they were brought forth ”. What is the background of Oriental legend that inspired Burton or Lane ? Was Flaubert’s vivid imagination stimulated by “ Oriental legend ” , and was this the same legendary material that inspired Burton , Lane and Lamartine ? “Learned reliance on the Orient as a kind of womb… ” is yet another example of Said’s pretentious way of saying the obvious , namely that they were writing about the Orient about which they had some experience and intellectual knowledge . Why are all these disparate works “imitations”? Take Lane and Burton’s works , they are both highly accurate accounts based on personal , first-hand experience. They are not imitations of anything .James Aldridge in his study Cairo ( 1969 ) called Lane’s account “ the most truthful and detailed account in English of how Egyptians lived and behaved ”.[11][11] While Burton’s accurate observations are still quoted for their scientific value as in F.E.Peters’ The Hajj .[12][12] Said also says of Lane , “ For Lane’s legacy as a scholar mattered not to the Orient , of course , but to the institutions and agencies of his European society ”.[13][13] There is no “ of course ” about it , Lane’s Arabic Lexicon ( 5 vols; 1863-74 ) is still one of the first lexicons consulted by any Muslim scholars wishing to translate the Koran into English ; scholars like Maulana Muhammad Ali, who began his English translation in 1909 , and who constantly refers to Lane in his copious footnotes ; as does A.Yusuf Ali in his 1934 translation . What is more the only place where one can still buy a reasonably priced copy of Lane’s indispensable work of reference is Beirut , where it is published by the Librairie du Liban . What profound mysteries are unravelled by Said’s final tortuous sentence ? Count Alessandro Cagliostro ( 1743-1795) was a Sicilian charlatan who travelled in Greece , Egypt , Zrabia , Persia , Rhodes , and Malta .During his travels he is said to have acquired considerable knowledge of the esoteric sciences , alchemy in particular.On his return to Europe , Cagliostro was involved in many swindles , and seems to have been responsible for many forgeries of one kind or another , but found time to establish many masonic lodges and secret societies . He died in prison in 1795 . He did not contribute anything whatsoever to the scientific study of the Near or Middle East , neither of its languages , nor of its history or culture. He was not a distinguished Orientalist in the way Lane was. Indeed apart from ‘Letter to the French People’(1786 ) , I do not think Cagliostro ever wrote anything worthy to be called scientific. Cagliostro , according to Said , was the prototype of “their [ the above five authors’ ] imaginative conception ”. Is he suggesting that they too forged or made up their entire knowledge of the Egypt , Near East and Arabia ? If that is what Said means , it is false for reasons which I have already indicated above . While , for Said , Napoleon was the prototype of the “ strength of European mastery of the Orient ”, since he was the Orient’s first modern conqueror. This would be fine as a rather contrived metaphor ,Lane and Burton mastered Arabic in the way Napoleon mastered Egypt but unfortunately Said in the rest of his book seems to suggest something far more literal and sinister in the complicity of Orientalists with the imperial powers . Orientalism is peppered with meaningless sentences .Take, for example , “Truth , in short , becomes a function of learned judgment , not of the material itself , which in time seems to owe its existence to the Orientalist ”.[14][14] Said seems to be saying :‘Truth’ is created by the experts or Orientalists , and does not correspond to reality , to what is actually out there . So far so good . But then “what is out there ” is also said to owe its existence to the Orientalist .If that is the case , then the first part of Said’s sentence makes no sense , and if the first part is true then the second part makes no sense . Is Said relying on that weasel word “seems” to get him out of the mess ? That ruse will not work either ; for what would it mean to say that an external reality independent of the Orientalist’s judgement also seems to be a creation of the Orientalist ? That would be a simple contradiction . Here is another example : “The Orientalist can imitate the Orient without the opposite being true .”[15][15] Throughout his book , Said is at pains to point out that there is no such thing as “the Orient ” , which , for him , is merely a meaningless abstraction concocted by Orientalists in the service of imperialists and racists . In which case , what on earth could “ The Orient cannot imitate the Orientalist ” possibly mean ? If we replace “ the Orient ” by the individual countries ,say between Egypt and India , do we get anything more coherent ? No , obviously not : “ India , Egypt , and Iran cannot imitate the Orientalists like Renan , Bernard Lewis , Burton , et al.”.We get nonsense whichever way we try to gloss Said’s sentence .

Contradictions . At times , Said seems to allow that the Orientalists did achieve genuine positive knowledge of the Orient , its history , culture , languages , as when he calls Lane’s work Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians “ a classic of historical and anthropological observation because of its style , its enormously intelligent and brilliant details ”; [16][16] or when he talks of “ a growing systematic knowledge in Europe about the Orient ”,[17][17] since Said does not have sarcastic quotation marks around the word knowledge , I presume he means there was a growth in genuine knowledge .Further on , Said talks of Orientalism producing “ a fair amount of exact positive knowledge about the Orient ”.[18][18] Again I take it Said is not being ironical when he talks of “ philological discoveries in comparative grammar made by Jones , …” .[19][19] To give one final example , Said mentions Orientalism’s “ objective discoveries ”.[20][20] Yet , these acknowledgements of the real discoveries made by Orientalists is contradicted by Said’s insistence that there is no such thing as “ truth ”[21][21]; or when he characterizes Orientalism as “ a form of paranoia , knowledge of another kind , say , from ordinary historical knowledge ”[22][22] .Or again , “ it is finally Western ignorance which becomes more refined and complex , not some body of positive Western knowledge which increases in size and accuracy ”.[23][23] At one point Said seems to deny that the Orientalist had acquired any objective knowledge at all [24][24], and a little later he also writes , “ the advances made by a ‘science’ like Orientalism in its academic form are less objectively true than we often like to think ”.[25][25] It is true that the last phrase does leave open the possibility that some of the science may be true though less than we had hitherto thought .Said also of course wholeheartedly endorses Abdel Malek’s strictures against Orientalism , and its putatively false “ knowledge ” of the Orient .[26][26] In his 1994 Afterword , Said insists that he has “ no interest in , much less capacity for , showing what the true Orient and Islam really are ”.[27][27] And yet he contradicts this outburst of uncharacteristic humility and modesty , when he claims that , “ [ The Orientalist’s] Orient is not the Orient as it is , but the Orient as it has been Orientalized ”,[28][28] for such a formulation assumes Said knows what the real Orient is .Such an assumption is also apparent in his statement that “ the present crisis dramatizes the disparity between texts and reality ”.[29][29] In order to be able to tell the difference between the two , Said must know what the reality is .This is equally true when Said complains that “ To look into Orientalism for a lively sense of an Oriental’s human or even social reality …is to look in vain ”.[30][30]

Historical and Other Howlers . For a work that purports to be a serious work of intellectual history , Orientalism is full of historical howlers [31][31]. According to Said , at the end of the seventeenth century , Britain and France dominated the eastern Mediterranean , when in fact the Levant was still controlled for the next hundred years by the Ottomans . British and French merchants needed the permission of the Sultan to land .Egypt is repeatedly described as a British colony when , in fact , Egypt was never more than a protectorate; it was never annexed as Said claims[32][32] .Real colonies ,like Australia or Algeria , were settled by large numbers of Europeans ,and this manifestly was not the case with Egypt .[33][33] The most egregious error surely is where Said claims Muslim armies conquered Turkey before they overran North Africa.[34][34] In reality , of course , the Arabs invaded North Africa in the seventh century , and what is now Turkey remained part of the Eastern Roman Empire and was a Christian country until conquered by the Seljuk Turks in late eleventh century [35][35].Said also writes “ Macdonald and Massignon were widely sought after as experts on Islamic matters by colonial administrators from North Africa to Pakistan ”[36][36] . But Pakistan was never a colony , it was created in 1947 when the British left India . Said also talks rather oddly about the “unchallenged Western dominance ” of the Portuguese in the East Indies , China , and Japan until the nineteenth century [37][37]. But Portugal only dominated the trade , especially in the 16th century , and was never , as historian J.M.Roberts points out , “interested in the subjugation or settlement of large areas ”.[38][38] In China , Portugal only had the tiniest of footholds in Macao.The first decades of the seventeenth century witnessed the collapse of much of the Portuguese empire in the East , to be replaced by the Dutch .In the early eighteenth century there was a Dutch supremacy in the Indian Ocean and Indonesia .However , the Dutch like the Portuguese did not subjugate “ the Orient ”but worked through diplomacy with native rulers ,and through a network of trading-stations .[39][39] Said thinks that Carlyle and Newman were ‘liberal cultural heroes ’! Whereas it would be more correct to characterize Carlyle’s works as the intellectual ancestry of fascism [40][40] . Nor was Newman a liberal , rather a High Church Anglican who converted to Catholicism .Said also seems to think that Goldziher was German [41][41] ; Goldziher was of course a Hungarian . (One hopes that it is simply a typographical error in his 1994 Afterword which was responsible for the misspelling of Claude Cahen’s name [42][42].) Said thinks ‘Muslims’ designates a race.[43][43]

Intellectual Dishonesty and Tendentious Reinterpretations .

The above errors can be put down to ignorance , Said is no historian , but it does put into doubt Said’s competence for writing such a book .On the other hand ,we can only qualify as intellectual dishonesty for the way he deliberately misinterprets a distinguished scholar’s work and conclusions . Said quotes with approval and admiration some of the conclusions of R.W.Southern’s Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages [44][44], “ Most conspicuous to us is the inability of any of these systems of thought [ European Christian] to provide a fully satisfying explanation of the phenomenon they had set out to explain [ Islam ]– still less to influence the course of practical events in a decisive way .At a practical level , events never turned out either so well or so ill as the most intelligent observers predicted ; and it is perhaps worth noticing that they never turned out better than when the best judges confidently expected a happy ending .Was there any progress [ in Christian knowledge of Islam ] ? I must express my conviction that there was .Even if the solution of the problem remained obstinately hidden from sight , the statement of the problem became more complex , more rational , and more related to experience ….The scholars who labored at the problem of Islam in the Middle Ages failed to find the solution they sought and desired ; but they developed habits of mind and powers of comprehension which , in other men and in other fields , may yet deserve success .” R.W.Southern . Now here is Said’s extraordinary misinterpretation of the above quote from Southern, “ The best part of Southern’s analysis …is his demonstration that it is finally Western ignorance which becomes more refined and complex , not some body of positive Western knowledge which increases in size and accuracy ”[45][45]. According to Said , Southern says that positive Western knowledge of the Orient did not increase . This is not what Southern is saying . Southern explicitly asks a question and replies : “ Was there any progress [ in Christian knowledge of Islam ]? I must express my conviction that there was ”. Yes , I am firmly convinced that Western knowledge did progress , that is what Southern states . Then Southern goes on to say that the Medieval scholars’ methodology became more and more sophisticated , they were more mature intellectually since they now developed habits of mind and powers of comprehension which would pay dividends later .How Said can claim, with his usual pretentious vocabulary of “Western ignorance which becomes more refined …”, otherwise is a mystery , but all in keeping with his intellectual dishonesty , and his overriding concern to paint the West in as negative a fashion as possible ? Incidentally , and ironically the very same passage from Southern contradicts one of Said’s principle theses about Oriental Studies being a cause of imperialism .All this thinking about the Orient failed , Southern says , “ to influence the course of practical events in a decisive way ”. Said also seems to reproach Friedrich Schlegel for holding views that are in fact correct : “[Although by ] 1808 Schlegel had practically renounced his Orientalism , he still held that Sanskrit and Persian on the one hand and Greek and German on the other had more affinities with each other than with Semitic , Chinese , American , or African languages ”.[46][46]One can only conclude that Said does not know that what Schlegel held is indeed the case : Sanskrit , Persian , Greek and German all belong to the same family , the Indo-European , and have more in common with each other than , by definition , with any other language in another family like Semitic . Said quotes Sir William Jones’ famous encomium on Sanskrit and its affinities to Greek and Latin as though it were of some sinister significance , by prefacing the quote with remarks that can only be described as plain silly : “ [ Jones’] most famous pronouncement indicates the extent to which modern Orientalism , even in its philosophical beginnings , was a comparative discipline having for its principal goal the grounding of the European languages in a distant , and harmless , Oriental source : ‘ The Sanscrit language , whatever be its antiquity , is of a wonderful structure ; more perfect than the Greek , more copious than the Latin , and more exquisitively refined than either , yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity , both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar , than could possibly have been produced by accident ; so strong indeed , that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source ’. ”.[47][47] What does Said mean by saying modern Orientalism had as its goal “ the grounding of the European languages in a distant and harmless , Oriental source ” ?.It is pretentious nonsense. Jones was not the first one to see that there were remarkable similarities between Sanskrit and Greek and Latin – as early as the 16 th century Filippo Sassetti , and in 1767 P.Coeurdoux had noticed them – but Jones’ independent reflections led him to conclude that there was a similarity , and this was a discovery , a very exciting scientific discovery that has since been amply confirmed . To say that Orientalists wanted to ground the European languages in Oriental sources is absurd , they discovered that they were related in some way ; they did not concoct some theory to fit their desire to “ground European languages in Oriental sources ”. What on earth does “ a harmless , Oriental source ” mean , in any case ? Greek and Latin do not have their “sources” in Sanskrit , they simply belong to the same genetic family , possibly descended from some common ancestral proto-Indo-European language . As Professor K.Paddaya of Pune , India [48][48], said in his appreciation of Sir William Jones , “ [I]t was genuine curiosity and admiration which made some of these officers [ of the East India Company like Jones ] voluntarily take up the study of [ India’s] past conditions ”. Jones’ eulogy on Sanskrit is still quoted with pride by many Indian scholars , who honoured Jones’ memory by holding conferences in Calcutta and Pune in April , 1994 to mark the bicentenary of his death . The bicentenary of the establishment of the Asiatic Society which Jones founded was celebrated in 1984 in New Delhi and Calcutta . Said also does not come across as a careful reader of Dante and his masterpiece , The Divine Comedy .In his trawl through Western literature for filth to besmirch Western civilization , Said comes across Dante’s description of Muhammad in Hell , and concludes “ Dante’s verse at this point spares the reader none of the eschatological [ sic !] detail that so vivid a punishment entails : Muhammad’s entrails and his excrement are described with unflinching accuracy ”.[49][49] First , Said does not know the difference between scatalogical and eschatological , and second ,we may ask how does he know that Dante’s description is unflinchingly accurate ? He simply means , I presume , that it was highly graphic . Said then makes much of the fact that earlier in the Inferno , three Muslims turn up in the company of virtuous heathens like Plato and Aristotle . Said continues , “ [B]ut the special anachronisms and anomalies of putting pre-Christian luminaries in the same category of “heathen ” damnation with post-Christian Muslims does not trouble Dante .Even though the Koran specifies Jesus as a prophet , Dante chooses to consider the great Muslim philosophers [ Avicenna and Averroës ] and king [ Saladin ] as having been fundamentally ignorant of Christianity ”. This fatuous comment betrays Said’s fundamental ignorance of Christian doctrine , even though he himself is a Christian . Although these people of much worth –gente di molto valore – had not sinned , according to Christian doctrine , they could not be saved outside the Church , that is without baptism , which is the first Sacrament and thus the “gateway to the faith ” .The three Muslims were in the outer circle of Hell not because they were ignorant of Christianity , but because they had died unbaptized . Since these regions of Hell are timeless and its inhabitants are there for ever , the question of anachronisms does not arise , especially as these historical figures have an allegorical significance .Said was surely aware that Virgil , who died in 19 B.C. was Dante’s guide , and fulfills an allegorical function ; Virgil’s voice is that of reason or philosophical wisdom. Allegory is central to any understanding of the Divine Comedy : literra gesta docet , quid credas , allegoria – the literal sense teaches the facts; the allegory what you should believe. Furthermore these illustrious Muslims were included precisely because of Dante’s profound reverence for all that was best in the non-Christian world , and their exclusion from salvation , inevitable under Christian doctrine , saddened him and put a great strain on his mind – gran duol mi prese al cor quando lo ’ntesi – great grief seized me at heart when I heard this . Dante was even much influenced by the Averroistic concept of the “possible intellect ”.The same generous impulse that made him revere non-Christians like Avicenna and their nobleness made Dante relegate Muhammad to eternal punishment in the eighth circle of Hell, namely Dante’s strong sense of the unity of humanity and of all its spiritual values – universalis civilitas humani generis –the universal community of the human race . He and his contemporaries in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century had only the vaguest of ideas about the history and theology of Islam and its founder . Dante believed that Muhammad and Ali were the initiators of the great schism between Christianity and Islam .Dante like his contemporaries thought Muhammad was originally a Christian and a cardinal who wanted to become a pope . Hence Muhammad was a divider of humanity whereas Dante stood for the unity – the essential organic unity -of humankind . What Said does not see is that Dante perfectly exemplifies Western culture’s strong tendency towards universalism .[50][50]

Self –Pity , Post-Imperialist Victimhood and Imperialism

In order to achieve his goal of painting the West in general , and the discipline of Orientalism in particular , in as negative a way as possible , Said has recourse to several tactics . One of his preferred moves is to depict the Orient as a perpetual victim of Western imperialism ,dominance,and aggression.The Orient is never seen as an actor , an agent with free-will , or designs or ideas of its own . It is to this propensity that we owe that immature and unattractive quality of much contemporary Middle Eastern culture , self-pity , and the belief that all its ills are the result of Western -Zionist conspiracies [51][51] . Here is an example of Said’s own belief in the usual conspiracies taken from “ The Question of Palestine ”[52][52] : It was perfectly apparent to Western supporters of Zionism like Balfour that the colonization of Palestine was made a goal for the Western powers from the very beginning of Zionist planning : Herzl used the idea , Weizmann used it , every leading Israeli since has used it . Israel was a device for holding Islam – later the Soviet Union , or communism – at bay ”. So Israel was created to hold Islam at bay !

As for the politics of victimhood , Said has “milked it himself to an indecent degree ”[53][53] . Said wrote : “ My own experiences of these matters are in part what made me write this book. The life of Arab Palestinian in the West , particularly in America , is disheartening .There exists here an almost unanimous consensus that politically he does not exist , and when it is allowed that he does , it is either as a nuisance or as an Oriental .The web of racism , cultural stereotypes , political imperialism , dehumanizing ideology holding in the Arab or the Muslim is very strong indeed , and it is this web which every Palestinian has come to feel as his uniquely punishing destiny ”.[54][54] Such wallowing in self-pity from a tenured , and much-feted professor at Columbia University , where he enjoys privileges which we lesser mortals only dream of , and a decent salary , all the while spewing forth hatred of the country that took him in and heaped honours on him ,is nauseating . As Ian Buruma concluded in his review of Said’s memoir , Out of Place , “ The more he dwells on his suffering and his exile status , the more his admirers admire him .On me , however , it has the opposite effect .Of all the attitudes that shape a memoir , self-pity is the least attractive ”.[55][55] The putative conquest of Egypt by Napoleon plays an important symbolic role in Said’s scheme of showing all that is evil in Orientalism . For Said , Napoleon conquered , dominated , engulfed, possessed and oppressed Egypt[56][56] . Egypt is described as the passive victim of Western rapacity . In reality , the French were defeated and had to retreat hastily after less than four years ; Napoleon arrived in July 1798 , and left it for good just over a year later , the French forces stayed until September 1801.But during this brief interlude , the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of the Nile , and the French failed to capture Murad Bey . Riots also broke out when a house act was introduced in Cairo , and the French general Dupuy , lieutenant –governor of Cairo ,was killed .Further riots broke out among the Muslims in Cairo when the French left to confront the Turks at Mataria , but the chief victims were Christians many of whom were slaughtered by the Muslims .Kléber , the French general was also assassinated . Far from seeing the Egyptians as “the Other ” , and far from denigrating Islam , right from 1798 , the French were highly sensitive to Muslim opinion , with Napoleon showing an initimate knowledge of the Koran . Perhaps the ultimate irony was that after the assassination of Kléber , the command of the French army passed to General J.F. ( Baron de Menou ), who had converted to Islam , and who set about enacting various measures to conciliate the Muslims . Naguib Mahfouz , the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian novelist , once said it is thanks to Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt that his country has emerged out of centuries of obscurantism .Egypt owes all her modernity to Napoleon ![57][57] So much for the evils of the “Conquest of Egypt ”. Had he bothered to pursue the subsequent history of Egypt , Said would have put all Western imperialism in perspective , since he would have come across the history of Muhammad Ali , often considered the founder of Modern Egypt . It was never in the interest or even the intention of the Western powers to see the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire , which time and time again sought and received European support for the preservation of their imperial possessions. After the humiliating retreat of the French , the Ottoman’s greatest challenger was a Muslim , the able but ambitious governor of Egypt , Muhammad Ali Pasha , “ who aspired to nothing less than the substitution of his own empire for that of the Ottomans ” .[58][58] Inspired by Napoleon , Muhammad Ali modernized many of Egypt’s archaic institutions . In his Imperial dreams , Ali was thwarted by the Ottomans with the help , once again, of the great powers , Britain , Russia , Austria , and Prussia , who did not wish to use the Sultan’s plight to expand their imperial possessions . A little later Muhammad Ali’s grandson ,Ismail also dreamt of transforming Egypt into a modern imperial power .By the mid-1870s “ a vast Egyptian empire had come into being , extending from the Mediterranean in the north to Lake Victoria , and from the Indian Ocean in the esat to the Libyan desert ”.[59][59] I have dwelt on these historical details to put nineteenth century imperialism in context , and to show that Middle Eastern history was created by Middle Eastern actors , who were “ not hapless victims of predatory imperial powers but active participants in the restructuring of their region ”.[60][60] But this , of course , does not serve Said’s purpose at all , which is to show “the Orientals” as passive victims of Western imperialism unable to control their own destiny . It is Said who is guilty of the very sins that he accuses the Orientalists of , namely , suppressing the voice of the people of Egypt , the true history of the Near East , which was created by indigenous trends , desires , and actions freely –chosen . In Orientalism , Said writes : “ Both before and during World War I secret diplomacy was bent on carving up the Near Orient first into spheres of influence , then into mandated ( or occupied ) territories ”.[61][61] This is totally false ;here is how two historians see it : “ [T]he chain of events culminating in the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Middle East was set in motion not by secret diplomacy bent on carving up the Middle East , but rather by the decision of the Ottoman leadership to throw in its lot with Germany .This was by far the single most important decision in the history of the modern Middle East , and it was anything but inevitable .The Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the war in a last-ditch bid to ensure its survival , nor maneuvered into it by an overbearing Getman ally and an indifferent or even hostile British policy . Rather , the [ Ottoman] empire’s willful plunge into the whirlpool reflected a straightforward [ Ottoman ] imperialist policy of territorial aggrandizement and status acquisition ”. [62][62][ Emphasis in the original ] Prime Minister Asquith noted in his diary in March , 1915 : “ [ Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey and I ] both think that in the interests of our own future the best thing would be if at the end of the War we could say that we had taken and gained nothing ….” Similarly , the Bunsen Committee of April/May , 1915 had a clear preference for the maintenance of an independent but decentralized empire comprising of five major provinces : Anatolia , Armenia , Syria , Palestine , and Iraq-Jezirah . Nearly a year after the outbreak of the First World War , Britain still did not wish to see the destruction of Turkey –in-Asia.[63][63] Whereas it was an Arab , Sharif Hussein of Mecca ,who wanted to establish his own empire on the ruins of that of the Ottomans . Similarly , when referring to T.E.Lawrence , Said writes : “ The great drama of Lawrence’s work is that it symbolizes the struggle , first , to stimulate the Orient ( lifeless , timeless , forceless ) into movement ; second , to impose upon that movement an essentially Western shape ”.[64][64] Again , it is Said who is assuming the Arabs were passive , and had decisions taken for and imposed upon them , as though they were children or imbeciles incapable of having desires , and acting freely .Certainly , the forceful personalities of the Sharif of Mecca , Hussein ibn Ali , and his son Faisal played the most important part during the First World War , and were as responsible for what emerged after it as the Western powers . Thus Said’s use of emotive language concerning Western imperialism with all its supposed evils conceals the real overall historical background of the entire region .Where the French presence lasted less than four years when they were ignominiously expelled by the British and Turks , the Ottomans had been the masters of Egypt since 1517 , a total of 280 years ! Even if we count the later British and French protectorates , Egypt was under Western control for 67 years , Syria for 21 years , and Iraq for only 15 . And , of course , Saudi Arabia was never under Western control .Contrast this with Southern Spain , which was under the Muslim yoke for 781 years , Greece for 381 years,and the splendid new Christian capital that eclipsed Rome –Byzantium – is still in Muslim hands [65][65]. But I do not know of any Spanish or Greek politics of victimhood .

Said’s Anti-Westernism . In a rather disingenuous 1994 Afterword Said denies that he is anti-Western , he denies that the phenomenon of Orientalism is a synecdoche of the entire West , and claims that he believes there is no such stable reality as “ the Orient” and “ the Occident ” , that there is no enduring Oriental reality and even less an enduring Western essence , that he has no interest in , much less capacity for , showing what the true Orient and Islam really are . [66][66] Denials to the contrary ,an actual reading of Orientalism is enough to show Said’s anti-Westernism . While he does occasionally use inverted commas around “the Orient ” and “ the Occident ” , the entire force of Said’s polemic comes from the polar opposites and contrasts of the East and the West , the Orient and Europe , Us and the Other , that he himself has rather crudely set up . Said wrote , “ I doubt that it is controversial , for example , to say that an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British colonies .To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with , violated by , the gross political fact [ of imperialism ] – and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism ”.[67][67][ Emphasis in original ] Here is Said’s characterisation of all Europeans : “ It is therefore correct that every European , in what he could say about the Orient , was consequently a racist , an imperialist , and almost totally ethnocentric ”. [68][68] In other words not only is every European a racist , but he must necessarily be so. Said claims he is explicitly anti-essentialist particularly about “ the West ”. But here is Said again : “Consider first the demarcation between Orient and West .It already seems bold by the time of the Iliad .Two of the most profoundly influential qualities associated with the East appear in Aeschylus’s The Persians , the earliest Athenian play extant , and in The Bacchae of Euripides , the very last one extant ….The two aspects of the Orient that set if of from the West in this pair of plays will remain essential motifs of European imaginative geography . A line is drawn between two continents .Europe is powerful and articulate ; Asia is defeated and distant .”[69][69] As Keith Windschuttle comments on the above passage : “ These same motifs persist in Western culture , [ Said ] claims , right down to the modern period .This is a tradition that accommodates perspectives as divergent as those of Aeschylus , Dante , Victor Hugo , and Karl Marx .However , in describing “ the essential motifs ” of the European geopgraphic imagination that have persisted since ancient Greece , he is ascribing to the West a coherent self-identity that has produced a specific set of value judgements – “ Europe is powerful and articulate : Asia is defeated and distant ”-that have remained constant for the past 2500 years .This is ,of course , nothing less than the use of the very notion of “essentialism ” that he elsewhere condemns so vigorously .In short , it is his own work that is essentialist and ahistorical .He himself commits the very faults he says are so objectionable in the work of Orientalists ”.[70][70] Just in case the above were not enough to prove Said’s anti-Western essentialism , here is another gem : “ The Orient was Orientalized not only because it was discovered to be “Oriental” in all those ways considered commonplace by an average nineteenth-century European ,,but also because it could be –that is ,submitted to being – made Oriental .”[71][71] Here we have Said’s ultimate reductionistic absurdity :the average nineteenth-century European ! A part of Said’s tactics is to leave out Western writers and scholars who do not conform to Said’s theoretical framework. Since ,for Said , all Europeans are a priori racist , he obviously cannot allow himself to quote writers who are not . Indeed one could write a parallel work to Orientalism made up of extracts from Western writers , scholars , and travellers who were attracted by various aspects of non-European cultures, which they praised and contrasted favourably with their own decadence , bigotry , intolerance , and bellicosity. Said makes much of Aeschylus’ The Persians , and its putative permanent creation of the “Other ” in Western civilization . But Aeschylus can be forgiven his moment of triumphalism when he describes a battle in which he very probably took part in 480 B.C. , the Battle of Salamis ,on which the very existence of fifth-century Athens depended .The Greeks destroyed or captured 200 ships for the loss of forty , which for Aeschylus was symbolic of the triumph of liberty over tyranny , Athenian democracy over Persian Imperialism , for it must not be forgotten that the Persians were ruthless imperialists whose rule did not endear them to several generations of Greeks . Furthemore had he delved a little deeper into Greek civilization and history , and bothered to look at Herodotus’ great history , Said would have encountered two features which were also deep characteristics of Western civilization and which Said is at pains to conceal and refuses to allow : the seeking after knowledge for its own sake , and its profound belief in the unity of mankind , in other words its universalism . The Greek word , historia , from which we get our “history” , means “research ” or“ inquiry”, and Herodotus believed his work was the outcome of research : what he had seen , heard , and read but supplemented and verified by inquiry .For Herodotus , “historical facts have intrinsic value and rational meaning ”. He was totally devoid of racial prejudice – indeed Plutarch later branded him a philobarbaros, whose nearest modern equivalent would be “nigger-lover ” -and his work show considerable sympathy for Persians and Persian civilization .Herodotus represents Persians as honest – “ they consider telling lies more disgraceful than anything else ”- brave , dignified , and loyal to their king . As to the religions of the various peoples he studied , Herodotus showed his customary intellectual curiosity but also his reverence for all of them , because “ all men know equally about divine things ”.[72][72] Even in the Middle Ages , we find figures in the Christian Church ready to make , in the words of Maxime Rodinson , an “ outstanding effort …to gain and to transmit an objectively based scientific knowledge of the Islamic religion ”.Rodinson is talking about the remarkable Peter the Venerable , Abbot of Cluny ( c.1094-1156 ) . Rodinson is convinced that Peter the Venerable was not only motivated for polemical reasons but “ was moved by a disinterested curiosity …”.[73][73]

A number of thinkers , writers and scholars in Europe from the 16 century onwards took up the theme of the noble savage as a means to criticise their own culture , and to encourage tolerance of others outside the West .Perhaps the real founder of the 16th century doctrine of the noble savage was Peter Martyr Anglerius ( 1459 -1525 ). In his De Orbo Novo of 1516 , Peter Martyr criticised theSpanish Conquistadores for their greed , narrow – mindedness , intolerance and cruelty , contrasting them with the Indians , “ who are happier since they are free from money , laws , treacherous judges , deceiving books and the anxiety of an uncertain future” . But it was left to Montaigne , under the influence of Peter Martyr , to develop the first full- length portrait of the noble savage in his celebrated essay “ On Cannibals ” ,( c. 1580) which is also the source of the idea of cultural relativism . Deriving his rather shaky information from a plain , simple fellow , Montaigne describes some of the more gruesome customs of the Brazilian Indians and concludes : “ I am not so anxious that we should note the horrible savagery of these acts as concerned that , whilst judging their faults so correctly , we should be so blind to our own I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead ; to tear by rack and torture a body still full of feeling , to roast it by degrees , and then give it to be trampled and eaten by dogs and swine – a practice which we have not only read about but seen within recent memory , not between ancient enemies , but between neighbours and fellow -citizens and , what is worse , under the cloak of piety and religion – than to roast and eat a man after he is dead ” . Elsewhere in the essay , Montaigne emphasises their inevitable simplicity , state of purity and freedom from corruption . Even their “ fighting is entirely noble” . Like Peter Martyr , Montaigne’s rather dubious , second hand knowledge of these noble savages does not prevent him from criticising and morally condemning his own culture and civilisation : “ [ We ] surpass them in every kind of barbarity ”. The 17th century saw some truely sympathetic accounts of Islam such as those of Jurieu and Bayle . Let us hear Mr . Jurieu :  » It may be truly said that there is no comparison between the cruelty of the Saracens against the Christians , and that of Popery against the true believers . In the war against the Vaudois , or in the massacres alone on St . Bartholomew’s Day , there was more blood spilt upon account of religion , than was spilt by the Saracens in all their persecutions of the Christians . It is expedient to cure men of this prejudice ; that Mahometanism is cruel sect , which was propagated by putting men to their choice of death , or the abjuration of Christianity . This is in no wise true ; and the conduct of the Saracens was an evangelical meekness in comparison to that of Popery , which exceeded the cruelty of the cannibals . ” The whole import of Jurieu’s Lettres Pastorales (1686 -1689 ) only becomes clear when we realise that Jurieu was a Huguenot pastor , the sworn enemy of Bossuet ,and he was writing from Holland after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes . He is using the tolerance of the Muslims to criticise Roman Catholicism – for him the Saracen’s “ evangelical meekness”is a way of contrasting Catholocism’s own barbarity as on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Pierre Bayle was much influenced by Jurieu and continued to sing the praise of Islamic tolerance .He contrasts the tolerance of the Turks to the persecutions of brahmins in India by the Portuguese , and the barbarities exercised by the Spaniards in America . “[ The Muslims ] have always had more humanity for other religions than the Christians …” . Bayle was a champion of toleration -was he not himself the victim of intolerance and forced to flee to Holland ? For Jurieu and Bayle in the 17th century , Turk was synonymous with Muslim , thus Turkish tolerance turned into Muslim tolerance in general . Later “Letters Written by a Turkish Spy ” , published at the end of the 17th century , inaugurated the 18th Century vogue for the pseudo-foreign letter , such as Montesquieu ’s Lettres Persanes ( 1721 ) , Madame de Grafigny’s Lettres d’ une Peruvienne ( c. 1747 ) , D’ Argen’s Lettres Chinoises (1750 ) , Voltaire’s Asiatic in the Philosophical Dictionary ( 1752) , Horace Walpole’s Letter from Xo Ho , a Chinese Philosopher at London , to his friend Lien- Chi , at Peking ( 1757 ) and Goldsmith’s Citizen of the World (1762 ) , in which Lien Chi Altangi passes philosophical and satirical comments on the manners of the English . Count Henri de Boulainvilliers’( 1658 – 1722 ) apologetic biography of Muhammad appeared posthumously in London in 1730 . It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book in shaping Europe’s view of Islam and its founder, Muhammad ; it certainly much influenced Voltaire and Gibbon .Boulainvilliers was able to use Muhammad and the origins of Islam as  » a vehicle of his own theological prejudices  » ,and as a weapon against Christianity, in general , and the clergy , in particular . He found Islam reasonable , it did not require one to believe in impossibilities – no mysteries , no miracles . Muhammad, though not divine , was an incomparable statesman and a greater legislator than any one produced by Ancient Greece . George Sale’ s translation of the Koran ( 1734) is the first accurate one in English .Like Boulainvilliers , whose biography of Muhammad he had carefully read , Sale firmly believed that the Arabs  » seem to have been raised up on purpose by God , to be a scourge to the Christian church , for not living answerably to that most holy religion which they had received  » . The attitude of Voltaire can be seen as typical of the entire century . Voltaire seems to have regretted what he had written of Muhammad in his scurrilous, and to a Muslim blasphemous,play Mahomet ( 1742 ) , where the Prophet is presented as an impostor who enslaved men’s souls : “ Assuredly, I have made him out to be more evil than he was”. But , Voltaire in his Essai sur les Moeurs ,1756 , and various entries in the Philosophical Dictionary , shows himself to be prejudiced in Islam’s favour at the expense of Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular . In his The Sermon Of The Fifty ( 1762 ) , Voltaire attacks Christian mysteries like transubstantiation as absurd ; Christian miracles as incredible ; the Bible as full of contradictions . The God of Christianity was a cruel and hateful tyrant . By contrast , Voltaire finds the dogmas of Islam simplicity itself : there is but one God ,and Muhammad is his Prophet . For all deists, the supposed rationality of Islam was appealing : no priests , no miracles , no mysteries . To this was added other beliefs such as the absolute tolerance of Islam of other religions , in contrast to Christian intolerance . Gibbon , like Voltaire , painted Islam in as favourable a light as possible in order to better contrast it with Christianity. He emphasised Muhammad’s humanity as a means of indirectly criticising the Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ .His anti – clericalism led Gibbon to underline Islam’s supposed freedom from that accursed class , the priesthood . Gibbon’ s deistic view of Islam as a rational , priest free religion , with Muhammad as a wise and tolerant lawgiver enormously influenced the way all Europeans perceived a sister religion for years to come . But the work that exemplifies the Enlightenment’s openness to the Other , and its universalism and tolerance is surely Gotthold Lessing’s Nathan The Wise , written in 1778/1779 . The two themes – “ it suffices to be a man ” and “ Be my friend ”- run through the play and give it its humanity . Preaching friendship among the three monotheists religions ( Saladin , (1137-1193) the Great Muslim leader who defeated the Christian Crusaders is one of the three main characters ) , Lessing recounts the allegory of the father ( God ) who gives each of his three sons ( representing Islam , Christianity and Judaism ) a ring ( representing religion ) : “If each of you Has had a ring presented by his father, Let each believe his own the real ring. ‘Tis possible the father chose no longer To tolerate the one ring’s tyranny; And certainly, as he much loved you all, And loved you all alike, it could not please him By favouring one to be of two the oppressor. Let each feel honoured by this free affection. Unwarped of prejudice; let each endeavour To vie with both his brothers in displaying The virtue of his ring; assist its might With gentleness, benevolence, forbearance, With inward resignation to the godhead ….”[74][74]

I could multiply examples of Said’s quite deliberate omissions , writers sympathetic to the Arabs , Turks and Islam , writers like W.S. Blunt [ 1840-1922] , whose travels in Egypt , and Arabia“ produced in him a violent reaction against British Imperialism , and the second half of his life was spent in publishing a stream of poems , books and pamphlets championing the nationalist cause in Egypt , India ,Arabia and Ireland ”.[75][75] Writers like Lady Mary Wortley Montagu [1689-1762 ] , who wrote , “ Sir , these people [ the Turks ] are not so unpolish’d as we represent them .Tis true their magnificence is of a different taste from our , and perhaps of a better . I am allmost [sic] of opinion they have a right notion of Life , while they consume it in Music , Gardens , Wine , and delicate eating , while we are tormenting our brains with some Scheme of Politics or studying some Science to which we can never attain , ….”[76][76] Or writers like Marmaduke Pickthall who eventually converted to Islam , translated the Koran , wrote novels of Egypt , and edited the journal Islamic Culture . Or E.G.Browne ( 1862-1926 )who wrote the monumental Literary History of Persia (1902-24), and who also took up the cause of Iranian nationalism . The important thing to emphasize here is the deliberately biased nature of Said’s apparently learned and definitive selection ; I could just as easily go through Western Literature and illustrate the opposite point to the one he is making . Furthermore , my selection is not of some peripheral figures culled from the margins of Western culture , but the very makers of that culture , figures like Montaigne ,Bayle Voltaire , Gibbon , Lessing and some I have not quoted like Montesquieu ( The Persian Letters , 1721 ) and Diderot ( Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville , 1772 ) , the latter two exemplifying the European Enlightenment’s appeal to reason , objective truth and universalist values . Most of the time we have the impression that Said is simply resentful at how thorough , scholarly , in short , scientific and successful the Orientalists were ; Said is particularly jealous of their mastery of the various languages .For example , Said grudgingly admits that D’Herbelot read Arabic , Persian , and Turkish , and then seems to resent the fact that D’Herbelot arranged his Bibliothèque orientale alphabetically ! [77][77] Said talks of “specific Orientalist techniques – lexicography , grammar , translation , cultural decoding …” as though they were instruments of torture , used to violate , subjugate , dominate the Orient .[78][78] The same resentment is expressed of “ regulatory codes , classifications , specimen cases , periodical reviews , dictionaries , grammars , commentaries , editions , translations ” , which can only be seen as Said’s hatred of science .[79][79] Western intellectual energy and curiosity , that is “activity , judgment , will-to-truth , and knowledge ” is dimissed as “ all aggression”. [80][80]

Misunderstanding of Western Civilization. The golden thread running through Western civilization is rationalism . As Aristotle said , Man by nature strives to know . This striving for knowledge results in science , which is but the application of reason . Intellectual inquisitiveness is one of the hall marks of Western civilisation .As J.M.Roberts put it , “ The massive indifference of some civilisations and their lack of curiosity about other worlds is a vast subject . Why , until very recently , did Islamic scholars show no wish to translate Latin or western European texts into Arabic ? Why when the English poet Dryden could confidently write a play focused on the succession in Delhi after the death of the Mogul emperor Aurungzebe , is it a safe guess that no Indian writer ever thought of a play about the equally dramatic politics of the English seventeenth-century court ? It is clear that an explanation of European inquisitiveness and adventurousness must lie deeper than economics , important though they may have been . It was not just greed which made Europeans feel they could go out and take the world . The love of gain is confined to no particular people or culture .It was shared in the fifteenth century by many an Arab , Gujarati or Chinese merchant . Some Europeans wanted more . They wanted to explore ”.[81][81] Vulgar Marxists , Freudians , and Anti-Imperialists , who crudely reduce all human activities to money , sex , and power respectively ,have difficulties in understanding the very notion of disinterested intellectual inquiry , knowledge for knowledge’s sake. European man by nature strives to know. Science undoubtedly owed some of its impetus to finding ways of changing base metal into gold , to attempts to solve practical problems , but surely owes as much to the desire to know , to get at the truth and is the reason why philosophers like Karl Popper have called it a spiritual achievement . Hence the desperate attempts by Said to smear every single Orientalist with the lowest of motives are not only reprehensible , but fail to give due weight to this golden thread running through Western civilisation . One should remind Said that it was thanks to this desire for knowledge on the part of Europeans that led to the people of the Near East recovering and discovering their own past and their own identity . In the nineteenth and early twentieth century archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia , Ancient Syria , Ancient Palestine and Iran were carried out entirely by Europeans and later Americans – the disciplines of Egyptology , Assyriology , Iranology which restored to mankind a large part of its heritage were the exclusive creations of inquisitive Europeans and Americans . Whereas , for doctrinal reasons , Islam deliberately refused to look at its pre-Islamic past , which was considered a period of ignorance . [82][82] It is also worth pointing out that often the motives , desires , and prejudices of a scholar have no bearing upon the scientific worth of a scholar’s contribution . Again , vulgar Marxists , for example , dimiss an opponent’s arguments not on any scientific or rational grounds but merely because of the social origins of the scholar concerned . Nöldeke’s bigotry was well-known , indeed a source of acute embarrassment to his colleagues ,but no modern scholar of Islam can ignore his Geschichte des Qorans ; similarly Henri Lammens’ hatred for the Prophet Muhammad is notorious but as Professor F.E.Peters once said , Lammens has never been refuted. Conversely , a scholar who manifests sympathy for all aspects of Islam is not necessarily a good scholar . Said , for instance , quotes with approval Norman Daniel , but as Maxime Rodinson pointed out Daniel was not an objective historian but an apologist of Islam : “ In this way the anti-colonialist left , whether Christian or not , often goes so far as to sanctify Islam and the contemporary ideologies of the Muslim world , …An historian like Norman Daniel has gone so far as to number among the conceptions permeated with medievalism or imperialism , any criticisms of the Prophet’s moral attitudes , and to accuse of like tendencies any exposition of Islam and its characteristics by means of the normal mechanisms of human history .Understanding has given way to apologetics pure and simple ” .[83][83] Rather surprisingly , Said also singles out Louis Massignon for lavish praise for his sympathetic understanding of Islam. Massignon’s scholarship is not in doubt , his biography of Al-Hallaj , for example ,is considered a masterpiece . But Massignon also exemplifies the very qualities that Said himself dismisses in others .The Frenchman is responsible for perpetuating the myth of the spiritual East as against the materialist West .Said praises him for “ identifying with the ‘vital forces ’ informing ‘Eastern culture ’[84][84] , and yet earlier Said informs us that “ The Orient was overvalued for its pantheism , its spirituality , its stability , its longevity , its primitivity , and so forth ”.[85][85] Massignon also displays other unattractive traits that Said does not mention namely his anti-semitism , in the sense of virulent anti-Jewish sentiments , something even Massignon’s biographers acknowledge.[86][86] Finally , Massignon was far from the paragon of Christian spirituality that he becomes in Said’s eyes , since one of Massignon’s interest in the East was to search its cities for male prostitutes , something he dared not do in the ‘decadent West ’! Mircea Eliade recounts in his Journal , “ This evening I dine with Massignon .We talk for several hours .Terribly voluble ! He is ,besides , obsessed with pederasty ; again and again he brings the conversation around to “ young male prostitutes ” and so on .”.[87][87] Massignon was quite ready to exploit the East when it suited him . Maxime Rodinson was also criticize Massignon and others for taking too far the idea of seeing the Koran on its own terms , though their perspective represented « a necessary reaction against an understanding of a text in terms that were too often foreign to the text , and a tendency to isolate themes from the religious context to which they belong – tendencies which were characteristic of the nineteenth century .However , the historian must occasionally ask himself if the reaction has not gone too far .Some of the methods of this school of thought [ Massignon and others ] must be a matter of concern to historians .To study the internal logic of a faith and to show respect are very legitimate objectives .The scholar has a perfect right to attempt to re-experience within himself the « fire » and the exigencies of the religious consciousness under study .However , the elements that comprise a coherent system could indeed have derived from a variety of very different sources and might well have played an entirely different role in other systems .Respect for the faith of sincere believers cannot be allowed either to block or deflect the investigation of the historian .The result derived from examining a particular faith on a personal “mental testing bench” ought to be made the object of a very severe critical examination .One must defend the rights of elementary historical methodology …. » [88][88]

Said’s Orientalism . Orientalism reveals at times Said’s own contempt for the non-European , negative attitudes towards the Orient far greater than that of some imperialists he constantly condemns. Said speaks of “ books and journals in Arabic ( and doubtless in Japanese , various Indian dialects and other Oriental languages )…”.[89][89] As Lewis says , this is indeed a contemptuous , sneering ,listing with its “assumption that what Indians speak and write are not languages but dialects ” ; even earlier Said talks of “innumerable Indian dialects ”[90][90] , despite the fact that there are , in India , more than fifteen languages each of which is spoken by more than 40 million people , and each with a long and rich literary tradition . Where Said , the anti-Orientalist taketh away , the Orientalist restoreth , for , ironically, it was during the British period in India that Sir George A. Grierson carried out The Linguistic Survey of India (between 1866 and 1927) , which resulted in his monumental study in several thousand pages where he identified and studied 179 Indian languages . All later research is indebted to this magnificent work of scholarship , which , for Grierson , was a token of his love for India , and what is more , far from being neglected or reviled as Said would no doubt have liked , this Orientalist classic is still in print in India , nearly eighty years after its publication in 1927. This work illustrates perfectly the fact that much Orientalist research gave back to , for instance,Indians , their own rich and varied heritage of which they themselves were not aware. . Said also claims , “ No Arab , or Islamic scholar can afford to ignore what goes on in scholarly journals , institutes , and universities in the United States and Europe ; the converse is not true .For example , there is no major journal of Arab Studies published in the Arab world today ”.[91][91] Said simply chooses to ignore such distinguished journals as Majallat al-Ahfad ( Omdurman ), Alif:Journal of Comparative Poetics ( Cairo ) , Al-Majalla al-‘Arabiya li-l-‘Ulum al-Insaniya ( Kuwait ), Al-Tawasul al-Lisani (Fez) , Review of the Arab Academy ( Damascus ) , al-Abhath ( Beirut ) , the Review of Maghribi History ( Tunis ) , and the Bulletins of the faculties of Arts and of Social Sciences of Cairo , Alexandria , Baghdad , to name a few . Said , Sex , and Psycho-analysis If Said can be said to have a bête-noir , it must surely be Bernard Lewis . In a recent review of Lewis’ book , What Went Wrong ? in Harper’s [92][92] , Said gave vent to his loathing for Lewis , who is characterized as repetitious , having a veneer of English sophistication , whose book is unrelieved rubbish ,an intellectual and moral disaster , the terribly faded rasp of a pretentious academic voice . “ One can almost hear him[ Lewis ] saying ”, continues Said , “ over a gin and tonic , ‘You know , old chap , those wogs never really got it right , did they ? ’ ”. Then there is Said’s ultimate argument against Lewis : “ His jowly presence seems to delight his interlocutors and editors ….” ! But what struck me most was Said’s sentence where he accuses Lewis of persisting “in such ‘philological’ tricks as deriving an aspect of the predilection in contemporary Arab Islam for revolutionary violence from Bedouin descriptions of a camel rising ”. Said , twenty five years on , still has not forgotten his battle with Lewis on the issue of a camel rising , to which I will now turn . In Orientalism [93][93], Said quotes from Lewis’ essay “ Islamic Concepts of Revolution ” : “ In the Arabic-speaking countries a different word was used for [ revolution ] thawra .The root th-w-r in Classical Arabic meant to rise up ( e.g. of a camel ) , to be stirred or excited , and hence , especially in Maghribi usage , to rebel . It is often used in the context of establishing a petty , independent sovereignty ; thus , for example , the so-called party kings who ruled in eleventh century Spain after the break-up of the Caliphate of Cordova are called thuwwar ( sing. tha’ir ). The noun thawra at first means excitement , as in the phrase , cited in the Sihah , a standard medieval Arabic dictionary , intazir hatta taskun hadhihi ’lthawra , wait till this excitement dies down – very apt recommendation . The verb is used by al-Iji , in the form of thawaran or itharat fitna , stirring up sedition , as one of the dangers which should discourage a man from practising the duty of resistance to bad government .Thawra is the term used by Arabic writers in the nineteenth century for the French Revolution , and by their successors for the approved revolutions , domestic and foreign , of our own time .”[94][94] Among Said ’s conclusions is : “ Lewis’s association of thawra with a camel rising and generally with excitement ( and not with a struggle on behalf of values ) hints much more broadly than is usual for him that the Arab is scarcely more than a neurotic sexual being .Each of the words or phrases he uses to describe revolution is tinged with sexuality: stirred , excited , rising up.But for the most part it is a ‘bad’ sexuality he ascribes to the Arab . In the end , since Arabs are really not equipped for serious action , their sexual excitement is no more noble than a camel’s rising up .Instead of revolution there is sedition , setting up a petty sovereignty , and more excitement , which is as much as saying that instead of copulation the Arab can only achieve foreplay , masturbation , coitus interruptus. These , I think , are Lewis’s implications ….” Can any rational person have drawn any conclusion which even remotely resembled that of Edward Said’s from Lewis’s scholarly discussion of Classical Arabic etymology ? Were I to indulge in some prurient psycho-biography , much in fashion , I would be tempted to ask , “What guilty sexual anguish is Said trying to cover up ? Just what did they do to him at his Cairo English prep school ? ” . Lewis’s concise and elegant reply to Said’s conclusions is to quote the Duke of Wellington : “ If you believe that , you can believe anything ”. But that is not all. In Orientalism ,Said seems to be obssessed with sexual imagery .He finds D.G.Hogarth’s account of the exploration of Arabia “ aptly titled The Penetration of Arabia (1904 )”.[95][95] And yet ,Said himself wrote , “ [ Sir Richard Burton ] was able to penetrate to the heart of Islam and disguised as an Indian Muslim doctor accomplish the pilgrimage to Mecca ”[96][96] ; and also “ For Lamartine a pilgrimage to the Orient has involved not only the penetration of the Orient by an imperious consciousness ….”.[97][97] Or again , “ The point here is that the space of weaker or underdeveloped regions like the Orient was viewed as something inviting French interest , penetration , insemination –in short , colonization ….French scholars , administrators , geographers, and commercial agents poured out their exuberant activity onto the fairly supine , feminine Orient ”. And yet again :“Before Napoleon only two efforts ( both by scholars ) had been made to invade the Orient by stripping it of its veils ….”.[98][98] Just what did they do to Said at prep school ? Orientalists’ Complicity in Imperialism One of Said’s major theses is that Orientalism was not a disinterested activity but a political one , with Orientalists preparing the ground for and colluding with imperialists : “ To say simply that Orientalism was a rationalization of colonial rule is to ignore the extent to which colonial rule was justified in advance by Orientalism , rather than after the fact ”.[99][99] The Orientalist provides the knowledge that keeps the Oriental under control : “ Once again , knowledge of subject races or Orientals is what makes their management easy and profitable ; knowledge gives power , more power requires more knowledge , and so on in an increasingly profitable dialectic of information and control ”.[100][100] This is combined with Said’s thesis derived from the Coptic socialist thinker , Anwar Abdel Malek that the Orient is always seen by the Orientalists as unchanging , uniform and peculiar [101][101], and Orientals have been reduced to racist stereotypes , and are seen as ahistorical ‘objects’ of study “ stamped with an otherness …of an essentialist character ….”.[102][102] The Orientalists have provided a false picture of Islam : “ Islam has been fundamentally misrepresented in the West ”.[103][103] Said adds Foucault to the heady mix ; the French guru convinced Said that Orientalist scholarship took place within the ideological framework he called ‘discourse ’ and that “ the real issue is whether indeed there can be a true representation of anything , or whether any and all representations , because they are representations , are embedded first in the language and then in the culture , institutions , and political ambience of the representer.If the latter alternative is the correct one ( as I believe it is ) , then we must be prepared to accept the fact that a representationis eo ipso implicated , intertwined , embedded , interwoven with a great many other things besides the “truth ,” which is itself a representation”.[104][104] It takes little thought to see that there is a contradiction in Said’s major thesis.[105][105]If Orientalists have produced a false picture of the Orient , Orientals , Islam , Arabs , and Arabic society – and , in any case , for Said , there is no such thing as “the truth” –then how could this false or pseudo- knowledge have helped European imperialists to dominate three –quarters of the globe ? ‘Information and control’ wrote Said , but what of ‘false information and control ’? To argue his case , Said very conveniently leaves out German Orientalist scholarship , for their inclusion would destroy – and their exclusion does indeed totally destroy – the central thesis of Orientalism , that all Orientalists’ produced knowledge which generated power ,and that they colluded and helped Imperialists found empires. As we shall see, Germans Orientalists were the greatest of all scholars of the Orient , but , of course , Germany was never an imperial power in any of the Oriental countries of North Africa or the Middle East . Bernard Lewis wrote , “ at no time before or after the imperial age did [ the British and French] contribution ,in range , depth , or standard , match the achievement of the great centers of Oriental studies in Germany and neighbouring countries .Indeed , any history or theory of Arabic studies in Europe without the Germans makes as much sense as would a history or theory of European music or philosophy with the same omission ”.[106][106] Those omitted are not peripheral figures but the actual creators of the field of Middle Eastern , Islamic and Arabic Studies ; scholars of the standing of Paul Kahle ( 1875-1964 ) Georg Kampffmeyer ( 1864-1936 ) , Rudolf Geyer (1861-1929 ) , F.Giese ( 1870-1944 ) , Jacob Barth ( 1851-1914 ) , August Fischer ( 1865-1949) , Emil Gratzl (1877-1957), Hubert Grimme ( 1864-1942 ) , Friedrich Schulthess (1868-1922) , Friedrich Schwally (1863-1919) , Anton Baumstark (1872-1948 ) , Gotthelf Bergsträsser ( 1886-1933) ;others not discussed include G.Wustenfeld , Von Kremer , J.Horovitz , A.Sprenger , Karl Vollers .Though Nöldeke (1836 -1930 ), Fuck , G.Weil, Becker, E.Sachau , and Carl Brockelmann are mentioned their work and significance are not discussed in any detail ; Nöldeke , whose Geschichte des Qorâns (1860) was to become the foundation of all later Koranic studies , is considered one of the pioneers , along with Goldziher , of Islamic Studies in the West . But of course German scholars are not the only ones omitted ; Russians ( e.g. Belayev , Tolstov ) , Italian ( Caetani ) , and many Jewish scholars who studied Islam with sympathy considering it a sister religion ( e.g. Abraham Geiger , Paul Kraus ) do not rate a mention . Furthermore to argue that the French and British Orientalists somehow prepared the ground for the imperialists is to seriously distort history . The first chair of Arabic in France was founded in 1538 at the Collège de France , and yet the first French venture into an Arab country was Napoleon’s in 1798 . In England , the first chair of Arabic was founded in 1633 , at Cambridge , and yet the first British incursion into Arab territory was not until the nineteenth century . Where is the complicity between Orientalists and Imperialists here ? When the first two chairs of Arabic were founded in the West , it was the Muslims who dominated the Mediterranean , the Balkans were under Turkish rule , and the Turkish Siege of Vienna was still to come . [107][107] Said quotes at length speeches and essays by British statesmen like Lord Cromer , Arthur Balfour , and Lord Curzon which do mention the work of some Orientalists . But , as Windschuttle points out , “these quotations come from works written between 1908 and 1912 , that is , more than twenty-five years after the peak of Britain’s imperial expansion. Rather than expressing the aims and objectives of potential imperial conquests , these speeches are ex post facto justifications , sanctioned by hindsight”. Said quotes Curzon as saying , “ our familiarity , not merely with the languages of the people of the East but with their customs , their feelings , their traditions , their history and religion …is the sole basis upon which we are likely to be able to maintain in the future the position we have won …”.[108][108] But here Curzon is speaking to the House of Lords in 1909 to support the funding of a new London school of Oriental Studies , and , unsurprisingly , “ was painting its prospects in the best light he could”.[109][109]

Sacy de Silvestre , Ernest Renan , and Ignaz Goldziher . Lawrence Conrad , in a remarkable book edited by Martin Kramer [110][110], has shown with his usual superb scholarship , clarity and analytical brilliance , how Said’s account is not just flawed but fundamentally wrong : “ …[I]t is difficult to credit the curious linearity that Said postulates for the development of orientalism from Silvestre de Sacy .As is amply attested by the vast oriental collections of such centers of orientalist learning as Leiden and Berlin , where there were no imperial considerations to stimulate interest in the Orient , or at least ( in the case of the Netherlands ) not in the Middle East , it is a gross error to characterize European orientalist scholarship as dependent upon ‘imperial Britain and France ’ for access to texts.The orientalist tradition in the Netherlands and Germany was already well-established by the eighteenth century . In Leiden the decisive impetus ( if one is to think in terms of contributions of individuals ) had been provided by Jacob Golius ( 1596-1667 ) , and the treasures of the Warnerian Library provided materials for study by an expanding circle of scholars ; in Germany a founding father figure may be identified at Leipzig in Johann Jacob Reiske ( 1716 –74 ) , who had been trained at Leiden ”.[111][111] As Conrad points out in a footnote[112][112] , “ The Islamic holdings at the Leiden University Library roughly equal those of the British Library ( ca. 23,000 ) , and those of the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris are again about the same ( ca.12,000 ) ”[113][113]. Said first exaggerates de Sacy’s influence on Renan , and then compounds his error by further overestimating both of their importance in the history of Orientalism . Renan himself felt he was continuing the work of Bopp , and only makes “ a few passing references to Silvestre de Sacy and assigns him no particular importance for his own intellectual or professional development ”. Renan had little esteem for de Sacy’s kind of scholarship , compiling , editing , translating .[114][114] As Conrad concludes , “ All this speaks decisively against Said’s claim[115][115] that orientalists after Silvestre de Sacy simply copied and rewrote him ”.[116][116] The reception of Renan’s Langues sémitiques in the nineteenth century also tells decisively against Said’s essentialist argument that orientalism became a static system of ideas that did not generate any new ways of conceptualizing the subject of its study and analysis. [117][117] Or as Said himself put it , after Silvestre de Sacy and Renan “ [all that] German Oriental scholarship did was to refine and elaborate techniques whose application was to texts , myths , ideas , and languages almost literally gathered from the Orient by imperial Britain and France ”. But Renan’s theories were attacked by Semiticists , philologists , and Orientalists in general .[118][118] Scholarly criticism of Orientalist scholarship is going on all the time; academic integrity demands constant criticism of the research and results of colleagues ,individual scholars or whole groups of scholars , ensuring that their discipline is not a static archive of knowledge never to be disturbed . [119][119] One of the most searching critiques of Renan was provided by Ignaz Goldziher , who was recognized as early as 1889 as the founder of a new field of scholarship –Arabic and Islamic studies . Goldziher , the most important Orientalist of all, is dismissed by Said in three lines , though Henry Kissinger merits three pages ! It is impossible to over-estimate the influence of Goldziher , and the new paths he opened up in the study of Islam , Islamic history , Islamic theology, the study of hadith , and so on .As Conrad says , Goldziher’s Muhammedanische Studien (1888-89 )“ encompassed the entire vast range of Arab-Islamic literary culture –historical texts , poetry , adab , proverb collections , Qur’anic exegesis , doctrinal works , fiqh , hadith , biographical dictionaries , and so forth – and from them laid out an incredibly rich vista of historical experience that not only had not been known before , but even had not been sought .It would be no exaggeration to say that Goldziher’s colleagues were stunned by his work …”.[120][120]

Goldziher was not at all influenced by Silvestre de Sacy , or Renan or French Orientalism but rather by Abraham Geiger of the Jewish Enlightenment , the Tübingen school led by Bauer , and by Moses Mendelssohn , and Kant . Here is Conrad’s summary of Goldziher’s criticism of Renan : “ [ Renan’s research on matters “Semitic ”] systematically demeaned and deprecated the object of its study , robbed it of historical worth , defined it almost wholly in terms of negative attributes , denied its relevance as anything more than an artifact , and even then insisted that it be judged against the standard of values and norms of another people and another time a priori privileged and protected from the same harsh scrutiny directed at other peoples . Renaniana was a slippery sphere : one could hold it or drop it , but not work with it . Having demonstrated , along with other scholars , how flawed it was in both conception and execution , Goldziher wisely decided to drop it and urged others to do the same ”. [121][121] Goldziher was to remain an objective but always sympathetic observer of the Islamic world .[122][122] He constantly criticised Westernisation and Western influence in the Near East , he particularly despised Christian missionaries , and had no sympathy for Zionism .Goldziher subscribed to the Enlightenment values , and felt that his insights into Islam were equally relevant to Jews since his conclusions about a kindred faith had a universal dimension to them . His spiritual empathy for Islam and Muslims resulted in this extraordianry conclusion :“ I became inwardly convinced that I myself was a Muslim .[ In Cairo ] , [i]n the midst of the thousands of the pious , I rubbed my forehead against the floor of the mosque .Never in my life was I more devout , more truly devout , than on that exalted Friday ”.[123][123] Since Said spends more time on Renan than other Orientalist despite the fact that Renan is not as important a figure as Said imagines , it is worth pointing out that Renan himself also changed his views .Those who would see Renan a racist would do well to read his celebrated lecture of 1882 , “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation ?” where he implicitly repudiates his earlier views on racial inequality put forward in the Dialogues ; and he explicitly rejects the attempt to rest the concept of nationhood on race , language ,economics , geography and religion .Shmuel Almog has also argued that Renan was not consciously anti-Semitic , and points to Renan’s explicit denunciation of anti-Semitism , his protest against Tisza-Eszlar blood libel in 1882 , his efforts with Victor Hugo to organize relief committees for the Jews of Russia, and so on .[124][124] Basing himself on Muslim sources, Renan drew an exceedingly favourable portrait of the Prophet [125][125] , while recognizing his moral failings , “ On the whole , Muhammad seems to us like a gentle man , sensitive , faithful , free from rancour and hatred . His affections were sincere , his character in general was inclined to kindness …. Neither ambition nor religious rapture had dried up the personal feelings in him .Not at all akin to this ambitious , heartless and machiavellian fanatic [ depicted by Voltaire in his drama Mahomet ]” Renan is at pains to defend Muhammad from possible criticisms , “ As to the features of the life of Muhammad which , to our eyes , would be unpardonable blots on his morality , it would be unjust to criticize them too harshly …. It would also be unjust to judge severely and with our own considered ideas , the acts of Muhammad , which in our days would be called swindles ” . The Prophet was no imposter , “ It would be to totally lack a historical sense to suppose that a revolution as profound as Islam could be accomplished merely by some clever scheming , and Muhammad is no more explicable by imposture and trickery than by illuminism and religious fervour ” . Being a religious humanist , Renan valued Islam , and religion in general ,“because it manifested what was divine in human nature ”.[126][126], and seemed to answer the deepest instincts of human nature , and in particular it answered the needs of VII century Arabia , an idea taken up in modern times by Montgomery Watt Second , Renan concludes his essay, with the following observation : “ It is superfluous to add that if ever a reformist movement manifests itself in Islam , Europe should only participate in it by the influence of a most general kind . It would be ungracious of her to wish to settle the faith of others .All the while actively pursuing the propagation of her dogma which is civilisation , she ought to leave to the peoples themselves the infinitely delicate task of adjusting their own religious traditions to their new needs ; and to respect that most inalienable right of nations as much as of individuals , the right to preside oneself , in the most perfect freedom , over the revolutions of one ‘s conscience ” . These are hardly the words of a cultural imperialist .Nor does Renan believe that Islam is unchanging or essentially incapable of changing : “ Symptoms of a more serious nature are appearing , I know , in Egypt and Turkey .There contact with European science and customs has produced freethought sometimes scarcely disguised .Sincere belivers who are aware of the danger do not hide their disquiet , and denounce the books of Eoropean science as containing deadly errors , and subversive of all religious faith .I nevertheless persist in believing that if the East can surmount its apathy and go beyond the limits that up to now it was unable to as far as rational speculation was concerned , Islam will not pose a serious obstacle to the progress of the modern mind .The lack of theological centralisation has always left a certain degree of religious liberty to Muslim nations ”.[127][127]

Orientalists Fight back . For a number of years now , Islamologists have been aware of the disastrous effect of Said’s Orientalism on their discipline. Professor Berg has complained that the latter’s influence has resulted in “ a fear of asking and answering potentially embarrassing questions – ones which might upset Muslim sensibilities ….”.[128][128] Professor Montgomery Watt , now in his nineties , and one of the most respected Western Islamologists alive , takes Said to task for asserting that Sir Hamilton Gibb was wrong in saying that the master science of Islam was law and not theology .This , says Watt , “ shows Said’s ignorance of Islam ” . But Watt , rather unfairly ,adds , “ since he is from a Christian Arab background ”.[129][129] Said is indeed ignorant of Islam , but surely not because he is a Christian since Watt and Gibb themselves were devout Christians . Watt also decries Said’s tendency to ascribe dubious motives to various writers , scholars and stateman such as Gibb and Lane , with Said committing doctrinal blunders such as not realising that non-Muslims could not marry Muslim women .[130][130] R.Stephen Humphreys found Said’s book important in some ways because it showed how some Orientalists were indeed “ trapped within a vision that portrayed Islam and the Middle East as in some way essentially different from ‘the West ’ ” . Nonetheless , “Edward Said’s analysis of Orientalism is overdrawn and misleading in many ways , and purely as [a] piece of intellectual history , Orientalism is a seriously flawed book .” Even more damning , Said’s book actually discouraged , argues Humphreys , the very idea of modernization of Middle Eastern societies . “In an ironic way , it also emboldened the Islamic activists and militants who were then just beginning to enter the political arena . These could use Said to attack their opponents in the Middle East as slavish ‘Westernists’, who were out of touch with the authentic culture and values of their own countries . Said’s book has had less impact on the study of medieval Islamic history – partly because medievalists know how distorted his account of classical Western Orientalism really is ….”. [131][131] Even scholars praised by Said in Orientalism do not particularly like his analysis , arguments or conclusions .Maxime Rodinson thinks “ as usual , [ Said’s ] militant stand leads him repeatedly to make excessive statements ” , due , no doubt , to the fact that Said was “ inadequately versed in the practical work of the Orientalists ”.[132][132] Rodinson also calls Said’s polemic and style “ Stalinist ”.[133][133] While P.J.Vatikiotis wrote , “ Said introduced McCarthyism into Middle Eastern Studies ”.[134][134]Jacques Berque , also praised by Said , wrote that the latter had “ done quite a disservice to his countrymen in allowing them to believe in a Western intelligence coalition against them ”.[135][135] For Clive Dewey , Said’s book “ was , technically ,so bad ; in every respect , in its use of sources , in its deductions , it lacked rigour and balance .The outcome was a caricature of Western knowledge of the Orient , driven by an overtly political agenda .Yet it clearly touched a deep vein of vulgar prejudice running through American academe ”.[136][136] The most famous modern scholar who not only replied to but who mopped the floor with Said was ,of course,Bernard Lewis .Lewis points to many serious errors of history ,interpretation , analysis and omission . Lewis has never been answered let alone refuted . Lewis points out that even among British and French scholars on whom Said concentrates , he does not mention at all Claude Cahen , Lévi-Provençal , Henri Corbin ,Marius Canard , Charles Pellat , William and George Marçais , William Wright , or only mentioned in passing ,usually in a long list of names , scholars like R.A.Nicholson , Guy Le Strange , Sir Thomas Arnold , and E.G.Browne. “ Even for those whom he does cite , Mr.Said makes a remarkably arbitrary choice of works . His common practice indeed is to omit their major contributions to scholarship and instead fasten on minor or occasional writings ”. Said even fabricates lies about eminent scholars : “ Thus in speaking of the late –eighteenth early-nineteenth-century French Orientalist Silvestre de Sacy , Mr.Said remarks that ‘he ransacked the Oriental archives ….What texts he isolated , he then brought back ; he doctored them …”[137][137] If these words bear any meaning at all it is that Sacy was somehow at fault in his access to these documents and then committed the crime of tampering with them .This outrageous libel on a great scholar is without a shred of truth ”.[138][138] Another false accusation that Said flings out is that Orientalists never properly discussed the Oriental’s economic activities until Rodinson’s Islam and Capitalism (1966) .This shows Said’s total ignorance of the works of Adam Mez , J.H.Kramers , W.Björkman , V.Barthold , Thomas Armold , all of whom dealt with the economic activities of Muslims . As Rodinson himself points out elsewhere , one of the three scholars who was a pioneer in this field was Bernard Lewis .[139][139] Said also talks of Islamic Orientalism being cut off from developments in other fields in the humanities , particularly the economic and social [140][140]. But this again only reveals Said’s ignorance of the works of real Orientalists rather than those of his imagination . As Rodinson says the sociology of Islam is an ancient subject , citing the work of R.Lévy . Rodinson then points out that Durkheim’s celebrated journal L’Année sociologique listed every year starting from the first decades of the XX century a certain number of works on Islam .[141][141]

Negative Arab and Asian Reaction to Said’s Orientalism. It must have been particularly galling for Said to see the hostile reviews of his Orientalism from Arab , Iranian or Asian intellectuals , some of whom he admired and singled out for praise in many of his works . For example , Nikki Keddie , praised in Covering Islam , talked of the disastrous influence of Orientalism , even though she herself admired parts of it : “ I think that there has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word “ orientalism” as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too “conservative ”. It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines .So “orientalism” for may people is a word that substitutes for thought and enables people to dismiss certain scholars and their works .I think that is too bad .It may not have been what Edward Said meant at all , but the term has become a kind of slogan ”.[142][142] Nikki Keddie also noted that the book “ could also be used in a dangerous way because it can encourage people to say , ‘You Westerners , you can’t do our history right , you can’t study it right , you really shouldn’t be studying it , we are the only ones who can study our own history properly ”.[143][143] Albert Hourani , who is much admired by Said , made a similar point , “ I think all this talk after Edward’s book also has a certain danger .There is a certain counter-attack of Muslims , who say nobody understands Islam except themselves ”.[144][144] Hourani went further in his criticism of Said’s Orientalism : “ Orientalism has now become a dirty word .Nevertheless it should be used for a perfectly respected discipline ….I think [ Said] carries it too far when he says that the orientalists delivered the Orient bound to the imperial powers ….Edward totally ignores the German tradition and philosophy of history which was the central tradition of the orientalists ….I think Edward’s other books are admirable ….”.[145][145] Similarly , Aijaz Ahmed thought Orientalism was a “deeply flawed book” , and would be forgotten when the dust settled , whereas Said’s books on Palestine would be remembered .[146][146] Kanan Makiya , the eminent Iraqi scholar , chronicled Said’s disastrous influence particularly in the Arab world : “ Orientalism as an intellectual project influenced a whole generation of young Arab scholars , and it shaped the discipline of modern Middle East studies in the 1980s .The original book was never intended as a critique of contemporary Arab politics , yet it fed into a deeply rooted populist politics of resentment against the West .The distortions it analyzed came from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , but these were marshaled by young Arab and “ pro-Arab ” scholars into an intellectual-political agenda that was out of kilter with the real needs of Arabs who were living in a world characterized by rapidly escalating cruelty , not ever-increasing imperial domination .The trajectory from Said’s Orientalism to his Covering Islam …is premised on the morally wrong idea that the West is to be blamed in the here-and-now for its long nefarious history of association with the Middle East .Thus it unwittingly deflected from the real problems of the Middle East at the same time as it contributed more bitterness to the armory of young impressionable Arabs when there was already far too much of that around .”[147][147] Orientalism , continues , Makiya , “ makes Arabs feel contented with the way they are , instead of making them rethink fundamental assumptions which so clearly haven’t worked ….They desperately need to unlearn ideas such as that “ every European ” in what he or she has to say about the world is or was a “racist” ….The ironical fact is that the book was given the attention it received in the “almost totally ethnocentric ” West was largely because its author was a Palestinian ….”.[148][148] Though he finds much to admire in Said’s Orientalism , the Syrian philosopher Sadiq al- ‘Azm finds that “the stylist and polemicist in Edward Said very often runs away with the systematic thinker ”.[149][149] Al-‘Azm also finds Said guilty of the very essentialism that Said ostensibly sets out to criticise , perpetuating the distinction between East and West .Said further renders a great disservice to those who wish to examine the difficult question of how one can study other cultures from a libertarian perspective .Al-‘Azm recognizes Said anti-scientific bent , and defends certain Orientalist theses from Said’s criticism ; for example , al-‘Azm says : “ I cannot agree with Said that their “ Orientalist mentality ”blinded them to the realities of Muslim societies and definitively distorted their views of the East in general .For instance : isn’t it true , on the whole , that the inhabitants of Damascus and Cairo today feel the presence of the transcendental in their lives more palpably and more actively than Parisians and Londoners ? Isn’t it tue that religion means everything to the contemporary Moroccan , Algerian and Iranian peasant in amnner it cannot mean for the American farmer or the member of a Russian kolkhoz ? And isn’t it a fact that the belief in the laws of nature is more deeply rooted in the minds of university students in Moscow and New York than among the students of al-Azhar and of Teheran University ”.[150][150]

Al-‘Azm also criticises Said’s accounts of Karl Marx and his contradictory appraisal of Louis Massignon .What Said finds insufferable is the nineteenth-century European’s feeling of superiority , but Sadiq al-‘Azm says that indeed “ nineteenth-century Europe was superior to Asia and much of the rest of the world in terms of productive capacities , social organisation , historical ascendancy , military might , and scientific and technological development …”.[151][151] Nadim al-Bitar , a Lebanese Muslim , finds Said ‘s generalizations about all Orientalists hard to accept , and is very skeptical about Said having read more than a handful of Orientalist works .Al-Bitar also accuses Said of essentialism , “ [ Said ] does to [ Western ] Orientalism what he accuses the latter of doing to the Orient .He dichotomizes it and essentializes it . East is East and West is West and each has its own intrinsic and permanent nature ….”[152][152] Al-Saghir , an Iraqi scholar , also takes Said to task for dismissing all Orientalists a priori . For example , al-Saghir looks at Orientalist works on the Koran , and finds it , on the whole , very valuable , “ carefully researched and intellectually honest ”, their “overrall characteristic is purely scholarly ”.[153][153] The most pernicious legacy of Said’s Orientalism is its support for religious fundamentalism , and on its insistence that “all the ills [ of the Arab world ] emanate from Orientalism and have nothing to do with the socio-economic , political and ideological makeup of the Arab lands or with the cultural historical backwardness which stands behind it ”.[154][154]

 

[1] E.Said , Israel-Palestine : a third way , in Le Monde Diplomatique, September , 1998

[2] E.Said , Orientalism ,New York : Vintage Books , 1994

[3] Orientalism , p.2

[4] Orientalism , p.3

[5] Orientalism ,p.71

[6] See Orientalism , pp. 19 , 93 , 87 , 138 , 179 , 218 , 307 .

[7] Orientalism ,p.68

[8] Orientalism ,p.92-93

[9] Orientalism ,p.190.

[10] Orientalism ,pp .87-88

[11] Quoted by J.M.White ( p.v) in his introduction to Lane’s Modern Egyptians , New York : Dover Edn. 1973

[12] F.E.Peters , The Hajj , Princeton : Princeton University Press , 1994 ; references to and quotes from Burton are to be found at pp.72 , 100 , 128-129 , 175-177, 187-188 , 215-218 , 225-226 , 242 , 255-256 , 257-258 , 265 , 289 , 338 , 350 .

[13] Orientalism , p.164.

[14] Orientalism ,p.67

[15] Orientalism ,p.160

[16] Orientalism,p.15

[17] Orientalism ,p.39

[18] Orientalism ,p.52.

[19] Orientalism ,p.98

[20] Orientalism , p.203

[21] Orientalism ,p.272

[22] Orientalism ,p.73

[23] Orientalism ,p.62

[24] Orientalism ,p.122

[25] Orientalism,p.202

[26] Orientalism , p.96-97

[27] Orientalism ,p.331

[28] Orientalism ,p.104

[29] Orientalism , p.109

[30] Orientalism ,p.176

[31] Keith Windschuttle , Edward Said’s ‘ Orientalism revisited ’, in The New Criterion , Vol. 17 , No.5 , January 1999 .

[32] Orientalism ,p.35

[33] K.Windschuttle , op.cit.

[34] Orientalism , p.59

[35] K.Windschuttle , op.cit.

[36] Orientalism , p.210

[37] Orientalism , p.73

[38] J.M.Roberts , History of the World , New York : Oxford University Press , 1993 p.503.

[39] J.M.Roberts , op.cit. p.504

[40] By Bertrand Russell , in In Praise of Idleness , London : Allen and Unwin ,1935 pp.82-108

[41] Orientalism , p.18.

[42] Orientalism , Afterword ,p.341,where Cahen is misspelt Cohen . Rushdie is also misspelt on p.351.

[43] Orientalism ,p.99

[44] R.W.Southern’s Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages , Cambridge , Mass. : Harvard University Press , 1962. pp.91-92 , 108-9 .

[45] Orientalism , p.62

[46] Orientalism ,p.98

[47] Orientalism , p.78-79. Jones quote comes from Collected Works , Vol.III :pp.34-35.

[48] K.Paddaya , Co-Director of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute , Sir William Jones .An Appreciation at http://www.picatype.com/dig/da2/da2aa06.htm

[49] Orientalism , p.68

[50] See Keith Windschuttle . The Ethnocentrism of Clifford Geertz , in The New Criterion , Vol.21 , No.2 , October 2 , 2002 .

[51] See Daniel Pipes ,The Hidden Hand . Middle East Fears of Conspiracy .New York :St.Martin’s Griffin ,1998.

[52] E.Said , The Question of Palestine , New York : Vintage Books , 1980 , p.29

[53] Keith Windschuttle , Edward Said’s ‘ Orientalism revisited ’, in The New Criterion , Vol. 17 , No.5 , January 1999 .

 

[54] Orientalism , p.27

[55] Ian Buruma , reviewing E.Said , Out of Place .A Memoir , New York: Alfred A.Knopf , in The New York Times Book Review , Oct.3 , 1999.

[56] See especially Orientalism , p83-88

[57] Quoted in Courrier International , 28 May , 1998 , No. 395.

[58] E.Karsh & I.Karsh . Empires of the Sand .The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East , 1789-1923. Cambridge , Mass. : Harvard University Press ,2001 [ Ist. Edn. 1999 ] , p.27.

[59] E.Karsh & I.Karsh ,op.cit., p.45

[60] E.Karsh & I.Karsh ,op.cit., p.2

[61] Orientalism , p.220.

[62] E.Karsh & I.Karsh ,op.cit., p.3

[63] E.Karsh & I.Karsh ,op.cit., p.203

[64] Orientalism , p.241.

[65] H.Bloom .The Lucifer Principle .A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History .New York : Atlantic Monthly Press , 1995 , p.231

[66] Orientalism , Afterword ,pp.330-333

[67] Orientalism , p.11

[68] Orientalism , p.204

[69] Orientalism , p.56-57

[70] Keith Windschuttle , Edward Said’s ‘ Orientalism revisited ’, in The New Criterion , Vol. 17 , No.5 , January 1999

[71] Orientalism , p.6

[72] Herodotus , The Histories , Book II .3 quoted by J.L.Myers , Herodotus , in The Oxford Classical Dictionary , Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1978 . Much of this paragraph is indebted to J.L.Myers .

[73] M.Rodinson , The Western Image and Western Studies of Islam , in The Legacy of Islam , edd., Schacht & Bosworth , O.U.P., Oxford , 1974 , pp.15-16

[74] G.Lessing , Nathan the Wise , translated by William Taylor of Norwich , 1830.

[75] P.J.Keating , W.S.Blunt , in The Penguin Companion to Literature , I, Harmondsworth raspberryenguin Books , 1971 , p.55

[76] Quoted in B.Lewis , Islam and the West , New York : Oxford University Press ,1993 pp.83-84.

[77] Orientalism , p.65

[78] Orientalism , p.121

[79] Orientalism , p.166

[80] Orientalism , p.204.

[81] J.M.Roberts .The Triumph of the West , London :B.B.C.Publications ,1985 p.176

[82] .B.Lewis .La carte du Proche- Orient in Islam et Politique au Proche-Orient aujourd’hui . Paris :Gallimard ,1991, pp.162-163

[83] M.Rodinson , The Western Image and Western Studies of Islam , in The Legacy of Islam , edd., Schacht & Bosworth , O.U.P., Oxford , 1974 , p.59

[84] Orientalism , p.265

[85] Orientalism,p.150

[86] C.Destremau and Jean Moncelon , Louis Massignon , Paris :Plon , 1994 , p.258

[87] Mircea Eliade , Journal I , 1945 –1955 . Trans. from Romanian by Mac Linscott Ricketts , Chicago: The University of Chicago Press .

[88] M.Rodinson , A Critical Survey of Modern Studies on Muhammad , in Studies on Islam , ed.M.Swartz . New York , 1981 p.57

[89] Orientalism , p.322

[90] Orientalism , p.52

[91] Orientalism , p.323

[92] E.W.Said , Impossible Histories : Why the Many Islams Cannot be Simplified , reviewing , B.Lewis .What Went Wrong ? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response .New York : Oxford University Press , 2002 . in Harper’s , July , 2002

[93] Orientalism , pp.314-315.

[94] Quoted by Said , Orientalism , p314-315 , from B.Lewis , Islamic Concepts of Revolution ,in P.J.Vatikiotis ,ed. , Revolution in the Middle East , and Other Case Studies ; proceedings of a seminar . London : G.Allen &Unwin , 1972 , p.33 , 38-39.

[95] Orientalism , p.224.

[96] Orientalism , p.195

[97] Orientalism , p.179.

[98] Orientalism ,p.76

[99] Orientalism , p.39

[100] Orientalism , p.36

[101] Orientalism , p.98

[102] Orientalism , p.97 , Said quoting Malek .

[103] Orientalism , p.272.

[104] Orientalism , p.272

[105] Keith Windschuttle , Edward Said’s ‘ Orientalism revisited ’, in The New Criterion , Vol. 17 , No.5 , January 1999

[106] B.Lewis , Islam and the West , New York : Oxford University Press ,1993 p.108

[107] B.Lewis , Islam and the West , New York : Oxford University Press ,1993 p.126.

[108] Orientalism , p.214.

[109] Keith Windschuttle , Edward Said’s ‘ Orientalism revisited ’, in The New Criterion , Vol. 17 , No.5 , January 1999

[110] Lawrence I.Conrad . Ignaz Goldziher on Ernest Renan : From Orientalist Philology to the Study of Islam , in M.Kramer , ed. The Jewish Discovery of Islam .Tel Aviv :the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies , 1999, pp.137-180.

[111] Lawrence I.Conrad op.cit., p140

[112] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., Note 18 , p.170

[113] The rest of the footnote reads : « See Geoffrey , ed., World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts ( London : Al-Furqân Islamic Heritage Foundation , 1992-94 ), 1:275-90 (Paris ) , 320-29 ( Berlin ) ; 2:365-76 ( Leiden ); 3:471-90 (London)” from Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., Note 18 , p.170

[114] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p142

[115] Orientalism, p.177

[116] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p142

[117] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p139

[118] See Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., Notes 30-34 for the full references .

[119] B.Lewis , Islam and the West , New York : Oxford University Press ,1993 p.118

[120] [120] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p162-163.

[121] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p161.

 

[122] Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p164

[123] Raphael Patai , Ignaz Goldziher and His Oriental Diary ( Detroit :Wayne State University Press ) , 1987 , p.28.

[124] S.Almog , “The Racial Motif in Renan’s Attitude to Jews and Judaism ”, in Antisemitism Through the Ages , ed. Shmuel Almog ( Oxford raspberryergamon , 1988 ) pp.255-78 . Referred to by Lawrence I.Conrad , op.cit., p156 .

[125] E.Renan , Muhammad and the Origins of Islam ( 1851 ) in Ibn Warraq , ed. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad , Amherst , NY.: 2000 , pp.127-166.

[126]H.W.Wardman .Ernest Renan : A Critical Biography ( London , 1964 ), p89.

[127] E.Renan , Muhammad and the Origins of Islam ( 1851 ) in Ibn Warraq , ed. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad , Amherst , NY.: 2000 , p.163.

[128] H.Berg , The Methods and Theories of John Wansbrough , in Ibn Warraq , ed. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad , Amherst ,NY : Prometheus Books , 2000 , p.502 . Herbert Berg is professor at the University of N.Carolina at Wilmington .

[129] W.M.Watt ,Muslim-Christian Encounters , London :Routledge ,1991 , p.110

[130] W.M.Watt, op.cit., p.110

[131] R.Stephen Humphreys . Tradition and Innovation in the Study of Islamic History :The Evolution of North American Scholarship since 1960 . Lecture presented at Institute of Oriental Culture , The University of Tokyo , 21 Oct., 1997 . R.Stephen Humphreys is King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of California , Santa Barbara .

[132] M.Rodinson . Europe and the Mystique of Islam , trans. Roger Veinus ( Seattle : University of Washington Press , 1987 ) , p.131 n3 .; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.30

[133] Interview with Rodinson in Approaches to the History of the Middle East , ed. Nancy Elizabeth Gallagher ( London :Ithaca Press , 1994 ) pp .124 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.38

[134] P.J.Vatikiotis , Among Arabs and Jews :A Personal Experience , 1936-1990 . London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson , 1991 , p.105 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.38

 

[135] J.Berque , Au –delà de l’Orientalisme ; Entretien avec Jacques Berque , in Qantara 13 ( October-November –December 1994 ) pp.27-28 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.30

[136] C.Dewey , “ How the Raj Played Kim’s Game ,” Times Literary Supplement , April 17 , 1998 , p.10 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.31.

[137] Orientalism , p.127

[138] B.Lewis .The Question of Orientalism , in B.Lewis , Islam and the West , New York : Oxford University Press , 1993., p.112

[139] M.Rodinson . La Fascination de l’Islam , Paris :Editions La Découverte , p.97 , footnote 132 . The other two scholars are Jean Sauvaget and Claude Cahen .

[140] Orientalism , p.261

[141] M.Rodinson , op.cit . p123

[142] Interview with Nikki Keddie in Approaches to the History of the Middle East , ed. Nancy Elizabeth Gallagher ( London :Ithaca Press , 1994 ) pp .144-145 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.37

[143] Quoted by Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , p.38

[144] Interview with Albert Hourani in Approaches to the History of the Middle East , ed. Nancy Elizabeth Gallagher ( London :Ithaca Press , 1994 ) pp .41 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.38

[145] Interview with Albert Hourani in Approaches to the History of the Middle East , ed. Nancy Elizabeth Gallagher ( London :Ithaca Press , 1994 ) pp .40-41 ; quoted by M.Kramer , Ivory Towers on Sand , Washington , D.C. : The Washington Institute for Near East Policy , 2001 p.30

[146] A.Ahmed , In Theory :Classes , Nations , Literatures (London :Verso , 1992 ) pp160-161

[147] Kanan Makiya , Cruelty and Silence . New York : W.W.Norton & Company , 1993 ,p.317-318

[148] Kanan Makiya , Cruelty and Silence , p.319

[149]Sadiq al- ‘Azm , Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse , in Forbidden Agendas .Intolerance and Defiance in the Middle East , ed. Jon Rothschild . London : Al Saqi Books .1984 , p.350

[150] Sadiq al- ‘Azm , Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse [ in Arabic ] ,Beirut , 1981 p.18 , quoted in E.Sivan , Interpretations of Islam .Past and Present , Princeton :The Darwin Press , 1985 , p.144.

[151] Sadiq al-‘Azm , Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse , in Forbidden Agendas .Intolerance and Defiance in the Middle East , ed. Jon Rothschild . London : Al Saqi Books .1984, p.363

[152] Quoted in E.Sivan , Interpretations of Islam .Past and Present , Princeton :The Darwin Press , 1985 , p.136.

[153] Quoted in E.Sivan , Interpretations of Islam .Past and Present , Princeton :The Darwin Press , 1985 , p.139.

[154] Al-Bitar , quoted in E.Sivan , Interpretations of Islam .Past and Present , Princeton :The Darwin Press , 1985 , p.151.

Un commentaire pour Ibn Warraq: L’islam et le terrorisme intellectuel (Debunking Said)

  1. […] It must have been particularly galling for Said to see the hostile reviews of his Orientalism from Arab , Iranian or Asian intellectuals , some of whom he admired and singled out for praise in many of his works . For example , Nikki Keddie , praised in Covering Islam , talked of the disastrous influence of Orientalism , even though she herself admired parts of it : “ I think that there has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word “ orientalism” as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too “conservative ”. It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines .So “orientalism” for may people is a word that substitutes for thought and enables people to dismiss certain scholars and their works .I think that is too bad .It may not have been what Edward Said meant at all , but the term has become a kind of slogan ”.  Nikki Keddie also noted that the book “ could also be used in a dangerous way because it can encourage people to say , ‘You Westerners , you can’t do our history right , you can’t study it right , you really shouldn’t be studying it , we are the only ones who can study our own history properly ”. Albert Hourani , who is much admired by Said , made a similar point , “ I think all this talk after Edward’s book also has a certain danger .There is a certain counter-attack of Muslims , who say nobody understands Islam except themselves ”. Hourani went further in his criticism of Said’s Orientalism : “ Orientalism has now become a dirty word .Nevertheless it should be used for a perfectly respected discipline ….I think [ Said] carries it too far when he says that the orientalists delivered the Orient bound to the imperial powers ….Edward totally ignores the German tradition and philosophy of history which was the central tradition of the orientalists ….I think Edward’s other books are admirable ….”. Similarly , Aijaz Ahmed thought Orientalism was a “deeply flawed book” , and would be forgotten when the dust settled , whereas Said’s books on Palestine would be remembered .[146][146] Kanan Makiya , the eminent Iraqi scholar , chronicled Said’s disastrous influence particularly in the Arab world : “ Orientalism as an intellectual project influenced a whole generation of young Arab scholars , and it shaped the discipline of modern Middle East studies in the 1980s .The original book was never intended as a critique of contemporary Arab politics , yet it fed into a deeply rooted populist politics of resentment against the West .The distortions it analyzed came from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , but these were marshaled by young Arab and “ pro-Arab ” scholars into an intellectual-political agenda that was out of kilter with the real needs of Arabs who were living in a world characterized by rapidly escalating cruelty , not ever-increasing imperial domination .The trajectory from Said’s Orientalism to his Covering Islam …is premised on the morally wrong idea that the West is to be blamed in the here-and-now for its long nefarious history of association with the Middle East .Thus it unwittingly deflected from the real problems of the Middle East at the same time as it contributed more bitterness to the armory of young impressionable Arabs when there was already far too much of that around .” Orientalism , continues , Makiya , “ makes Arabs feel contented with the way they are , instead of making them rethink fundamental assumptions which so clearly haven’t worked ….They desperately need to unlearn ideas such as that “ every European ” in what he or she has to say about the world is or was a “racist” ….The ironical fact is that the book was given the attention it received in the “almost totally ethnocentric ” West was largely because its author was a Palestinian ….”. Though he finds much to admire in Said’s Orientalism , the Syrian philosopher Sadiq al- ‘Azm finds that “the stylist and polemicist in Edward Said very often runs away with the systematic thinker ”. Al-‘Azm also finds Said guilty of the very essentialism that Said ostensibly sets out to criticise , perpetuating the distinction between East and West .Said further renders a great disservice to those who wish to examine the difficult question of how one can study other cultures from a libertarian perspective .Al-‘Azm recognizes Said anti-scientific bent , and defends certain Orientalist theses from Said’s criticism ; for example , al-‘Azm says : “ I cannot agree with Said that their “ Orientalist mentality ”blinded them to the realities of Muslim societies and definitively distorted their views of the East in general .For instance : isn’t it true , on the whole , that the inhabitants of Damascus and Cairo today feel the presence of the transcendental in their lives more palpably and more actively than Parisians and Londoners ? Isn’t it tue that religion means everything to the contemporary Moroccan , Algerian and Iranian peasant in amnner it cannot mean for the American farmer or the member of a Russian kolkhoz ? And isn’t it a fact that the belief in the laws of nature is more deeply rooted in the minds of university students in Moscow and New York than among the students of al-Azhar and of Teheran University ”. Ibn Warraq […]

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