After all, we are now told to distinguish between good Muslims and bad Muslims.Mind you, not between good and bad persons, nor between criminals and civic citizens, who both happen to be Muslims, but between good Muslims and bad Muslims.
It seems just to have petrified into a lifeless custom.
Even more, these people seem incapable of transforming their culture, the way they seem incapable of growing their own food.
The implication is that their only salvation lies, as always, in philanthropy, in being saved from the outside.
After all, is there not less and less talk of the clash of civilizations, and more and more talk of the clash inside civilizations?
Is that not the point of the articles I referred to earlier, those in The Spectator and The New York Times?
Could it be that a person who takes his or her religion literally is a potential terrorist?
And only someone who thinks of the text as not literal, but as metaphorical or figurative, is better suited to civic life and the tolerance it calls for?
Here is one version of the argument that the clash is inside - and not between - civilizations. Think, for example, of the Arabic word al-Jahaliya, which I have always known to mean the domain of ignorance.
It is my own construction, but it is not a fabrication. This conviction is so deep-seated that it is even found in its secular version, as in the old colonial notion of "a civilizing mission," or in its more racialized version, "the White Man's Burden." Or simply, in the 19 century American conviction of a "manifest destiny." In both cultures, Christian and Muslim, these notions have been the subject of prolonged debates.
In one of these articles, Eqbal distinguished between two broad traditions in the understanding of Jihad.
The first, called "little Jihad," thinks of Jihad as a struggle against external enemies of Islam.
It is an Islamic version of the Christian notion of "just war".