The study of Islam in American schools and universities is heavily influenced
and distorted by Jews, who teach at Middle Eastern Studies departments in
increasing numbers. T.B. Irving, an American Muslim scholar from Cedar
Rapids,Iowa, noticed this trend as early as 1975, and since then it has
accelerated. One conservative scholar, Bernard Lewis, is especially influential in
the Bush administration. His books have become gospel among Neo-
Conservatives such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, and among high
officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney.
Even President Bush, who is well-known for not reading much, has read some of
Lewis's message, "In the Middle East, get tough or get out," reinforced the
desire of the Neo-Conservatives to use 9/11 as an opportunity to invade Iraq, to
reshape the Middle East and to inforce western democracy on it. Lewis has a
long history of hostility to Islam. Long before Samuel Huntington predicted a
clash of civilizations, Lewis envisioned such a clash in his 1957 book, The Arabs
in History, and in later works such as The West and The Middle East. In 1990 he
also lectured US congressmen on the same theme, a lecture whose $10,000 fee
was paid for by American taxpayers,-National Endowment for the Humities- and
which was later turned into an article for The Atlantic Monthly called "The
Roots of Muslim Rage," which in turn influenced Mr. Huntington.
Instead of a clash of civilizations, I want a dialogue between civilizations.Since
9/11 the number of young Westerners studying Islam and Arabic has soared.
And it was with the desire to promote such a dialogue that the United States
Information Agency sponsored my recent trip to America in 1995. This trip was
a great oppurtunity for me to visit many Near Eastern Studies departments and
Reseach Centers in many US cities from north to south and from East to West.
Ismael Faruqi thinks it is useless for Muslims to establish chairs for Islamic
Studies at Western universities Studies, because, he says, Muslim professors will
be working for Western department heads and will not be free to write, teach or
engage in extracuriculam activites freely.However, I disagree because this is a
We should be able to understand the academic system and make these chairs
effective.I am confident that Muslim scholars should be able to acquire their
But a dialogue between civilizations cannot just be one way. If we want
Westerners to learn more about Islam and Arabic culture, then Muslims,
including Saudis, should learn more about the West -- not only about its
technology, but about the ideas that paved the way for the technology to blossom.
The University of London has an especially an Institute for American Studies,
and until we start a comparable departments or institutes in our own kingdom,
this is an excellent place for Saudis to study.
Even with all the shortcomings of the present status of middle Eastern studies in
the USA, there are groups who are advocating that these studie come under
monitering and scuritinzing of an appointed committee within the congress. This
group wants bring back the USA into the Mcarthan era. This group is headed by
Daniel Pipes and supported by The Middle East Forum in Philadelphia has put a
web site called www.campus-watch.org to monitor these studies and report any
professor who may have views not in agreement with the US policies espcially
towards the Middle East.
If Muslim and Western civilizations can replace clashes with dialogue, then
perhaps in a few years we will have a White House free of the Oreintalists' black-
and-white view of the world, and instead have leaders capable of seeing human
beings in all of their subtle and beautiful colors.