In his 1996 book, “Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel Huntington focused on militant Islam as a prime example of civilizational conflict with the West. Of course, not all Muslims seek confrontation nor accept that Islamic and Western civilizations are destined to clash.
In Rome today, Mohammed Arkoun, professor of the History of Islamic Thought at the University of Paris, told delegates that tragedies such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iraq war result from “carefully planned political alliances and monopolistic control of societies” and further that Huntington’s concept was being used to manipulate rather than elucidate.
He appealed against “the diplomacy of secrecy,” saying that truth has become a victim. He also advised that all sides should engage in serious self-examination as a prelude to making progress.
It’s not the first time that the clash of civilizations has been questioned by an Islamic authority.
In July 2003 at an international conference of Islamic scholars, the Grand Shaykh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, which is viewed as the highest authority in Sunni Islam, declared, “I do not subscribe to the idea of a clash among civilizations. People of different beliefs should co-operate and not get into senseless conflicts and animosity.”