There is today, in the minds of many, an East-West divide along Christian or Secular vs. Islamic lines. Many argue that this divide has existed for millenia and manifests itself in a clash of civilizations, to borrow the term used by Samuel P. Huntington, and that it will ultimately result in the fall of one or the other. This struggle for hegemony can be seen today in the geopolitical arena. At the heart of this debate, are deeply entrenched religious or other dogma and closely held cultural values on both sides. At stake for each side are its standards, ideals, principles and values. Each has a Utopian vision of an ideal world based on these standards, ideals, principles and values. Each affirms a past, whether historical or not, which affirms these standards, ideals, principles and values. At the extremes of either side there are those who dogmatically affirm that the differences existing between the two sides form a chasm that cannot be bridged, while at the same time, in the center there are pragmatists who firmly believe that the chasm can be bridged. In my opinion, pragmatism is the only answer to this dilemma.
“Humankind today is on the brink of an abyss … because it lacks the values that can nurture and protect it and guide it on the right path,” wrote the so-called “philosopher of Islamic terror,” Sayyid Qutb. For Qutb, a key member of the Muslim Brotherhood during Nasser’s regime in Egypt, the West (whether capitalist or communist) was materialistic and sexually depraved. To illustrate his point, he pointed to Americans who focused more on the appearance of their lawns and their own personal appearance than on the key social problems he saw, who displayed a bestial lustfulness even at church dances and found brutish displays of strength such as American football entertaining. He believed these problems, as he saw them, were the result of the West’s failure to submit to God’s law as revealed to the prophet Muhammad. He saw the rule of men over men as usurping God’s sovereignty.