Sunday, November 25, 2007

Annapolis, Saudi Arabia, and Islam

Much hullaballoo has been made of this week's upcoming Annapolis Conference. It seems very ill-defined, yet all the major players in the Middle East will be there, save Iran and possibly Syria.

In his writings Henry Kissinger warned that poorly planned and staged summits carry the potential for political disaster. Maybe so, but mutual enemies like Israel and the Arab states don't have normal political contacts like most countries. The following is cross-posted at Crossroads Arabia:

Faisal warned that he would not participate in a "theatrical show...We are going with seriousness.

So it won't be a let's-beat-up-on-Israel-and-offer-nothing confrontation like previous conferences? Interesting. Compare to these "heretical" words of Ibn-al-Khatib, a fourteenth-century Muslim physician in Granada:
"It must be a principle that a proof taken from the Traditions [of the compainions of Mohammed] has to undergo modification when in manifest contradiction to the evidence of the senses." (The Reformation, Durant, XXX-VIII, 1957)

This is the point where education, theology, ideology, and politics collide: is truth to be ignored because it must be considered heresy?

That is also the core difficulty Muslim and Arab countries have in trying to fashion first-rate universities like KAUST. For after its initial flowering, Muslims rejected science and philosophy in favor of relgious orthodoxy in the the twelfth century, when Averro√ęs was rejected in favor of al-Ghzali, for the rulers thus supported by the theologians in exchange. Are the Saudis trying to change Islam's cultural choice of the past eight centuries?

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