As Others See Us: Islam and the West

Francis Robinson takes a look at how Muslims breached the culture gap with the western world.

Human beings have difficulty in bridging cultures. More often than not the effort of sympathising with the ways in which other men make sense of life is too great. We are all aware of the mutual incomprehension experienced between families, groups and classes in our society, of the long history of prejudice which has sharpened the divisions between western peoples, of the enormous gulf which lies between the world's great civilisations. We also know the high cost of failing to reach out to grasp the humanity in other men: the greater ease with which war is contemplated, blood actually spilled, and human dignity denied.

For more than a millennium few relationships have exhibited greater lack of understanding than that between the Christian and the post-Christian civilisation of the West and that of Islam which reaches from West Africa through West, Central and South Asia to the island archipelago of south-east Asia. The 'WORLD'S DEBATE' which Gibbon found in the Crusades has long remained a dialogue of the distinctly hard of hearing.

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