Ajami on Lewis II

Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami was on the Wall Street Journal’s television program, the “Journal Editorial Report”, over the weekend, to discuss the conference held recently in Philadelphia to honor the 90th birthday of the great Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis.

In the interview with WSJ editor Paul Gigot, Ajami says:

… And this is really the genius of the work of Bernard Lewis, is that he takes you to the rise of Islam–that Islam was always about power in many ways. It wasn’t just about faith. It was also about organizing the world. And that for many, many, many centuries, Islam had the upper hand in the struggle with Christendom. Then it fell behind…

I mean, in fact, the great question is, you know, the famous question, why do they hate us? And the Bernard Lewis answer is why worry about it? They will always hate you. What you should worry about is, why don’t they fear us? Why don’t they take us seriously? …

And so do they hate us for what we do? Or do they hate us for what we are? And the people who believe that the Islamic world and people in Egypt and so on, hate us for what we do, have absolutely no recommendations other than … more self-flagellation from America. And that’s the thing that Bernard Lewis has always spoken against.

You can read a transcript of the interview here. And if you wish to understand the roots of this conflict, you could do no better than to read Lewis’s What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East.

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