On being different –

In order to achieve the regeneration of Islam, the Muslims must, before adopting any measures of reform, free themselves entirely from the spirit of apology for their religion. A Muslim must live with his head lifted up. He must realise that he is distinct and different from the rest of the world, and he must learn to be proud of his being different. He should endeavour to preserve this difference as a precious quality, and pronounce it boldly to the world — instead of apologising for it and trying to merge into other cultural circles. This does not mean that Muslims should seclude themselves from the voices coming from without. One may always receive new, positive influences from a foreign civilization without necessarily destroying his own. An example of this kind was the European Renaissance. There we have seen how readily Europe accepted Arab influence in the matter and method of learning. But it never imitated the outward appearance and the spirit of Arabian culture, and never sacrificed its own intellectual and aesthetic independence. It used the Arab influences only as a fertiliser upon its own soil, just as the Arabs had used Hellenistic influences in their time. In both cases, the result was a strong, new growth of an indigenous civilization, full of self-confidence and pride in itself. No civilization can prosper, or even exist, after having lost this pride and the connection with its own past

Muhammad Asad in “Islam at the Crossroads” (Section/Chapter “About Imitation”)


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