Over the past decades we have encountered many headlines such as “The problematic relation between Islam and the West”, “The West and the problem of Islamic discourse”, “The future of relations between Islam and the West”, and so on.
In the 1940s, the Indian-born English writer Rudyard Kipling published his famous poem, The Ballad of East and West, which opens with the line, “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”.
The East and the West are two imagined concepts, or they are created without the geographical dimension in the expression East or West. According to Syrian critic and translator Sobhi Hadidi, there is a complex overlap between the two concepts culturally and historically.
Hadidi thinks that there are a lot of falsifications and stereotypes regarding this issue. There is something like a consensus that the West as we know it, with its civilisation, and political and geographical features, is based on two important pillars, namely the classical Greek culture and the Bible.
But Hadidi believes that both, Greek culture and the Bible, have Eastern origins, in the sense that Greece’s soul is Eastern, even if its location is in Europe. From his point of view, this is one feature of the overlap in the roots or major pillars of the West.
The world is, more than ever, witnessing an overlap of civilisations, according to Moroccan thinker Mohamed Abid Al Jabry. This overlap is apparent in all fields and we won’t be mistaken if we say that the world now lives in one civilisation in which all people take part.
Can we, for example, ignore the role of foreign workers in rebuilding Europe after the two world wars? Can we ignore the role of brain drain, whether in Europe or the United States? Can we differentiate between Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese products, or European and American ones?
Can we forget that the modern civilisation owes its existence to the old Eastern civilisations, and it is connected directly to the Islamic civilisation? Al Jabry notes that the world today lives in one civilisation, all peoples participate in its making. Therefore, it is a human civilisation in the sense that it has been made by entire humanity over its long history.