Where East Meets West Appropriating the Islamic Encounter for a Spiritual-Cultural Revival, rev. ed. by Mona Abul-Fadl (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2010. hbk. and pbk. 95 pages.)

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Amr G. E. Sabet



This short and concise book is presented as an important brick in the foundation
of what had been designated the “Western Thought Project.” As
Mona Abul-Fadl has indicated, the aim of this project was to encourage
an “active” and “critical” presence of the Muslim intellect as well as promoting
the “Islamization of knowledge” (vii). This was rendered necessary
in light of the dilemmas facing Muslims everywhere as they strive to
reconcile their religious conscience with the historical realities of a modern
Western consciousness. Abul-Fadl optimistically and ambitiously perceives
possibilities of shaping a “Muslim discourse on conscience” within
a cooperative framework with the West ‒ in order, as she put it, to “evolve
together the terms of a new global consciousness which is inclusive” (xi).
This presumably would entail a dialogue, not with the West in general, but
with a particular variant of it that harbors religious commonalities with
Islam in terms of the givens of God, humans, history, and revelation. Abul-
Fadl seeks to change the terms of the encounter from the political and the
economic to the intellectual and the cultural (xiv). Summoning the intellectual
community, primarily of Muslims but non-Muslims as well, is the
prerequisite for the bid to renegotiate the terms of this proposed global encounter,
and she asserts that the “fate of our civilization lies in the balance
of culture, not power” (1). Such a “simple truth” is the premise of her study ...

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