Archive for June 11th, 2008

The Business of Dialogue

By Farish A. Noor

Dialogue is a funny business, particularly when it happens to be dialogue of the inter-civilisational and inter-religious kind. Having just attended yet another Dialogue between Islam and the West in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I find myself compelled to pen these thoughts before my blood pressure rises any further and I risk doing serious damage to myself and the furniture in my office…

The theme of the dialogue conference I attended was ‘Islam and the West: Bridging the Gap’. Now, allow me to state some rather commonsensical yet important observations at this point. If we were to begin the dialogue process by stating that there exists a gap between the Western and Muslim worlds, then in a sense we have introduced the very same problem that we wish to rectify in the first place. How and why has such a gap emerged between the West and Islam; what are the historical and more importantly, political, processes and mechanisms that contributed to this gap; and do Muslims and Westerners perceive there to be a gap in the first place?

It is important to emphasise again and again that the Western and Muslim worlds have been among the oldest civilisational neighbours in the history of humanity. After all, the Muslim world has lived side-by-side next to Western Europe for more than 1,400 years; and if after such a long period we still do not understand each other then we really must be the worst of neighbours. History, however, is replete with examples and instances of genuine dialogue and interaction in all forms and all registers: from the cultural-intellectual borrowing and cross-fertilisation that took place in both communities leading to the renaissance of both the European and Muslim worlds to the enduring traces of cross-cultural contact and appreciation that exists in the hybrid pop culture of both societies until today. Read the rest of this entry »


Sanusi sacked as UIA President – Abdullah not ready for “1st-world infrastructure, 1st-world mentality”

The sacking of Sanusi Junid, who was formerly Cabinet Minister, Kedah Mentri Besar and Umno secretary-general, as International Islamic University (UIA) president because he had left Umno together with former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, is most shocking, deplorable and testimony that the Abdullah administration is not ready for a “first-world infrastructure, first-world mentality” culture to catapult Malaysia into the ranks of fully developed nations.

The UIA termination letter dated June 2 but which Sanusi received only yesterday (eight days later) did not give any reason for the abrupt sacking although his contract is not due to expire for another two years.

It would appear that quitting Umno has become a proper reason for the sacking of administrators and academicians in Malaysian universities. Read the rest of this entry »