By Mohammed Chabi
By Mohammed Chabi
Morocco World News
Assa Zak, Morocco, November 5, 2012
No one can talk about the relationship between the East (Orient) and the west (Occident) without bearing in mind that this relationship is bound by some fields of study, namely: Orientalism and Occidentalism. In this article, I am going to give a brief account of the two fields in order to have a better discernment of this complicated relationship between “Us” and “Them.”
When you want to judge yourself, the first thing you do is to see others’ judgments. The latter does not always reflect your reality, either out of jealousy or hatred. This is what happened and is still happening between the East (the Orient) and the west (the Occident). The West started studying the East under the name of Orientalism, a field of study that emerged in modern times, beginning during the Renaissance. It is motivated by the anguish of gathering the maximum useful amount of information about countries, people and cultures of the Orient, as the Egyptian professor Hassan Hanafi says. It is an attempt to understand the Orient better in order to dominate it better. This field came to fruition at the beginning of the 19th century with the imperial campaigns that took place because of the weakness of the Ottoman empire and the desire for domination by the West.
If Orientalism was the creation of the center, then Occidentalism is the creation of the periphery. By this I mean that Orientalism was created by the “great states” of the West in order to achieve their objectives; whereas Occidentalism is created by an oriental élite working and living in the West and became lured by its principles and values. So, Occidentalism depends on Empiricism that is to say experience because they live and work in the place of study; whereas Orientalism calls for Rationalism that is shaping the values and beliefs of others to their reason.
These misconceptions lead to disagreement if not violence. These ideas were revived by Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations,” and Beedham’s “Islam & The West.” The first article considered the Orient a threat and affront, which created mutual hatred and rage between the Orient and the Occident (Islam & The West).
Therefore, this leads to an unnecessary conflict between the East and the West because each of us has its own culture, values, and beliefs which pushes us to the best solution. And the best solution is respect, not tolerance, as the Tunisian writer Mohamed Talibi puts it in his book “yialo Allah,” when he wrote, “going from tolerance to mutual respect gives the other the right to be different from what he believed in. This means that if I am tolerant this is just out of my generosity; whereas in respect it is his legal and moral right to be different.”