Islam and the West: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida by Jacques Derrida, Mustapha Cherif

By Jacques Derrida, Mustapha Cherif

Within the spring of 2003, Jacques Derrida sat down for a public debate in Paris with Algerian highbrow Mustapha Chérif. The eminent thinker arrived on the occasion without delay from the sanatorium the place he had simply been clinically determined with pancreatic melanoma, the affliction that will take his lifestyles simply over a 12 months later. That he nonetheless participated within the alternate testifies to the significance of the topic to hand: the more and more distressed dating among Islam and the West, and the questions of freedom, justice, and democracy that encompass it.
As Chérif relates during this account in their discussion, the subject of Islam held specific resonance for Derrida—perhaps it truly is to be anticipated that close to the tip of his existence his techniques could go back to Algeria, the rustic the place he was once born in 1930. certainly, those roots served because the impetus for their conversation, which first facilities at the ways that Derrida’s Algerian-Jewish identification has formed his pondering. From there, the 2 males flow to broader questions of secularism and democracy; to politics and faith and the way the previous manipulates the latter; and to the parallels among xenophobia within the West and fanaticism between Islamists.
Ultimately, the dialogue is an try and tear down the idea that Islam and the West are civilizations locked in a sour fight for supremacy and to re-evaluate them because the beaches of the Mediterranean—two halves of an analogous geographical, spiritual, and cultural sphere. Islam and the West is a vital chance to extra our knowing of Derrida’s perspectives at the key political and spiritual divisions of our time and a frequently relocating testomony to the ability of friendship and unity to surmount them.

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Other difficulties, and not the smallest, reside in the prejudices, the reservations, the confusion of the East in the face of modernity, an East tempted either by withdrawal or by dissolution. This is another reason why I want to tell about my meeting with Derrida, a thinker who attempted to go beyond and to denounce all negative trends, and who sought, beyond either shore, to speak truly, to speak up, and to speak rightly. ” We spoke in a large auditorium, in front of a packed room filled with an extremely attentive audience.

For Muslims it is urgent and imperative to undertake a deep and constructive self-criticism; a work of ijtihad, interpretation, and of tajdid, renewal, which should recall that the Koran and the words (hadiths) of the Prophet prescribe an opening up, democracy, and the universal. For the West, assuming there clearly exists a mastered problematic of the question of the political City, of the modern being, and of responsibility, which is not obvious, it must rethink the theme of its relationship with the other, in particular with the Muslim.

We must try to grasp the ineffable, to understand why and how reason, on the one hand, and faith, on the other, experience such difficulties in describing metamorphoses, in facing them, in accepting them. It is true that faith, as an intuition, sensation, conviction, lives and grasps the signs, risks, movements of the world in an easy, simple, and natural way; from that, when it gives itself the Open for a horizon, it enables the human being to maintain a stand, a dignity, an ethics, even if nothing guarantees happiness.

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