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While Huntington put emphasis on clash and founded its

theoretical ground, Elmandjara, though he agrees with the

reality and nature of the clash paradigm, provided a preventive
approach to the international relations, laying down the basic
ground for the establishment of a civilizational dialogue. This
chapter, therefore, comes to further highlight the major
shortcomings and key conditions for the sustenance of dialogue
among cultures and civilizations of different peoples and nations.

1- A primary recipe for dialogue among


Taking a step toward an effective international dialogue requires that

all participants share a set of primary conditional commonalities.
These preliminaries include having a pure will, common references,
and democracy whose function is to establish justice and equality
among the “Us” and the “others” all together

a- Pure will

The will which bring about actions and motivates a nation to

take an initiative toward a civilizational goal is the cornerstone to
maintain understanding. Having borne in mind that dialogue among
nations should be directed toward a humanistic goal that is co-
existence and not further suppression or denial, all humanistic and
peace activists must believe in the ability of Man to manage conflict
and bring about peace. In other words, all of us must get rid of the
assumption that considers conflict a historical fact and the secret
behind survival. In fact, such a pessimistic hypothesis does nothing
but brings death and found the theoretical basis of conflict. During
the cold war, the motto which was raised is the Roman slogan “si vis
pacem para bellum” (In English “if you want peace, prepare for
war”). Yet, as peace became a basic necessity, that motto should be
altered to become: “si vis pacem, para pacem” (In English: “If you
want peace, prepare for peace”).

Even the secret behind the creation of Man with social, cultural,
national, tribal, and sexual distinctions is directed toward a
humanistic goal. Allah the Almighty says:

“O people, we created you from the same male and female, and
rendered you distinct people and tribes, that you may recognize one
another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most
righteous. God is Omniscient, Cognizant” (The Noble Qur’an, Surat
49. Al-Hujurat/ Part 26, p.676)

This verse simply reveals that cultural differences in terms of social

diversity and sexual distinctions have no priority over connaisance.
Goodness is the only standard of betterness, and the equal dialogue
is the universal human right which all humans have the right to
practice and enjoy. As the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him,

“O Mankind, your Lord is one and your father is one. You all
descend from Adam, and Adam was created from earth. He is
most honoured among you in the sight of God who is most
upright. No Arab is superior than non-Arab, no coloured person to
a white person to a coloured except by taqwas” (Reported by
Ahmed and Al-tirmidh)

This Hadith in turn emphasises human equality and reveals that

colour is no longer a standard of preference among nations. Thart is,
‘Whiteness’ and ‘Blackness’, ‘Civilization’ and ‘Primitiveness’ all are a
part of those colonial racist ages which witnessed the might of the
night over the light of the right”.

However, co-existence for which all humanistic labours should

be devoted still calls for an honest will. Edward said noted that:

“There is after all a profound difference between the will to

understand for purposes of co-existence and enlargement of
horizons, and the will to dominate for the purposes of control”

To coexist and understand one another, nations in terms of people

and individuals need to accept each other showing their purest
willingness to co-exist. In brief, the gate of dialogue should be kept
open as there is a will.

b- Common references

Concepts, that are those ideological vehicles by which the

American pole imposes its ‘civilizational model’ over the world, are
the very mechanisms that may activate conflicts among cultures. It
is then necessary to know that dialogue in its international level
requires a highly universal frame of concepts which all cultural
components agreed upon. The need of a common reference among
nations has reached its highest peak as the geographical borders
begin to completely vanish due to a series of telecommunicational
evolutions that turned the world into a very small village. The UN
charter is apparently an embodiment of such a dialogue; but, Mahdi
argues, “The serve changes in power relations witnessed during the
last decade have emaciated this basic role of institution, its aura and
its potentialities.” (2000).

As far as concepts are concerned, a kind of world Dictionary is

needed to be the guide to whom everyone from whatever culture
can refer to. In this respect, such a common repertoire calls for a
universal language which can, at least, help nations achieve mutual
understanding. The later, which all humanists long for, may find its
way to existence if, for instance, translators and linguists from every
region and branch try their best to promote translation studies. The
later may become bridges through which to switch from a
language/or culture to another without deforming the meaning
conveyed or bringing about misunderstanding.

The American colonial discourse, or even the post-colonial

one, is all loaded with concepts like “ democracy”, “ modernity”,
“ freedom”, “ peace”, “co-existence”,
“globalization”, “culture”, “civilization”, “enlightenment” and so
forth. This awful turmoil of concepts is, however, of nonsense as
there is no international consensus on them. The worst of all is that
there is a recognizable tendency to Americanize most of human
universal values that every society considers as ideals. This
tendency must be restrained since those values are not unique to a
particular region, race or nation. Instead of going frequently through
such a process, all of us, as humanists, must put stress on the
universality of those concepts/values. As Mohamed Saadi aptly put

“There is a set of basic human values that are common among all
cultural and religious spaces in the world, and we must invest them
and focus on them to establish the unity of humanity and the unity
of ‘human essence’” (2006)
c- International democracy

The international labours to achieve peace among nations in

fight have ended into failure due to the dominance of a voice, which
is the American decision, over the other international voices. This
injustice in power relations reelects the absence of democracy in its
international scale. One will not fail to recognize such a kind of
dictatorship even in discourse. In his reaction to the events of
September 11th, 2001, the present American president George w.
bush stated:

« Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: either you are
with us or you are with the terrorists». (2001)

This short statement is enough to come up with the arrogant

ethnocentrism which stamps the American political foreign policy
and narrow the horizons of the international dialogue.

Culture of ‘the white Man’ still controls the modern American

politicians and drives them, consciously or unconsciously, to look
down the outsiders or rather ‘the foreign devil’. The aspects of such
an ethnocentric perspective are embodied in terms of
‘naming/calling/labeling’ and ‘mapping’. The American DST listing
names of people and parties as terrorists or anti-Americans, its
foreign political applications categorizing countries or nations under
terms like ‘the Great Middle East’, ‘ the axis of the East’ and so on,
all these features and nicknames are, ideologically speaking, a part
of what Edward Said calls ‘ imperial perspectives’ ;That is,
“ that way of looking at a distant foreign reality by subordinating its
history from one’s point of view, seeing its people as subjects whose
fate is to be decided not by them but by what distant administrators
think is best for them” (2003)

Such imperial perspectives that distinguish« the sole

superpower in the world» would hinder any freely dialogue among
nations and probably drive the international relations into a series of
bloody battles. So in order that civilizational dialogue finds its gate
to existstence, democracy in terms of justice, equality, responsibility,
and freedom of expression must take place on the international

2- Rethinking the role of religion

Throughout the course of human history, religion constitutes a

basic component for all human societies. There were cities without
markets, quarters, or shops; but, there was never a city without a
temple. Owing to this, any restriction or persecution against
religious beliefs and practices would be a rock on the way of people
whose comfort is to be felt while they are given the right to express
their beliefs and spirituality within a free and respectful atmosphere.

d- Scientific dogma and the negation of


Truth is what we look for. We may differ in the way we think of

it, but it is still that existential concern which will bring us together
one day. However what stifles the project of such a civilizational
dialogue and abort any attempt to get near the other and share
concerns with him is that scientific tendency, which often imprisons
our mind and slams the door of knowledge and enlightenment
against it. Religious beliefs are without doubt, the major shapers of
our wills and conceptions. Owing to the central position it holds,
religion should be rethought to find out its points of intersection with
the current scientific knowledge. By this, one does not intend to say
that the fault is in religion, but rather in people’s thinking and

Many atheists, who gossip in the name of science and rational

thinking never stop excluding the unseen off the scientific dispute.
The unseen, being the second half of the whole existence, is always
judged by the materialists to be a world of ghosts and superstitions
rather than a world that deserves respect and consideration. One
asks: till when those intellectuals will continue to negate religion as
a rational source of scientific knowledge? Are religion and science
contradictory or rather complementary? Such questions really
provokes any believer’s feelings and thought and push him to argue
against such a scientific dogma, which puts science and religion in
two opposite extremes and deceives the weak believers to apply for
a science-religion dialogue as if there is actually a real controversy
among them.

“Seeing” does not always “believing”. “Seeing” is “perhaps” and

“maybe” and many other phrases that express the very relativity of
human recognition; however, “believing” is the highest degree at
which human recognition changes into faith. By this one means that
it is not reasonable for me to dogmatically deny a truth simply
because my power of recognition is not enough to appreciate it or
because the device used for that recognition does not go with the
nature of that truth. The Unseen is Unknown for the eye, but it may
be known by the ear or by any other system of recognition. Being
unseen, the sound waves (S.W.), for example require an auditory
system to be appreciated. Regardless of whether that system is
natural or artificial, each truth or knowledge has its own system of

In looking at the forgoing evidences, scientists in terms of

physicists and naturalists have no right to disprove the Unseen
because there studies and researches are concerned with the field of
physics rather than that of metaphysics. Hence if the materialistic
tendency in thinking and judging makes one’s point of view
superficial and incapable to recognize the spiritual dimension of
knowledge, then what one cannot prove at once, he should not
disprove it at all.

To sum up, science and religion remain two wings of the same
bird. Such a conclusion does not only correct human conception
about the world and truth, but it also bridges the gap between the
“I” and “the other” and makes the horizons of Civilizational Dialogue
more and more spacious.

e-Religious education and the pair (love;


It is worldly known that education, religious or secular, has a

heavy weight in formulating our thought and behaviour. Owing to
their fateful impact on our thought and behaviour, our educational
programmes should embody, in their form and content, those
humanistic values at which we have pointed previously.
As for the content, which holds much importance for me,
“Religious education” should a hold a top position. One cannot deny
that Religion is more powerful than the influence a positivistic law
may exert on people. This fact is due to the fact that religion defines
our conception of things and directs our relationships with others. At
this point, intellectuals (these include theorists, thinkers, instructors,
educators…etc) who speak and write in the name of secularism are
meant to change their minds toward religion getting free from the
historical sophism with which the concept ‘religion’ is loaded.

By religion one means that omniscient and universal view, which

provides a just and comprehensive perspective about Man’s
psychological, social, ethical, economic, and political affairs. Having
understood this, Man’s positivistic thought in terms like “Marxism”,
“Capitalism”, “Darwinism”, and many other currents and directions
are no more than limited and exclusive perspectives. These are
referred to as ideologies simply because they lack universality, and
they are driven by personal, regional, or national interests. Yet
religion in its absolute truth aims at reforming Man’s total affairs
making up a humanistic Doctrine which justly serves, in any space
and time, the interests of all nations without exception.

In regard to the previous considerations, “Islamic education”,

which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) adopted and adapted his
companions to it, constitutes an ideal example. The question of
peace, which is the prevailing issue in foreign affairs today, has its
roots in the Islamic belief. The Prophet (PBUH), for instance, says:

“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he
loves for himself” (Narrated by Albukhari & Muslim)
This Hadith (saying), regardless of its shortness, highlights one of
the basic conditions of a true belief: love. A belief founded on mutual
love and brotherhood would protect the national and international
relationship from decay and replace hate with love and selfishness
with cooperation and self-negation. But how love can be maintained?
This question, again, has an answer in the Prophet’s saying:

“Would you like to guide you to something which if you did you
would love each other? Spread out peace among you” (Narrated by

The pair (love; peace) can be universalised and, then, pave the way
to the maintenance of a peaceful and durable Dialogue among
Nations only if “religious education” is given back its noble standing.
This goes without question.

f- Universal ethics of dialogue:

suggested x-model

Ethics are the backbone of civilizational dialogue. Without them,

dialogue becomes synonymous with conflict. As the world is growing
more and more diverse, the calls for a universal law of ethics have
begun to proliferate. In his approach to this issue, the theologian
King Hans assumed that such universal ethics necessitate three
basic principles:

“– humanity cannot live and survive without universal ethics.

–There will be no universal peace without peace among religions.

– There will be no universal peace among religions unless there is

dialogue among religions.” (H.Kung, 1991)

This triad puts stress on religious dialogue. Such emphasis, however,

needs more and more explanation: the word “religion” here is to a
far extent synonymous with “ethics”, and the later in turn, implies
those human values, which constitute the very part of human

Throughout my personally suggested x-model, I tried to

highlight three fundamental attributes without which dialogue,
national or international becomes a mirage. The model in question is
summed up as follow:

Honesty Humility

Love Tolerance

f.1- Honesty
As stated before, “truth is what we look for”. It is that ethic of
honesty, which makes our relationships clear and perpetual.
Thus, truth, and not interest, should operate as the common
driver and director of the relationships amidst nations. The first
real action to realise a real reconciliation among everybody is
to seek for truth. In contrast, lying and hypocrisy, which
dominate the world politics today, constitute a danger, not only
for the future of the international relations, but also for the
future of humanity itself. In brief, seeking for truth and honesty
may push us believe in the diversity of perspectives, the
complexity of the world, and in the importance of the renewing
our visions to invent a rich and effective dialogue between
cultures and peoples all together.


Humanity, which is “the quality of being humble”(Oxford,

2003), is one of those fundamental conditions of dialogue
among nations. Yet when one underestimate the other claiming
that it is the absolute “good” in which civilization is centred,
and that it is the source from which the light emanates, the
heats of hate break out, and the yearned dialogue goes with
the wind. Therefore, cultural humility, and not ethnocentrism,
is quiet necessary. This finds justification in EL-

“‘Since wars have become the expression of cultural arrogance,

cultural humility is now the new name of peace’. Cultural humility is
important because it enhances the capacity to listen to the other.
Our concern today is with dialogue as related to civilization hence to
cultural values. They determine the form and the content of that
dialogue and condition the search for peace” (2000)

Humility, thus, calls for the promotion of “ear culture” instead

of “power” on which some of them insist to use as the only
language of understanding and solving problems. Such evil
inclination and the will-to-power contradict with the belief-in
dialogue principle. Nonetheless,
“Believing in dialogue paves the way for vivacious hope: the hope to
live in a world permeated by the rein of economic indices and
destructive weapons” (Med Khatami, 2000)

f.3- Love:

It is that innocent emotion, which inspires peoples and

nations to communicate without wires or even without having a
common cultural background. Love is what makes us weep and
sympathise with anyone suffering in whatever part of the
world. It is the paradigm of peace and safety among all nations
without exception.

“From an ethical perspective, the paradigm of dialogue among

civilizations requires that we abandon the will-to-power and instead
pursue compassion, understanding, and love. The ultimate goal of
dialogue is not dialogue in and of itself, but attaining empathy and
compassion” (Med Khatami, 2000)

Love in terms of sympathy and compassion is, thus, a hidden

mechanism motivating people to talk to each other, go beyond
differences and keep the lamp of hope burning..

f.4- Tolerance:
If people tolerated each other, peace would surely prevail.
It would even reinforce love and create a vast area of dialogue
and mutual understanding. But if everybody went astray
bearing in heart a blind hate to revenge against the other for
buried mythical, cultural, or historical circumstances, then
nobody would enjoy the happiness of life. It is crucial here to
bring back that moment when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
conquered his homeland, Mecca, after being driven away with
his companions from it. At that moment, the Prophet was
extremely powerful; his army esteemed about ten thousands
soldier armed with faith and God’s word. He was then able to
sentence his enemies to death and destroy them one by one;
but, he did not. He rather ordered his soldiers to surround
them with mercy and not to cause terror against someone by
anyway. “Go! You are free” the prophet ordered his enemies,
the unbelievers of Quraish.

It is at this point that human feeling intersect paving the

way for an honest, humble, and lovely interaction among
peoples and nations together. This intersection is what my
personally suggested x-model sought to symbolise. So let us
hope with Muhammad Khatami, who called for dialogue among
civilizations suggesting:

“Let us hope that enmity and oppression should

end, and that the clamour of love for truth, justice
and human dignity should prevail.

Let us hope that all human beings should sing with

Hafiz Shiraz, this divinely inspired spirit, that: No
ineffable clamour reverberates in the grand
heavenly done more sweetly than the sound of love”