Staff with degree from Hungary at the Geography Department, University of Brunei Darruslam (1989)



Secular globalization as Westphalianism versus Islamism?

I simply can’t believe this entry on Fundamentalism by Bassam Tibi in the SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Theory (2010).

It propagates as the process of “secular globalization” the so-called “Westphalian system of nation-states”, which is actually a historical myth of Eurocentric scholars. As if it was a natural process. And as if globalization happened only because of and at the time of “European expansion”. And as if it was simply “expansion”. And the text strips all historical context of imperialism and colonial realities, and transmutes it into a “secular process of globalization”. Then opposes it with only one thing: Islam fundamentalism. As if fundamentalism cannot be something else from “Islamism”. And it also constructs the false Eurocentric dichotomy of “secular” and “religious” states, suggesting that the latter is fundamentalist. Oh yes, and how about when Europeans highlight their “Christianity” against “Islam”, isn’t that an ironic appeal then?

“The overarching context of fundamentalism is the reality of a worldtime of globalization. In fact, each civilization is based on a particularism of its own time documented in its own calendar. Additionally, one can speak of premodern civilizations while avoiding evolutionary thinking. There are also civilizations that are not secular and therefore religion based. The historical roots of contemporary and modern globalization are the process of the European expansion. The related processes are viewed as an expansion of the international society established in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia signed in 1648. This globalization is a secular process that results in the mapping of the world into the system of the secular nation-states. It was believed that this mapping was also a part of the universal process of Westernization and secularization. Today, the religious fundamentalisms uprising in non-Western civilizations against the West belie this assumption. Anti-Westernism is, for instance, the substance of Islamist fundamentalism as the vision of a restoration of a religious order against secularity and the West, as well.” (p. 537)

“The concept of divine order is envisaged to challenge and subsequently replace the prevailing Westphalian order of sovereign states. This order is by its origin Western, as a state system was created in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, but it is the state system of today imposed on the entire world since the wave of decolonization that completed the mapping of the globe into a Westphalian system. This secular political world order is now threatened by religious fundamentalisms, in particular the Islamist one (Philpott, 2002).” (p. 539)

How could they possibly publish this? Outrageous!

Muslims condemning things

There’s this great tumbler called Muslims Condemning Things, which is about samples of muslims and their communities condemning violence, oppression, terrorism, etc. It shows great evidence, and acts as an excellent reminder for us about biased Eurocentric and orientalist conceptions of “islam” and the “East.” People can write them to contribute with cases they have found. As the site says:

“People are always asking, “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism /  fanaticism / violence in the name of Islam?” They do. Here’s proof. Inspired by Muslims Wearing Things.”

When Europe Loved Islam


A very interesting Foreign Policy article on an important period of Western European and Muslim relations, worth to read.

“Before the continent started banning hijab, European aristocrats used to change their names to Abdullah and Muhammad, and going to the local mosque was the latest trend.”

“This period — in which Europeans and their governments courted Muslims and Islam — ironically foreshadows the treatment of Islam in Western Europe today: Special attention to Muslims, rather than a sign of acceptance, was often driven by a perceived threat to national interests stemming from the religion’s politically subversive potential.”

Contribution of Arab geography to European “discoveries”

“Finally, maritime geography was the last kind discovered during the Ottoman Empire simultaneously with European “geography discoveries.” Columbus’ journey to the New World was motivated by Arab maritime geography. Vasco da Gama used Arab cartography during his journey to Africa and guided by Mal’im Cana. Marco Polo’s journey was guided by Arab sailors. Portolans, Rahnamjats were used by Europeans sailors. Oceanography was founded by Arab maritime geographers and continued on by European modern geographers. The spirit of Muslim Spain was reincarnated in the new Portugese and Spanish Christian geographers and Sailors.”

Contributions of Arab geographers.

List of Muslim geographers.

Islamic cartography.

Hanafi, Hassan (1992): World-views of Arab Geographers. GeoJournal, 26(2): 153-156.