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ICG Risk Blog - [ November 5, 2004 ]

Face to face with the chasm between elements of Islam and the West


The chasm between Anglo-European nationals, Christian, Jewish, and secular, and what I would call Western educated Muslim fundamentalism, i.e., a Muslim that speaks English or another European language, holds employment in a commercial firm, be it in the West or within a Muslim state, while holding strong Islamic views, was brought directly to the fore by a thread in an unlikely place -- an industrial design forum.

Hosted by York University in Canada, the Industrial Design Forum, or IDFORUM, has some 800 + subscribers around the globe. The IDFORUM charter states that it "provides a global electronic meeting place for all involved in industrial design. Practicing designers, design educators and design students are invited to subscribe." Hardy a place that one expects to come face to face with fundamentalism.

In a thread devoted to "World Issues" (affecting design and consumers of design), a Muslim designer offered this comment, with no deletions or changes):

-----Original Message-----
From: Industrial Design Forum [
mailto:IDFORUM@YORKU.CA] On Behalf Of Habib Hussein [habib_hussein1@HOTMAIL.COM]
Sent: Friday, 05 November, 2004 13:23
Subject: Re: World issues

Dear Jan,

This may sound harsh to some of you but, in my humble opinion, The Quran (and only in Arabic) is the Word of Allah - the ultimate designer. All others are wrong or outdated. There is no other Holy Text - as are writings of the atheist! I believe that anything else comes from Satan. One day the world will realise this as we will all be one people. The Holy Cites in and around Jerusalem will be controlled by Muslims one day instead of those who kill my people. I believe this will be the only way we will have world peace not by america or bush. He is a man of conviction and blindness. He wants to spread democracy but democracy too is the work of Satan. Look at them, they are places of lying, cheating, porn, drugs, alcohol, smoking, caffiene, greed, Machiavellian, insabordination to the autorities...

The more the world is divided, and it is doing a nice job of this, the more people will realise that Islam is the only way. Just look at all the new converts the world over, especially in Africa and Asia. Europe is next.

That is what motivates me to design and develop technology, results for the Kingdom of Allah.


It is effortless to imagine that a much more isolated Muslim fundamentalist would decide to kill the artist Theo Van Gogh on an Amsterdam bicycle path.

It is always useful to see the post that occasioned the above response lest the Muslim's reply be due to baiting. Not so. Following is what I felt was a thoughtful post from a forum member at the University of South Australia:

Dear Habib,

Perhaps some fundamentalists everywhere have a lot in common whether they are Christian, Jewish, Moslem, or Hindu, or anything else. If a person who believes deeply in God, in religious law, and in the truth of their Holy Text and still somehow manages to ignore where it says we should love each other, then they may not be very fundamental in their beliefs at all only in their dogma which may be based on the word of other men, not the Holy Text. All those Holy Texts direct us to treat others with respect, live dignified and honourable lives and help others to do so as well. If a person who claims to believe fundamentally in the Truth, chooses for what ever reason to kill, torture, force, steal from, destroy, demean, leave to starve, arm, or in any other way injure another human being, regardless of circumstance; they are probably behaving in a way contrary to the spirit and purpose of loving God. Loving man and those creatures less able than us is I think a path to internal coherence described in all the Holy Texts.

And there are by the way some of us who do not choose to speak for others or design for destruction. I think we should speak from our own hearts to other people's hearts. Not as a group to a group we do not know as individuals. I agree we need to see each other as friends and share our understanding. The world needs all of us.


I was among the early few that called the threat from al Qaeda and prophesied a conflict that could achieve the magnitude of a Holy War. I fear that it will require prodigious efforts to retain it at that daunting level. I further submit that until we come to terms with this possibility, that interim decisions will be insufficient to deal with the issue. And if we have indeed "become Israelis" as Mark Levine's guest editorial on Juan Cole' weblog suggests, we will have a combative, unproductive, and costly path on way there.

We’re all Israelis Now
Mark Levine, University of California, Irvine
November 05, 2004

Gordon Housworth

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