Ibrahim Al-Buleihi: "Arabs emerged from the deserts in order to conquer"?
A former member of the Saudi Shura Council, Ibrahim Al-Buleihi was interviewed by Al-Arabiya TV on February 26, 2010 and -- in response to the interviewer's skeptical query about Arab indebtedness to the West -- had some interesting if controversial things to say:
Interviewer: So we should be offshoots of the West as well?Al-Buleihi's statement contrasts with much that we read nowadays about the West's debt to the Arab world in science and philosophy. In fact, however, there is a debt, as I know from the study of history, but so far as I understand, Muslims don't charge interest (riba), so only the principal is still owed, and I suppose that it can't be so much. As for Al-Buleihi, he thinks that the Arabs today have nothing to offer the world but delusions:
Ibrahim Al-Buleihi: No, but we should benefit from this rich experience. It is the West that produced all this prosperity. To this day, we are a burden on the West. Even Japan admits that without benefiting from the West, it would not have developed.
Interviewer: Prosperity in what?
Ibrahim Al-Buleihi: In everything. In the value, liberties, and dignity of human beings, as well as in the development of science, of technology, and of life. Do you believe that life today is the same as it was ten centuries ago? This tremendous change was produced by the West. Who else produced it?
Interviewer: You have said that during their conquests at the advent of Islam, the Arabs emerged from the deserts in order to conquer, not to learn. What did you mean by that?Al-Buleihi's claim that Arabs believe "that they have sufficient knowledge and wisdom" and "do not need to learn anything from others" reminds me of Rémi Brague's remark that the Islamic world saw no need to preserve the original texts of works once they had been translated into Arabic because the mere process of translating such works into Islam's sacred language had perfected them, such that there was nothing remaining to be learned from the original writings and thus no reason to revisit them for re-translation.
Ibrahim Al-Buleihi: In my view, over the centuries, the Arabs believed -- and continue to believe -- that they have sufficient knowledge and wisdom, and that they do not need to learn anything from others, because they appeared, on the stage of history, in order to conquer, not to learn, to teach, not to study . . .
Interviewer: As guiders, not people seeking the guidance of others.
Ibrahim Al-Buleihi: That's right. This delusion of the Arabs persists to this day, even though the entire world has changed. The world has changed, but they still believe that it is their duty to teach others, and it is the duty of others to heed them. The truth is that the Arabs have nothing to offer others, yet they continue . . . This horrible delusion, this belief in one's own perfection, the belief that others must learn from them, makes it impossible for them to benefit from modern culture.
But I don't know for certain that Al-Buleihi is making a similar point, especially since I have only these excerpts, and I don't doubt that his polemical statements about Arabs would be hotly debated among Arabs themselves.