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The Muslim invective

Not surprisingly, the most disparaging characterization of Western culture has been from Islamic clerics and scholars. Jaafar Sheikh Idris, a renowned Islamist scholar, is one of the harshest critics. Idris holds a Ph.D. in philosophy that was jointly awarded by the University of Khartoum and the University of London. In publications and presentations, the Sudanese-born academic has attributed Western values to four influences: Greek polytheism, the Enlightenment, Roman civilization, and Judaism/Christianity.2 And to him the influences were all negative in different ways.

Greek polytheism gave rise to “obscenity,” a term that Idris uses to cover the gamut of social practices such as immodest dressing, nudity, prostitution, homosexuality, pornography, and obscenity in its legal conception. These are all offshoots of ancient Greeks’ lax sexual morality, as evidenced by the proliferation of status of naked people, Idris argues. The Enlightenment engendered liberal democracy, which provides the environment for “obscenity.” Roman civilization begot Western imperialism, and Judaism/Christianity spurred the sense of superiority, from the Biblical notion of a chosen people.

Correspondingly, the most apocalyptic view of Western values is from the Islamic Republic of Iran, with which the United States has been in conflict since 1979? In a speech in September 2014, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, asserted that the West and its influence are in decline and attributed the decline to cultural decadence.

“The increasing moral and spiritual crisis in the West is one of the reasons that have undermined the moral dominance of the West,” Khamenei said in a broadcast transcribed and translated from Farsi by the BBC (September 5, 2014).

The feeling of emptiness, feeling absurd and mental insecurity, especially among the young and every person, in the West is its clear sign. Also collapse of families, the basis of family in the West is collapsed seriously, so that it leaves such results.

Khamenei added that Westerners are having second thoughts about aspects of Western values such as feminism and the secular society. People are increasingly yearning for spirituality, he said.

Still, he identified other values that are certain to bring down the West. “For example, homosexuality in the West becomes a value, and being against homosexuality becomes an anti-value,” Khamenei said.

The moral atmosphere of the West has gone in this direction. Of course, it would not be stopped. It will go forward and it will end to somewhere very bad and indecent.... When a moral system goes downhill, it cannot be prevented and it has no other destiny except collapse.

Unstated, of course, is that Khamenei sees Islamic values as superior and ascendant. As Fawas A. Gerges, an international relations scholar, put it, “Some Islamists regularly denounce the spiritual corruption of the West and proudly affirm the vitality and unchanging nature of Islam.”4 Gerges wrote this before al-Qaeda’s “September

11” attack in 2001, that is before Islamist radicalism took a decidedly sinister turn. Had he written it afterward, he might have dropped the qualifier “some.”

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