Question: What is your question?
Reza Aslan: My question, I think, to not just the Muslim world but to the western world – in fact to everybody on every side of this so called clash of civilizations that we are supposed to be embroiled in right now – would be, “What is the civilization that you are talking about? What do you think of when you say western civilization or Islamic civilization? And how is it that your view of civilization is so drastically different from the other’s view of civilization, that there is this inevitable clash that we are supposed to be seeing?” This sort of inherent division between these two societies that for, you know, that have no choice but to be on this collision course with each other? “What is it that you think your civilization is that makes it so different from the civilization of the other?” And I think that in answering that question both people in the Muslim world and the west will come to realize how absurd the idea of this division is. Yes we have different ideas, different ethnicities, different traditions and social customs; but are we in a war between social customs? Are we in a war of identities? I hope not. I think the idea that civilization is something that is how we define ourselves as a people – which is I think quite common amongst most people – I think that idea has to be debummed. There is something that connects us to each other that is far more visceral and far more deep-seeded than civilization is, and that is just the human condition.
Recorded On: 7/5/07