I came across this very interesting article about Islam and culture this week, which was particularly apropos on the heels of IB's presentation at church this past weekend. If you were at the missions conference and need more convincing that IB is entering a rich harvest field as he seeks to use God's love of beauty to invigorate an arts revival amongst Christians in S. Asia, this article might help.
The article is based on an interview with Syrian poet Adonis (pen-name of Ali Ahmad Said). His central tenet is that "Islam destroys the creative capacity of the Arabs, who in turn do not have the capacity to become modern" and that "a people becomes extinct when it no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world." Among subjects that he broaches are the way that Islam prevents adherents from engaging with a modernizing world, the Arab aversion to freedom, which in turn suppresses the capacity for individual personality and artistic expression, the way the Muslim doctrine of scripture/truth has played a role in stifling art, and finally the depressingly nihilistic worldview of Islams.
Here are a a few quotes to whet your appetite:
"The Arabs do not want freedom because their lives are intolerable. Islam not only supresses the possibility of poetic expression, Adonis argues, but with it the capacity of the individual to have a personality. It is an astonishing, terrifying, and absolute indictment of his culture."
"Adonis makes the remarkable claim that the nature of Koranic revelation destroys the possibility of poetry, and with it the possibility of life. Before Islam, the Arabic language was rooted in poetry; after the advent of Islam, poetic language became impossible."
"If poetry holds a mirror to our inner life, then the inner life of Westerners is profoundly different from taht of Muslims, as different as the concepts of a God of Love who exalts the humble, and Allah who loves the strong and rewards the victorious."
"As the bard of the Arabs, or at least the closest thing the Arabs currently have to a bard, he helps explain the remarkable willingness of Arabs to kill themselves to inflict harm on their enemies. Caught between a stifling traditional past and a threatening and unwished-for modernity, the Arabs in Adonis' judgment cannot properly form a personality and are susceptible to nihilism."