Donations from readers like you allow us to do what we do. Please help us continue our work with a monthly or one-time donation.

Donate Today

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to receive daily or weekly MEMRI emails on the topics that most interest you.

Request a Clip

Media, government, and academia can request a MEMRI clip or other MEMRI research, or ask to consult with or interview a MEMRI expert.
Request Clip
Jul 06, 2014
Share Video:

French-Algerian Intellectual: We Must Shake the Dust Off Our Islamic Heritage

#4510 | 04:45
Source: Sky News Arabia (UAE)

In an interview with Sky News Arabia TV, French-Algerian intellectual Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh, president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, said that Muslims "lack a constructive critical perspective on [their] religious heritage and history" and that they should "shake the dust off from this heritage." The interview aired on July 6, 2014.

Following are excerpts:

Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh: We [Muslims] suffer from many problems, and first and foremost, from ideological decline. We have slipped into darkness. I am not saying this as a sort of self-flagellation, but because this is the bitter truth that we must admit. We have sanctified ignorance. We suffer from "sanctified ignorance." We do not know, and we are not aware that we do not know.

Some Islamic governments have even institutionalized ignorance. In universities, schools, and educational institutions, people deliberate commentaries of commentaries, while refusing to make use of any of the accomplishments of the human mind, especially in the humanities, like linguistics, history, psychology, philosophy, and the exegeses of any discourse, even religious discourse.

We lack a constructive critical perspective on our religious heritage and our history.

Interviewer: But some say that this is prohibited.

Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh: If we prohibit everything, we will not emerge from this darkness.


Interviewer: Many Muslim Arabs, who are fourth generation in France, are turning towards extremism, fundamentalism, takfir [accusing others of heresy], and towards erroneous violent notions of Islam, even though they were educated in secular co-ed schools and have been exposed to rational thought and philosophy.

Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh: This is a great paradox. We are all at a loss regarding this phenomenon.


Our religion has been politicized and exploited for other goals. Even with regard to the legitimate resistance against Zionist occupation, or against American intervention or imperialism – if we sanctify violence, we will be opening a Pandora's box, and disaster will befall us all.


Interviewer: Are you trying to present a new Islam, a European Islam that is not rejected by European identity?

Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh: These are explosive terms. When you say "a new Islam," people might think that I am claiming to be a prophet. Whoever claims to be Muslim should study Islamic heritage carefully, but should also shake the dust off from this heritage.

We are burdened by residues stemming from our lack of courage to study Islamic history and heritage in an open-minded manner. We suffer from taboos and from a sense of shame that prevent us from dealing with the problems that make us wallow in this mud.


Share this Clip: