In an Al-Arabiya TV interview, which aired on May 15, Lebanese philosopher Ali Harb said that “we engage in the theft of theories and knowledge, produced by the minds of human beings, and we attribute them to Islam,” and that “to this day, we oppose any attempt at reform.”
Ali Harb: I am critical of both camps: the religious and the modern. With regard to the religious camp, I am critical of the sense of exceptionalism. I call this cultural narcissism. We believe ourselves to be the best of all nations. We believe that we, and nobody else, own the truth.
When we say that our (Holy) Book includes science in all its aspects, perhaps in the past, this was a call to engage in science, and to open up our minds to knowledge. The Quran also says this: "Say, are those who know equal to those who do not know?" But today, this call has the opposite effect. It has turned us into thieves, into robbers. We steal the knowledge and theories produced by the West, and we attribute them to the Quran.
We engage in the theft of theories and knowledge, produced by the minds of human beings, and we attribute them to Islam. This is the difference between us and (the Islamic scholars of) the past.
We have been resisting the attempts at reform since the days of Muhammad Abduh in Egypt and Muhammad Iqbal in Pakistan. All these attempts failed... On the contrary...
Interviewer: So there are two groups - an enlightened group and a group that thwarts...
Ali Harb: Of course. Muhammad Abduh was enlightened, because he said that after
the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nobody can claim guardianship over the human mind. This is the principle of enlightenment: to use your brains and to think without any guardianship.
Today, someone who has learned very little religion comes along, and imposes himself ruler over the Muslims and wages wars. None of the attempts at reform have been successful. To this day, we oppose any attempt at reform.