In Pursuit of Arabia

Author: Rashid Shaz

Islam as a demonizing force has been one of the celebrated themes in western literature and so has been the depiction of the Christian west as the citadel of a lost civilization in Muslim evangelical and literary writings. Despite scores of interfaith dialogues that the last century witnessed and our mutual willingness to create a peaceful world, we have not been able to look at the Muslim people as they are; an ordinary lot living under a constant tension of carrying on their shoulders the Last Revelation, the Quran of the Almighty God. The situation is no better on the Muslim side as well which hardly differentiates between the crusaders and their bitter enemies within the western civilization and prefers to live in an ‘imagined ‘ world where others appear conspiring to make their life a hell. It is no easy Jihad to come out of one’s inherited Muslimness and acquire what the Quran calls an Abrahamic vision of faith where Islam is an attitude and not a yellow star to put on. It amounts to shedding the burden of history’ looking at the modern man as he is and not judging him by the mistakes that his forefathers might have committed. The book focuses on an age when the western people had just started doubting their age-old prejudices against Islam and Muslims. The travelogue writers figuring in this study include men of letters like Burton, missionaries like Palgrave, spiritualist adventurers like Doughty and imperialist agents like Lawrence and Philby.

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