A conflict between Islam and the west is threatening to engulf the world in a cycle of violence; the walls between peoples are being raised and fortified, yet the world is shrinking with the growing pace of communication, transport and trade. While the old barriers of distance and ignorance were once enough to keep people apart and prevent comfortable national certainties from being challenged, the new barriers of ideological stubbornness enable us not to see the humanity of perceived enemies we think we know so much about.
What is presented in the first edition of “New Civilisation” magazine is a unique attempt to break down these unreasonable barriers, which are the tragic irony of modernity post 9/11. Others have tried, but this new magazine stands completely alone in the manner of its approach: the facilitation of debate between the opposing poles. However, the current articles, perhaps inevitably for a first edition, are written from the same perspective; the writers are Muslims, who have, hitherto, been engaged in renewing Islamic political thought within their own Muslim communities and they do not sit on the fence in the pretence of moderation and dialogue between Islam and the west. Rather, they have a view; the product of extensive thought, upon which they present criticisms of current assumptions and offer alternative solutions.
This is only the beginning: something is lacking. It is not that the contributors to this first edition are opinionated: if they were not, what would there be to discuss? The inevitable deficiency is that the contributors are all from only one side of the fence, and a world in which people break down artificial barriers cannot take shape without hearing the opposing views. It is for this very reason that New Civilisation was established: to break the seemingly inevitable cycle of intellectual entrenchment.
New Civilisation, therefore, is offering a wide platform for those who have understood the increasing polarisation of the world we live in and want an opportunity to contribute and debate. Consider this an open invitation to present an opposing view in its best light. Consider the articles in this first edition as a challenge; a gauntlet if you will, but the floor is open to all. We believe the future need not be a choice between fanaticisms, of whichever orientation, on the one hand and flattery that buries important disagreements under a shallow veneer on the other. There may be little in common between the views of radically different political schools, but who would deny the power of the human intellect to serve as an anchor point?
We want to hear from all our readers and we want all our readers to hear the full spectrum of political views about how this world should best function. The inclusion of western secular thinking and Islamic thinking on the same platform is greatly anticipated for the next edition and will be a landmark achievement. Read, enjoy, disagree and then write; the door is open, not to a utopian dream in which we all think alike, but to a future in which political diversity can be examined and old dogmas put to the test. Exactly what the conclusion of this process will be remains to be determined; whatever it is, if intellectual honesty is the benchmark then nobody should have reason to fear.
Abdullah Robin and Sajjad Khan