英国に亡命しているサウディ・アラビア人のSaad al-Fagih氏は、"Give up your freedoms - or change tack"と題するエッセイで、トニー・ブレアの新しい「対テロ政策」は、オサマ・ビン・ラディンにとってみれば、二重の意味で自らの「歴史的勝利」のように映っているという。

First, he will believe he has succeeded in forcing Britain to abandon a number of hard-earned achievements in the fields of justice and liberty - achievements that took centuries of struggle and evolution to accomplish. Bin Laden will rejoice because he has forced society into forsaking these values. This, he believes, will leave the west open to eventual defeat at the hands of Muslims.

Both moderate and jihadist Islamist activists have long recognised the values of justice and liberty within western societies as the foundation of western dominance in the past few centuries. A dictum attributed to Ibn Taymiya, a renowned Muslim scholar born seven centuries ago, states that God will lend victory to a just nation even if it is infidel and bring defeat to the unjust even if it they are Muslim. When the west loses its values of justice, it will be defeated in the long run.

The second reason for Bin Laden's satisfaction is that his strategy is based on absolute polarisation. The world is to be split into two opposing camps: a bloc of Muslims with no infidels in their midst and one of infidels with no Muslims in their midst.

The measures advocated by Blair and the accompanying atmosphere of racial hatred might cause many Muslims living in "infidel" western nations to leave for good. The harsher the measures adopted by Britain and other western societies, the nearer we will get to fulfilling Bin Laden's strategic aim.

 " The British political establishment is abandoning its traditional reliance on careful thinking, sound knowledge of current factors and a determination not to endanger historical commitments."ということはある。しかし、al-Fagih氏は7/7後の一般英国人の反応、その"calm, collectedness and self-control"を賞賛する−−"this was the authentic British people's reaction before their political leaders got to work." 現在は、"A daily diet of sensationalism and soundbites has been presented as food for thought for the nation."という状態。しかし、英国人は重大な選択を迫られている。すなわち、

Britain will now have to decide whether to relinquish its time-honoured traditions and values in response to demagogic speeches and proclamations - or to look carefully at its so-called war on terror strategy and resolve to change tack.

 Karen Armstrong
 "Unholy strictures"
 人類がはまる「とても奇妙な活動」。特定のテクストを取り上げ、それに「特別な地位」を与え、そのテクストが示す指針に従って生きようと努めること。たいそう古いテクストにもかかわらず、「テクストの著者たちが想像もできなかったような状況」にそのテクストが光を当てることを期待すること−−"In times of crisis, people turn to their scriptures with renewed zest and, with much creative ingenuity, compel them to speak to their current predicament." 現在も「経典に関わる活動(scriptual activity)」は廃っているわけではない。

This is ironic, because the concept of scripture has become problematic in the modern period. The Scopes trial of 1925, when Christian fundamentalists in the United States tried to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools, and the more recent affair of The Satanic Verses, both reveal deep-rooted anxiety about the nature of revelation and the integrity of sacred texts. People talk confidently about scripture, but it is not clear that even the most ardent religious practitioners really know what it is.

Before the modern period, Jews, Christians and Muslims all relished highly allegorical interpretations of scripture. The word of God was infinite and could not be tied down to a single interpretation. Preoccupation with literal truth is a product of the scientific revolution, when reason achieved such spectacular results that mythology was no longer regarded as a valid path to knowledge.

All the verses of the Qur'an, for example, are called "parables" (ayat); its images of paradise, hell and the last judgment are also ayat, pointers to transcendent realities that we can only glimpse through signs and symbols.
 Armstrongさんは、経典を読むという振る舞いの在り方を問題にする。つまり、経典を「読む(reading)」が「聴く(listening to)」ことはしない。これはお馴染みのトピックかも知れないが、そこには近代の印刷技術の影が差し込んでいるのである;

When, for example, Christian fundamentalists argue about the Bible, they hurl texts back and forth competitively, citing chapter and verse in a kind of spiritual tennis match. But this detailed familiarity with the Bible was impossible before the modern invention of printing made it feasible for everybody to own a copy and before widespread literacy - an essentially modern phenomenon - enabled them to read it for themselves.

Hitherto the scriptures had always been transmitted orally, in a ritual context that, like a great theatrical production, put them in a special frame of mind. Christians heard extracts of the Bible chanted during the mass; they could not pick and choose their favourite texts. In India, young Hindu men studied the Veda for years with their guru, adopting a self-effacing and non-violent lifestyle that was meant to influence their understanding of the texts. In Judaism, the process of studying Torah and Talmud with a rabbi was itself a transformative experience that was just as important as the content.

The last thing anyone should attempt is to read the Qur'an straight through from cover to cover, because it was designed to be recited aloud. Indeed, the word qur'an means "recitation". Much of the meaning is derived from sound patterns that link one passage with another, so that Muslims who hear extracts chanted aloud thousands of times in the course of a lifetime acquire a tacit understanding that one teaching is always qualified and supplemented by other texts, and cannot be seen in isolation. The words that they hear again and again are not "holy war", but "kindness", "courtesy", "peace", "justice", and "compassion".


Historians have noted that the shift from oral to written scripture often results in strident, misplaced certainty. Reading gives people the impression that they have an immediate grasp of their scripture; they are not compelled by a teacher to appreciate its complexity. Without the aesthetic and ethical disciplines of ritual, they can approach a text in a purely cerebral fashion, missing the emotive and therapeutic aspects of its stories and instructions.

Solitary reading also enables people to read their scriptures too selectively, focusing on isolated texts that they read out of context, and ignoring others that do not chime with their own predilections. Religious militants who read their scriptures in this way often distort the tradition they are trying to defend. Christian fundamentalists concentrate on the aggressive Book of Revelation and pay no attention to the Sermon on the Mount, while Muslim extremists rely on the more belligerent passages of the Qur'an and overlook its oft-repeated instructions to leave vengeance to God and make peace with the enemy.

 勿論、私たちは前近代へ、或いはオーラルの時代へ逆戻りすることはできない。では、「聖なるテクストの選択的読みという危険な傾向」に抵抗することはできないのか。Armstrongさんは、『クラーン』が、「その教えは「完全に(in full)」理解されてはならない(must not)」と主張していることに着目する−−"We must all - the religious and the sceptics alike - become aware that there is more to scripture than meets the cursory eye."