Stereotyping the “Other.”

(Excerpt from a conversation from 2003)

"Ever notice how we restrict images of the ‘other’ that support the dominant social ideology by concealing individual characteristics of members of a group? Is it fair to reduce the living data base we have present in those lands as authoritative and barbaric?

Insiders’ perspectives don’t serve as the ‘final’ authority but are simply informed through their privileged access as members of a group; by lived realties in the life of that group, etc… I can sit with a given hanafi sheikh, learn his perspective without pledging alliegence. I can even keep silent and simply observe and come back to my sketch board to purge personal thoughts. I doubt I will be stoned for such a heresy?

I’m not advocating the superiority of one over the other; rather the need for the western student to be more vigilant in tapping into various resources, to recognize that meanings represented in texts are not universal, to comprehend that knowledge making is not objective but socially constructed. In a nutshell, the modern western student forgets to ‘contextualize’ his own subjectivity and in turn behaves in exactly the same way as your given ‘tradionalist.’ By stereotyping the other, he proceeds to flash us his/her half-assed fatwas and expects us to digest them? We suddenly have threads on this message board questioning the validity of Quranic Verses?? I mean, I can understand if Sherman Jackson comes out with a “ I can kick yo arse and prove such and such’ given his level of research (ofcourse he would be more respectful as well) but I really cant understand when people with no viable research decide to not only reject well-established norms/ methods of transmission (in certain schools of thought at least) but also present their personal bias as objective.

>>you talked of being a good critic, but what's inherently wrong in being a bad critic in a non-authoratative sense?

Authority is not a bad thing. However, when one particular ideology renders a minority’s perspective invisible and at the same time stereotypes that group as the ‘other,’ you got yourself a problem. There will always be a struggle between the authority and the other, a very healthy phenomenon, in my opinion. But this process can become easily diseased when the latter’s laxness becomes the cause of the formers corruption, something like the ‘salafi phenomenon,’ or in this case as rightfully named by zilla, the bastard lost step brother of the salafi… (something like that)..."