19 Sep 2014

Marketing, politics and Muslim culture

This week we've seen several police arrests in Australia in relation to a planned terrorist attack.

Cordoba Mosque, Spain
As a Spaniard, I know what it is to live in a country where the threat of terrorist attacks is present. The Basque terrorist group ETA has killed over 800 people since it started operating in the 70s and we had the horrid terrorist attack by Al Qaeda which killed over 200 people in Madrid in 2004. We wonder how terrorist organisations around the world manage to recruit new members.

My view is that it has a lot to do with marketing. It's thanks to a great marketing strategy that different newspapers refer to ETA as a separatist group and not a terrorist group.

I think a good marketing strategy to remind everyone of the great achievements ofthe muslim world in past centuries could contribute to some of the possible new terrorist recruits choosing to devote their time to pursue the goals of those past civilisations.

It would also help the so called Western nations understand the magnificence of some of these achievements, which would hopefully lead to a greater respect for Muslim culture. Reading 'The Ornament of the World' by Yale University professor María Menocal would be a good place to start.

It is one of the most enjoyable and informative books I've read in recent years. It explains the great successes and turbulent times of al-Andalus, which embraced much of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries.

She talks about the great thinkers of the time, such as Averroes, a philisopher who has been described as the "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe." Latin translations of Averroes's work led the way to the popularization of Aristotle in Europe.

He wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the mediæval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics.

In an interview with ABC Radio: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/encounter/finding-cordoba/3403818#transcript Menocal explained that the title is a line she stole from a poem written in the 10th Century in Latin by a German nun who knew about Cordoba,the capital of the caliphate, which at that point was at sort of its height -.

The interview is worth reading. It features Imam Feisal abdul Rauf, who in 1997, founded the American Sufi Muslim Association dedicated to building bridges between the American public and American Muslims. Imam Feisal is also the founder of the Cordoba Institute, a multi-faith effort to stimulate fresh new approaches to achieving peace and to help heal the relationship between Islam and America.

Perhaps the media could play a role in publicising this kind of initiatives a bit more...