The objectives and methodologies of orientalists were examined. Some of the political, sociological, and ideological influences on their scholarship were brought to light. It has also been demonstrated how this scholarship leaned toward propaganda and how far it was used as a tool by colonial powers. more so, how it justified their brutal domination, exploitation, and further expansion.
Methodologies And Objectives.
“Invisible threads are the strongest ties”.
When imperialists have seized control of a region via sheer force and mechanized violence It cannot be held with force alone, as it is impossible to perpetuate violence or the destruction of bodies indefinitely. To subdue the resistance, subdue the rebellion, and destroy the desire to decide for oneself—the drive to freedom—an alternative to direct violence must be developed. To this end, the Imperialist exploits the Orientalist as a substitute for the dismemberment of bodies, a means of focusing violence on the source of rebellion, the mind, as opposed to the flesh, which has already been vanquished. By mind, we refer to both the individual psyche and the collective psyche of a civilization, in which each individual mind has played a role. Whose tradition contributed to the development of this mind? So, the ultimate goal of the Orientalist, whether they say it or not, is either to completely destroy or tame this collective mind and, by extension, the civilization it has created.
1) Objective: The Creation Of Doubt.
We have chosen “The Creation of Doubt” as the first point. With good reason: as the agreement on certain basic premises is a trademark of every civilization. Furthermore, If we had to give a definition of Decadence. It would be disagreement on each and every aspect of cultural life in a civilization. That’s why Allama Iqbal said this:
یقیں افراد کا سرمایہ تعمیر ملت ہے
یہی قوت ہے جو صورت گر تقدیر ملت ہے
That’s why “The Creation of Doubt” is an essential objective of the orientalist. As any culture that rebels, rebels on the basis of something. Some other notion of what they want to be. Some other way they want to rule themselves. The aim of the orientalist is to spread clouds over all of this.
Method: Delegitimisation of native cultural and spiritual values.
As an example we take the Orientalist view of Islamic civilization and it’s central figure, Muhammad—on whom be peace—as this civilization can be summarised in one verse of the Quran: There’s no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. The attack was most ferocious on these lines. The presentation of the Islamic conception God—Allah—as a fabrication from Jewish and Christian sources. The attacks on the character of The prophet. The criticism of the Hadith tradition. Can all be seen as an act to derail the tradition of Islam. To create an aura of guilt in the adherents in it’s followers. It’s intresting to see, how they blamed the prophet and muslims in general for Polygamy. That shows what their conception of Good and Bad was. Good was everything western, everything Occidental. Bad was everything eastern, everything Oriental. By making this baseless assertion a fact in the minds of the Muslims the obvious conclusion followed. Muslims denounced their own tradition and moved towards the things that they believed to be “Good” or its equivalent “Western”. As a support to this assertion, the wounds inflicted by Mustafa Kamal are still fresh. Ask any Turk to read anything written in Turkish before 1929.
2) Objective: The creation of dependency.
We’ve divided the objectives into five categories. But in essence they are all related. One follows the other.
After the native tradition has been brought to it’s knees the next step is the substitution of a new culture. And for it to impregnate thoroughly the only thing needed is a mirror.
Method: The inferiority complex.
One can still sense it in the historical memory. The flamboyant suits of Jinnah. His refusal to sit on the ground on which The Prophet bowed his forehead.
We wonder, what that was!
Our teachers struggling to speak English, our students failing to do so and as a consequence being ashamed of themselves.
We wonder what this is!
Even after seventy five years of independence from the English, we’re trying to replace them by being English ourselves.
If this does not explain the distaste we’ve developed for our own values and languages. I don’t know what will.
But how did they do it?— The method is almost a constant. They became our teachers of our religion and culture. They told us who we were and we believed it. Why did we believe it?— because of a loss of “cultural confidence” created by the sense of inferiority. Which is illustrated with an example.
When Al-Biruni came to India 1017 CE. He took on the entire Hindu civilization which, in it’s cultural developments, stands next to Greece. Did he return back as a Hindu? Did he become a Brahman and refused to sit on the ground, on which The Prophet bowed his forehead!
3) Objective: To create western modes of thought.
We began our analysis by focusing on the mind. Now we move further to “Thought” and “Language”. There’s a reason for this being next to the inferiority complex which is summarised below.
“Every colonized people–in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality–finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.”
Frantz Fanon — Black skins white Masks
Chapter one: The Negro and Language
We think in a language, a language not of our own making. A language we’ve inherited and which has grown with us. A register of what we’ve experienced our Al-Kiram and Al-Katibun.
What could be more disastrous to a people than the loss of their language even more so the absolute aura of vulgarity that surrounds it.
Method: The bastardisation of native languages.
Declaring native litratures as obscene and immoral. Presenting their language as inherently superior and fit for “civilized” discourse. We wonder how they could not see that when Charlemagne was learning to write, the successors of Muhammad—Upon whom be peace—were indulged in Advanced Mathematics.
5) Objective: Delegitimisation of Voice.
We’ve spoken about the Delegitimisation of culture. However, that does not take seed in every person of a given culture. There are always people who disagree. Who cannot believe “Good”, with all it’s infinite beauty, “is as ugly as western metrialism.” Thus we’ve the “FANATICS.”
Method: The creation of the “Other”
We might have heard the word “Thug”. It has taken on a meaning. One who steals. One who betrays. However recent scholarship has shown that, The so called thugs were anti Imperialists— (See: Eqbal Ahmad Terrorism ours VS theirs-1998)— fighting against the British Empire. This branding of a person as some kind of pure evil. The snatching of his humanity. Just so that he has no voice.
It’s intresting to note that: British choose the word “Thug” and their successors choose “Terrorist”
Final objective: The legitimation of Imperialism.
The primary function of Orientlism like Western science, which became a tool for Imperialist conquest, is to open the space where the west’s machine of violence can enter and finally not be ashamed of itself. With all it’s claims to objectivity, of the greatness of it’s Scientific Method. The same method used by Spencer to reach the conclusion:
“The forces which are working out the great scheme of perfect happiness, taking no account of incidental suffering, exterminate such sections of mankind as stand in their way, with the same sternness that they exterminate beasts of prey and herds of useless ruminants.”
Herbert Spencer — Social Statics
Again Allama Iqbal summarises this observation for us:
وہ حکمت ناز تھا جس پر خرد مندان مغرب کو
ہوس کے پنجۂ خونیں میں تیغ کارزاری ہے
What we conclude here, is that the orientalists view of the Orient is nothing but their way of stealing from the Orient it’s true foundation.
1)Herbert Spencer, social Statics Abridged And Revised, London,1892.
2)Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, United Kingdom, 1986, Pluto Press.
3)Hannah Arendth, On Violenc, HBJ:PBK, United States of America.
4)Eqbal Ahmad, Terrorism Ours Vs Theirs. Video Lecture.
5) Jacques Barzun, Forgotten Thinkers. Video Lecture.