Dr. Robert Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has criticised "Islamic cultures", by calling them authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.
"Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege.
"Although we owe much to Islam handing on to the West many of the treasures of Greek thought, the beginnings of calculus, Aristotelian thought during the period known in the West as the dark ages, it is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundred years from Muslim countries...
"This is a puzzle, because Muslim peoples are not bereft of brilliant minds. They have much to contribute to the human family and we look forward to the close co-operation that might make this possible.
"Yes, the West has still much to be proud of and we should say so strongly. We should also encourage Muslims living in the West to be proud of it and say so to their brothers and sisters living elsewhere."
The basic gist of what Carey is getting at is true. Let's not kid ourselves, shall we?
If the core of what Carey says is viewed with some sobriety, we can see that he is telling us nothing we have not figured out for ourselves. Do we not have a string of corrupt and tyrannical rulers, from the Atlantic to the Pacific? We can complain all we want about colonialism -- and it's effects were real, despite some revisionist ideas -- but for how long? The real problem is the lack of really effective solutions, of creativity, in the Muslim mind in tackling problems we face. (See Haroon Moghul's recent post at Avari-Nameh, "About A Year Later: Bush's Obviously Big Mess in Iraq" and the comments.) We seem to stuck between weak 'secular' leaders, who are greedy, cowardly and out to save their own skins; and traditional elements, who defend "their tradition and heritage" with such gusto that you would think they have made a Golden Calf out of Islamic history.
But, who do you suppose said this of Pakistan?
"[Pakistan's] secular educated elite is the most spineless, the most unscurpulous and the most mercenary in the world... What has gone wrong during this quarter of a century that has eaten into the vitals of our society and the grit of its leaders except the continuation of a faulty, aimless, and diseased system of education that has bred no social virtues, no depth of feeling, no sense of responsibility -- nothing except selfishness, corruption and cowardly lack of initiative and courage?" 
Was it an unfavourable view written from Washington or London? Was it produced in a rabid, right-wing newspaper? No, these were the views of the Pakistani educationist I. H. Qureyshi. He says of the traditionalists in Pakistan, that
"[t]hey have neglected modern knowledge to an extent that there is no scope left for a dialogue between those who have received a modern education and the graduates of the [traditional] seminaries..." 
So when Carey says that "Muslim culture has contributed little for centuries" is he telling such a big lie; especially given that Muslims themselves have seen these problems first-hand? 
Is Carey not right that life of the 'Other' is seen as being virtually worthless in the eyes of some Muslims? What else do you think helps to create ideas like "it is okay to kill 'their' women and children because 'they' kill our women and children"? The real issue is that, in the face of undoubted injustice, we have resorted to the most crass form of moral relativism, and even seek to use the name of God to justify such evil. Where are the tongues of our self-proclaimed leaders, who have difficulty in telling the world that the targetting of the frail old Jewish grandmother -- mainly because she is Jewish -- on a street-corner of Jerusalem is evil? I thought to stop evil with the tongue was a lesser level of faith? Is even this beyond the people who are meant to be our purveyors of knowledge and protectors of Muslim states? Pointing out Israeli (or American or British or French, etc.) crimes does not reduce the significance of our own crimes. From any moral perspective tit-for-tat actions have to be rejected.
This is not to say Carey is not guilty of gross errors. His call for so-called 'suicide bombings' to be branded 'evil' in and of themselves is wrong. Whatever some modern apologists would have us believe, to give up your life in a morally justified war does make one martyrs -- at least from a worldly perspective (for, surely, only God knows the complete intention of the individual); and to be a martyr is at least an ambition of one who enters a morally justified war. It is the targets of such actions which must be condemned, outright. His call on Muslims to "revise God's word" must also be rejected. Sorry, but problems with the transmission and authentication of text in the Judeo-Christian tradition cannot be simply transposed onto the Islamic tradition.
Yet, what precisely has he said that so enraged our "leaders" in the United Kingdom? According to the Telegraph, Dr. Iqbal Sacranie, head of the MCB, said:
"Dr Carey is trampling on a very sensitive area by referring to the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet."
What exactly is so 'sensitive' about Carey, a Christian, questioning the validity of the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions? Are Christians expected to have thicker skins when Muslims criticise the Bible and Christianity? Unbelievable. The press release by the MCB says:
"Furthermore, his biased view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fails to recognise that it is the lengthy and brutal nature of Israel's US-backed occupation of Palestinian lands which is leading some Palestinians to engage in desperate actions. What kind of moral leadership does Lord Carey show when he asks us to condemn the occupied peoples but remains silent about the dehumanising behaviour of the occupiers?"
Far be it for me to question the undoubted sufferring of Palestinians -- with who I will, naturally, share my sympathies. These injustices are well-documented, and only the most blind apologist can defend Israel -- though I try and avoid the rights and wrongs of this whole situation, because I believe vested interests on both sides are more than happy to see perpetual conflict. Yet, patience, in the face of such intense suffering is a hallmark of prophetic figures; men, who Muslims claim are models for mankind in their personal piety. Where is the moralising from the MCB to their co-religionists in this respect? Instead a rather limp attack on Israel and the USA is trotted out. But, Dr. Sacrine et al.: injustices committed by the client and its sponsor are not an excuse to shirk one's duties.
 I. H. Qureyshi, Education in Pakistan, Karachi: Ma'aref, 1975, p.27; as cited in F. Rahman, Islam & Modernity, Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, p. 110.
 Ibid., pp. 119 ff. as cited in Rahman, op cit., p 111. This view, however, could be challanged by some recent attempts. The main thrust of the argument, despite being nearly 25 years old, seems to remain true. See also Shibli Nu'mani's Safarnama.
 The response here would be, however, to question to what extent globalisation has rendered the demarcations of seperate "civilisations", as superfluous or superficial, if not lessened their impact in distinguishing between "us" and "them"; that is if globalisation means the opening up of the world to the 'other', rather the homogenisation of the entire globe by the dominant power which some expect it to mean.