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By Saeed Bhutta

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Openly imaginative) text. 6 The analyst of Orientalism is not interested in reconstructing the “actual” Orient lurking behind a distorting façade of Orientalist discourse, but rather in the openly displayed and consistently constructed surface of that discourse itself. I do not think that this idea can be overemphasized. Orientalism is premised upon exteriority, that is, on the fact that the Orientalist, poet or scholar, makes the Orient speak, describes the Orient, renders its mysteries plain for and to the West.

Such a represented Muslim is thus not “inaccurate” per se since it is no longer merely a depiction or distortion of the “real,” but an independent object whose cultural function does not include accuracy or identity with any actual Muslim.

From the fourteenth century to the twentieth, Western authors writing about Muslims, Arabs, Turks, or Orientals, referred to the fundamental texts and images created from the seventh century to the thirteenth. The ideological responses to Islam . . were redeployed countless times in medieval and modern Europe. Europeans would not again expend the 32 V E R NAC U L A R DISCOU R SE S OF M U SLI M OT H E R same intellectual effort against Islam as did their forbears to explain, refute, convert.

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