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A Western audience will naturally hold on to some elements of the spectrum they are familiar with, it is therefore a risky endeavour to assume a left/right spectrum in the Western sense, applied to Islamic thought does not carry with it considerable risks of misunderstanding.
The risk of misunderstanding is heightened by the residual similarity their method of organisation holds with the Western method.
To evidence this we will look briefly upon the relationship the audience has with their left/right wing spectrum.
The British experience with the left/right spectrum, Britain with its ‘Mother of all Parliaments’, clearly demarcated party system along left/right lines and despite lying solidly within the boundaries of “Western political thought” has a not so clear relationship with the spectrum many would argue it organises itself around.
This writing will compare the works of the authors in question with the differing typological approaches of Saeed and Ramadan in relation to the issues identified above.
I have chosen these authors because they have pursued significantly different approaches and in the intention that the conclusions will be more far ranging that a simple comment upon the works of Esposito and Shepard between whom there are some similarities.
The answer is twofold; it is helpful in the sense that it provides an easy term of reference for Western scholars of Islamic thought and in allowing for the practical dissemination of the typologies to a non-specialist. Tying Islamic thought to a left/right system with Western trappings represents an oversimplification of Islamic thought, Westernises its study and organisation and can lead to obstructive and often quite incorrect preconceptions in the mind of the reader as to the nature and character of the various constituent parts of contemporary Islamic thought.
To suppose then that applying a left right spectrum to Islamic thought, removed to great extent from Western political left/right discourse both ideologically as well as geographically whilst Britain that exists solidly within that discourse fails to conform is helpful and not a simplification is dubious.The matter of if the writers are using the left/right spectrum in a Western sense or specific to Islamic thought is made irrelevant in that neither authors make convincing efforts to disassociate their spectrums from that their audiences would be familiar with.Furthermore, looking into the typologies themselves for evidence that the Western left/right spectrum is unhelpful: Taking the definition of left wing as “now indicative of a radical or progressive spectrum …The decisions to tie the typologies to a broad left/right spectrum of organisation; will confusion arise?Both Bennet and Shepard seek to tie their respective typologies to a Left/Right spectrum; the merits and problems will be explored here within this section with reference to the differing forms of organisation used by Saeed and Ramadan.