Edward Said (1935 – 2003) is best know for his 1978 book Orientalism, a critical analysis of how the west’s cultural biases result in serious misrepresentations of Middle Eastern affairs.
In the preface to Orientalism he wrote:
“…humanism is the only – I would go so far as saying the final – resistance we have against the inhuman practices
and injustices that disfigure human history……”
He defined Humanism as, “be[ing] able to use one’s mind historically and rationally for the purposes of reflective understanding,” and went on to say, “Humanism is centred upon the agency of human individuality and subjective intuition, rather than on received ideas and approved authority.”
Said’s final book, written in 2004, is Humanism and Democratic Criticism, a collection of five lectures on the place of and need for humanism in today’s world
He was an advocate for the political and the human rights of the Palestinian people and a critic of Israel. Despite being a pro-Palestinian activist, He was critical of Islamic organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As he explained inPower, Politics, and Culture (2002): “First, I am secular; second, I do not trust religious movements; and third, I disagree with these movements’ methods, means, analyses, values, and visions.”