Ethos of the Nation
Lewis is one of the prominent figures in relating the development of Islam to cultural factors.
More than two decades ago, Bernard Lewis, a historian who has studied the interactions of Western and Islamic cultures, once said: “When people realize that something has gone wrong, there are two questions they can ask. One: \'What have we done wrong?\' Another: \'Who do it to us?\' The second question leads to conspiracy theories and paranoia. The first question leads to another thought: ‘How do we get it right?’" (Foreign Affairs, 1997).
Lewis is one of the prominent figures in relating the development of Islam to cultural factors. He saw that the closing of the "door to ijtihad" (independent thought) by Islamic scholars between the 9th and 11th centuries had paralyzed the Islamic cultural ethos. This has resulted in suppressing the courage to step in with experimentation and originality, and reinforcing the fatalistic world view. In short, for Lewis, the causes are internal (cultural), rather than external (Western influence).