My acceptance of necessary humility in scholarly engagement with civilisations different from my own was born of my study of, and subsequent teaching courses in, the debate between Francis Fukuyama's End of History thesis and Samuel Huntingdon's counter-thesis on the Clash of Civilisations.
Stated with brutal brevity, Fukuyama argues that Hegel's doctrine of the historical dialectic has been proven true, that the West has attained a free-market economy and free and open democratic elections which, being the desire of all people everywhere, has begun the end of history: i.e. the end of the progress of all civilisations toward universal human freedom. Huntingdon, in opposition, cites Arnold Toynbee, and argues that civilisations, being different from top to bottom, can not only never unite but are certain to and fight in perpetuity.
Oviously, the current violence within the Islamic civilisation in response to a Danish newspaper's polemical statement in affirmation of free speech and freedom of the press is clear support, prima facie, for Huntingdon. Indeed, if you follow this link to a real media clip from Canada's state television station, you will hear an English moslem announce that their violence is a declaration of a "clash of civilisations."
As this picture, and this, and this, and this show, civilisation clashes are real: indeed, Huntingdon states outright that they are frequently bloody and to the death.
Indeed, judging from moslem comments such as these printed in the Toronto Globe & Mail, Huntingdon must be these days in present danger of a terminal smugness.