By Ihsan Aktas
08 June 2019
When the Age of Enlightenment began in the West, dark clouds moved in over Islamic countries. At first glance, the Enlightenment emerged as an internal struggle within Western civilization launched against Christian morality, the papacy and the Inquisition. This age rapidly led to a series of innovations in various fields, from politics and administration to economics and technology, and eventually brought about peace and harmony for Western countries.
The strengthening of the Western industry and technology gradually led to the decline of empires, including the Ottoman Empire. In their book "Overcoming the Two Cultures," Richard E. Lee and Immanuel Wallerstein ascribe the progress of the Western civilization to the studies made in the fields of political, economic and administrative sciences, and emphasize the fact that the Ottoman Empire had not been so much behind in terms of technology during the age of the Industrial Revolution.
Be that as it may, Western countries managed to acquire immense wealth and power in the span of only one century due to Western colonization that was based on the growth of industry. While Western countries were colonizing the rest of the world, they reconstructed their civilisational identities and values. By the end of the process, all values that fall outside hegemonic Western morality had been downgraded as "superstition" and "sophistry."
By the end of World War I, almost all Muslim land was occupied by the Western powers. Nonetheless, rapidly flourishing movements of independence were followed by the foundation of a number of more or less independent states. Meanwhile, population growth has begun to lean in favour of Islamic countries.
Although the "green belt" was founded as a geopolitical strategy against the spread of communism, the politics of the Cold War contributed to the rise of Islam in political terms. Today, Islamic countries include significant regional and international players such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Iran and Egypt. In a similar vein, Muslims in India, China and Russia constitute significant communities of the world. Likewise, despite the rise of xenophobia and racism, Europeans must learn to live with Muslims who reside in their continent.
Today, the Islamic world seems to trouble Western powers with its growing population, politics and economy. In one sense, it is difficult to refer to such scattered nations as the Islamic civilization. Nonetheless, we should consider it a single Ummah, who believes in the same Allah and loves the same prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), as the last prophet. Therefore, if one day a great leader emerges in the Islamic world, such an Ummah would act in solidarity in terms of a geopolitical balance of power.
In 2011, Turkey occupied a leading position in the Islamic world. In the Syrian civil war, however, Washington was able to curbe Turkey's political rise by revitalizing its regional rivalry with Iran. Unfortunately, our administration handling foreign affairs at the time could not see through the political agenda of global powers in Turkey's region of influence.
As independent countries, Malaysia and Indonesia have succeeded in protecting and enhancing the economic welfare of their people. Just like Turkey, Indonesia will particularly become one of the leading economies of the world in 2050.
The former Babur Empire was divided into three main countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The Muslim population in India itself amounts to the populations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, we do not have any accurate accounts regarding the demographic situations of Muslims in China. For some time now, the Uighurs have been living in tough conditions, which is a research subject in itself.
On the African continent, considerable populations of Muslims live in Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Tanzania. Due to hundreds of years of occupation and exploitation at the hands of savage capitalism, African populations were unable to develop their own cultural identities. Implying a comeback, our century is called "the African century" and thus, the war of political influence between global powers will most probably be realized in Africa.
First controlled and colonized by the United Kingdom, the Middle East region has mostly been controlled by the U.S. Meanwhile, vast Muslim populations who reside in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia strive to recover from their subjugation during the Cold War.
Nonetheless, Turkey and Iran shall expand the horizon of the Islamic world thanks to their ancient imperial traditions and their religious and cultural values. Struggling against religious dissensions and the sophisticated political agendas of the Western neocolonial powers, the Islamic world will certainly achieve the safety and prosperity it deserves.