By Muhammad Ali Zoaib
April 25, 2015
“The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people [is] convinced of the superiority of their culture and [is] obsessed with the inferiority of their power.” These are words of Samuel P. Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, which was published in 1996, when there was a good image of the West among Muslims’ minds because the West had helped the Muslims to liberate Afghanistan from the occupation of Soviet. A few years later (1999), it fought a war to save Muslims in Kosovo. However, the statement of Huntington is clearly indicating that the fear of Islam in the West is there even before 9/11; when there was no apparent drift between Islam and the West.
The Clash of Civilizations pointed out that there was a strong possibility of collusion between Muslims and the West in the coming years. What would cause this conflict? It is not fundamentalism, but it is “Islamic culture” which put the West under a constant fear.
The 9/11 was an important event which changed the history and the United States along with its allies attacked Afghanistan. However, it could not be called a war between the West and Islam because its target was Taliban and the Al-Qaeda and most of the Muslim States participated in this war and supported the Western coalition.
In Iraq war however, most of the Muslim countries condemned the attack and considered it a part of a strategy of the West to isolate Islamic countries and attack them one after another. However in Iraq, the US faced such a tough time that they came to the understanding that a war could not be won just by having a superior military forces.
Samuel pointed out that Islamic and Western civilizations would collide in future and it has happened. However, many Western scholars and politicians are of the view that the West does not fear Islam but the Islamic fundamentalists. The former American President Bill Clinton said that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamic extremists. His successors, Bush and Obama, repeated his idea in different words. However, being politicians, their declaration could be taken as mere diplomatic statements.
Another Western Scholar Dr. Mervyn Hiskett, an orientalist and author of several books on Islam, said the spread of Islam should not be encouraged in the West in order to save the future generations.
Why does the West fear Islam so much? According to many scholars, Islam is a fast-spreading religion in the West and it may challenge their social, political and economic system in future.
After Bolshevik Revolution in Soviet Union, the West considered Communism as an eminent threat, which ended two and half decades ago, and now Islam is a fear for the West.
Today, it is the age of globalization where material and cultural resources are exchanged in moments because of rapid means of communication. It is important to note that it is very simple principle (of any field) when you offer something to others, it pays its price, and when you get something, you pay its cost. In the language of Economics, both cost and material are resources and they are exchanged in a deal.
Today, it can be seen that the Western culture is dominating the Islamic world. Their foods and drinks such as burger, sandwich, French fries, Ice Creams, Coke, Pepsi and Juices are very popular in the Muslim world and several Western Franchises such as Nestle, Unilever, MacDonald are operating in the Muslims World. There is a dominant influence of the Western culture on Muslim Youth and their dresses such as jeans and T-Shirt are very popular in the Muslim World.
It is important to note that Arab Spring in several Middle Eastern countries was brought by the Western Influenced Youth, and it coujld simply be observed from the crowd gathered at Al-Tahrir Square, Cairo (Egypt), where more than two-third people were wearing jeans and T-Shirts.
This did not put the Muslim World in a fear or dilemma of the Western culture. If someone visits Western markets, one can hardly see any Muslim World influenced material. What this shows is that despite having a dominant cultural influence over the youth of the Muslim world, the West fears Islam.
Currently, the anti-Islam movements are gaining strength in the European Countries. Its simple example is “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident” (PEGIDA) which is a German anti-Islam movement. The group arranged several protests in 2014 and on January 12, 2015 . about 25,000 people participated in the rally they organized. Such types of movements are common in other European countries as well.
These type of movements at times provoke Muslims by their actions. Its best example is Charlie Hebdo which published some disgracing cartoons of Muslims’ Holy Prophet. Some Muslims just expressed their anger by protesting against it. However, the violent reaction came from Al Qaeda. They managed to attack Charlie Hebdo and killed twelve people.
However again, the number of people killed in this sad incident was in no way comparable to the number of killings in July 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik who killed more than sixty people. Condemning statements over Charlie Hebdo attacks came from every corner of the Muslim World and some Muslims leaders participated in the funeral ceremony.
No doubt, the West is the victim of terrorism committed by some Islamic Extremists, but Muslims themselves have suffered more badly due to such extremists. Terrorism is in fact a common problem for both civilizations and both are combatting against it, but the sacrifices of the Muslims are much more than that of West.
Muslim world has faced more bomb blasts and suicide attacks from these terrorists. Their economies and social structures have suffered more badly because of terrorism. The war against terrorism is the common war of the West and Muslims, in which the share of the Muslims is more than that of the West.
A report of Daily Telegraph said that seven hundred foreign students were not given admission in Science subject in Britain Universities because they thought the knowledge could be used to prepare weapons of mass destruction. Such knowledge, they thought, could be used to carry out Nuclear, Radiological, Biological or Chemical terrorism against the West.
On the other hand, the West is asking several questions about Madrasas in many Islamic countries and some of these questions are valid. What does it mean? No Modern Scientific as well as Religious Education for Muslims? Then where the Muslim students in poor Islamic countries should go for education?
The West should revisit such policies and must allow Muslim students to get Scientific Education in its institutions, otherwise Madrasa’s culture will groom further, where there is an easy chance of producing militants.
The Western and the Muslim world, both, have some fault lines and these gaps could be reduced only through a keeping a close contact and frequent dialogue. Both civilizations should cooperate with each other to combat terrorism. Such cooperation against a common enemy will produce a more homogenous society which will ensure peace and prosperity for future generations of both civilizations.