- Religion and Philosophy»
- Exploring Religious Options
ISLAM AND THE WEST
Muslims constitute 1/5th of the human race, around 1.5 billion in all parts of the world. There are 58 independent Muslim states. Their effort to reconstruct their socio-economic order according to the values of Islam is bound to come into conflict with the international status quo. Therefore much depends upon how the west looks upon this phenomenon of Islamic resurgence and wants to come to terms with it. Ironically the west has chosen to confront Islam and Islamic resurgence; the three broad principles around which the western mindset is fixed are capitalism and market economy, human rights and secular/liberal democracy and nation state as the framework for international relations. The western mindset, in conflict with Muslim world can be summarized as under
Clash of Civilization
The idea of clash of civilization was first propagated by Barry Buzan in an article in July 1991. He stated: “Rivalry with the west is more potent by the fact that Islam is still itself a vigorous expanding collective identity. It is also believed that the west does not have problems, with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Regarding this issue, the Prince of Wales, very candidly said: “People in the Islamic world genuinely fear western nationalism and mass culture as a deadly challenge to their Islamic culture and way of life….. The fact is that our form of materialism can be offensive to devout Muslims – and I do not just mean the extremists among them. Now what I believe here is that is in fact a clash of economic interests which is evident from USA policy which is dominated by quest for energy sources whereby it is finding excuses to directly or indirectly control the oil mostly possessed by Muslim countries. The 1973 oil embargo made US and West realize the effects of possession of oil by Muslim countries. Ever since, US has embarked upon a strategy of controlling energy resources possessed by Muslim countries. US has intervened through military means in Muslim countries, possessing oil, in the garb of establishing true democracy and addressing human rights issues. The Muslims clearly understand the US hidden agenda as US response is different when it comes to addressing issues of similar nature in Africa and elsewhere. This USA campaign has led to strong resistance from Muslim countries and widening the gap between west and Islamic World.
Islam and Christianity
The relations between Islam and Christianity, both orthodox and western, have been stormy. According to one count, some ninety two acquisitions of Muslims territory by non-Muslim governments occurred between 1757 and 1919. By 1995, sixty nine of these territories were once again under Muslim rule. The violent nature of these shifting relationships is reflected in the fact that 50% of wars involving pairs of states of different religions between 1820 and 1829 were wars between Muslims and Christians. The tolerance for each other i.e Muslim and Christian societies declined sharply in the 1980s and 1990s. Both are universalistic claiming to be the one true faith to which all human can adhere. Both are missionary religions believing that their adherents have an obligation to convert non-believers to that one true faith. The parallel concepts of “Jihad” and “Crusade” not only resemble each other but distinguish these two faiths from other major world religions.
Imposition of Western Culture
The collapse of communism has led the west to believe in superiority of western culture and feels that these must be adopted by all nations. Majority of Muslims to whom Islam offers a complete philosophy of life, do not subscribe to this, thereby leading to inevitability of “Clash of Civilizations”. It is ironical that this very Muslim world, which has suffered at the hands of the west in the past and which remains very weak even today, is now being projected as a threat to the west. Muslim’s only “fault” is that they are trying to rediscover their identity and putting their own house in order. This awakening on their part is taken as a challenge to the west and Muslims are discredited in the loudest possible terms and their activities are seen as a big threat to the west.In Europe and America, fear of the export of “Islamic fundamentalism” and its threat to domestic security have captured media attention and at times reinforced the images of Islam as a demographic threat.