Clash of Civilisations: Myth or Reality?
Is the idea that we are experiencing a clash of civilisations between Islam and the Christian West a myth, or does it have a basis in reality?
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The idea of a clash of civilisations is a myth designed to whip up passions in the hearts of western...
The idea of a clash of civilisations is a myth designed to whip up passions in the hearts of westerners. The fabulous theory of the West versus Islam has evolved out of the mind of a few politically motivated people who are trying to promote divisions, and because the media find it a saleable story. There are many serious clashes taking place in the world besides tensions between different religious and cultural traditions, and these poses more danger to the existence of mankind. For example, 'the clash of the currencies' in which the dollar, the euro and the yen are fighting for economic supremacy. Or competition between nations for increasingly scarce resources, such as oil, minerals or even water rights. These could lead the world into financial depression which might blow into a war between the haves and the have-nots. There is also a clash of genders taking an ugly form, as rapes go on increasing along with domestic violence against women, closely followed by ever increasing divorces. The good news is that international polls show that less than 30% of respondents in 27 countries think that tensions between Islam and the West are caused by religious and cultural differences, blaming political disputes and competing economic interests instead.
The clash of civilisations is not a myth but a realistic analysis of the current international situation. It is sad to acknowledge that the clash of civilisations is here to stay but we have to learn to live with it, willingly or unwillingly. Since the end of the Cold War the main global conflicts have not been ideological or economic, but between civilisations divided from each other by culture, religion, language and history. Samuel Huntington in his book, “The Clash of Civilisations” mentions on page 51 'the West won the world by organised violence'. Even today the West is trying to maintain its dominance over the world through organised violence. The rise of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the USSR is an example of a proxy war that the US fought, putting guns on the shoulders of defiant Afghans. It was planned, sponsored and executed in the Pentagon. The difference now is that the West is not able to push around other cultures as it used to do – instead its actions will inevitably lead to conflict. Today many Muslim countries are busy amassing military might to fight an enemy in future, and Israel is always there, confident in its backing from its US patron. Even if civilisations do not want to plunge into such a war, the threat is there. The West may be forced to clash due to unavoidable political compulsions. A different example of civilisations in conflict can be found in Sri Lanka, where two civilisations in one country refuse to intermingle and there is a clash between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils, whose armed wing is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam.
The common ties of humanity are stronger than any cultural differences dividing mankind. Tolerance ...
The common ties of humanity are stronger than any cultural differences dividing mankind. Tolerance for difference flourishes and evidence for cooperation is stronger than for conflict. Thus Muslims continue to flourish in the West, while westerners also stream into Islam, making it the fastest growing religion in the world. There are many families in Christian Europe which do not mind their children following a faith often labelled as terrifying. And latest reports tell us that after 11 September 2001, western countries still remain the favourite choice of Arab students for higher education. So globalisation has united various civilisations under one roof. Geographical boundaries only remain on the globe as symbols, like latitudes and longitudes. Every country wants to become rich through interdependence with others, by selling its talents, natural resources and shares abroad. Even countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are often blamed for the roots of terrorism, are in a race towards economic prosperity.
The clash of the civilisations is not a myth but a reality that is taking shape in the minds of people through discussions, news, education, books and religious teaching. Though the West is allowing many of its citizens to accept Islam, Christianity does not grow in the Muslim countries, resulting in frustration in the ranks of the missionaries who collect millions of dollars from rich Christians in the name of spreading the message of Christ. Conflict between Islam and the West is also shown through disputes over religious practices, such as the banning of hijab in French schools and attempts to control the teaching of religious institutions. The opposition of many Europeans to the idea of allowing Muslim Turkey into the European Union demonstrates that they see Islam to be something un-European – an unacceptable “other”.
So-called civilisations are not monolithic but very varied, with their own internal tensions and con...
So-called civilisations are not monolithic but very varied, with their own internal tensions and conflicts, so any idea that there are blocs of civilisations in clear opposition to each other is flawed. For example, not all Americans agree with their country’s strong support for Israel. Many European states opposed US action against Iraq in 2003. And Saudi Arabia and Iran are very different types of Islamic state, often strongly opposed to each other on political and religious issues. \
In any case, the people of Israel are actually cousins of the Arabs. When the Christian West did not want the Jews to stay in their land, it was the generosity of the Arabs that gave Jewish refugees a place to live. Though Israel today is a nuclear power, yet its people are now tired of the strenuous war. The anti-war crowd is swelling; in the USA, in Britain and in Israel too there is a desire to find a long lasting solution.
The idea that there is a clash of civilisations does not claim that these great cultural blocs are monolithic. Nonetheless, groups of nations sharing religious and cultural traditions have much more in common than dividing them, and their shared interests are radically opposed to those of other civilisations. For example, as long as the Palestinian problem exists, the threat of a terrible clash of civilisations beginning looms over the world. Uncritical American support for Israel helps to explain why Muslims all over the world see themselves as in opposition to the West. They ask why is the UN so lazy in sending its army to arbitrate in Palestine, when the world saw the marching of armies from scores of western countries to free Kuwait from Saddam? Why do they think it is fine for Israel to acquire nuclear weapons but Iran must be punished for merely trying to develop civilian nuclear power? Even if Israeli citizens are fed up of war, yet their leaders are not willing to compromise on the security of Israel.
Far from being increasingly divided into rival civilisations, the post-Cold War world is actually gr...
Far from being increasingly divided into rival civilisations, the post-Cold War world is actually growing closer together. Countries are no longer divided by ideology, as they were for much of the twentieth century, but are increasingly bound together by multilateral institutions and by economic globalisation. Modern media and communications, as well as widespread migration around the world have made many people aware of different cultures, and brought tolerance and respect. Awareness of human rights and of environmental concerns focuses on our common humanity and promotes international cooperation rather than conflict. And many of the examples of international clashes clearly undermine Huntingdon’s argument, for example western intervention in Balkan wars to protect Muslim peoples in Bosnia and Kosovo against Christian Serb aggression.
The clash between Islam and the West is not the only source of conflict between civilisations today. Many civil conflicts stem from major cultural divisions within countries. For example, the reservation to the backward castes in India has not brought fruits as expected and tension continues to grow as more and more Indian citizens choose Buddhism, Christianity and Islam over Hinduism; newspapers stories carry stories of mass conversions as a rebellion against high caste Hindus. Ukrainians are split between a more European-leaning west and an orthodox, Russian-speaking east. Most violently, Shia, Sunni and Kurdish Iraqis are bitterly divided. Such internal divisions often draw in other countries on behalf of their cultural brethren, for example Iran with the Shia in Iraq, or Russia wishing to bounce back in the political field as a heavyweight in Ukraine.
All of the 57 Muslims countries know that they are not so powerful as to take on the West. So there...
All of the 57 Muslims countries know that they are not so powerful as to take on the West. So there is no military arrogance sensed here. If the world was heading towards a major clash, then why is Bush considered to be the biggest danger to the world by so many people, including the intellectuals of his own country? This is a clear sign that wisdom still prevails. It is this wisdom, this high quality of intelligence in the westerners that makes them refuse to blindly follow their leaders' war-mongering policies. The Qur'an became one of the best sellers after 9/11. People read, analysed and then many of them said 'yes' to Islam; still thousands continue to embrace this religion. Samuel Huntington forgot to include the reasons for the spread of Islam among westerners. The media rarely discusses the phenomenon of the rise of Islam in the West. You will only find it in the corners of a few newspapers.
There may not be any military might in the Muslims but a suicidal tendency is always there. Their frustration could be focused upon blaming the west for their miseries. And the greed for oil by western countries could lead crises to flare up. It just requires another spark like 9/11, and the whole world would be in the midst of a clash. It could happen at any moment, anywhere. \
In addition, the threat to global peace is not only from islamists and westerners, but also from bloody local fights between various factions. The Shia-Sunni fight is growing dangerously, rifts between the USA and South American states are increasing, with their rulers and people coming out openly to mock Bush, the LTTE in Sri Lanka is in a renewed civil war with government forces. Is there any single country in the world, a powerful country, which can enforce peace amid such mass killings? Is the UN fit and courageous? NO. Then wait for the D-day.
People of faith have too much respect for each other to enter into a global conflict over religious ...
People of faith have too much respect for each other to enter into a global conflict over religious differences. The last Pope was very concerned about the war in Iraq, and wanted to go there as a human shield to protect innocents. Even Islam promotes intelligent dialogue with the people of the book. It addresses both Christians and Jews with highly honoured terms like 'O people of the book'! In fact the Qur’an commands the Muslims, 'and dispute not with the people of the book except in a best way' (Holy Qur'an chapter 29 verse 46). The Qur'an goes further to declare the inner feeling of the Christians about the Muslims; 'Nearest to the believers in love you will find those who say 'we are Christians' (Holy Qur'an chapter5, verse 82)\
There is not a single non-Christian religion in the world, besides Islam, which makes it an article of faith for its believers to believe in Jesus, including his miraculous birth. Muslims are told to love, honour and respect Jesus as well his mother Mary. There is an entire chapter called Surah Maryam. (Mary in Arabic). The Qur'an gives witness that Mary was a chaste woman. So anyone who thinks that Islam incites hatred against westerners (read here Christians) must go through the Qur’an to cross check the allegations. \
Those who bet upon the Popes for world peace should know that now there is a new Pope and we know that his remarks about Prophet Muhammed have sparked friction in the already strained relations between the Muslims and the Christians. Those who blame only the Islamists for the decaying of peace, should also blame the Pope and the missionaries too for their big contribution in disturbing peace, in fact they have acted as catalysts. Inciting crime is as bad as taking part in crime. There is a tribe of people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell who go on the TV shows and spit venom against Islam, thus promoting Islamic retaliation. \
There is also a prophecy of 'Armageddon' in the books of Christians, and a 'Mother of all Battles' in the Muslim books, in which there is the mentioning of an Anti-Christ, and a big war between Christians and non-Christians. Some preachers have been saying that the Prophet Muhammed is this Anti-Christ, indicating that the Christians must mentally prepare for a war that is approaching the world faster. \
Wishing for peace is one thing but the threat of conflict is for real and not a myth. How many people choose to understand their religion in a correct manner? And that is a key reason to fear that the world will be unwillingly plunged into war. When the doom is near, even intellectuals fail to judge correctly, and that is what we see around us.\
If you consider the rate of the growth of Islam in the west, and the way in which intellectuals in t...
If you consider the rate of the growth of Islam in the west, and the way in which intellectuals in the Muslim community are taking control into their hands from the hands of the Ulema, we reach the conclusion that in the near future there seems to be no threat of the clash of the civilisations, as both sections of humanity are gaining benefits from each other. The West is receiving moral education from Islam and Muslims are allowing their children to come the universities of the west for further studies. Both sides gain in prosperity from the rising tide of globalisation. The clash of civilisation idea was advanced by Samuel Huntington more than twelve years ago, but even today, after six years of a neo-conservative Bush administration much influenced by Huntingdon’s thesis, any clash is not turned in a full fledged bloody war. We have still not turned into morons.
It would not take much time for the world to wade into the forbidden zone. The clash has already begun: it takes place in hundreds of chat rooms, in TV shows, in newspaper columns, in thousands of websites in Cyberspace, in school debates and workplaces over small issues like face covering and the Danish cartoons of 2006 - everywhere the clash has begun to scratch. Already there were more than 60 000 books written in the West alone between 1800 and 1950 against Islam, plus there are now thousands of websites spitting venom against Islamic culture, which is brain washing the minds of Christians. So the clash which seems to be far away could be very close all of a sudden.
What do you think?