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Mar 2015

After the recent killing of French cartoonists in Paris, intellectuals in the West have begun to ask: Has the clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity begun? Two decades ago, Professor Samuel P. Huntington had predicted such happening in his book The Clash of Civilizations. He had come to the conclusion that for 1400 years Christianity and Islam have been in conflict with each other. Given the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity, conflicts are bound to reappear again. He had observed that militarism, indigestibility and proximity to non - Muslim groups are the factors responsible for the continuing conflict between Islam and Christianity. In recent times, Muslim minorities have proved to be indigestible by non-Muslim societies including China. Indigestibly arises because Islam merges religion and politics. Islam draws a sharp distinction between those who live in darul Islam and those who reside in darul harb. Confucians, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians have little difficulty in living with each other than any one of them living with Muslims.  In 1993 article, The Clash of civilizations? Samuel P. Huntington had warned that a clash of Civilizations is going to dominate global politics in the years to come.

Relations between Islam and Chrisianity : Huntington went on to observe that some westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise. The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodex and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other's Other.  It is a deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity. At times, peaceful coexistence has prevailed; more often the relation has been one of intense rivalry and of varying degrees of hot war. Their “historical dynamics,” John Esposito comments, … often found the two communities in competition, and locked at times in deadly combat, for power, land and souls.  Across the centuries the fortunes of the two religions have risen and fallen in a sequence of momentous surges, pauses, and countersurges.

The causes of this ongoing pattern of conflict flow from the nature of the two religions and the civilizations based on them. Conflict was product of difference between the Muslim concept of Islam as a way of life transcending and uniting religion and politics versus the Western Christian concept of the separate realms of God and Caesar.

Whatever their political or religious opinions, Muslims agree that basic differences exist between their culture and Western culture. The bottom line, as Sheik Ghanoushi put it, is that our societies are based on values other than those of the West. The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.

The initial Arab-Islamic sweep outward from the early seventh to the mid-eighth century established Muslim rule in North Africa, Iberia, the Middle East, Persia, and northern India.  For two centuries or so the lines of division between Islam and Christianity stabilized. Then in the late eleventh century, Christians reasserted control of the western Mediterranean, conquered Sicily, and captured Toledo. In 1095 Christendom launched the Crusades and for a century and a half Christian potentates attempted, with decreasing success, to establish Christian rule in the Holy Land and adjoining areas in the Near East. Meanwhile the Ottoman Turks had appeared on the scene.  They first weakened Byzantium and then conquered much of the Balkans and Constantinople in 1453, and besieged Vienna in 1529. Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt, and it has done that at least twice in the past.

Retreat of Islam: By the fifteenth century, however, the tide had begun to turn. The Christians gradually recovered Iberia, completing the task at Granada in 1492. The Ottomans subsequently made one last push forward, besieging Vienna again in 1683. Their failure marked the beginning of a long retreat, involving the struggle of Orthodox peoples in the Balkans to free themselves from Ottoman rule; the expansion of the Hapsburg Empire, and the dramatic advance of the Russians to the Black sea and the Caucasus. In the course of a century or so the scourge of Christendom was transformed into the sick man of Europe. At the conclusion of World War I, Britain, France, and Italy administered the coup de grace and established their direct or indirect rule throughout the remaining Ottoman lands except for the territory of the Turkish Republic. By 1920 only four Muslim countries-Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan-remained independent of non-Muslim rule. 

These Hindus are called refugees because they have sought asylum in India to save their religion. Their persecution in Pakistan would have, in all probability, come to an end if they had converted to Islam. The sufferings which they are undergoing is entirely due to the refusal of Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru to agree to an exchange of populations.

Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah and seven other Muslim League leaders in 1946-47 had proposed an exchange of populations as a part of their demand for the partition of India. Jinnah had met Viceroy Wavell in 1946 and pressed for an exchange. Justice G. D. Khosla in his report submitted to the Government of India in 1948, had mentioned the dates on which such proposals were made by the Muslim leaders. In early 1948, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Raj Kumari Amirt Kaur had gone to Gandhiji and asked for an exchange of population. He turned a deaf ear.


April 2017


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