A Conflict of Cultures
Humanity lives crowded together in an increasingly small world of many cultures. It is no longer possible for any Muslim to isolate himself completely from the influences of alien civilization or from the impact of corrupt environments, no matter where he happens to live. Western culture, in particular, has become attractive to many Third World inhabitants due to its aura of freedom, opportunity and prosperity, and, it must be conceded, is the dominant influence in the modern world today. An overall lack of knowledge and Taqwa has lowered the ordinary Muslim’s resistance to temptations of all kinds. In spite of professed loyalty to Islam, one finds varying attitudes about the present situation.
Some consider western culture as completely evil and immoral, unworthy of any respect and one that should be shunned altogether. But besides being an unrealistic generalization, this view reflects a certain ignorance of Islamic principles. Most Muslim scholars allow for the acquisition of particular benefits from any society, such as scientific and technical knowledge, but consider most social aspects as dangerous and contrary to Islamic teachings.
And some claim that one can live in a western manner without affecting his status as a Muslim, as long as he pronounces the Shahadah and believes that Allah is One. Such people seek to be accepted in the society in which they live, and argue that certain visible aspects of Islam such as prayer and hijab are less important than being kind and well-mannered. This view is a product of the twentieth century.
But history bears witness to the fact that when Muslims feared and obeyed Allah, they ruled the world; but when the world ruled their hearts in place of Allah, they were defeated both militarily and psychologically.
Early efforts by the West to defeat Islam in the form of crusader invasions were based openly on religious claims. Later on, it was no longer considered wise to admit to a religious motive, so future invasions of the Muslim world were carried out in the name of economics and the awakening of Third World inhabitants to material progress.
After the failure of military defeat to erase the influence of Islam, the West turned to other methods. The various tactics are summed up in what is referred to as the ideological assault, whose specific aim is to weaken the influence of the Qur’an and the Sunnah among Muslims and thereby weaken their resistance to westernization. These include:
– Continued support and financing of Christian missionary movements.
– The introduction of secular education into Islamic countries with the aim of alienating the Muslim youth from their religion and the Arabic language linking them to it
– The Zionist plan to dominate the earth by control of the economy and media. Once addicted to pleasure, ease, individual freedom and materialistic interests, people will accept anything in order to maintain their pathetic condition.
– The promotion of women’s movements aimed at eventually liberating them from modesty, chastity and family commitment in the name of ‘self-fulfillment’.
– The encouragement of nationalism, regionalism, local cultural traditions or any other loyalties that can take the place of Islam as well as anything that keeps Muslims away from correct practices and social reforms.
– The distortion of Islam in the news media and categorization of Muslims who follow the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah as fundamentalist extremists. There is a call for the ‘reformation’ of Islam and its ‘modernization’ to make it more compatible with western ways.
– The unification of all world religions under the concept that no religion has a monopoly on the truth and that all religions are an equally valid means to seek God.
Most Europeans today are atheists who have no respect for Christianity. So why should they respect Islam? The material success of western culture at the expense of others gave its people an air of superiority, but in any case, they have never been accepting of anything foreign. This civilization is now in decline and has nothing more to contribute to the world except for new and ever increasing perversions.
To many westerners, Islam is particularly distasteful. It is foreign, eastern, non-white, Arab, Third World, adhered to by ‘enemies’… and it is too much concerned with a life other than this earthly life. In addition, Muslims are asserting themselves and have become an open annoyance. They oppose western domination and are critical of its culture. They do not accept Israel. They are developing nuclear bombs. They are giving contracts to non-western competitors. And at the same time, they are invading western countries, seeking asylum, jobs and opportunities and then forming their own little colonies which refuse to integrate into the sacred western mold. They even assert that Islam is the ultimate truth!
“And never will the Jews and the Christians accept you until you follow their way.” (Qur’an 2: 120)
As we know, their way or religion is not that which was taught by their prophets, but it is what they themselves have made it in every age. Presently, it is represented by a culture that worships material progress and will not tolerate any challenge to that ideology.
There will surely be more attacks in the future, for arrogance knows no limits and accepts no restraints. Muslims will endure much abuse, but we must oppose it within the limits of Islam. Peaceful demonstrations and boycotts are called for, but should we not as well be quietly producing scientists, technologists, inventors, doctors and engineers who, for love of their religion, do not emigrate to rich western countries but remain back to serve Islam and Muslims? Should not our wealthy invest in their own regions – even at low returns – to create employment for those who would otherwise stream to the West? Should not our industries produce inexpensive but good quality goods to reduce poverty at home and enrich the world at large? Should not Muslim leadership set up institutions where free Islamic courses are offered to non-Muslim students? Should not every individual Muslim become a da`wah worker within his own field and according to his own capacity and ability?
“And say: ‘Work, for Allah will see your deeds, and [so will] His Messenger and the believers.'” (Qur’an: 9: 105)
(Umm Muhammad is a scholar of Islam of American origin. Proficient in Arabic, she has authored numerous books)