Despite all politically correct posturing to the contrary, in the mind of the West, the clash between the West and Islam is reality.
(1) After the ideological Cold War between the free world led by the US and communism, a new ColdWar has started with Islam substituting for communism.
(2) The modern version of the historic Islamic jihad and Christendom’s Crusade is today’s lifestyle clash between and Islamic theology and Christendom’s Crusade. In a recent report titled “Dangerous and deepening divide between Islamic world, West” [23.9.2012] on the violence in Muslim countries over the film on Prophet Mohammed Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent of Reuters wrote: “religion is not the only cause of confrontation”, adding that, for those who believe in clash of civilizations between the Islamic world and Western democracy, the last few weeks must seem like final confirmation of their theory…….
The outrage and violence over a crude film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad points to a chasm between Western free speech and individualism and the sensitivities of some Muslims…..The tumult over the video had not even subsided when a French magazine printed a new cartoon showing the prophet naked.
(3)The report traces how a few relatively small embassy protests that turned into militant attack in Libya and killed the US ambassador and three others, exploded as violence across Middle East and Asia; and how the pro-democracy rebellion have ultimately become Islamic revivalism, forcing the West, which supported the democratic movement in Egypt, to deal with the fundamentalist Islamic brotherhood. The very countries which Washington helped to facilitate popular backed regime last year – Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yeman – are seeing anti-Western backlash, says the report.
(4)In substance, it is really clash between the ‘Godless’ secularism of the West and Islam. Tracking the source of clash,
Islamic scholar Hossein Nasr Seyyed says that the “conflict between Muslims and Westerners is caused by the desire of Muslims to live according to the tenets of their faith.” He advocates dialogue but cautions that the dialogue cannot succeed if one side expects the other to become “more secular” while the other side sees the first as “Godless.” Sayyed adds that the Islamic world negates the Western worldview such as individualism, secular modernity and superiority of human rights and state laws over divine rights and laws.
Therefore, he says, Islam poses formidable challenge to a West that considers its own perspective as the only acceptable path for all peoples on the globe, who, it brands, as medieval and backward otherwise. Had Islam surrendered to the Western lifestyle, says Sayyed, there would have been no confrontation. The reason for the conflict is the very reality of another civilization that wishes to follow and develop on its own principles rather than on the basis of externally imposed norms that, according to many voices, now threaten the West itself.
(5) Unless they accept the Hindu principle of unity in diversity, neither will West tolerate Islamic exclusivism, nor will Islam swallow Western universalism. This is the clash.
Clash over externals – the symbols of Islam vs the symbols of freedom
Here it is relevant again to recall Guruji, who said that while the Hindu formula for world unity was founded on Inner Spirit, the Western thinkers turned extroverts “studying the world only through their senses.”
Therefore, Guruji argued, the Western thinkers unravelled the mysteries of the world of external matter, but became ignorant of the knowledge and experience of the world of Inner Spirit. Guruji asserted that this inner-directed world-unifying thought of Hindus alone could be the abiding basis for human brotherhood. Instead of inquiry from within as Guruji advocated, focussing on the externals has led the West and Islam to clashes, even on the issue of human freedom.
The West focussed on the externals of freedom – the dress and appearances – than on the freedom of the spirit and Islam responded with renewed conviction on externals, like forcing Syria to lift the ban on burqa for teachers. With the result, the clash is not so much over freedom of the spirit but the freedom of the body and its decoration or the absence of it.
Therefore, West sees headscarves, turbans and other externals of Islamic religious expression are repellent; and Muslims detest the Western externals, bluejeans and bikinis, as explicit anti-Islam. Belief systems are being simplified into [external] images to be either rejected or absorbed in their entirety.
(6) Burqa as oppression and bikini as freedom!
Losing the inner spiritual quest that Guruji had commended and obsessed with the externals, the Western and Islamic discourse are reducing the issue of freedom in the West and the lack of it in Islam to bikini as the symbol of freedom in the West and the burqa as the symbol of lack of it in Islam. The externals of burqa and bikini are now symbols of the debate on Islam and freedom. |
(7) In the India Today conclave in Delhi in March 2011, the debate was “whether burqa and bikini could co-exist” in which a feminist writer from the West and Fatima Bhutto from Islamic Pakistan participated.
(8) A google search of ‘the bikini vs. the burqa’ yields some 38.9 million results!.
(9) Recently, in Belgium, Filip Dewinter, leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party caused uproar among Muslims after starting a ‘Women Against Islamization’ campaign featuring his 19-year-old daughter, An-Sofie Dewinter on a poster, wearing a burka and a bikini.
The poster showed the glamorous teenager in burka that covered her head and face and left the body open with a bikini, with the words ‘Freedom or Islam?’ written on a red bar across Ms Dewinter’s top and the words ‘You choose!’ covering her bottom. By showing nudity as freedom from burqa, the rightwing party claimed that it wanted to convince women to take a stand against Islam.
The West posits sees nudity as symbolic of freedom from Islamic burqa! Can the discourse be more demeaning and ridiculous? The Belgian teenager’s incendiary poster was in response to the Islamic fundamentalist group, Shariah Belgium, opening the country’s first Sharia court, thus putting it on a collision course with Belgian nationalists.
(10) Here is how the Western and Islamic worlds move in opposite directions. France first, later Belgium, banned burqa. Immediately Syria, under pressure from Islamic clerics, lifted its ban on teachers wearing the burqa.
(11)Obama implicitly validates Huntington’s theory
Despite all geo-political nuancing, the undercurrent of clash with Islam is evident in the Western discourse. As recently as September 2012 in his address to the United Nations, in the context of the extreme rage displayed by the Muslim countries over the anti-Islam video, the US President Barack Obama implied Islam as the villain. R Jagannathan, a respected Indian journalist says in his column: “It is difficult to escape the impression that significant segments of Islamic and Christian societies see themselves as involved in a millennial clash-of-civilisations kind of conflict where there can be only one victor.
From burkha and headscarf bans to caricatures of the prophet to Koran burning, fundamentalists in the West have used the cloak of modernity and free speech to drive a subtle anti-Islam agenda. Hotheads in the Islamic world have reciprocated with violence and jihadi rhetoric, both in word and deed, thus confirming the west in its stereotypical view of Islam as a menace.”
(12) Asking whether Obama really succeeded in dispelling the idea that America is not a proxy for Christianity, the writer says, though Obama talked passionately about bringing an end to bigotry, intolerance and hatred based on religion, race or creed, but the bulk of his speech “was focused— directly or indirectly — on the Christianity-Islam divide, making it tough to evade the clash-of-civilisations imagery.”
(13) Referring to Obama’s words that “Muslim against Christian, Hindu, and Jew cannot deliver the promise of freedom”, the writer points to how he put Christian, Hindu and Jew against Islam.
(14) Directly pointing to Islam, Obama said in his speech that “the impulse towards intolerance and violence initially focused on the West are used to justify war between Sunnis and Shia, between tribes and clans’ and warned that ‘it leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos.”
(15) Obama went on to make more direct references on how Islamists, who violently react against slander of the prophet, remain silent when Christianity is targeted, Christ is derided, holocaust is denied or churches are destroyed. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, who said that ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence’, Obama pleaded: “Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims.” Critiquing Obama’s speech, a well-known Indian columnist, Jag Suraiyah says: “Perhaps the problem is not what fundamental Islam and fundamental Christianity don’t have in common, but what they do have in common.
And that is that both are assertively proselytising faiths which actively, often aggressively, seek converts. Proselytisation implies not just the superiority of my faith to yours; it totally denies the validity of your faith and narrows the scope of dialogue or even peaceful coexistence in mutual tolerance. This cannot but lead to conflict.”
(16) The modern version of Christianity, the West, and Islam, both being intolerant, reject unity in diversity because neither recognises the unifying inner spirit; so they reject all others and each other too. Only the Hindu spirit that recognises all can, as Guruji asserted, harmonise the world. And it is, as he said, the responsibility of the Hindu society to take that message to the world at large.
 Islam and Extremism: What Is Underneath by William DiPuccio November 1, 2012 at 4:00 am http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3425/islam-¬extremism
 Political Islam and West: A new Cold War or Convergence? by Michael E Salla Third World Quarterly Vol 18 No 4 pp729-742 1977: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3993214?uid=373825 6&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101471184883
 Reflections on Islam and the West: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Hossein Nasr Seyyed
 The Bikini and the Burqa Freedom, “Islam,” and Mandatory Civic Integration Forthcoming as Chapter Two of Glyn Morgan “Social Justice, Civic Integration, and European Enlargement” http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic207175.files/Bikini.pdf
 Search only the bikini vs. the burqa https://www.google.co.in/