Need for a reset in western view


The relationship between Muslim-majority countries and the West is crucial and involves a number of major issues. The complexity of ideological and political relations and, above all, the phenomenon of attraction/repulsion can be observed both among politicians and intellectuals and among ordinary citizens. We certainly need some renewal of this relationship.

Historically and ideologically, the ‘West vs Islam’ dichotomy has been constructed through a process both fraught and complex. To this day, it shapes perceptions of East and West at both extremes of the binary equation. There can be no substitute for frankness: A constant and implicit (and often explicit) feature of the relationship has been the imbalance of power and, as Malaysian thinker Chandra Muzaffar correctly notes, brute force. There can be no substitute for confronting the question of justice and peace between civilisations and ideologies, of power and force, directly. If recent evolution in the Middle East has demonstrated nothing else, this much it has made clear. The US and Europe, their governments and their intellectuals, continue to view the Arab world and Muslim majority societies as former colonies, as historical (and financial) debtor nations, as countries that must be kept in a state of ideological and economic dependence in order to protect the vital interests of the North. It is all well and good to talk of a multi-polar world, of the pluralism of civilisations, cultures and religions, to celebrate equality and peace, but it must be acknowledged that the terms of the relationship are as unequal as they are unfair — not only economically, but also ideologically and symbolically — and that they have kept the Global South and the Islamic Orient in a state of dependence and domination. Nothing, in the recent uprisings and their consequences being witnessed today, appears to challenge this reality in any meaningful way.
The presence of the US and Europe casts a shadow over the debate on political and economic issues, whose outcome will determine the future of every country in the Arab world and in Muslim majority societies, dictatorships or not. These issues, ranging from the role of the state and of the military or of international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, hark back in one way or another to the relationship with the West, to the question of independence and of how the wealth of nations is to be managed. The stakes are both too numerous and too high for western countries — the same countries that have been setting ideological priorities, controlling mineral resources and economic policies in the East — to allow genuine, autonomous democracies to emerge. Western power will neither easily nor happily be challenged. What may bring the West to revise its relationship with the Arab and Muslim-majority world will be, first and foremost, a shift in the centre of gravity of the world economic order. Time will pass before this can come about.

Judging by the way the Arab uprisings have unfolded with instability everywhere (from Syria to Egypt after the Coup d’Etat and to Tunisia with the announcement of new presidential election), that day is indeed far off. Yet, there is no alternative. Relationships must change and change they will, in the medium or long term. The arrival on the scene of new political and economic forces makes renewal inevitable, not only because of the different interests now involved, but also because of the very nature of these forces. China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa or Turkey’s relations with the Arab world and with Islam are quite different from that of the West’s. This is not to say that relations are uniformly fine, as evident in the repression of the Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province in 2009, the conflict in Chechnya (as well as the ongoing internal problems) along with Russia’s ruthless decades-long policy of repression or the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, India, by Hindu nationalists in 2002. There can be no room for idealisation: Several of the emerging powers are not democratic at all (China), while others are experiencing severe democratic deficits (India, Russia) resulting in repressive or discriminatory domestic policies in which Muslims are often but not exclusively the victims.

There is little significant impact, however, on the way these countries approach Middle East issues. The need for sharper focus on Islam’s relations with the East and the Far East in the coming decades will undoubtedly have a major impact on its relations with the West. Nor can Japan’s recent and deepening interest in Islam and the eastern question be overlooked. The facts are there for all to see: No longer is the American-European prism the only valid one. Intellectuals and the media in China, India, Russia and Japan (and in the Western Hemisphere and Latin America) understand the Middle East, its sense of itself and its aspirations quite differently from the West. The clouds of upheaval are gathering on the horizon.

4 Commentaires

  1. The reset or change of the western thoughts can possibly happen together with the “improvements” of the muslim societies in terms of modern communicational intelectual understanding and adoption of quran with a “wider” perspective. which is not reformist; but shall be “re-former” of the thoughts and perceptions about the “very same” things.

    There is no other way. They, most western intelligencies know sometihng about muslims but they think they have no choice to not to let them gaining more power, they see muslim soocieties “unbalanced and unstable” and they fear from them; “if they once gain power right now, …”. They just simply fear from being abused. The fear of losing the power of control is simply based on fears. Its not necessary a bad or ungrounded fear.

    But in the name of “Islam”, We muslims NOT PARTLY but altogether(i.e. in terms of governments) must show itself. Where things in modern world could be reorganized as an ultimate sense of order that both western world and muslims hasn’t imagined before. In fact this is a kind of job for mainly next generation.

    (Random) Muslims must prove theirself and their language towards so called non muslims and christians etc. as well: without any unfortunate, newby tendencies of muslim groups to the fantasies belonging to christian and other world.

    In fact there will not be only “interreligiously trials”; but also different enthnics of muslims, who dont really know eachother, should be aware of theirself and their understanding of life. Yes they could develop a closer relationship easier but it deosnt exist sufficiently yet; which is a kind of loss of intellectuality and awareness I think.

  2. Need for a reset in western view, Indeed a groundbreaking article, The Muslims are said to be 1.6 billion, second largest religion in the world, making up 23% of the world population and yet vulnerable, most of these Muslims are left far behind in social progress, the idea that societies can or do improve in terms of their social, political, and economic structures when compared with other nations in the world such as the West and even South East and Far East, reasons I know for such backwardness include the education curriculum of the Muslim countries, the Muslims became prisoners of an old fashion way of thinking, not able to came up with deep thinking, understanding, and a long vision, of course our mission is to worship Allah, as Allah mentioned in the Quran And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. But if one supposes and concludes that worship is only prayers, fasting, and Hajj, then one would surely be in confusion for one would have taken a very narrow understanding of worship, and I think one has to comprehend that with the combination of these could also be Worship, while we are praying, fasting, going to Haj, we can also innovating, and engineering, and etc. the sad part of the story is that we always believe the unknown and pay no attention or ignore the reality, everything is changing, we need new ways of thinking, adjusting the Quran, Sunna and the science, the Muslims need to adopt, learn and adjust, there are many challenges, drawbacks and a long way to go to that journey.
    On the other hand, indeed the western power dominated the world, because they own, and operate international banking system, have high technology weapons, space, education, international communication, and are capable massive military intervention, dominate and control international capital market and all hard currencies, and believe me or not for the past 400 years while the great shift in power were taking place in the world including the rise of the European country (industrial revolution), the rise of United states of America which has dominated the world in terms of political, economy, military, technology and science, the third shift which is the rise of the rest/east including china, Japan and India, Islam was declining, why? For the reason that Islam were not thinking deeply, and everything happened was the will of the almighty god, of course that is true, but perhaps there is confusion about the predestination. On flipside as Huntington explained about the way political and leaders of a society responded to the west and modernization impact on one or three ways, rejecting both westernization and modernization, embracing both, and embracing the first and rejecting the second, or in other words, rejectionist, Kemalism, and reformer not reformist, hope the future of renewal of western relationship lies in the reformer.
    To add that, first western particularly Europe brought their ideology to Africa and Middle East and create economic dependences, secondly United States of America the world military power and of course the product of British Empire, the offspring of the colonial era, successor today treated largely political Islam as a global threat similar to the way that communism was perceived.
    Dr. Tariq I understand your argument about the renewal of western relationship with the Islam into more understandable, fair, justice and peace between civilizations and ideologist, that is exemplary point, I also come to an understand the depiction that says the rest including china, Japan, India and Russia are not either democratic at all or encountering or underwent severe democratic deficits based on oppressive, coercive and discernment policies which Muslims themselves are incompatible victims, Bizarrely either way is problem, hope its time Islam understands the balance of power, the decline of the west and the rise of the rest.

  3. Salam ,

    course of Muslim/Christian relations

    466 pages
    $21.95 / £13.95
    ISBN: 978-1-59731-465-7

    The Covenants
     of the
    Prophet Muhammad
     with the
    Christians of the World
    The Prophet’s covenants with Christians, which John Andrew Morrow has rediscovered in obscure collections and often newly translated—providing also powerful arguments for their validity—uniformly order Muslims not to attack peaceful Christian communities. Authored by the Prophet himself, they represent a third foundational pillar for Islam outside of Qur’an and hadith. Now that paramilitary forces calling themselves “Muslims” are persecuting the Christians of the Middle East—often with U.S. aid—making true Muslims everywhere complicit in their crimes, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World could not be more timely. The “Covenants Initiative” within the book gives Muslims a chance to say no to these atrocities, and follow the Prophet’s command to defend Christian believers “until the End of the World.”

    “These letters from the Prophet Muhammad to Christian communities can serve to inspire both Muslims and Christians about our ability to live together as God’s people, as friends, as neighbors, and as custodians of the same small planet.”—OMID SAFI, University of North Carolina

  4. On September 1, 2014, Shaykh Yahya Pallavicini, Italian Ambassador of the Covenants Initiative, an international movement of Muslims to defend persecuted Christians based in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Lexington Kentucky, presented a copy of “The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World” to Pope Francis. The book, by Dr. John Andrew Morrow, a professor, author, and research scholar, contains the texts of six treaties between Muhammad and Christian communities of his time; they command Muslims not to attack or rob peaceful Christians, but rather defend them “until the end of the world.” Many Muslim scholars consider these covenants, authored by the Prophet himself, to be legally binding upon Muslims today. Shaykh Pallavicini described Francis as “very touched by my words of solidarity for the Christians in the Middle East”; the Pope extended his blessings to him for the important role we have as Western Muslims.


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