If, as the true believers think, George W. Bush really does have to meet his Maker someday, and if God really is Just and Good, and if the point of the meeting is to decide whether George will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, then that man should be thanking the divinity every moment of his waking life for making ignorance bliss. If he had any understanding at all of the harm he has done to his country and His world, “nervous as hell” would not even begin to describe what George Bush’s state of mind would now be. He and his coterie sowed the seeds of hatred for the West among Muslims. It is due to their wrongdoings that today the miscreants in Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups yearn for a “clash of civilizations” that will disgorge the Muslim world from the clutches of the West.
In 1993, the late Harvard professor, Samuel P. Huntington, published an article, “The Clash of Civilizations?” in Foreign Affairs magazine. Since then, his theory has provoked continuing heated controversy in both the academic world and in the halls of governments. Predicting the future lines of wars, Huntington wrote: “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
The ascendance of the role and danger of non-state actors on the international stage is upon us. The daring attacks by asymmetrical warfare tactics, carried out by the notorious Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), a fanatic hard-line al-Qaeda offshoot, has been able to sow the seeds of a major confrontation between civilizations and religions. In just over a month, Daesh has been able to attack three major world powers — precipitating unwavering war. This was done by downing a civilian Russian charted airliner over Sinai in Egypt killing 224 people; in daring simultaneous attacks in Paris killing 130 innocent people; and carrying out a brutal attack in San Bernardino in Southern California USA, killing 14 people.
The intended or unintended consequences of such a showdown rekindled what the late Huntington argued in his seminal book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” two decades ago. Before Huntington’s book, Bernard Lewis wrote an article in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly entitled “The Roots of Muslim Rage” in which he warned of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. It was ironic that both writers’ warnings came out in the late 1990s, before the existence of al-Qaeda and, of course, before the emergence of Daesh, as it is being portrayed falsely as the poster child of Islamic ‘barbarity and terrorism’.
Daesh with its inhuman acts of terrorism including, but not limited to, beheadings and fierce methods of slaughtering its enemies has precipitated a clash within Islam’s 1.7 billion Muslims, majority of which condemns and rejects such behaviour as un-Islamic and attributes the acts perpetrated by a fringe elements of its adherents, who are triggering a “Fitnah” (sedition) amongst Muslims. In addition, Daesh is precipitating a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, thus fulfilling Huntington’s prophecy. But this should not be happening, under the name of Islam; a religion which calls for tolerance, peace, forbearance and coexistence.
Furthermore, what Daesh is doing is un-Islamic and is against the teachings of Islam. What is being touted as ‘jihad’ is the very antithesis of the Quranic injunction that specifically equates the killing of a single innocent person with the killing of entire humanity. There is no place for suicide squads in its schema either since committing suicide is a cardinal sin (haram) in the eyes of Islam. And the ‘warriors of Islam’ in this ongoing killing spree have murdered more Muslims than Christians.
A French journalist who was held prisoner by [Daesh] described how the ideology his captors spoke of had little to do with religion. He said, “It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. … They didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”
Another widespread misconception about terrorists that has to be addressed by scholars is that they only carry out attacks on non-Muslims and keep their Muslim brethren unharmed. On the contrary, the statistics studied by Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the United States’ Military Academy suggest that more Muslims have lost their lives at the hands of different barbaric militias since 9/11, around the world, as compared to non-Muslims.
Today, the gap is widening and the anti-Muslim sentiment has reached a fever pitch. With the so-called civilised world reeling from the Daesh’s attacks and wonton killings, certain Western political figures, led by the Republican US presidential candidate frontrunner, Donald Trump are calling in a bigoted fashion, for establishing a database for American Muslims and monitoring their mosques! It is ironic these remarks were mouthed with impunity before the attack in San Bernardino! Not long ago such views would have been far beyond the pale for acceptable mainstream discourse. But today they barely stood out in a presidential field desperately outbidding each other to be the toughest on “radical Islam.”
Muslim scholars, governments and academics in the Muslim World and the West should lead the discussions about not falling in the trap of the clash of Civilizations. The unholy coalition between Daesh and the likes of Trumps has to be broken, because Daesh does not represent Islam and mainstream Muslims. The same way those Republican presidential candidates and the others, who subscribe to their skewed thinking, do not have exclusive hold or representation of Western civilization.