The need of time is to promote coordination and coexistence of different civilisations and to reject/condemn theories of confrontation .
The establishment of Muslim rule in Spain in early 8th century brought, for the first time, the Muslim civilisation and the West in direct and close contact. Europe responded both militarily and theologically. Although further penetration of the Muslims in West was stopped by French at Tours in 732 but the religious and social effects of this Muslim conquest were not easy to be controlled. Western scholars learnt about Islam for the first time and they realised that Islam is not a Christian heresy but a triumphant, rival World religion.
Another point of interaction and confrontation between Islam and West was and is Jerusalem; a city that is considered sacred and holy by three important religions of the world i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism. These religions took turns, as it were to occupy and control Jerusalem by use of force and diplomacy. The Muslims got hold of this city during the reign of the 2nd caliph of Muslims Hazrat Umar-e-Farooq (RA) in the 1st half of 7th century.
After the great triumph in the battle of Yermuk in 636, when the Muslim army advanced towards Jerusalem and laid siege to it, the Byzantine commander slipped out of the city leaving its control to Patriarch, sophronius, who offered to surrender the city on the condition that the Caliph must take its keys from him in person. Accepting this condition, the Caliph travelled from Madina to Jerusalem, accompanied by no escort but only his slave, with whom he exchanged place on camel-back in turn. On the last lap of the journey, it was the slave’s turn to sit on the camel. Thus Hazrat Umar (RA), the most powerful ruler of the world at that time, approached the gates of Jerusalem in such a manner that he was leading the camel by holding the reins, while his slave was riding on it. The Patriarch delivered him the keys of Jerusalem.
The series of wars waged by Christian to get Jeruselum back from Muslims is historically known as crusades. The first crusade was officially launched in 1095 when Pope Urban II issued his ‘Decree of Holy war’ (Deus lo volt, meaning ‘God wills it’). On account of religious zeal and vengeance, the crusaders succeeded in capturing Jerusalem in 1096 after slaughtering all the Muslim inhabitants and protectors of the city. After almost a century, the Muslims regained the city under the dynamic and legendary leadership of Sultan Salah-ud-Din Ayubi. Though the crusaders were finally expelled from Muslim territory in 1291, the series of major and minor crusades continued till 1396 when the Ottoman Turks routed the army of crusaders at Nicopolis on the Danube. The Ottomans’ seizure of the once impregnable Constantinople (present Istanbul in Turkey) in 1453 not only fortified the frontiers of Islamic Empire but also changed the balance of power as well as the scope and nature of relations between Muslims and the West.
During the dark era of Christianity especially in 15th and 16th century too, the Muslim civilisation left indelible effects on Western civilisation. Soon after passing through the dark era and regaining political and economic stability in 17th century, the West again concentrated on containing the surging influence of Islam and Muslims. This time the Christian writers, scholars and theologians also came in the field more vociferously for countering Islam in order to boost the political and military fronts of West. The Muslims have never felt threatened by Western civilisation as the Muslims have always maintained their distinct identity in the west through the ages. In furtherance of the golden principles of their religion, the Muslims hold all the prophets in esteem and have never carried out devilish acts of desecrating the holy books and prophets of other religions whereas on the contrary the Christians and Jews have always indulged in the satanic acts of desecrating the copies of Holy Quran and using derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be upon him).
After the 1st World War, the west exploited and humiliated the Muslim countries through the Mandate System and subsequent to 2nd World War through colonisation under the so called pretext and interest of white Man’s self-proclaimed and self acquired burden/responsibility to civilise the backward peoples of the world. The West’s pivotal roles in establishment and consolidation of Israel in the heart of Arab land and its unethical and blind gigantic support for her aggressive and anti-Muslim policies have also enhanced some Muslims’ old fear of hostile western world. Even presently, the west is directly meddling in the internal affairs of Muslim states against all norms of morality and international law under the pretext of so-called ‘War against terror’; which is seen by the Muslims with reasonable suspicion.
Such kind of hostile attitude of the West has led to create acrimony as well as certain misunderstandings and misgivings between Muslims and the West which need to be curtailed for the benefit of humanity and human civilisation. In this regard, both communities are required to show prudence and to learn from past mistakes instead of repeating them. The present flames of confrontation are not only detrimental and disastrous to the Muslims but may engulf the whole humanity in the long run. Both Islam and Christianity are ground realities and it is inevitable for both communities to honour the principles and norms of coexistence. While acknowledging that we have some crucial and fundamental differences that would remain intact till the end of time, we should recognise the positive values which each community cherishes and forge ahead to work together for the betterment of God’s creation. Together, both communities have an equal task to disprove the bleak future scenario in their relations as depicted in some recent writings from the West. An important example was Samuel Huntington’s thesis, which suggested the imminent ‘clash of civilisations’ between the West on the one side, and the Islamic world (and Confucian states) on the other. Such kinds of negative predictions have often been given by different sick minded hostile western scholars at different times but it has always proved to be counter productive and it is imperative for the West to realise that they cannot halt the growth of Islam through conspiracies.