The Clash Within and Without

In the past there were few Muslim intellectuals in Western academia who were bridges between the West and East.

islam-clash-civilizationsFor the last few decades, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Muslims have faced multiple challenges.

The world was pushed into another hostile environment by the force of narratives obviously manipulated by the powerful capitalist class in Western industrialized societies. They refurbished the old model of the clash of history and of the recent Cold War; and expounded it by forceful propaganda.

It was and is an intellectual engagement. In the West faiths had long before become subordinate to nationality; and after the Nazi threat during World War II the notion of “race” occupied a more significant place than faith. This is the reason why the so-called Western concept of “freedom of expression” can ridicule every religion except Judaism. It is because the latter was embedded in “race” and has a racial connotation. Anything anti-Judaism is dubbed as anti-Semitism.

The West has now adopted a more private version of religion and cannot empathetically feel the instinctive adoration the majority of Muslims have for their faith.

This raises the need of more interaction and dialogue. Western writers who have first-hand experience living in a Muslim country write very differently from those who haven’t. All the op-ed pages of the major world newspapers and journals underscore this fact.

In the past there were few Muslim intellectuals in Western academia who were bridges between the West and East. They could also challenge the entire “Islam and the West clash” discourse intellectually.

There remain few such men who have been deconstructing these myths. But the irony is that these very Muslim intellectuals are “apostates” or “heretics” in their home countries as Islam has virtually fallen in the hands of politico-religious bigots. It is true for Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa and the rest of the world.

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What is most unfortunate in the Muslim world is the “rise of political and radical Islam” within their own societies which maim, suppress and kill fellow Muslims. They see the entire “scheme of things” through the prism of religion only. This has made the “grand clash” as a clash within the Muslim societies.

Zubair Torwali is Director of the Institute for Education & Development in Swat. Email: ztorwali@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @zubairtorwali. Read other articles by Zubair.