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Clash of Civilizations- Real Issues at the Heart

Samuel Huntington wrote the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and said Islam poses the greatest danger to the West and Christianity as a civilization. The root of the matter lies in injunctions of the religious Scriptures- the Bible, the Quran and also the Torah of the Jews all which have the same genesis. Secondly, the changing demography in the West with respect to Muslims is deemed to enhance the ‘Clash’ apart from the complicated world polity. So this clash of civilizations is discussed here from two perspectives-geo-strategic and demographic clash and scriptural clash.

The U.S. Department of State brought out the latest ‘Fact Sheet: Islam in the United States’ that

i) Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the U.S. By the year 2010, America’s Muslim population is expected to surpass the Jewish population, making Islam the country’s second-largest faith after Christianity

ii) Its members came from all of the five major continents. Most Muslims are immigrants while 22.4% are U.S. born,

iii) Ethnic origins of the Muslim community are- 26.2% Arabs, 24.7%South Asia, 23.8% African American, 11.6% White Americans, 10.3% Middle East (Not Arab) and 6.4% East Asia,

iv) Estimates put the number of Muslims in the US upto eight million;

v) An average of 17,500 Americans converted to Islam each year between 1990 and 1995,

vi) The earliest group of Muslims including Christians and others were brought to America from West Africa from 1530 to 1851, because of the slave trade, 14% of them could be Muslims

vii) The next sizable number of Muslims that immigrated to the US during the early 20th century were from Lebanon, Syria and other countries across the Ottoman Empire,

viii) The post-World War II era, during the 1960s and ’70s, saw the third substantial Muslim immigration from all parts of the world. Many of them came to study at American universities,

ix) Approximately a third of American Muslims live in the East US (32.2%), 25.3% live in the South, 24.3% in the Central/Great Lakes Region, and 18.2% in the West and

x) There are nearly 2000 mosques nationwide as well as numerous Islamic day schools and Sunday and weekend schools.

The World Jewish Congress ‘Policy Dispatches- May 2001’ noted that ‘Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe’. Ever since 1673, when the Polish king Jan III Sobieski led a force of 50,000 troops against the Turkish Ottoman army in the battle of Chocim near Vienna, Europe has been a predominantly Christian preserve and a bulwark of that faith. Indigenous European Muslims mostly in Southeast Europe or Balkan were as a result of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1918 which once ruled including Hungary) that ruled Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo apart from Turkey and small Muslim inhabitation in almost all parts of Europe.

During the last few decades, Europe has witnessed a quiet revolution of sorts with nearly 20 million people in the European Union (EU) countries registering themselves as Muslims and European Muslims represent a political force to be reckoned with. Going by this trend, Muslims will account for more than 10% of the overall population of Europe by 2020. Between 1961 and the present, the Muslim population of Great Britain rose from 82 thousand to one million. By contrast the Jewish population declined from 0.40 to 0.25 million. Mosques can be found in virtually every city and town in Western Europe. In Copenhagen Muslims account for 10% of the population; in Sweden, close to 4% of the population that is 15 times more numerous than Jews. Marseilles will very soon become the first western European city with an Islamic majority.

By comparison, there is no country in Western Europe in which the Jewish population, with its far higher profile, accounts for any more than a small fraction of the local Muslim population. In France, traditionally hostile to Israel, there are at least 4.2 million Muslims accounting for more than 7% of the entire population. Whole quarters of certain French cities are today dominated by Arabic-speaking Muslims. In Germany, there are many Muslims besides more than 2 million Turks, who are little inclined to religious fanaticism – and others who strive to assimilate into the local cultures of their host countries. Some, however, have succumbed to fundamentalist Islamic propaganda. Recently one radical Islamic organization in Europe declared that ‘Muslims have been surrounded by a sea of Kufr (non-believers), unacceptable practices, and Kufr systems of life- homosexual, adultery, fornication besides Jews’.

On the face of it, European Jews and Muslims seem like natural allies at least in some matters as both have had to defend aspects of their religious observance. These practices extend to common Jewish and Muslim slaughter of animals (Shechita/Hallal), circumcision and distinctive dress. However, their interests in Europe diverge when it comes to the question of Israel and Palestinians. Certain neo-Nazi groups are inclined with some European Muslims in order to pursue the common Jewish enemy. The Stockholm-based Radio Islam is working on a ‘˜puritanical’ view of Islam- concluded the Jewish policy report.

Wendy Murray Zoba in Christianity Today raised the issue ‘Are Christians prepared for Muslims in the mainstream?’ noting that ‘many Muslims possess as much reticence and misunderstanding toward American Christians as Christians do toward Muslims. They think that our faith is corrupted and that we hate them’. It remarked Islam is probably the largest religion in the world as other estimates of Muslims come closer to two billion. Islam is gaining most of its U.S. converts on university campuses and some in prisons. Surprisingly Anglo women make up another demographic with a high conversion rate to Islam in the U.S. which is changing the cultural and religious landscape in the US that is detrimental to Christianity.

A hospital in Detroit offers Muslim patients copies of the Quran; Denver International Airport includes a chapel for Muslim prayers; the U.S. Senate has invited a Muslim cleric to open its session in prayer; the military has hired four Muslim chaplains; the White House sends greetings on Id al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadan; the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C. sends 100 Qurans a month to interested readers while imams send volunteers to teach Arabic. “On Capitol Hill’¦weekly Muslim prayer services and forums to expose congressional staffers to Muslim viewpoints have become regular fare,” notes Ira Rifkin of Religion News Service and a postage stamp commemorating Ramadan bill was issued following a bill passed by the Congress. CAIR’s 1999 annual report on Muslim civil rights cited of Chicago schools, where alternative foods are available when pork is served and Paterson, New Jersey, where the school district cancels classes on two Muslim holidays.

‘Islam has a missionary mandate and the West is one of its final frontiers. They see us as having forsaken the foundations of our faith believing that Christianity has failed on the racial, social, and religious perspectives and they have a mandate from God: the whole world has to come under the banner of Islam. There is a desperate need for evangelical Christians to take the time to understand Islam and not to buy into the stereotypes that are floating out there and win them into Christianity’, the report concluded.

On the other hand, the Nation of Islam in the US led by Louis Farrakhan brandished its movement by quoting the verses from the Scriptures coming to the root- the clash of Scriptural injunctions in verses of the Quran and the Bible. That says Islam is a continuity of religion through the prophets and Judaism and Christianity are its predecessors (Quran 4:47, 6:89) because Muhammad is the last Prophet and the most important one as ordained by God (Allah). The Quran is quoted: Jews do not accept later prophets like Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad and the Christians do not accept Muhammad in spite of counsel on Christians in the Bible (Bible verses John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:12,13) while it is incumbent on Muslims to revere and accept the past Prophets.

Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ) was saved and raised to in Heaven as ordained by God (Quran 4:157,158). The Quran says he was not crucified in ‘˜that’ humiliating manner though it appeared to the ‘infidels’ and Jews as such and the so-called crucifixion is a fiction. And Jesus never said, he was a God, he preached to the people as a prophet as he was and he carried the words of God (Quran 3:80). Jesus said: worship God, not me (Quran 5:72) and God is not in Trinity (Quran 5:73). Quran says Jesus will be asked by God after Qayamat (Armageddon) if he ever claimed while on earth that he was a God or Son of God or Father (God) Himself and that Jesus will reply ‘No’ before God (Quran 5:116).

The Quran elaborates on the ‘confusion’ of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Bible around a single person. It says the Ingil (Bible) was modified by human beings from being Words of God in some vital verses (Quran 5:14) as the Jews forged the Torah (Quran 5:13) and hid some portion of Torah (Quran 6:91). There is no original Hebrew Ingil on this earth now. Such doctoring of the Bible caused problems in the integrity of other Bible verses which are still intact though in Latin scripts and translation. Hence the perplexion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the revised versions of the Bible (Quran 4:171). Jesus was not a father as he had no son, he worshipped a God but God is not Father because God is more than anything else let alone Father or Mother. God had no son nor did He have a wife or relatives (Quran 6:100). God is above all these ‘lowly’ and earthly qualities. It enquires as to how a person could at all become both a father and a son! That is cited as utter bewilderment of the Bible since some verses were tailored to suit false preachers and claimant prophets and as a result ‘erroneous’ believers came into being.

Jews and Christians are friends and protectorates among themselves (Quran 5:51). Those followers will be forever blind, not knowing the truth or seeing the light of God- Quran further says (6:110). Jesus was indeed strengthened with ‘˜holy spirit’ as any human being has a ‘˜spirit’. But the Christians exaggerated the concept of Holy Spirit to deny prophesy and counseling of the Bible that another prophet will come after him (Jesus) to continue his mission as ordained by God as the last prophet with the comprehensive and final ‘Testament’. The Bible ‘claims’ that the later Prophet who was indeed Prophet Muhammad must be Holy Spirit. Can a real man in Jesus or a person be ‘spirit’ which, like ‘mind’ or ‘belief’, is not a physical human or divine being? That is utter Idolization that was prevented by the Quran, Bible and Torah (that was revealed during the time of Moses and Jews for that particular time as indeed Bible was sent for a particular time of Jesus).

Quran qualifies the Christians as Nazrins (people of Nazareth). According to Christians- Jesus sent Holy Spirit and that ‘should be’ himself not that promised Prophet as Bible really said God will send. So the utter confusion in the Trinity- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit around a single Person (Jesus). In the Bible, the verse John 14:16 reads as ‘And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide you forever’. John 14:26 says ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who the Father send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you’. In John 15:26 is ‘But when the Helper comes, whom I send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me’. John 16:12 warns, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now’. John 16: 13 continues, ‘However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but Whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come’.

Anyway what logic is there when a Holy Scripture was revised in many versions like King James’ Version, Gideon’s International Version and so on- Muslims say pointing out further that in different publications of Bibles by different publishers, there are different sentence and phrasal structures all around. To make matters worse adding more confusion to utter confusion, there are divisions Old Testament and New Testament in a single Bible. Why so? Because of the mentioned human revision of the Holy Scripture, it is difficult and indeed made illogical to follow half of the Bible. Christians say they follow New Testament. Then why do they keep Old Testament that they can’t follow as burden to their Bible?

Christians still argue that they follow and regard Genesis of Old Testament. Again selective following and reverence from a revised Scripture that is supposed to be divine and infallible. That is why Christians simply ignored the practices of circumcision and took to eating pork without sanction from their own Scripture. Even the Jews who are the predecessors of Christianity still practice circumcision, avoid pork and prepare meat ‘˜Islamic’ style (which in Jewish word is Shechita) to remove all blood even though they refuse to follow later Prophets from God and their Scriptures. They still argue that Jesus had died for them on the cross to forgive their sins. So can they eat anything and do anything because Jesus will forgive them although Bible even in human-revised version doesn’t sanction such laxity.

Again why do they need a Bible as burden when Jesus was said to have died to forgive and remove their sins on a cross being crucified that factually never occurred? Muslims contended that Crucifixion is cross-fiction. Does not this faith (Christianity) falter without foundation in spite of support and endeavor to enliven it from all quarters, they ask? This aspect of Islam is how the Quran verses and Islam connote to as regards Christianity and Judaism as picked up by the Nation of Islam. This at the most becomes an explanation from Islamic perspective (Nation of Islam) as rejoinder to Samuel Huntington which of course can be done from many perspectives.

*The article was written by Farooque Ahmed

*The author is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and hails from Manipur State, India

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