The Western Barrier

PROF G R MALIK

The unfortunate psychological barrier that exists between the West and Islam has its origin in the Medieval era of European history. This era was dominated by Pauline Christianity which regarded renunciation as the highest religious ideal. Islam’s affirmation of life and acceptance of its responsibilities on moral terms seemed irreligious to this ascetic mentality. Around this time came the Crusades and for more than three centuries, generated an atmosphere in which Islam could only be demonised. Such demonization of the Prophet (SAW) and his holy mission was necessary to lift the spirits of the Crusaders. Incredible and totally baseless myths were fabricated and given wide currency through religious treatises and literary works. Minou Reeves has aptly described this era as “a thousand years of myth-making” against Islam. The Crusades enabled the West for the first time to act as a definable collective entity. It was this collective entity that moved out of the Medieval era towards Renaissance. The first impressions of Islam thus formed by the modern West in its infancy were negative in nature.
When the post-Renaissance West engulfed the world like a powerful torrent, it saw Islam as the only potential rival to its materialistic world-view. Any movement towards the revival of Islam was looked upon with fear and suspicion and curbed through guile, force or conspiracy. In this atmosphere it was a marvel to see rare individuals rising above prejudice and advocating and sometimes embracing Islam. But the West as a civilisation remained inimical to Islam. The West’s irrational backing of Israel and the continuous (and seemingly needless) attempts to injure the sentiments of believers in Islam through writing, speech, films and cartoons has to be understood in this light.
How to break this vicious barrier? Islam’s universal and humanistic teachings have to be appropriately projected. The Prophet’s (SAW) presentation of himself as a link in the chain of the prophets whom he called his brothers, the Quranic description of Islam (surrender to the will of Allah) as the mission of all the prophets, its prescription that anyone who disbelieves in any prophet cannot be a Muslim – these seminal Quranic truths have to be projected with the same emphasis that they have received in the holy Book. The work of such dedicated Western servants of Islam as Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (RA), Muhammad Asad (RA), Maryam Jameela and Murad Hofmann will have to be extensively built on. Above all, the Muslim world which presents a frightening picture of violence and corruption of all sorts has to turn back to the religion of mercy and peace and be its true representative.              

Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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