The 'Clash of Civilization' thesis by Samuel P Huntington triggered an intellectual war in the world with the scholars of repute beginning to shape up "new" ideas on the global politics and the form it will evolve into the times to come.
Huntington's hypothesis that "the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic" and that "the great division among the human kind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural" found support as well as critique in many subsequent scholarships on global politics. What essentially became the most interesting subject of these works is the Huntington's hypothesis that "the clash of civilization will dominate global politics" and "the fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."
Although Huntington concluded that "nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs", he however suggested that "the principle conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations." Overlooking the differences and distinctions within the cultures or the civilizations itself, Huntington sought to prove that the cultures he identified for the purposes of future conflicts were a "monolithic" mass. While claiming that "religion and religious identity are becoming increasingly essential as political factors", Huntington concluded that "Borders of Islam would be increasingly filled with conflict."
The second half of the last century involved the mind of ace scholars in the world towards another vital subject – the political Islam, which apparently subscribed to the hypothesis made by Huntington. Graham E Fuller in "The Future of Political Islam" began with a chapter on "The Anguish of Islamic History". The book, according to Fuller, sought to address the "fundamental" question of what challenges the "Political Islam" does face, and what challenges does it pose to the world. While suggesting that "Political Islam is growing, expanding, evolving and diversifying," Fuller veered along the idea that "it (Political Islam) will be an inevitable if not a dominating feature of politics in the Muslim world for quite some time to come."
But the theory of Huntington that primarily suggests that "people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world" has drawn scholarly and well-appreciated critique throughout the world. "The Borders of Islam: Exploring Samuel Huntington's Fault-lines, from Al Andalus to the Virtual Ummah" is a must read for the students of global politics.
The book runs over 19 chapters analysing varied conflict situations in different Muslim countries. It has separate chapters on Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Philippines. In the African region, it focuses on the internal and external political dimensions in Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. The book carries a commentary on the Old European Border, where it traces the recent armed struggles in Chechnya, Turkey, Bosnia and Spain.
It also under the main title "The New Borders" goes into exploring the politics in Britain, France, Sandinavia. The book has a separate chapter on the United States of America – American Muslim Exceptionalism.
Interestingly, the book divides the critics of Huntington roughly into three: "First those focussing on cleavages within a civilization (including multiple identities) claiming that multiple identifies and cleavages will prevent unity; second, those pointing to a supposed underestimation of the prevailing power of states, claiming that states will remain the key actors in the international relations; last, those highlighting his ignorance regarding influence grievances have on the creation of pan civilisational loyalties."
In the conclusion, the authors suggest that "new mechanism and new concepts are fundamental in order to understand the dynamics at the borders of Islam, and that some of the mechanism suggested by Huntington are too weak to have the impact he suggests."
The amazing work that is in the shape of this book astounds a reader by its conclusion that "there is not a single case studied in this book where Islam presents a unified face towards other religions; in all cases there are notable political fissures within Islam, often creating divisions even within supposedly homogenous sub-groups of Islam. There have been many efforts to impose homogeneity upon Islam, even from within the religion, but so far all of them have failed."
Whatever is happening in some of the Middle Eastern countries today without doubt apparently actively involves the people of the same culture. The overarching cultural identity notwithstanding, the fissures within the same cultures is a reality that cannot be overlooked. The complex situation that has been thrown by the current civil war in Syria – where it often becomes difficult to understand who is against whom— is a wide reflection of the cleavages within the same culture itself.
Although the world powers who do sharpen their axe with a grinding wheel for their own political reasons have their hand behind the back of one or the other player in the Middle East politics, that does not eclipse the realty that strands of the same culture are up against each other. Looking from another angle, the present trade war between China and America has seemingly little to do with the cultural differences between the two countries.
There is a world living beyond the 'bloody' borders that Huntington identified for the purposes of future conflicts. That world has its own priorities, interests and concerns that have apparently quite little to do with their cultural identity.