| by Dr. Rifai
(December 05, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) To be honest the relationship between West & East (particularly of Islamic world) has been confrontational and challenging each other since the time of formative period of Islamic expansion. It can be said since Byzantine time, political history of Islamic and western world has been history of confrontation, crusades, wars and battles fields. The political history of Islamic and Western world tells us that in many occasions since the time of Khalid Bin Walid until the modern time, Islamic world has been in one way or another at odd with West. Early Islamic Empire confronted Byzantine Empire; then again Islamic world encountered eight prolonged crusades for more than two hundred years. Nostalgia of crusades still remains in the minds of Muslim communities.
|In political and military sense, the relationship between West and Muslim world has not been conducive in most parts of history until discovery of oil in Arab nations this political and diplomatic relationship changed dramatically.|
Historically speaking crusades are defining movements in relationship between western and Islamic worlds. Series of Crusades declared by the Pope and supported by different European Kings. The political and religious ambitions encouraged fighters to constantly engage in series of attacks. The religious ambition was to recapture Jerusalem form Muslims. The first crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban 11. Initially crusaders have succeeded with some success and established European rule in some parts of Arab lands of Syria and Palestine. In 1187 Saladin recaptured Jerusalem. The last crusade was launched in 1270 by Louis IX king of France and there were no any further attempts after that to recapture Jerusalem. Still now memories of these crusade vivid in the minds of Muslim and Christians. These can be described as religious confrontations between Muslim and western nations that had far reaching historical impacts on these communal relationship of these two communities.
On one more occasion Muslims in Spain encountered European forces for some hundred years until Muslims were wiped out of Spain. Soon after that period, Ottoman Empire encountered European nations with many battles. In pre-modern period the European nations not only confronted Muslim world but also colonized most part of Muslim world and this colonization and imperialism put Muslim world in collusion with western nations for many decades. Thus, political and military confrontations have taken place many times between Muslim and Europeans in history. The cultural, political, religious, economic and social impacts of colonialism on Muslim world are enormous and still Muslim world suffers from severe impact of European colonization. In North African countries French not only changed the language of people but also changed their way of life as well and that is why today we notice that Algerian people eat as French eat and dress as French dress. In Arab world and Sub-continent British education and legal systems left far reaching consequences. Still some Muslim countries follow English laws and British education systems. Indeed, Muslim countries still have this dual system of education as a result of this colonialism. Muslims paid a big price to free them from these colonial hegemonies and still Muslim countries are not completely free from the colonial control and influence.
In 1947 British with support of western nations created Israel in the centre of Arab nations to humiliate Arab and Muslim nations all over the world. Since then millions of Palestine people have been displaced from their own lands and thousands of people have been killed. Still Middle Eastern countries remain volatile region. Still openly western nations support Israel invasion of Palestine lands and expansion of settlements. The western countries have been unconditionally supporting Israel for last 6 decades and this unqualified support has made already serious damages in diplomatic relationship of many Muslim nations with western nations. Still dictatorial political leadership of Muslim nations maintains good diplomatic relationship with western nations not by choice rather by compulsion. The late King Faizal did try unsuccessfully to use Oil as weapon against Israel aggression in Palestine yet, Zionist forces managed to get over it. It is unfortunate that the political and diplomatic leaderships of Zionism have been able to influence and manipulate western political powers in their support for these last six decades. However, one wonders will such Zionist influence remain intact for ever.
In our time, so called al-Qaida encountered with the west in more aggressive and violent ways. One could say that Al-Qaida encounter with Western world epitomize this volatile relationship between the political leadership of Western nations and extremists elements of Muslim nations. Though the majority of Muslims do not endorse activities of al-Qaida and yet this describes volatile relationship of Muslim world with west in general. It is true that entire Muslim world condemn what happened in 9/11 and 7/7 in London. No Muslim will endorse such barbaric act in the name of Islam and Muslims. Yet, what followed these incidents should be also condemned. In the pretext of war on terror Millions of innocent have been killed and millions of Muslim have been displaced and millions of Muslims have been victimized. That is why many Muslim feel that they have been wrongly discriminated and punished by western political leadership for the activities of a few extremists.( Zakir Naik). This does not mean that Muslim world has always been in collusion course with other civilizations. These are some aspects of political and military history of Islamic and Western world.
In political and military sense, the relationship between West and Muslim world has not been conducive in most parts of history until discovery of oil in Arab nations this political and diplomatic relationship changed dramatically. Western nations needed oil to maintain their industrial and economic developments and Arab world too wanted to market their oil. The western world is the biggest market for oil export of Arab nations and Arab nations become biggest market for weapons and hi-tech products of western nations. Arab and Muslim nations do more business with western nations than any other single nation. Western nations economically benefit more from Arab and Muslim nations than any other single nation in the world. Yet, Arab and Muslim nations have been used/ treated very much cheaply by western nations. Unconditional support of western nations for Israel clearly displays this discriminative treatment of Arab nations.
In recent UN sessions, Palestine request for a full membership in UN was rejected by western powers deliberately and intentionally with the influence of Zionist agents. Moreover, western nations are discontented with demands of a full independent Palestine statehood. Moreover, it is well known how Western Nations have used Afghanistan and Pakistan against the influence of Russia and China respectively. This series of bias and discriminative attitudes and behaviors of certain political leadership of western nations have generated a sense of hatred, antagonism and violence feelings against western nations among Muslims in Arab and Muslim countries. It is reactionary feelings of Muslim youth against continuous bias and discriminative foreign policies of western nations. Muslims nations have been victimized and Muslim communities have been deprived of basic rights and necessities of life yet, Muslims have been portrayed by Western nations and Zionists as aggressors. One journalist observed that” to end the threat of terrorism, it is necessary to end the oppressive policies that have created the conditions for the growth of terrorist movements among the most improvised and oppressed populations”. (Latheef Farook)
The oppressed communities have been portrayed as oppressors and oppressors have been portrayed as victims. Did people of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan try to invade America or any western nations for that matter? No, yet, they have been victimized in the pretext of war on terror and to protect American interests in the world and to curtail the influence of China and Russia. It is generally believed by some Muslim academics/journalists that western nations do not support or endorse any project through which Arab and Muslim world attempts to unite Muslims under one powerful leadership. The western world does not to like to see a) the political unity of Arab & Muslim world under one political leadership b) or nuclear weapons build up in the hands of Muslim and Arab countries and c) unity of Muslim countries on the basis of their religious ideologies. Thus, Arab and Muslim unity or union is not tolerated by some Western nations. European nations are united under European Unions, North American countries are united under North American unions and G8 countries are united to protect their economies. Yet, Muslim union is seen suspiciously by western nation and not tolerated at all. (Ibrahim al-kohl, al-Jazeera). This is despite of the fact that most of Muslim countries are from third world countries and do not have high tech-weapons or military powers. Yet, western political leadership is psychologically concerned about Islamic Ideologies and Islamic faith. The majority of Muslim population feels today that Muslims all other world have been victimized and oppressed by western powers continuously since the establishment of Israel in Muslim land. One Muslim politician notes that
“Never in the 1,400-years history of the religion has Islam and its followers been so humiliated, denigrated and oppressed as they are today. The progressive religion that had propelled Muslims to become a major civilization force with an empire spanning from Span to china, is but a caricature of its former self. Muslim countries are being attacked and bombed with impunity, their religion and prophet mocked. Muslims are among the poorest people in the world and their countries the least developed. Ironically, this is despite some Muslim countries having enormous wealth and riches…. This is the sad state of the Muslims…. Now Islam is linked to terrorism… the religion of peace, is being portrayed as a religion that promotes violence”. Who is responsible for this volatile and precarious situation in the relationship between the West and Muslim world? Is it Western political leadership or Muslim extremists? Or is it Muslim political leadership and western diplomatic communities.
(To be continued next week)