Why the West Hates Islam...
|By DR. KALIM SIDDIQUI
During the past year we have once again witnessed the West's open enmity of Islam and Muslims. The Gulf War was a little short of yet another Crusade. The West's triumphalist propaganda and claims to have created a "new world order" are utter nonsense or, at best, imaginative thinking. The Gulf War has merely confirmed everything we have always known, this can be summarised as follows:
1. That all Muslim and Arab nation-States serve the regional and global interests of the West. There were no exceptions to this rule before the Gulf War, and there are none now.
2. That the West would kill any number of Muslims, or indeed any other peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America in pursuit of its imperialist interests.
3. That the Soviet Union is (has always been) a fully paid-up member of the Western alliance against Islam and Muslims.
4. And that the United Nations has always been and will always remain an instrument of the West.
However, there is one revelation of the Gulf War that, though not entirely new, is nonetheless important: The Gulf War has once again revealed what may be called the soft belly of the otherwise impregnable West - it is called the "Vietnam syndrome."
Before the war, the phrase that was on the lips of the U.S. president most often was that "the war in the Persian Gulf will not be another Vietnam." Well, of course, Vietnam itself is a long way away from the Persian Gulf. What did George Bush mean? Clearly he did not mean that the U.S. was not going to be defeated by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. There was never any likelihood of that.
The U.S. and Western allies, having planned, financed, supplied and supported Saddam Hussein's war against Islamic Iran for eight long years, knew Saddam Hussein's fighting capability. There was no danger from him.
Where, then, was "Vietnam" in the Persian Gulf? George Bush was clearly referring to Iran. When he said that there would not be another Vietnam, what he meant was that the U.S. and the Western alliance would not provoke a fight with Iran. In the event, with more than 750,000 troops and the greatest land, air and naval power ever assembled available to them, the Western leaders made sure that not a single one of their aircraft even accidentally flew over Iran.
Fear of Iran: The Western air forces did not chase fleeing Iraqi planes into Iranian airspace. Perhaps Saddam, by using Iranian airfields as a "safe haven" for his airplanes, was hoping to provoke the West into bombing Iran. But the West refused to be provoked.
What did the West fear? Surely not Iran's airpower, or Iranian anti-aircraft capability. Iran had precious little of these. The West feared the power of Islam that is Iran today. They realised that if they ventured into Iran, that would be their Vietnam and Waterloo.
Imam Kohmeni, by prolonging the war with Iraq for eight years, had signalled to the West and other potential invaders, that Iran would be their graveyard if ever they were foolish enough to invade the Islamic Republic. The West now likes to fight short, sharp technological wars against weak enemies. Any engagement with the Muslim soldiers of Iran would be a long drawn-out affair with hand-to-hand fighting. In this type of warfare, American GIs clutching photos of their girl friends would be no match for the soldiers of Islam clutching copies of the Qur'an and seeking "shahadah."
In Jan. 1989, less than six months before his death, Imam Kohmeni delivered another body-blow to the progress of the secular civilisation. In a letter to Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, the Imam prophesied the demise of communism.
Collapse of communism: Within a year, the vast communist empire collapsed like a pack of cards. The Imam invited Gorbachev to examine Islam as the only alternative. He even offered to welcome Soviet scholars to study in Qum.
The Imam's strictures against communism apply equally to social democracy and capitalism. Communism collapsed because it was the ultimate form of capitalism, with the State playing the role of the capitalist. Corporate capitalism that has developed under the guise of social democracy is ultimately just as inefficient, wasteful and morally bankrupt as communism had become in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.
Indeed, the democratic governments in such countries as Britain, France and Germany have created larger public sectors in their economies than the Soviet Union ever achieved. The factors that led, to the collapse of communism are all present in the so-called capitalist/democratic systems as well. The militaristic arrogance of the West is partly designed to hide the void at its core. In time the capitalist monolith will collapse just as surely as the communist one has done. The West knows this.
Deep down in its historical consciousness, the West also knows that the Islamic civilisation will ultimately replace it as the world's dominant civilisation. It is this knowledge that compels the West to try to damage Islam, the world of Islam and the Muslim people of the world as much as possible in the hope that this will at least delay their own inevitable defeat and humiliation at the hands of Islam. This is why the Western intellectual tradition has invested so heavily in an outright attempt to try to distort and mutilate the message of Islam. This is why there is so much rubbish written and spoken against Islam and Muslims every day everywhere in the West....
What the West wants: It is essential, therefore, that Muslims should develop a better understanding of the West. The Western civilisation's highest value is the "standard of living" of the Western man. It is also a complex civilisation consolidating the enormous advances made by man in science, the technological wonders of the space age and the awesome power of modern weapons. It has produced the complex human organisations of the modern nation-States and the business acumen and efficiency of the multinationals. The genius of the Western civilisation has made everyone "equal" while making inequality permanent. The so-called "sovereign equality" of nation-States is an example. When "aid" is given to the poor it is only to allow the rich to export more at higher prices, ultimately making the poor poorer and the rich richer.
When protection is extended to the weak, it is to prevent the weak from trying to overcome their weakness. A "democratic" oligarchy is created to confine the use of power and the management of resources in the hands of the same people, organised into "competing" parties. An "education" is given which first makes the individual insecure, and then he or she is equipped to pursue selfish goals in controlled "systems." The resultant commercialism has been given the values of "freedom" and "competition."
Greed and profit: This has created a culture of institutionalised greed leading to high mass consumption. Profit maximisation has been made respectable by economic theory, but at the same time wage maximisation is "immoral." Companies can "regulate" supplies to raise prices, but labourers must not withhold labour or else they are causing "disruption."
Women must be sex objects at home, in the streets, in the world of entertainment and at work, but they may not forget to take the pill or else they are being "irresponsible" by bringing "unwanted children" into the world.
The West now has a thriving abortion industry to meet the needs of a sexually greedy civilisation which, at the same time, does not want too many people to share in the goods and services they produce.
"The poor are poor because they have too many children," is a commonly held aphorism. There are too many poor because they "breed like rabbits," is another. The Western civilisation only believes in a change which serves the interests of the West. The rest of the world is told to "catch on" while the West also insists on its right to "pull away" as a reward for its superior technological and organisational skills.
The West's real motives for keeping the poor poor, or making them even poorer, are now widely recognised by many in the West itself. The "left" and the "Third World" lobbies have produced a good deal of literature on the theme of exploitation, new-colonialism and imperialism. But the "left," the "liberals," and those who set up such cosmetic operations as Oxfam, War on Want, Christian Aid and the Third World Foundation, etc., are quite ineffectual and succeed only in giving the West an undeserved image of caring for its victims. They operate on the fringes of the symptoms, while themselves being part of the disease.
ISLAM and the Abrahamic Tradition
"We firmly believe in the truism that all faiths are the paths leading towards the Ultimate Reality, just as the spokes of the wheel converge to its axis. When the people are too immersed in the dogmas and rituals of their chosen religion, it appears to them to be the only one worth following and they defend their own particular faith. However, when they have acquired enough wisdom, charity and discernment, they too are bound to perceive that the road to Heaven is nobody's monopoly and that the Divine laws apply equally to all. It is the dogmas, ritual and the mode of worship that divide the faiths and not the basic essence of their beliefs.
"But I am not in favour of conversion from one faith to another, neither do I believe in the fusion of all religions into one. The Ultimate Truth is one, but it has an infinite number of aspects and what is more beautiful than that each faith should reflect only one facet of the Divine, all of them together creating a shining gem of beauty. Would the world be more if all the flowers on earth had been blended into one uniform colour or all mountains razed to make the globe monotonously flat? Each religion offers something glorious, peculiarly its own, to point out the road to the Ultimate Reality. What man or group of men would be able to prescribe a single form of religion that would satisfy all and everybody? That would be an attempt to give a finite concept of the Infinite and of course, it would fail."
- Abbot Mingzing
The foundation of all the celestial religions is one; that oneness is Truth and Truth is oneness that does not admit of plurality. This foundation is not multiple for it is Reality itself. Truth is one, and it is the same for all those who, by whatever way, have attained to its understanding. The Religion of God therefore is one, but its forms and types vary in accordance with the variation of races, cultures, civilisations, and environments.
History is testimony to the great impulses brought to humanity by the Great Educators - the Prophets. Jesus revealed the spirit behind the forms of the laws of Moses. Muhammad, like all the Prophets, upheld the same one foundation. We can see the same purpose behind all the Prophets of God. They were the sources of spiritual empowerment, elevation and order to the communities they were sent.
The various Scriptures or Holy Books contain the primary Divine Revelations that of necessity are adapted in their style and expression to a given people at a given historical period, since "water takes on the colour of its container," as Junayd wrote.
Our attention, in this article, is specific to the world faiths that have emerged from the Abrahamic 'tree' simply because this is still the most recognizable religious inheritance for Westerners. By so doing we are certainly not excluding the venerable religions of the Orient such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, or even the illustrious so-called 'pagan' wisdom of the Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians and others. Indeed all the great religions of antiquity can be appreciated through the Divine Conception.
Christianity and Islam represent the heritage of the Primordial Tradition according to different and specific historical development. The European Muslim writer Michel Valsan points out:
"The Islamic doctrine is formal on the point that all the Divine Messengers have brought essentially the same message and that all the traditions are in essence one...As regards the Islamic form of the tradition this is in any case originally and essentially based on the doctrine of Supreme Identity..." (L'Islam et la Fonction de Rene Guenon, Paris, 1984)
Islam, as the last of the revealed religions in the Abrahamic stream has an intimate relationship with the other two and axiomatically expresses the Divine Conception of Religion. A religion based principally on knowledge compared to its predecessor Christianity based on love. Here is a vital example of unfolding revelation. Out of the Abrahamic 'tree', the Torah emphasised the Divine Law, preparing the way for the Gospels that emphasised the element of Divine Love. Islam, while acknowledging the two former revelations emphasised Divine Knowledge. Hence Abdul Latif of Sind proclaimed: "Love and Intellect are the two wings of the bird."
The foundation or core of the timeless One Religion is called in Islam the din al fitrah and Man is defined in terms of it. Every human being is endowed with this core at birth. This is the 'natural state' all humans are created in. The built-in sensus numinis by which the creature recognizes its holy, transcendent Creator. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: "Every man is born a Muslim; his parents make of him a Christian or a Jew". That is to say, every person is born with this 'sensus numinis' by which he innately and 'naturally' comes to recognition of the existence and unity of the Absolute. Rene Guenon offers us an esoteric appreciation of this concept:
"the proper meaning of the word Islam is 'submission to the Divine Will'; hence it is said, in certain esoteric teachings, that every being is Muslim, in the sense that there is clearly none who can elude that Will, and accordingly each necessarily occupies the place allotted to him in the Universe as a whole." (Symbolism of the Cross)
Here is 'Divine Islam', the core of Islamic doctrine, above time and place, purged of all elaboration and prescriptions of history. Constituting the Religion of God in the highest sense of the term.
The one Religion of God, the primordial 'Divine Islam' means surrender and submission to the Divine Will. Being above history it predates the Prophet Muhammad. All Knowers of God being 'Muslims' - those who surrender - to the Almighty. Some having surrendered unto God through the Gospels, others through the Quran and some through other forms of Divine Wisdom.
Islamic doctrine teaches that the Quran is the last expression of the Revelation, Muhammad the last of thousands of Prophets, peace be upon them. The Sufi poet Mahmud Shabestari thus declared: "If the Muslim only knew what Islam really means, he would become an idol-worshipper."
The institutionalized Islam that we see in the world is only a temporal manifestation of the 'Divine Islam', conceived in the beginning: "It is the Religion (millah) of your father Abraham; it is he who called you Muslims aforetime." (Quran 22:78)
"Therefore set your face in devotion to the true faith, the upright nature with which Allah has endowed man. Allah's creation cannot be changed. This is surely the true Religion, although most men do not know it." (Quran 30:30)
'Divine Islam' is synonymous with the Religion of primordiality. Religion originally is one as God is One, and if the source of religion is God, and God is One, then there can only be one Primordial Religion.
"For each of you we appointed a Divine Law and a way of life. Had God so willed, He could have made you one people; but so that He might try you by that which He hath bestowed upon you (He willed otherwise); so compete in doing good. Unto God ye will all return, and He will inform you concerning that wherein ye differ." (Quran 5:48)
Charles Le Gai Eaton, the deputy director of the Islamic Centre in London, writes in Islamic Spirituality:
"Islam...claims by implication a particularly direct relationship to this 'perennial philosophy', since it defines itself as the final revelation of a timeless message of which mankind has been 'reminded' again and again by countless 'messengers of God'. The Quran acknowledges without ambiguity that the laws and practices of the different crystallizations of the din al-fitrah have differed according to time and place, but the truth of the Divine Unity and the decisive principles that are derived from this do not change, have not changed, and can never change. The doctrine of Unity is unique, so it is said. All else is illusion."
The Quran states that all the Prophets were in reality Muslims, and that each one of them had enjoined the people to submit themselves to God: "They say: 'Become Jews or Christians if you would be guided (to salvation).' Say thou: 'Nay (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with God."
This Divine Conception of Islam, revealed in the Holy Quran, taught by the Prophet Muhammad and lived by the early generations of Muslims was the dynamic that spread the light of Islam throughout the world.
"Say: O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; That we associate no partners with Him; That we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and partners other than God" (Quran 3:64)
Holding to this Divine Conception the Muslims came as liberators to a Christian world wallowing in idolatry, narrowness and priestcraft. The foremost historian of Eastern Christendom, Father Nicolas Zernov wrote that for many of the early Christians, the Muslims "came as supporters and liberators". In his definitive work on the origin and growth of the Eastern Orthodox Church we read:
"Many Byzantine strongholds gladly opened their gates to the armies of the Prophet, welcoming them as their co-religionists...It is usually insufficiently realized how close Islam was in its early years to the Oriental version of Christianity. The Koran taught not only the virgin birth and Christ's freedom from sin, but also regarded Him as the God appointed Judge of mankind at the Last Judgment." (Eastern Christendom)
A study of the relations between the early Christians and Muslims shows that they regarded each other as co-religionists who held to the same core, the same one foundation of truth. Benjamin Walker comments:
"It is noteworthy that medieval Christian scholastics did not look upon Muslims as members of an alien or non-Christian faith, but rather as those who had broken away from a fundamentally Christian doctrine. They were regarded as heretics and seceders, and not as heathens. In denying the divinity of Christ, which Muslims did with consistent emphasis, they were not far from the position of many Christian theologians who were condemned on that score by the Church as schismatics." (Gnosticism, Its History and Influence, 1983)
"The Muslims," wrote Christian author Sir William Jones, "are already a sort of heterodox Christians: they are Christians, if Locke reasons justly, because they firmly believe the immaculate conception, divine character, and miracles of the Messiah."
Such a view was shared by the early Christian church whose theologians, such as St John of Damascus, looked upon the Muslims as a Christian sect.
When the crescent triumphed over the cross in southern Europe it was a harbinger of a civilisation that had no equal in its day. In Studies in a Mosque, Stanley Lane-Poole writes:
"For nearly eight centuries under her Muslim rulers Spain set to all Europe a shining example of a civilized and enlightened state. Art, literature and science prospered as they then prospered nowhere else in Europe. Students flocked from France and Germany and England to drink from the fountains of learning which flowed only in the cities of the Moors. The surgeons and doctors of Andalusia were in the vanguard of science; women were encouraged to devote themselves to serious study, and a lady doctor was not unknown among the people of Cordova. Mathematics, astronomy and botany, history, philosophy and jurisprudence, were to be mastered in Spain and in Spain alone."
There are numerous historical examples of chivalric honour and respect accorded to the European Christians by the Arab Muslims reflecting an appreciation of the essential unity between the 'people of the Book'. The Caliph Omar, after the capture of Jerusalem, renounced praying in the basilica that the patriarch had placed at his disposal, in order to avoid its being claimed later by the Muslims. In the midst of battle the great Muslim leader Saladin presented a richly caparisoned horse to his enemy the Christian King Richard-the-Lion-Hearted, whose horse had just been killed. No doubt the Muslims recalled the words of the Quran:
"We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the descendants (of Jacob) and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and in what the other Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are those who submit to Allah." (Quran, Chapter 2, Verses 135-136)
The historian Syed Amir Ali details the period when the Divine Conception of Islam was practiced:
"Ever since the establishment of the Islamic power, the Christians had enjoyed the utmost toleration; they were protected in the practice of their religion and in the enjoyment of their civil rights and privileges. They were allowed to move freely about the empire, to hold communication with princes of their own creed in foreign countries, and to acquire lands and property under the same conditions as the Moslems. Public offices (excepting under some tyrannical governors) were open to them equally with the Moslems. Christian convents and churches existed everywhere, and Christian pilgrims from the most distant parts were permitted to enter Palestine without hindrance. In fact, pilgrimage to the Holy Land had been stimulated, rather than suppressed, by the conquest of the Arabs, and the Saracens contented themselves with maintaining order among the rival sects of Christianity, who would have torn each other to pieces in the very sepulchre they professed to worship. In Jerusalem, which was regarded as holy by the followers of both religions, a special quarter was set apart for the Patriarch and his clergy, which was inviolable on the part of the Moslems. When Palestine and Syria passed into the hands of the Fatimids in the year 969 A.C., the change of supremacy was to the advantage of the Christians. But no amount of toleration would conciliate the fanatics, who looked upon the presence of the Moslem in Jerusalem as an abomination." (A Short History of the Saracens) While the Divine Conception was upheld, Muslims and Christians lived side by side in peace, while still maintaining their distinctive Traditional exoteric forms and practices. Many of the early Muslim writers studied the Bible, Old and New Testaments. The historian Tabari in particular quoted the Bible frequently. St John of Damascus held a high position at the court of the Caliph. He was not required to 'convert' to Islam, any more than were St Francis of Assisi in Tunisia, St Louis in Egypt or St Gregory Palamas of Turkey. While a prisoner of the Ottomans for a year, St Gregory had friendly discussions with the Emir's son, but was not 'converted', nor did the Turkish prince become a Christian. The Sufi Ibrahim ibn Adham had for a time as his spiritual master a Christian hermit, without either being converted to the other's religion. Only later centuries widened the gap between the two faiths and their Sacred Books. Crusades and wars, inquisitions and persecutions, alienat! ed those who should have been 'nearest in love' to one another.
"Thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say 'We are Christians'; that, because some of them are priests and monks [those devoted entirely to God], and they wax not proud." (Quran 5:85)
There has always persisted an 'underground' of 'rejected knowledge' within Western Christian culture. Forming a suppressed Opposition to the Establishment forces, this minority acted both to preserve - consciously or unconsciously - some of the highest elements of Traditional Wisdom and critique the growing materialism of the age. Within this 'underground' can be found the Rosicrucians of the 18th century who claimed sources in Arabia for their Ancient Wisdom teachings. Much could be written of the connections between the Templars and Ismaili Muslims during the Crusades. Frederick II, Goethe, and Nietzsche, all held Islam in high esteem.
Napoleon, while in Egypt, "held long discussions with the Ulema [religious scholars] of Cairo on Moslem theology, holding out to them the possibility of the whole French Army being converted to Islam." (Napoleon and the Awakening of Europe) The French writer Gourgaud noted in his Memories, "the Emporer reads the Koran in silence. He raises his head and says, as in a dream: Muhammad's religion is the most beautiful."
The spiritual poverty, ignorance and vain dogmatism - with the resulting hypocrisy, mediocrity and confusion - manifesting in the contemporary world stem from rejection of the Traditional Wisdom brought by all the Prophets of God. The Tradition that, as an unfolding perennial revelation of the Divine Will, can be compared to a stream with its origins in a primordial and eternal pure spring of Truth.
Working from the universal perspective of the Divine Conception, the darkness of ignorance, dogmatism, legalism and fanaticism vanishes before the Sun of Truth. This Divine Conception is an understanding that points us to the one universal Religion of the Prophets and gives us access to progressively higher levels of Knowledge and an ever-widening vision of reality. Then we appreciate the words of the Muslim teacher Al Ghazzali - "The higher one ascends a mountain, the farther one sees."
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