Muslim nations all over the world have been described as fanatics particularly by the West. Much of the Muslim society especially the Islam religion has been perceived in a lot of negative ways either as a threat to security, economies, or religions. They are judged according from their differences especially to Christianity, without even studying and discovering the foundations of Muslim societies, the Qur’an. This conflict between the West and the Muslims started several decades ago and still continuing today. The hatred of Muslims against the European power has become extensive because the Westerns until now do not recognize and respect Islam. Various Muslim authors have explored the issues and dilemmas of Muslims since the early 1900s such as Jamal al-dln al Afghani, Sayyid Abdul A’la Mawdudi, Muammar Qaddafi, and Stoddard Lothorp.
In the early 1900s, one of the earliest discussions about conflicts between Christianity and Muslim was written by Lothorp in The New World of Muslim. Lothorp raised the issue of Western indifference towards the Muslim nations and the build up of Muslim hatred. In 1968, Afghani made a strong commentary in Commentary on the Commentator to an author who had assumed the solution for improving the Muslim community through changing religion. In 1976, Qaddafi wrote The Green Book on the barriers of democracy and the hidden dictatorship in most governments. Mawdudi on the other hand, wrote Let Us Be Muslims in 1985 which tackled the issues on the meaning of a true Muslim.
Religion is an important aspect in one civilization. This dictates the beliefs of the people, how they live their lives everyday, when and where to build and harvest, and their destiny. However, religion is also the reason why different cultures clash such as Christianity and Islam. These two religions are one of the oldest and still surviving religions in the world which has millions of supporters in many countries. The differences in beliefs, nationality, and culture of Islam and Christianity were irreconcilable and often were attacks against the Muslim people. In Lothorp’s (1922) The New World of Muslim, Djemal-ed-Din’s teachings regarding Christianity were detailed mostly treating Christians as opposing and negative culture for the Moslems. According from Djemal-ed-Din’s philosophy, Christians hate Islam and this hatred could destroy Mohammedan states; in the international laws, Moslem nations are not equally treated to Christian nation; the hopes and aspirations of the Moslems are judged such that the West’s “nationalism” becomes Moslem “fanaticism” and “national honor” becomes “chauvinism”; and lastly, Djemal-ed-Din encourages the Moslem nations to build a defense against the Christians by applying the Western advancements and the European supremacy (Lothorp 1922).
Djemal-ed-Din perhaps formulated these teachings as a counterattack to the continuous discrimination of Christians against the Islamic religion and culture. Another attack on Muslim society was discussed by Afghani (1968) in Commentary to the Commentator. Afghani was interested in finding reformers who intended to improve the Muslim community whether that one is from the East, West, North, or South. He has read many treatises and though he had found the sage; but before discussed the author, he emphasized first the need for good education including the knowledge about Islam. He said that education determines a man and without education, man will become repulsive and wild like an animal. The education that he referred is “good education” because the Absolute Truth will not destroy will not destroy Islam. Otherwise, if it is not a good education this will lead man to destruction such as the Chaldeans, Phoenicians, and the Copts. Same is true with the Muslims (Afghani 1968).
The ‘bad’ education that Afghani was referring to was the Commentary to Koran written by an author who travelled to Europe in order to find solutions for the improvement of the Muslims. Afghani expected that the author would first introduce the knowledge on religion and its significance in man’s mind and soul, the unity of Muslims, the divine policies, and the enlightenment. However, the author based his arguments on angels (Gabriel), on revelation, in paradise and hell, and in miracles opposite with Muslims heretics in the past centuries suggesting for the Muslims to abandon Islam. Afghani described the man as “ignorant” who failed to recognize the concepts in ‘man’s nature’. Afghani analyzed the author’s purpose, which is to improve Muslim communities, and the proposed solution, which is to abandon Islam. He said that it is impossible because the primary foundation of Muslim communities is the Islam (Afghani 1968).
Mawdudi and Afghani both considered Islam as the primary foundation of Muslims as men and Muslim societies. Qaddafi, however, dealt with the problems of societies, communities, and families in terms of government functions and elements and how its affect the masses as a whole. In The Green Book, Qaddafi explored the different instruments of a government such as parliament, party, and class. These are government assemblies which dictate how governments should function. He called this a “false dictatorship” since these assemblies control the government leaders in positions. Parliament, for example, runs a democratic government. It is originally designed to represent the people, however things changed and they now control the government. The authority of the government is controlled by the parliament which leads to misrepresentation of the people. Parliaments are from the winning of parties whose members have common interests, perceptions, and beliefs toward achieving power similar to classes. A class is composed of member with similar interests, family relations, and standard of living. Some classes, like parties, may also dominate the governments thus creates a hidden dictatorship (Qaddafi 1976).
Plebiscites are another government instrument of dictatorship wherein one’s vote is questioned such that one has to justify for voting ‘yes’ and why not ‘no’ and vice versa. It becomes tyrannical and undemocratic since voters are not voting according from their free will (Qaddafi 1976). It is very ironic that in democratic governments there are assemblies, groups, and individuals who manage thee government functions. The people have the right to vote for their desired candidate. However, the winning candidate does not represent the people but the individuals with the same interests form the parliament, party, or class (Qaddafi 1976). Mawdudi, on the other hand, had the same goals for the Islamic religion and the governments. In Let Us Be Muslims (1985), Mawdudi encouraged Muslims to be true Muslims by possessing the knowledge on Islam. Lothorp dealt with the effect of the differences between the Christians and the Muslims. Mawdudi, on the other hand, stressed not the differences but the difference in life one would achieve from knowing the Qur’an. He mentioned some differences between Muslims and Kafirs (rejecters) such that Muslims will go be forgiven and shall go to heaven while the Kafirs will not be forgiven and shall go to hell. However, they too have similarities: both created by God; have feet, hands, eyes, and ears; breathe the same air; and drink the same water. Whether they are circumcised or not, or whether they eat meat or not is not what’s important. The Muslims should not concentrate in these differences but on reading and knowing more of the Qur’an. Being a member of Islam is inborn or inherent. Studying and discovering the Qur’an will separate Muslims from Kafirs (Mawdudi 1985).
Lothorp, Afghani, Qaddafi, and Mawdudi all had offered possible solutions (or at least discussed) the issues and conflicts between Islam and Chistianity, Muslim countries and Western countries, and governments. The never-ending apathy of the Westerners toward the Moslem world for many years has greatly highlighted the influence of Djemal-ed-Din’s teachings. Aali Pasha, one of the pioneers, commented that what the Moslems wanted is “an increase in fanaticism than diminution of it” which gained a significant support from Arminius Vambery, a renowned Hungarian Oriental scholar, who declared that he attended a gathering of Militant Pan-Islamic attended also by Moslem ambassadors. This event was held at the palace of Aali Pasha shortly after the Crimean War. The Pan Islamism movement is driven by the Western pressure but Lothorp (1922) pointed out that is not a mere political defense against foreign antagonism, rather a call for strengthening the Moslem to Moslem ties by religion, culture, and society. Although there are various differences in customs and policies among Moslem countries, the basic principles of family and social relations remained intact. Pan-Islamism stresses that what should bind Moslems is the spiritual and cultural unity. However, this ideal is overshadowed by hatred to Westerns which was developed political events a number of decades ago.
Afghani, whose strong opposition on the abolition and conversion from Islam as proposed by the author of Commentary on the Koran, raised a number of questions. How can the author explain the reason how the Jews escaped from the Egyptians and the Arabs rule in the desert and be experts in manufacture, agriculture, and trade? Belief and faith in religion is the only basis of these progress and salvation. Another example is the Egyptians culture which was one of the most advanced early civilizations in science and manufacturing, believed in idols. The Chaldeans alike built and create observatories, astronomical instruments, castles, and agricultural books in worship with the stars (Afghani 1968).
Belief in Islam therefore, and other religions, does not create disorder and mans’ downfall but rather the lack of faith. Religious beliefs reflect a civilization’s culture, science, livelihood, and overall development. What could have happened if the Jews, Arabs, and Chaldeans did not believe in any divine and holy figures? Afghani’s have sound considerations on the importance and the effect of religion in a society, its people and culture. It is unimaginable to think of one civilization which does not have a religion. Afghani’s thought that the author’s purpose of removing the beliefs of Muslims and converting them to another religion is like destroying the Islam and the other religions alike. Thus, the improvement of community that the author proposed is impossible to achieve.
Lothorp (1922) added that the massive hatred to the West has a big possibility for a worldwide turmoil such as the Holy War. Although there was a fake Holy War against the German instigation in 1914, a Holy War in the future is not impossible. In 1898, Arminius Vambery wrote that the possibilities for war are getting stronger as time passes due the development in communication and the increasing solidarity among Moslems. According from Yahya Siddyk, the Western power has caused both good and evil to the Islamic morally and politically. Moslem ties were destroyed and many are dead but the Moslems learn and progress fast in various disciplines such as science and art. In less than half a century, Moslems can equally compete with the European power. Qaddafi (1976), on the other hand, viewed the governments as the sources of all the problems in our societies, affecting the union of families and the people. He said that the people have the right for revolution to combat the ill use of government powers. Government officials themselves participate in unlawful and sinful activities such as prostitution, adultery, money laundering, and killing. Laws, education, and employment are manipulated and controlled by the government in such a way that citizens are educated in corrupt ways.
It should not forgotten that the ultimate objective of the Islam through is Jihad, a massive campaign for bringing the rule of One God eliminating man over man rule. The system of rule of man is corrupt which rooted from evil present in this world which prevails in the governments where power is used to control resources and manipulate laws. The solutions for the problems in our society will begin from combating against the evil and revolution. Mawdudi (1985) explicitly suggest Muslims to study the word of God and apply it in everyday life. The knowledge from Qur’an should be manifested in action to change the prevailing corrupt government system all over the world. Muslims are not only responsible for themselves but also for other people. The ultimate goal of Islam cannot be achieved unless every Muslim gathers to change the governments and stop the evil things that kill men.
Afghani, J. a.-d. a. (1968). Commentary on the Commentator. In An Islamic Response to Imperialism, University of California Press: 124-129.
Lothorp, S. (1922). The New World of Muslim. London, Chapman and Hall.
Mawdudi, S. A. A. l. (1985). Let Us Be Muslims. London, The Islamic Foundation: 53-61, 285-293.
Qaddafi, M. (1976). The Green Book. London, Martin, Brian, ; O’Keeffe.