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Western Civilization and Islam

Western Civilization and Islam According to Sahih al-Bukhari the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) once observed: God will strengthen this religion through the wicked as well as the good. This hadith is of great significance so far as the art of thinking is concerned. It points to the error of dichotomous thinking, the tendency to see everything in terms of black and white. It implies that while people may fall into one of two categories—the good or the bad. They may also fall into a third category, i.e. that of potential supporters of Islam. That is, an individual may fall into the category of the good, yet still possess a third quality, i.e., that of enjoying a position to support the believers, in one way or another.


The outcome of the treaty was born in an age when the history of the world was already be of Hudaibiyya provides a practical example of the success of broader thinking in the early history of Islam. Apparently the Prophet’s opponents were not pro-Islam. Therefore, the Muslims in general, because of the limitations in their thinking, mistakenly categorized them as enemies of Islam. But thanks to his divine wisdom, the Prophet did not fall into the error of regarding them as such. For he knew that a third possibility also existed. It was the latent potential of Da‘wah. Therefore, the Prophet decided to open a door which had been closed to Da‘wah by entering into a peace treaty with his opponents. Consequently, the possibilities of Da’wah activism began taking shape and within a short period of two years the entire history of Islam was transformed.


To my way of thinking, the case of Western Civilization and Islam exactly parallels that of the Hudaibiyya situation in modern times. Muslims have once again fallen prey to limitations of dichotomous thinking in these matters. Since Western Civilization does not appear to them to be friendly to Islam, they trend to regard it as an enemy of Islam. Matters have so escalated that a section of Islamic thinkers have even taken to calling Western Civilization a manifestation of Dajjal.


If we could extricate ourselves from this rigid pattern of thought we would find that western civilization, was neither friendly nor hostile to Islam, but rather—in the words of hadith—a potential supporter of Islam.


Today, we are once again in need of divine wisdom adopted on the eve of Hudaibiyya. If we could but think in the same way as the Prophet did on that occasion, history would certainly repeat itself. Out of unfavorable circumstances, favorable possibilities would emerge, and by being able to exploit these possibilities, we would be able to build a new history of Islam.


Led by their political and economic interests, the upholders of Western Civilization follow many policies which are detrimental to the collective good of Muslims. This is an indisputable fact. In reality yet this has nothing to do with any enmity towards Islam. It is simply due to the imperatives of economic competition. The affairs of this world being based on the principle of competition, such events have always taken place and will continue to do so in the near and distant future. So what we must do is accept these things as a part of nature and turn our full attention to seeking out alternative possibilities in order to exploit them for our own purposes.


Such possibilities do exist for us inspite of all the apparently adverse circumstances in which we strive to perpetuate our Islamic heritage.


The hadith which mentions Dajjal appearing close to the time of Doomsday is doubtless correct, but certainly it does not apply to modern western civilization.


There is another hadith which would more correctly apply to the case of Western civilization. In this the Prophet has made the prediction that close on Doomsday, the message of Islam will enter every hut or mansion.


The truth is that Western civilization has emerged as a supporting factor in the divine scheme of Idkhal-e-Kalimah (the communication of the word of God to all human beings).


The hadith pertaining to Dajjal has thus no direct bearing whatsoever on Western Civilization.


For this prediction to be fulfilled many contributory factors were required—factors which had never hitherto existed. It is Western civilization alone which has provided for the first time in human history all those means and resources which were necessary for the realization of this process of Idkhal-e-kalimah (global communication of the divine message).


In this way, according to the words of hadith, the case of Western civilization is one neither of friendliness nor of hostility. It falls rather into a third category—that of supportiveness.


Here I would like to mention in brief a few examples of this supportive nature to serve as a practical explanation of this matter.


   1. The first and foremost requirement for the performance of the mission of Idkhal-e-kalimah is the provision of a system of global communication. It is an acknowledged fact that the cultural revolution of the west is the first event in human history to have placed at our disposal such a worldwide system of communication—a prerequisite for the realization of Islamic goals.

   2. The second requirement essential to facilitating this task was complete religious freedom. In the absence of religious freedom, successful communication of the desired nature had never been possible. Now Western Civilization has brought into being an era in which for the first time in human history freedom of religion has come to be accepted as a sacred human right. This is one of its greatest gifts to humanity.

   3. In order to spread the word of God on a universal scale, an unlimited amount of wealth was required. It is through Western civilization that the Muslim nations have been able, albeit indirectly, to secure this wealth. For it was people from the West who first discovered the wealth of petrol abounding in Muslim countries. It was again these very people who, by ushering in the modern machine age, gave petrol the status of a precious commodity. This wealth thus acquired has enabled the Muslims of today to spread their campaign throughout the entire world, regardless of the cost.

   4. Another very important supporting factor pertains to the principle of free enquiry developed by the west. This principle of free enquiry was extended by them even to religion. Sacred texts for the first time in human history were scrutinized in the light of the ‘higher criticism’ as a result of which all religious scriptures, with the exception of the Qur’an, lost their claim to historicality. The Qur’an then stood quite alone as a historically established scripture. In this way, the intellectual revolution brought about by western civilization gave Islam a monopoly—as the only authentic representative of Religion.

   5. Then again it was this Western Civilization which, by scientifically unraveling nature’s secrets, testified to the veracity of the Qur’an. Hence the credit for offering a scientific explanation of the following verse must go to Western Civilization."We will show them our signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth (41:53).It is thanks to the bearers of Western Civilization that a great number of new facts concerning the world of nature have been discovered. These facts serve to prove the authenticity of Islam on scientific bases.


For the reasons mentioned above, I am certain that Western Civilization cannot be regarded as a manifestation of Dajjal, as is claimed by extremists. On the contrary, in terms of its unlimited possibilities, it offers a God-sent support for Islam.It has produced all the means and resources essential to the successful carrying out of Islamic Da’wah, all over the world. This mission can be properly performed only by exploiting all the possibilities offered by modern times.


This process has already been set in motion. Today hundreds and thousands of people are accepting Islam each day, having found it to be a religion in perfect harmony with nature.


After the peace settlement at Hudaibiyya the chapter Al-Fath was revealed in which it was said: "that it may be a sign for the believers, and that He may guide you to a straight path" (48:20).That is to say, the symbolism of this event should prevent believers from falling a prey to the narrowness of dichotomous thinking in such matters. Rather they must strive to find a third option. This is the Hudaibiyya principle which should be adopted in our relations vis-a-vis western civilization. Only then will God’s good tidings of granting a clear victory become a reality.

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