Man fears what he dares not understand. He foresees all sorts of difficulties instead of taking the problem by the throat. Why the west should come to grips with Islamophobia? It is one way of asking why should not we try to understand our brothers? Especially we pride ourselves of our liberal traditions let us be fair in trying to understand why we fear them. We Christians follow monotheism same as Moslems who follow one God. Only in details we show up our differences. If we are only following our religion nominally this should not be posing any difficulty in understanding them. Should it?
We follow a failed religion even as they. Look at the way we uphold the teachings of Jesus? At every step of the way we have distorted his teachings. What of Moslems? In the way they blast the innocents and their perceived enemies away show how they set example to their religion. In short religion should not be what keeps the gulf between us and them.
Think of the founder of Islam. Among his circle of acquaintances were Christians and Jews. He wanted to forge something new from both religions that had failed the test of every day reality. Tragedy of this new religion lay squarely in the manner his teachings have been aborted within hundred years since his death.
Great prophets and teachers have merely set truth of our existence in certain form; and sects have ever since thrived each laying stress on a certain aspect; and traditions have fenced them about as sacred. Donkeys bear the burden least concerned what precious truths they carry about. All they are concerned is to avoid the whip and munch happily whatever they are given. They also find a place to park their weary bones as their load. Life is bearable as long as they observe certain rules that encompass their narrow existence. Jews, Christians and Moslems are brethren and the only difference is that donkeys know their masters and other beasts of burden as well. In our case we fail miserably on the core value of a religion. Some fools sit in vigil, prayer vigil it is and they keep at it for 24 hours to drive out ‘demonic presence’ of another religion.
Even in the best times when Islam was at the height of their world conquests they allowed Christians and Jews to live unmolested in the special quarters. Spain decimated Inca empire and Mayan civilization by fire and sword and made the poor natives know the incomprehensible love of God . We let Spain Portugal do their worst in the Americas. They went berserk for the 3 Gs-Gold, Glory and God. They are the example of religion that upholds love.. Did we make American natives any better for it? The children of Islam did similarly by destroying churches, temples and defacing cultural heritages. They made Moslem converts by sword wherever they overran. Here it cannot be the case of pot calling the kettle black. This begs the question: why we cannot see the Moslems as our brethren?
My thesis is that our controversy stems from the point of culture. Let us look back into history.
The children of Islam did not gather with us as we moved from the medieval ideas onto the Enlightenment and liberal traditions. We took the challenge of liberal ideas instead of scholasticism and coped with Industrial revolution to make a new world order. The Moslems did not and instead they fell back on their religion.
‘He who does not gather with me scatters’ Of this I shall discuss in the next section.
We carry about us our broken faiths and also promises and yet when we cannot coexist with our brothers.
Here is an interesting puzzle. How come Children of Islam who had it all going in their favor became backward and ended up in secondary position? In the Medieval Europe universities were modeled after madarassas and latest ideas in algebra, medicine, philosophy came from Islam. This thirst for knowledge was pursued keenly by Moslems on the injunction of their most blessed Prophet. Since Allah was all-knowing it was the duty of every believer to know his world. It was thus till the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Abruptly as a reaction to the threats from outside learning became suspect. philosophers of all hues were put to sword, science and everything that seemed a threat to their world were expunged. Their shrinking world was totally dedicated to read their scriptures and follow their peers. No wonder there was nothing they could teach the west or match them in cunning or in learning. It was a suicide of the grand scale. Like whales beaching or lemmings ending their lives Islam ceased to be in the lead.
On the other hand one essential characteristic of the Jews was in their ability absorb the prevailing mathematical, medical and philosophical lore of the Arabs and the host country and work with them without discarding their own culture. They were culturally distinct yet they were open-minded to the breathe the winds of change in whichever place they found themselves in. In the 12th and 13th centuries they played an important role in transmitting ancient and oriental culture to western Europe.It was at Cordova Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) the greatest physician of the age wrote his commentary the Guide to the Perplexed. In this long line of achievers we may place the services of Chaim Weizman who invented the ABE process of making acetone through bacterial fermentation. What was so significance of this process? It is a primary source for the making of cordite and it would come very useful in the WWII. Industrial exploitation of this process became possible in 1916. Such services and of vital importance made Chaim Weizmann on friendly terms with important personalities of the day. ( it is one of history’s curiosities that Jews could lend a push to the furthering of great events in Europe because of the Diaspora. They compensated their loss of homeland in such small but steady support to be connected with momentous events in European history. For example Columbus voyage’ was funded by Jews in Genoa)
In 1917 Weizmann became president of the British Zionist Federation and worked with Arthur Balfour to obtain the milestone Balfour Declaration. It stated in part that the British government ‘views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…’ Balfour intellectually brilliant but noted for lassitude and aristocratic disdain for industry did not care much for causes least of all for Jewish question. He even did not care if the Jews were resettled in Uganda or in Australia. But despite of all these circumstances strangely did conspire to help them.
Beyond any statesman’s power the idea of homeland for the Jewish people had gathered momentum and there was a perception growing even before the 19th century began of the Jewish question. The continued anti-Semitism despite their cultural assimilation was a blot on the enlightenment ideals that marked a European man of culture. As a result assimilation for the Jews into society was allowed in Europe. Theodore Herzl published a book Der Judenstaat (1896) placing all their unfulfilled hopes into print and it was the writing of the wall on the European consciousness. How sincere was the idea of European Enlightenment would be judged in the way it was answered. The United Kingdom was the first world power to endorse the Establishment in Palestine a homeland for the Jews. In 1916 the Picot –Sykes agreement had given Great Britain the mandate over Palestine and the rest is history.
How come the people of Palestine were forgotten while the wandering Jew got his wish fulfilled? God, in whichever garb, does not play games we play.
Man makes problems and is for man to solve them. Jews were cast out by world empires of Assyria, Babylon and Rome. Law of Negation created the Jewish diaspora and law of Compensation made Palestine available to the Jews. It is purely man made problem and solution where the Moslems only need to kick themselves for the default. They had negated the spirit of enquiry and learning in the 13th century and their neglect had caught up with them to deprive them of their rights.
(The above mentioned ideas I had first formulated in Principles of History-for example laws of Compensation and Negation explain how history is made. In this book I have given many historical events where certain principles work beneath the surface and go unnoticed. For any serious student it will be a valuable guide.)