Part 9: Is there a Clash of Civilizations Today?


Part 1: Why Muslims Must Participate in the Political Process in the United States

Part 2: How do Muslims Participate in the American Political Landscape?

Part 3: Why a Third-party Choice is Relevant?

Part 4: How do Muslims Contribute to Generating Hope through their Role in US Elections?

Part 5: How do Muslims Interact with Non-Muslims in America?

Part 6: Are Our Mosques and Islamic Centers Doing Their Job Properly?

Part 7: Role of the Mosque in Madinah under the Prophet’s Leadership and Mosques Today

Part 8: American Muslims, the Role of Mosques and Common Civilizational Values

In this series of articles, we are highlighting the importance for Muslims to engage in politics and the process of how to engage with non-Muslim communities.

Our objective here is to build bridges among communities. In such exercises, one must identify potential barriers to such efforts, and the first concern that would appear in such efforts is the clash of civilizations thesis.

This thesis has become the foundation for international politics since the beginning of the current century. Let us take a brief look at the background and current realities of this thesis. The thesis, according to its author Professor Samuel Huntington, “meant to be an interpretation of the evolution of global politics after the Cold War. It aspires to present a framework, a paradigm, for viewing global politics that will be meaningful to scholars and useful to policymakers.” 1Samuel P Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 13.

With high recommendations from two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the book became a textbook guide for policymakers in the United States and many other countries. Within years, terror attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and Washington’s Pentagon came to support the thesis. The thesis became the cornerstone for policymakers.

However, we raise questions about the validity of the thesis. Is it a sound thesis? Is it based on comprehensive arguments? Has the author manipulated historical evidence? Let’s examine some of its salient points.

Huntington argues with statistical data that, “50 percent of wars involving pairs of states of different religions between 1820 and 1929 were wars between Muslims and Christians.” 2Ibid, 210. How accurate is this argument? This period was perhaps the most volatile century over 14 centuries of Christian-Muslim relations. However, the fact remains that followers of these two major world religions constituted at least 70 to 75 percent of the world population at the time.

It is also noteworthy that out of the current 193 members of the United Nations, at least 169 have a clear either Christian or Muslim majority or a combination of both. Does it make sense to suggest that during this volatile century, these two communities fought against each other in half the wars that occurred during the period?

In addition, one must note that this historical period was the period of the emergence of nationalism around the world. Most of these wars were wars between colonizers and colonized populations; these were not religious wars.

Unfortunately, even this simple argument failed to convince policymakers and world leaders about the fallacy of the argument. We will discuss why and how Huntington chose to identify Muslims as adversaries of Western civilization and the fallacy of those arguments later in our forthcoming articles.


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