Part 11: Bernard Lewis’ Roots of Muslim Rage and the Clash of Civilizations Thesis

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

Part 9: Is there a Clash of Civilizations Today?

Part 10: Samuel Huntington’s Faulty Justification of the Clash of Civilizations Thesis

In our last article in this series, we have referred to the British Orientalist’s 1990 article “The Roots of Muslim Rage” which explained, “Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West,” and argued that Muslims were generally opposed to Western civilization.

He also claimed that there was a civilizational conflict between Muslims and the people in the West. Although Lewis was more careful in generalizing the Muslim mindset, Huntington was blunt and claimed in the middle of the Clinton presidency:

“Some Westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise. The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other.” (p 209)

This is very important because following the publication of Huntington's book a campaign seems to have started in the mainstream academia and media to demonstrate the validity of his thesis. Is it surprising then that within years September 11 attacks occurred? More than two decades later, we should carefully analyze to understand their implications.

Analyzing political developments in the Muslim world, Lewis argued “Since God is in principle the sovereign, the supreme head of the Islamic state—and the Prophet and, after the Prophet, the caliphs are his vicegerents— then God as sovereign commands the army.”

He referred to the Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded Islamist activists in the 20th century. Lewis also tried to demonstrate how Muslim rulers throughout history have mistreated non-Muslims suggesting that, “Clearly related to this is the basic division of mankind as perceived in Islam,” and how “The struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some fourteen centuries.” Then turning to contemporary times, Lewis addressed the Americans suggesting that the “United States has inherited the resulting grievances and become the focus for the pent-up hate and anger.”

Following the footsteps of Lewis, Huntington popularized the clash of civilizations thesis that became the cornerstone of American foreign policy following the September 11 attacks.

Since then we have witnessed not only invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq but also mini conflicts in many other parts of the world. The current Gaza genocidal crisis also seems to be part of this scheme. University campus protesters in the US and worldwide appear to have understood the connections between these global events and the complexity of utilizing Western values for political advantages.

Although the mainstream media and parts of academia are following Sophist philosophy, the students seem to be convinced about the validity of the Socratic Method for finding the truth, and this is a hopeful sign in encountering depressing challenges around us today.

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