The Civilization Bridge That Never Was

Category: World Affairs Topics: United States Of America Views: 4781
4781

A Saudi concerned with the state of our relations with the West in general and the United States in particular asked me: "Who is responsible for the mess? Us or them?"

The truth is that we are all responsible. In decades of easy communication and transport, both sides have missed many opportunities to build that elusive bridge between our civilizations. Yes, there was bad blood between us - religious crusades, colonization and all. Yes, there is Israel and the West's responsibility for its creation, expansion, and oppression of our Palestinian brethren. But most of this is now history.

New generations of good and decent people came and went without being introduced to each others. If they had been, they would certainly discover that what we have in common is much more than what makes us different. After all, we are the same species, living in the same boat, facing the same challenges to our environment, interests and future.

The real question then becomes: Why no one went first to say hello, I am Mohammad or John, this is my identity, culture and interests. What about you?

Is it fear of the unknown? Is it the need to feel superior to others, especially the different others? Or is it that the people in the middle whose exclusive religious, political and social authority is threatened if the "we against them" mindset is to become "we are all equal and same"?

I believe all those reasons are important, but the most important one is the failure of our thinkers and media, education and social institution in their most crucial task of bringing people of different civilizations and heritage together to work on common problems, dreams and interests. Instead, they worked in isolation or in competition to advance limited national aspirations.

While the world is increasingly becoming one village, the people who are freer to move and cooperate today are inadequately equipped to make the best of such freedom and material cooperation. They don't know much about each others' cultural environments, and they don't appreciate the benefit of mixing different backgrounds for the advancement of human identity.

What can we do to change this? I would say: Go direct! With the miracle of the Internet and cheap, reliable communication and transportation we are able to speak to and learn about one another without biased and agenda-laden mediators. After years of communicating with friends all over the Earth, I have found this to be the best bridge of understanding and friendship.

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is writer for Arab News and can be reached at [email protected]


  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: United States Of America
Views: 4781

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Older Comments:
ABDIFATAH SULEIMAN MUSSE FROM USA said:
asalamu aleykum warah matulaha

great article it shocked helen and now he tells us how evil he is, how dear you are that blind wake up and see us get stronger us usual, the almighty has promised us that we will shine over the evil ones like you what do you think you are living at who do you think created that you see and hear including your lost and sorry sould, wait you we too are waiting, too much shocked for you, watch us shine over your friends
2006-09-12

NAFEESA SHUKOOR FROM CANADA said:
I am happy to know that there are people like you today ,that think in broad terms.It all boils down to communicating effectively ones unbaised views,with open minds and understanding.I am one of those people ,that dont miss an opportunity to make non -muslims understand what this great religion stands for ,and who are we(the true muslims)?Dialogue and explaining in simple language is quite effective in communication. Keep up the good work. I sincerely believe in educating our own people ,in reminding them ,what they are chasing in terms of materialistic gains ,is actually a mirage.Some may attain their worldly desires ,but the majority will spend a lifetime trying for things that will not benefit in the HEREAFTER. Thank You.
2004-03-08

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Esther -- your latest comment (regarding the need to be honest) is exactly to the point, in my opinion.

[Surah 103:1-3] By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

(Translation by Saheeh International)
2004-02-23

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Esther -- yes -- I had indeed misunderstood your earlier comment (regarding confession). For whatever it might be worth to you, some of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) contain instructions to remedy immoral actions, issued to people seeking some means of remedying what were in some cases grievous errors (such as infanticide committed before they had embraced Islam).

Another famous parable concerns a mass-murderer who is told by a religious authority that his sins are too heinous for Allah to forgive him. The moral of the story is that Allah's capacity to forgive far exceeds our own. A secondary moral is that the religious authority was wrong to reject the criminal, declaring that Allah would not forgive him.
2004-02-23

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Esther, yes, I had indeed misunderstood your earlier comment regarding confession. For whatever it might be worth to you, some of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) contain instructions to remedy immoral acts -- as confessed by people seeking a means of remedying what were in some cases grievous mistakes, such as committing infanticide, made before they had embraced Islam.

Also, your latest comment regarding the need to be honest "hit the nail right on the head" in my opinion.

[Surah 103:1-3] By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.
2004-02-20

ESTHER FROM USA said:
I think people misunderstood what I said. I am not telling anyone to confess their sins. I was saying people need to be honest with themselves.
2004-02-19

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Esther -- Shalom. A quick note: to the best of my understanding (and to Martin Luther's, as I understand it) confession is not prescribed within the Canonical Gospels. It is my understanding that confession is (originally perhaps?) Talmudic. According to the Canonical Epistles, Christ's companions (may G-d be well pleased with them) advocated what is clearly a form of confession -- from which "Christians" might logically conclude...

Please note that Islamic teachings, as I understand them, encourage us to resolve claims against us before we depart this life. We are not, however, required to make a "public affair" out of error (i.e., sin) that is not the public's concern. We are supposed to (politely!) avoid gossip and we are supposed to avoid "private conversations" - which I have an impression might be conversations discussing other persons but which we would not care to have those other persons become aware of.
2004-02-19

SALEEM FROM USA said:
I think the author is Naive.

With the bridge there will be no cheap oil for the West. Today in USA, 18 ounce coke is sold at $1.49 and in the same gas station 1 gallon of gasoline is sold at $1.99

Once, i was standing next to an Australian and an english man walked towards us, the aussie said an interesting words to the approaching man,

" they say never shake hand with an English man..." and he laughed.

i think he was right.



2004-02-18

TO ESTHER FROM AKBAR KHAN said:
So Esther when did you decide that people have to start admitting their sins on message boards in order to be somehow vindicated for what they have done?

For you to say that everyone is responsible, for your belief that Jesus Christ (PBUH) was crucified, then you are doing nothing but imposing your belief upon me, as a Muslim.

You criticize the Taliban for what they did, hah, you're no better than them, the way you go on.

Speaking of the Taliban....if you go to Colorado City, you'll find that this cute little town of yours in the US OF A allows mass polygamy, and that all people living there are the PROPERTY of their Latter Day Saints Church - in other words the Church and the "prophet" of this Church there may inflict any punishment on his followers ahem, I mean "property." Take a look in your own backyard first before you police the world. As stubborn as you Americans are into accepting your own mistakes...I would invite you to take a look at your OWN BIBLE and discover that it talks about:

The coming SPIRIT OF TRUTH in JOHN 14:16-30;

Moses spoke about a prophet from God who is from the Israelite's "brethren", referring to the offspring of Prophet Ishmael who is proved to be Muhammad, through his ancestor Kedar mentioned in Genesis and other places. This coming Prophet would also be like unto Moses, Jesus was not like Moses, Muhamamad (saaw) was;

Deuteronomy 33:1-2, Genesis 21:21, Psalms 84:4-6, Isaiah 42:1-13, Genesis 25:13 talked about an awaited Prophet who would come from Arabia!;

Habakkuk 3:3, and Isaiah 21:13-17 talk about Prophet Muhammad (saaw) migration from Mecca to Medina;

Deuteronomy 18:18-20, John 16:13, Isaiah 42:10-11, Isaiah 28:10-11, Jesus talks about a Paraclete who would come after him, as one who shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak - Muhammad (saaw) was illiterate and spoke what Angel Gabriel told him to say, from God.


2004-02-18

TO ESTHER FROM H.A. FROM YATHRIB said:
Will all due respect, Esther!!!

H.A. is not responsible for Jesus's (PBUH) death. The Jews and Romans who harassed Jesus (PBUH) at that time for spreading Allah's words are responsible for his departure from Earth. Jesus (PBUH) was NOT crucified, but someone who looked like him (a twa'm or twin or someone alike) was put on the cross just fool the dumb humans.

I don't believe Jesus/Prophet Isa (PBUH) is going to take my sins or save me. H.A. just doesn't believe in free lunch.

Anyways, May Allah guide you...
2004-02-17

ESTHER FROM USA said:
H.A. Christ's death does not give anyone the right to do whatever they want. If you are unrightous make no mistake that God will punish you. Like it or not everyone is guilty for Christ's death and anyone that kills a innocent person will have to face the punishment that they justly deserve. Everyone sins. If everyone on this board were honest they would admit to themselves that they have done things that are morally wrong.
2004-02-16

H.A. FROM YATHRIB said:
Ms./Mrs. Helen!!!
- Who the hell cares if you like Muslims or have negative views of Islam?

I can't do the learning and exploring about Islam and Muslims for you. You've to do it yourself.

As far as I am concerned, you are a hardcore Islamophobic and a great lost daughter of Mother Eve, who lives in complete darkness and who will continue to live in such dark micro tubes forever...

Keep up the good works! Way to go!!! Keep hating Muslims and Islam..., but you can do it for only 70-93 years....What are you going to do after that?

"...Do you know what the day of judgement is?..." - Al-Quran

I don't think the Christians understand God and what the day of judgement is. They all dream about getting free lunch from Jesus (PBUH). How naive humans can be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We,Muslims, however should tightly hug them all as hard as we can....The MORE they hate, the more tightly we should hug them. That's H.A.'s philosophy.

2004-02-15

A. MAHMOUD FROM USA said:
Allah said that he would not change what is with some people unless they change what is with themselves.

I believe that this applies to all parties involved, but mainly to ourselves. When we, Muslims, stop ENTIRELY, thinking about life and start thinking more about the end and working for it, we will have a better image to present for ourselves and our great riligion. I can't blame Israel for building a wall around the Palastinians when Saudi Arabia announces plans to build a wall around Yemen!!
When we muslims stop taking and dealing with interest while the alternative is widely available, we will prevail. When we muslims stand up for what is right in the name of Allah we will prevail. When we stand up for our corrupt life-loving, self-serving governments and say enough is enough for that, we will prevail.
If we succeeded doing that, we would have built a very solid ground for the foot prints of that BRIDGE to then, and only then, cross over to the other side and reach out for the sake of spreading the true word of GOD, the Quoran.
Yet, we still have to work with another problem there aren't solid ground to accept the end of the bridge. The reason being, what one of the readers had quoted from the Quoran that "THEY" would never like us unless we become them or they become us.
Looking at the bright side. Most of us that managed to cross over and made a living in places like the US, are trying to spread the word and reach out on one-by-one bases.

Finally, Allah had vowed to complete his religion and I beleive every word of it. May Allah bless us all and helps to be better servants and admitt us all in Jannah and keep us all from Hell.

Alsalamu Alaykum
2004-02-15

AHMED FROM UK said:
The presumptious and pompous posturing by "Helen" is laughable. It never fails to amaze how twisted Islamophobes and frothy apologists or empire are. We've heard the same flawed arguments before, almost all of them learnt from watching the pathetic excuse for a free press they have in their "democratic" countries where no one votes.
After the terrorist assault on Iraq, Americans have no credibity left, not that they had much to begin with. People like these are conceited, vain and ultimately the product of a failed and dying culture, one which seeks to get its kicks from brutally attacking weak and defenseless nations, and steaking their natural resources.
"Helen" is just another subject of the evil empire, one who lacks both knowledge and critical thinking skills, in short an average Americanazi who believes whatever they lying leaders tell them and support any and all policies despite evidence to the contrary.
2004-02-14

ABDUR RAZZAQ FROM USA said:
Helen: Even if you have spoken to 50 Muslims, which may be an overly inflated number, that still does not counter the fact that Islam is appealling to people from every culture, race, and region, as it continues to grow at a rate so alarming, that it is scaring the pants off of people in the US and Europe. You mention the corrupted regimes all over the Muslim world, but fail to realize that these people were propped and buttressed by Western powers. I was born and raise here in America and reverted to Islam 7 years ago. I plan to move to a Muslim country and use whatever talents and abilities that Allah has blessed me with the help them. If more Muslims would not be so greedy in loving the dunya or materialistic, we could help change some of the decadence of the Islamic world.
Also, in response to your claim that many immigrants from Islamic countries don't want to return home, for most of the immigrants I know (and it is may be more, or less, than you know), that statement is not true. What is true is that they will endure the America culture to increase their financial capablities and opporunities, not because the love it so much here.
Lastly, does the US government or any other government for that matter, cater to its constituencies? I strongly doubt it. Our politicians, and I pray that they be strengthened by morals and higher levels of integrity, seem to me to look to benefit themselves first, and the people who fund and bankroll their campaigns second. 100 million people can be against something, but if they have no economic power, their voices go largely unheard.
So in conclusion, the Qur'an is the only true source of guidance. May we learn to live together peacefully, and meet Allah on the day of judgement with our right hands outstretched.
Ameen
2004-02-14

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Helen, thanks for stopping by. Incidentally, I myself first read the Qur'an in a bookstore and ended up embracing Islam by the time I reached the checkout counter. There would appear to be very little chance of us ever fully comprehending the ways of elohim or even consistently guessing the will of Adonai - unless of course it was the will of Adonai that we did so. Shalom Aleichem.
2004-02-14

NURAINI FROM MALAYSIA said:
This article suggests very reasonable things. i say individually we should forget about who should start first - after all, if God should ask us later why we did not do our part to avoid enmity among mankind, are we going to answer, "Because they should have started to do their part first?" Dear Helen, although i am a firm believer in islam, i have no qualms telling you i would not want to live in pakistan, and most of the middle east, nigeria, bangladesh, indonesia, either because they practise a very repressive 'muslim-based' culture, or because of the extreme poverty. but then again, i would rather live in malaysia, brunei, and possibly morocco or a few of the arab countries compared to america. muslims who have known no other 'muslim' culture but their own repressive regime, may not be able to separate what is religion and what is religion-based culture. the latter may be loosely based on a religion, but may not actually be approved. i.e. inferring that women have no rights because they are owned by the husband/father, as was believed by medieval christian cultures.
2004-02-14

HELEN FROM U.S.A. said:
I think that Moslems still don't understand.

Many Americans know your culture in a way you are too blind to see. I read the Koran thirty years ago and found it a nasty ugly code. Sorry, I just totally loathed it. I know it is hard for a Moslem to hear but it may not be lack of understanding of your culture and faith thats the problem. I may feel this was partly, because I am a working class American woman. The Koran is clearly not the last word of God if it doesn't speak against slavery and the explotation of women and children. Several times I have worked with Moslem women they all said that they would rather die than return to a Moslem country. I'm sure this is not what they say to husbands and brothers, but it is what they say to American stranger who asks about it. The suprising thing is the number of your men I have had similar conversations with at at least among the poorer Moslem men I have worked with. They don't really like living in a Moslem country either. The response is different from other immigrants that come here, who may complain about political repression in their homeland or the poverty but amost always say they miss their home culture. Working class Moslem miss their families but often don't miss their culture when talking to non Moslem co-workers. I even had a few of the men spit, curse Mohammed, and say they hate the Moslem culture. Perhaps if you would let people speak freely you would manage to have a culture not so painful that your young people find the only thing to do is wire themselves to bombs and blow themselves up.

The governments of Moslem countries don't see to understand that governments exists for the governed, not for the governors. This is the basic essence of the American creed. Israel understands this and is therefore is brother to the U.S. while with the exception of Turkey, Moslem nations do not function as a servant of the governed and so will never be anything but tolerated by the average American.
2004-02-13

I DO NOT WANT TO SHOW FROM PAKISTAN said:
i just want to know atleast when Kashmir will free from Horror
2004-02-13

AHMED FROM UK said:
In the words of Gandhi "I think it would be a good idea" when asked about his opinion on western "civilization."
There is no "civilization" in the west, barabrians bent on world conquest no different from their "crusading" ancestors. The world will be a better place once they enter the final terminal phase of their decline. Then truly will freedom reign.
2004-02-13

H.A. FROM YATHRIB said:
H.A. would like to take this opportunity to say that I, H.A., come in LOVE and PEACE.

It is an honor to have the privilege to say to the two lost sons of Adams , Esther and David Stone (who have posted comments here).....that H.A. missed you dearly!!! H.A. would like to tightly hug you to squeeze the phobia and hatred of Islam out of your systems.

Upon suggestions of Mother Eve and H.A.'s innate affinity for hugging the enemies of Islam...I, H.A., can wait no longer to give a big brotherly hug to my dear brother, David Stone, and my dear sister, Esther.

Dear enemies of Islam or My dear sister and brother!!! Lets meet either at the Downing Street or at the Pennsylvania Ave, or anywhere else,...... whichever location is most convinient for you, for a big "STATE-OF-THE-ART" hug and family union.

Mother Eve approves of such conducts & We,offsprings, must NOT be disobedient.
2004-02-11

DAVID STONE FROM CANADA said:
David you talk about Christians and Muslims coming to terms with understanding that both of us are at fault in trying to be holier than thou, yet in your own statement at the very end, you say:
" We kuffir - from Europe, from India, and elsewhere - do not view the past of Islam as a shining example of how to live."

For hte past 200+ years, Muslims and all other religious groups have been subjugated to accepting and learning the Western view of history and it's g reat achievements, all the while it has failed to mention the great scientific adn other historical achievements of non-European, Anglo nations, I'm not only talking about Muslims here!!! Why is it that you ask for both sides to come ot terms with realizing that we are both at fault in arguing with one another, yet you at the end of your statement openly deny that there was a great deal of amazing examples of how to live by Muslims of the past. Should I come here and accuse Christians of plundering Jerusalem after the Ummayid Dynasty when so many Muslims and Jews were killed by Crusaders that the blood ran knee high on horse back in the streets? I am not going to sit here and say that those people reflect current day Christians, that would be childish and immature of me. So when you sit there and talk about Muslim atrocities, let's take this approach...my ancestors are Hindu's and I am from India and later my family was forced to flee India and move to Pakistan. Do I sit here and accuse Hindu's in India for what was done to my family and how my ancestors were raped and beaten and burnt alive? Stop trying to accuse one side of past atrocities, and see what is happening in the world today. Fix what is wrong today for the betterment of tomorrow. Yesterday (the past) is an example for all of us to learn with, but to say that both Christians and Muslims need to face our past atrocities and realize that we are both at fault in certain circumstances, then for you to b one sided is deceitful.
2004-02-11

ESTHER FROM USA said:
That is true David Stone.
2004-02-10

CHRISTOPHER WARD FROM USA said:
Very good and true article. We should all work together because we certainly are more alike than different.
2004-02-10

DAVID STONE FROM USA said:
From the article: "Yes, there was bad blood between us - religious crusades, colonization and all."

Why does the author mention sins committed by the West against Islam...but not those committed by Islam against the West?

Europe was for a thousand years - a much longer time than the Crusades - under attack by Islam. Spain was completely colonized. Southeastern Europe was raped viciously. Vienna, the very heart of European civilization, was besieged time and again. Constantinople, a symbol of our civilization and religion, was sacked. It's churches were defiled and made into mosques.

If the Muslim world cannot face it's past atrocities, just as the West needs to face those that it has committed, there is no hope. We kuffir - from Europe, from India, and elsewhere - do not view the past of Islam as a shining example of how to live. Our ancestors fell under its boot.
2004-02-10

ABDALLAH FROM RUSSIA said:
Communication is very important, in order for the Message to reach all human beings, however, the day Christians and Jews become completely satisfied with muslims, is the day when they either become muslim, or muslims become them, in my opinion.

2004-02-10

ALI ABUBAKAR ALBADAWI FROM NIGERIA said:
Allah says that:
"Never will the jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of Allah,-that is the (only) Guidance." Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against Allah."

Thus no degree of communication or understanding will encorage frienship between Us. Unless We are willing to through away our ideals and religion to become like them then there will be what you call understanding otherwise if you do not change to suite them you will remain the same uncivilised person not worthy of interchange.Even if they know the trueth about you. Just take France for example under the present negociation to allow or not to allow Religious symbols this highlight the Iyyah above that no matter how french you are once you identify your self as a muslim you are a threat and cant be negociated with.
So brother it is quite a waste of time for you to try and build a bridge that Allah says it is not possible.

2004-02-10

AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
Salam

Here is another site that proves what we have in the ME is not history as Dr. Batarfi likes to call it.

http://www.iraqbodycount.net/

This is happening daily next door to Dr. Batarfi and I assure him this is not history! It is Anglo-American invasion of a sovereign Arab land.

Ahmed Asgher
Bahrain
2004-02-10

AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
I struggled to tick wether I was 'for' or 'against' this article. Yet, I ticked 'for' because the general message is good. However, I have a bone to pick with Dr. Batarfi. Referring to our domination by the West/Zionists even as we write as:

"But most of this is now history."

No, it is not. It is happening right now. Palestinian homes being demolished, theirlands stolen to be occupied by Islaeli Jews, they are being forced to live in Alcatraz with this new wall, whilst Dr. Batafi enjoys his home comforts.

Iraq is being sold to the lowest US Inc bidder whislt Iraqis have to que for petrol, in a land that sits on huge oil reserves. Contracts passed to Israel who then appoint Indians to run Iraq whilst Iraqis struggle on $10 a month, if that.

This is not history.

As a Bahraini when my brother worked for American ships and stationed in Vietnam in the 60's, he used to bring his American mates home. My pious mother was happy to cook for them and look after them. So, when Dr. Batarfi writes: "Why no one went first to say hello.", he is not talking about me as a Muslim. He generalises and perhaps he is right when it comes to Saudi Arabians. But they are not the only people who live in the Middle East.

We have reached out and let our countries be the servants of the West, giving them employment and access to our resources and without even asking them to pay any tax. This is far more than what they can expect from their own governments.

That is fine, but please ask them to take their troops and army back. We do not want such friendship. This is occupation. Dr. Batarfi should know the difference and I have many decent good friends in the West, some for the last 30 years. It is time they do the reaching!!

Peace be upon all.

Ahmed Asgher
Bahrain
2004-02-10