The Muslim World :
Reflections on the Last Decade
As the world
celebrates the arrival of a new decade starting with year 2010 I find
myself reflecting on how turbulent this decade has been for the Muslim
It was in
this decade that Mr. Bush launched his ‘Crusade’, which became the
‘war on terror’ and targeted at least two Muslim countries —
Afghanistan and Iraq — and threatened several others including Iran and
Syria. This decade also saw
the Israeli aggression expanding into Lebanon, which caused more
Palestinian people continued to suffer throughout this decade and nothing
was done to find a resolution to any of the outstanding issues facing the
Muslim World, such as the Kashmir issue. Instead, we saw some of the worst
human rights violations against the Muslim inmates at Abu Gharaib prison
and the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
images that came out of these prisons stunned everyone who believes in
human rights, and added insult to the injuries of the Muslims around the
Europe saw a
rise in community tensions between its indigenous and Muslim populations
that were sparked either by the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet of
Islam or by a ban preventing women from wearing headscarves in France or
more recently a ban on Minarets on Mosques ?by Switzerland.
It was also
rather depressing to see that negative stereotyping of Muslims continued
to dominate the western media igniting Islamophobia.
A lot more
can be said but in short, for the Muslim World, this decade has been a
“Decade of War and ?Misunderstandings.”
It can be
said that this was a manifestation of misplaced theories like The Clash of
Civilisations, which suggest an inherent conflict between the Muslim &
western civilisations. I disagree with such theories because they fuel
nothing but conflicts and war.
opinion, the events or lessons of the last decade have made the western
strategists review their stance because they are now realising that none
of these warmongering ideologies have achieved anything for them. In fact,
they have made the world much more volatile than before.
An ideology of “clash” leads to nothing but war, and war has
nothing to offer but destruction. It is as simple as that.
US policy makers have also realised that despite their claims of giving
freedom to the people of Iraq it did not endear them to the Iraqi people
who saw them as nothing more than an occupying army.
We all know
how a certain Muntazir Al Zaidi in Iraq welcomed Bush. Maybe it reflected
the frustrations of a common man, or maybe it did not.
In either case, it was not a happy ending to ?Bush’s expedition.
thing was clear that gulf of understanding between the Muslim World and
the west had become even wider. It was obvious that it could not be
overcome by war, the only way forward is dialogue.
It was for
this reason that one of the first things President Obama did was to reach
out and start a dialogue with the Muslim world through his speech at Cairo
University. He did that
because the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama understands that
this is the only way forward to ensure ?world peace.
understands that there are more than 1.3 billion people in this world that
call themselves Muslims. That’s one in every five human beings.
Fifty-seven countries in this world have Islam as their official
religion, and many others that host sizeable Muslim minorities within them
as the second or third largest population group. It is widely acknowledged
that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world with many more
people turning to Islam than any other faith.
So, in my
view the lesson from the events of the last decade is clear and simple,
and it makes perfect sense to renew the efforts to “Engage with the
Muslim World” rather than antagonising them further.
responsibility to reach out to the Muslims world is not for the western
leaders alone. Steps have to be taken by the modern intellectual and
political leadership on both sides to cultivate a tradition of open
exchange between the two major civilisations. Both have to shun the fear
of conspiracy theories against each other, and engage with a positive
mindset to resolve their misunderstandings.
this form of true intellectual dialogue — both at the individual and the
government level — has been largely absent, and both the west and the
Muslim world are equally to blame for not doing enough to promote it.
It is their collective failure to encourage this tradition of open
exchange and discussions that caused a lot of war ?and destruction.
view of the Muslim and western civilisations would tell you that what
brings the two civilisations together is far more powerful than what
instance, Muslims and the Christians (the Western World), have the same
heritage originating from the same Abrahamic tradition. Both are ‘people
of the Book’ with a common monotheistic view of the ?Almighty God.
almost identical beliefs about life, and accountability after death, The
Day of Judgment, heaven and hell, angels and prophets.
Even their moral code is equally identical in that they both
encourage the quest and respect for knowledge, establishment of justice,
compassion for the poor through charity, and tolerance of ?other faiths.
conclusion, there is a lot more in common between these civilisations than
there is in conflict.
provides us with a perfect starting point for Dialogue. President’s
Obama’s speech to the Muslim World at Cairo University was just the
beginning of this dialogue, we must ensure that it continues and words are
In the last
decade we have seen so much time, effort and money being spent on various
military operations in the ‘war on terror’ but it has caused nothing
but destruction and loss of life on all sides.
Western leaders in general and United States in particular commit a
fraction of this energy, finances and efforts to advancing the dialogue
and engagement with the Muslim World and the leaders in the Muslim world
also make a sincere effort to become their partners in this dialogue then
we can truly start this new year, and with it the new decade with hope and
optimism for a peaceful world where people from all cultures, religions
and civilisations can peacefully co-exist.
If that were
to happen then we can collectively celebrate the new year, because we have
the power to make the coming decade “A Decade of ?Peaceful
Javed Malik is a noted television journalist & Executive Director of The World Forum