The Shift of Importance From Ideology-religion Into Civilization-strategy
This shift from emphasis on religion to civilization was lucrative, provided a wonderful opportunity and unleashed great energy for the masterminds behind the so-called \'New World Order\'. Otherwise, no one would ever have implemented the civilisational factor within International affairs of state, as this term was nonexistent in the lexicon of International affairs. According to Shirin Hunter in her article, entitled: The Post-Soviet International System and the Dialogue of civilizations\':
'Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 a new concept has been introduced into the lexicon of International affairs, namely that of 'civilizations' as actors on the International scene and, therefore, if not replacing, then competing with the nation state as the principal unit of the International system.
- The idea was first introduced by Samuel Huntington in the context of his 'Clash of civilizations' theory. According to this theory, civilisational incompatibility or affinity will be the main factor determining the nature of international and inter-state relations
Moreover, this theory implies that rather than individual states interacting with one another -albeit at different levels, bilateral, multilateral etc.- it will be a cluster of states bound together by certain common values within the framework of a particular civilization, that will become the main actor.'
Although she might be attempting to present his ideas, one has to state that, despite being a complex, learned and thought provoking work, his book introducing the Clash of Civilizations should in no way change the way one regards the international social and political order. It is especially important to be wary of rushing into judgements while applying it to world events post-September 11th, 2001.
The idea was indeed invented several years before this tragic so-called wake-up event. And the course and history for its background was meant to elaborate, or substitute the \'New World Order\' in the academic milieu.
Huntington's book has been denounced by some Left-wings as being written by a right-winger and therefore, presumably, of no intellectual significance.
On the other hand S. Sayed, from the sociology department of the University of East London, despite admitting the complications of defining a \'civilization\', enjoyed Huntington's analysis that Muslim Nations are being replaced by quasi-primordial constructs such as civilizations. He also shares the same idea that these entities are the manifestation of a national logic and likes the idea and recognition of the relationship between the nation and the form that the political entity has taken.
He refutes, however, the idea which has animated Huntington and upon which he bases his theory. After mentioning a couple of shared practices amongst Muslims he says:
'It is difficult to conclude from these examples that that which constitutes the unity of the Muslim Ummah is its uniform way of life. (Of course, it is precisely this idea of a Muslim/ Islamic civilization that animates people such as Huntington; nevertheless, like all attempts which conceptualise civilization as an unity, these flounder since they rest upon an eclectic collection of observable and generalized features.')
The negative affects of this book (Clash of Civilisations), which seem to be frequently encountered in post 2001 readings, lies in its unmerciful ramification and pessimistic prognostication for the future of humanity.
One could probably link the thesis with the fact that America was in a period of increasing tension, particularly from confronting Muslims in various locations across the globe.
Huntington is neither a liberal nor a left winger. In his advice, he emphasises that the West must restrain the military power of Islamic and Sino countries in their attempt for technological/military superiority over other civilisations. Of course, his brainchild is not limited to the Islamic territories but rather extends to cover two civilizations: the Islamic and the Buddhist world (China and countries in close geographic orbit/influence). (p. 312)
During a London Conference on \'Muslims Identity in the 21st century\' organized in Oct. 1998, Dale F. Eickleman, declared that Huntington\'s rhyming "West versus Rest" is of little use for the modern understanding of Muslim societies. He states:
'They obscure, or even distort, the immense spiritual and intellectual ferment that is taking place today among the world's nearly one billion Muslims, reducing this innovation, in most cases, to a fanatical rejection of everything modern, liberal or progressive.'
As Huntington has suggested, the core of the challenge and his absolute obsession lies in the fear of being inferior - both economically and militarily- to the two civilizations. Thus our main concern should be to confront the superiority complex, and to resolve it in finding ways to let others think of themselves as equal to others, and to recognize that the others are very much alike - regardless of their various differences - and that they, too, possess the ability to add something to the Mega Powers; knowledge and purification.
" ولولا دفع الله الناس بعضهم ببعض لهدمت صوامع وبيع وصلوات ومساجد يذكر فيها اسم الله كثيرا."
"If it were not because God repels some men by means of others, cloisters, churches, synagogues and mosques where God\'s name is mentioned frequently would have been demolished." Qur\'an 22:40
"قال الإمام علي (ع): الناس صنفان، أما أخ لك في الدين، وأما نظير لك في الخلق." الإمام علي (ع)، نهج البلاغة، الكلمات القصار
Imam Ali (as) said: "People are of two categories: either brethren in faith, or peer in creation." Nahj ul-Blaghah, short sayings of Imam Ali (as).
*Introduction of the Dialogue of Civilizations * Just as the pursuit of mono-cultural, single religion, territorial and oppositional states has proven problematic since the demise of the Middle Ages, so has the increasingly singular pursuit of the American example of democracy for the post-Cold War world in the twenty-first century.
The American type of democracy may function within certain societies with special conditions, but it is not the only or exemplary way to achieve a peaceful, productive, pluralistic and culturally dynamic society. After the refutation of the Clash of civilizations, there was the introduction of a wiser theory from the Muslims by Sayyed M. Khatami.
The call was made prominent by the Iranian President in his keynote address at the opening of the United Nation in 1999. This call for a grand dialogue at the demise of the 20th and the inauguration of the 21st century was timely. Cultures have already encountered each other on religious journeys, modern holidays and vacations, military conquests, business transactions and intellectual exchanges and excursions.
The idea of the Dialogue of Civilizations cannot be rejected by a humble civilized human being, nor disapproved by an astutely religious individual. One should get beyond the various forms of contemporary fundamentalism and extremism wherever possible. Muslims today should operate with epistemological modesty, as no one can deny that great civilizations have been built by wise non-fundamentalist leaders like the Greeks, Chinese, Persian and Muslims.
The Qur'anic principle supports such a civilized approach, and we may quote the following Qur'aic verses:
"إذ قال لصاحبه وهو يحاوره، أكفرت .... الآية."
"His companion said to him while disputing with him: Do you disbelieve in Him who created you from dust, then from a small seed, then He made you a perfect man?" Qur\'an 18:37
"أدع الى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة وجادلهم بالتي هي أحسن."
"Invite to the Way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching."
Also in a narration we read:
"إن الحكمة ضالة المؤمن، فحيث وجدها ألتقطها، فهو أحق بها."
"Wisdom is the ultimate goal of the believer, and wherever he finds it, it is his prerogative to acquire it, as he deserves it more than anybody else."
Many Muslims among the religious minorities seem to have succeeded in dealing with cultural contradictions presented by others, and in conceiving themselves in tolerant, complex and realistic terms. Also, religious minorities, such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, live in a number of Islamic countries, and for instance in I. R.
Iran under the Wilayat Faqih regulations are a model of cosmopolitanism. Yet superiority is still not manifested in each and every different way. These religious minorities, for example, don\'t pay the jizyah (the religious taxation upon non-Muslims within an Islamic State), while maintaining the application of the Islamic Shari\'ah Law. Some of them are not so favoured in other Islamic countries.
On the other hand, some Muslim communities living in the Free-World do not share an elevated position within the society, and are deprived of certain rights in a smooth smart way.
Some of them have, consequently, remained on the hard shoulder of the main highway. The reasons are many and varied; some stemming from psychological seclusion, stigmatization of faith and humiliation of their holy figures during the last few decades.
Appropriateness of the society\'s popular faith, such as Christianity, is so excessively focused and extremely emphasized to possibly cause a number of civilisational conversions, despite being increasingly abhorrent to the Muslim community. These social limitations, which have caused a number of nominal conversions to Christianity or other faiths, have had a negative impact on the status of sociology of the Free-World, regardless and notwithstanding its positive attributes.
The exclusion, conversion and attempted elimination of Muslims sensibilities and devotion will not help any healthy society to flourish. Rather it contributes to the instability of free societies.
It is, therefore, wise to promote the Dialogue of Civilizations in order to minimize tensions and decrease elevated levels of confusion and misunderstanding. However, this peaceful idea, despite its many advantages, has not appeared to have been welcomed by arrogant individuals and atheistic Mega Powers.
An intellectual thinker marked the idea with a presentation designed to show that we are in a transitional phase from the "Rise and Fall" model to the "Dialogue" model. According to him:
"The implications are far reaching, not the least, a new understanding of civil society, cultural achievements by human beings of different nationalities and cultural manifestations."
He also rightfully insists that Gibbon's study on the Rise and Fall of Civilizations contributes to the topic of our discussion. He, therefore, advises a further study of the theory of 'Dialogue of Civilizations', as it lacks much sense without further investigation of the various technical terms implemented:
'We must, in a dialogue of civilizations, investigate exactly, if historical records and archaeological evidence permit, why and how civilizations constitute themselves and fall apart and transform themselves into another form of civilization, or simple drop dead and become another chapter in the book on world history….
'Much interdisciplinary research must be done in the Dialogue of Civilizations to achieve a kind of sense, so as to come to terms why and how any type of form of civilization emerges, flourishes, and ultimately dies.'
While analyzing the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire - despite the fact that it had adopted the Christian religion - Gazo quoted Gibbons to blame the very same adopted religion as the main cause for its decline. He writes:
'Gibbons, hitherto, is read for his literary style, for an example of the enlightenment attitude towards Rome and Christianity, and ultimately, for the Rise and Fall paradigm, inherent in his narrative. Of course, everyone somehow knowledgeable of a little historical reading knows Gibbons verdict: The basic reason for Rome's fall and decline was Christianity.'
It seems, as he, himself, realized, there is a fault in generalizing the cause to be a 'Religion' or any religion, and he could not help adding, therefore, that even Gibbons, the very same theoretician, cannot put Islam under the same category. However, he presented it in the form of a smart political manoeuvre:
Gibbons, as a figure from the enlightenment, needs no apology for his version of Rome and the Christian subversion. The enlightenment thinkers themselves were, as is well known, not positively inclined toward the Roman Catholic Church. Again it is no surprise that Gibbons and his friends should be benignly inclined toward Islam.'
By these quotes we find ourselves not entrapped into rejecting the role of ideology or religion, especially Islam, as some previous American thinkers have, but rather encouraged to further study our theory as the workable alternative to the Marxist Material Contradiction, the New World Order and to both the Clash of Civilizations and the Dialogue of Civilizations.