The Clash of Cultures -Motiur Rahman
Each and every civilization possesses some sort of driving force, which in other word may be called as soul of that civilization. Like the human, civilization is born, passes the stages of childhood, adulthood and eventually comes to an end. Ideology, philosophy of life, cultures are the foundational elements based on which the structure of a civilization is built. Clash of civilization has been a common phenomenon since time immemorial.
Many factors play a role in creating conflicts. To understand which of the fundamental factors is tremendously responsible for the clash of civilizations, one should be aware of the classification of civilization.
The actual driving force, the so-called soul, of a certain civilization, lies in its attitude toward life. Attitudes toward life refer to the purpose of life. In terms of the purpose of life, civilization can be categorized either as spiritualistic or materialistic. Spiritualistic civilization invariably focuses on the development of ethical energy. This civilization has the view that true salvation can be achieved only through the betterment of spiritual life. The existence of a supreme being, supernatural phenomena, life after death are unconditionally believed by the people of this civilization. On the contrary, materialistic civilization views life as something having to do with only this world. Maximization of physical comfort is the major goal of this civilization. This civilization cherishes a belief that the world is nothing but a place of merriment. Therefore, life should be merry-making until death.
Belief in life after death, supernatural being, prosperity of morality are of less significance. The concept that human beings will have to be held accountable for the deeds they commit in this life on the day of judgment is not necessarily believed. That’s why a person may freely commit any act as he pleases. Whether the act is morally right or wrong is not required for the person to be aware of. According to a materialistic individual, a deed can be done as long as the worldly benefit is derived from it. All the powerful civilizations have a tendency in common, which is to dominate the weaker ones. But the question is: How does a powerful civilization want to dominate others? The answer to this question is “culturally”. Differences in cultures cause a conflict of civilizations, as is the case with the clash between Islamic and western civilization. The root cause of the clash between Islamic world and western world lies in the fact that two different cultures practiced by these civilizations are completely contradictory. Even it has been recognized as a general truth that the dominance of one culture may pose a threat to another, and none denies their superiority as has been stated by Professor Samuel P. Huntington. He summarized the issue of cultural clash in the following statement:
“The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture… The problem for Islam is not CIA or US Department of defense. It is the West, whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and belief that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to impose that culture throughout the world. These are the basic ingredients that fuel the conflict between Islam and the West.”(The Clash of Civilizations page:277)
The Islamic world is definitely a spiritualistic civilization since it has a set of tenets, including belief in one God who created the universe, belief in principles of life revealed by Him. Differently, the West falls under the category of materialistic civilization. The majority of the people of the West reject the necessity of spirituality though most countries are dominantly Christians. Because West is influenced by the intellectuals’ philosophy considering religious teachings merely an unnecessary part of human life. This is one of the major reasons behind Europe engulfed in unethical activities like fornication, incest. Islam has introduced a social system that eliminates the factors as far as possible, which may lead to immoral acts, as has been mentioned earlier.
The European intellectuals are aware of the fact that Islamic culture is an obstacle to their so-called freedom. Hence, Islam is a dangerous rival for European cultures. This is why they are trying to adopt all forms of attempts to weaken the Muslims by deviating them from birth sources of Islamic culture. The authentic source of Islamic culture is Quran and Sunnah, which are the pillars of the superstructure of Islam. Unfortunately, it is true that Most Muslims have already strayed from the Quran and the ideology of the prophet Muhammad (SAW). To defend Islam and its culture Muslims must not go away from their root, that is, Quran and sunnah. They have to adhere to the principles of Islam, and most importantly, they should acquire knowledge to a sufficient extent so that they can distinguish between Islam and devilish culture.
Otherwise, possibility of being trapped by the devil is high. One more important point that must be noted is that Muslims can no way get divided even if difference of opinion exists. Because Almighty Allah states in the Quran, ”Hold on firmly to the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves”(Surah Imran:103). In this verse, the word ‘rope’ means The Quran. That is to say, if any difference arises concerning worldly affairs, Muslims are supposed to be united and agree to the decision given by Allah in the Quran. Prophet Muhammad (saw) emphasizes the unity of Muslims. Our beloved prophet said, ”Muslim Ummah is like a human body. If one part of the body feels pain, the entire body will feel the same pain.”
Above all, Let us put aside the trifling issues causing disunity among Muslims. Instead, let us stick to Allah’s law and mould our life in accordance with prophetic cultures.