Examine the evidence for and against the view that in the early twenty-first century, the world was witnessing a 'civilization struggle' between Islam and the West.

Samuel Huntington was the first to propose the ‘clash of civilization’. He argued that with the end of cold war, the clash of ideology was over and from now the clash will be between cultures and civilizations. The USA will be the primary defender and champion of western civilization. At the time Samuel was writing it was becoming clear that the main challenge to western liberal values was the Islamism. The Iran the pro-US government was overthrown in the Iranian revolution of 1979. Even so, Iranian students kidnapped some 50 US students so as to force the US government to hand over the former Shah, who was in exile in the USA. In Egypt, President Sadat was assassinated by the members of Islamic militant group on the charges that he was pro-American. This was followed by the series of terrorist attack on the American bases and embassies. 9/11 attack was the climax of these attacks. There was a strong belief in America that Islam was a ‘failed faith and civilization’ and ‘colossal threat’.
However, such blanket condemnation argues Raymond Baker, ignores some the most influential Islamic thinkers. They put forward Islam as rational, scientific, tolerant, democratic, etc. Turkey, for example, is a successful democracy and Islamists has done well in elections. In Palestine, Hamas has done exceptionally well in 2006 elections. Many Muslim writers have rejected the ‘clash of civilization’. They argue that almost all the governments in Islamic countries have acted in their national, economic and political interest. The USA, itself had sided with the Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia and Chechnya. In its ‘war against terrorism’ Pakistan sided with them so as did Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Ziauddin Sardar wrote that Islam cannot explain the acts of suicide bombers. He insisted that the terrorist acts are completely against the Islamic faith.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Examine the evidence for and against the view that in the early twenty-first century, the world was witnessing a 'civilization struggle' between Islam and the West.

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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