Islam and the US

I read with great interest Obama called for new effort for 2-state solution on 4 June 2009. Before that in Turkey and Cairo Obama had called for new beginning between US and Muslims. “America and Islam are not exclusive,” he said, “and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

To start with, there has been a long love-hate relationship between Islam and the West. Muslims in the early days saw modern world with skepticism and prejudice. Maryam Jameelah wrote in Islam and Modernization, 1966, “Modernism is a militant revolt against religion and all the spiritual values it represents. From its birth place in the West, this malignant cancer has invaded virtually every country in the world destroying the indigenous cultures of the East, so much so that it has become the prevailing universal faith”.

Samuel J. Huntington in The Clash of Civilization, Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2003 asserted that world politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition. These divisions are deep and increasing in importance. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East to Central Asia, the fault lines of civilizations are the battle lines of the future. In this emerging era of cultural conflict the United States must forge alliances with similar cultures and spread its values wherever possible. With alien civilizations the West must be accommodating if possible, but confrontational if necessary. In the final analysis, however, all civilizations will have to learn to tolerate each other. He hypothesized that the fundamental source of conflict that will occur between nations and groups is based on the clash of civilization.

Despite the fact that some people believe that conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is due to ‘oil politics’, it is hard to deny the fact that the events that lead to 9/11, the Gaza massacre (at the end of Bush administration) proved significantly that the Bush administration is very much go against Islam, the belief that is shared by majority of Muslims worldwide.

Obama’s speech was perceived with a mixture of goodwill and skepticism. Iran warned that “beautiful” words alone could not remove the distrust the Middle East feels toward Washington. To date, significant rifts remain between the peoples of the United States and the Muslim and Arab worlds. New data from the U.S.-based Pew Center show Arab approval ratings of the U.S. president have improved, generally, since Obama took office, but are still low in most Arab countries

What more Obama can do?

Obama needs to address the Israeli-Palestinian issue thoroughly. He has to indicate a willingness to reestablish sustained dialogue between Israel and Palestine. Muslims believe this is the root of the problem as Muslims worldwide feel the pain and suffering of their brothers in the Palestine. He has to emphasize the necessity of mutual trust and he should firmly express his confidence in that dialogue process. Obama should indicate his broad policy goals which include detailing the road map to independent state for the Palestinians. To my mind, in general, US shouldn’t seek any territory any more. US shouldn’t seek to capture any resources or whatsoever, which might be seen as arm twist tactic of the world superpower.

Muslim people needs to be better educated. Muslim world needs to liberate its people from bullheadedness, poverty and diseases. Muslim countries especially in the Middle East must practice total democracy. Reform is needed in politic, social and economy. Terrorism must be condemned. Last but not least, the faith must be upheld.

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