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Does Islam Promote a Clash of Civilizations?

This video is transcribed by Reading Islam team.

Episode 1

Hi everybody. This is Danielle LoDuca – The Muslim Next Door.

In this series “Myths about Islam” we debunk common myths regarding Islam by exploring facts in alternative perspectives.

Welcome to Part 2! In this video, we will deal with the myth that Islam promotes a clash of civilizations.

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As antiquated as it sounds, the term clash of civilization was popularized in the 1990s by orientalist Bernard Lewis and professor Samuel Huntington .

The idea that there exists a monolithic force called Islam which is expansionist prone to violent and inherently hostile to the west has found new life in today’s political and public dialogue.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, announced on national television:

“Western civilization is in a war, we should frankly test every person here who is of Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported, Sharia is incompatible with western civilization.”

As much as some people wish for an epic clash between Islam and western civilization, the question remains: does Islam itself promote such a clash?

A closer look reveals that this notion does not in fact originate from Islam. Islam’s view of civilizations that they should get to know each other.

Chapter 49:13 of the Quran states: {O Mankind, indeed We (God) have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.}

When Prophet Muhammad established a nation of Muslims in the 7th century at Madinah, he signed treatise with the Jewish, Christian, and polytheist tribes. A clear indication that he intended for the Muslim nation to live in peace with its neighbors.

According to Islamic Law, non-Muslim faith communities are to be protected by the Muslim nation in which they live.

The Prophet Muhammad said:

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against that person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu-Dawud)

Numerous historical examples exist of the Islamic form of religious pluralism being practiced for centuries in various parts of the world.

Whenever Muslims had deviated from such pluralism, it can’t always be traced not to Islam but to ideologies suggest nationalism.

The Armenian genocide that took place in early 1900s is often pointed to as evidence of a clash of civilizations.

Regarding the brutal slaughter of Armenian Christians, a Fatwa or religious decree issued by the Grand Imam, Selim Al-Bashri of Al-Azhar university, states:

“Islam forbids aggression, oppression, bloodshed, and harming human beings – Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. Oh Muslims living in that region and elsewhere, beware of actions prohibited by Allah in Shariah and spare the blood that Allah prohibited to be spilled and don’t transgress on anyone since Allah doesn’t like aggressors…”

Al-Hussein Bin Ali, the Sherif of Makkah, issued a decree ordering all Muslims to defend Armenians and “provide everything they might need… because they are the protected people of the Muslims about whom the Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever takes from them even a rope, I will be his adversary on the Day of Judgment.”

Islam permits a valid Muslim nation with a recognized leader to defend itself militarily against aggression, but any illusions that Islam promotes a hanger for domination is easily destroyed by one Quranic verse 8:61 commends the Muslims in absolute terms:

{And if they (the enemy) incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon God. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.}

This means that even if the Muslim nation is winning the war, they’re required to stop fighting at the first indication their opposition desires peace.

According to the Pew Research centre, American Muslims are one of the most diverse faith communities in the United States.

Experts estimate that up to twenty five thousand Americans members of the so-called western civilization chose to become Muslim each year. Instead of a clash, they often find that Islam complements and enhances their American identity, living as fully American, and fully Muslim every day.

These facts and many more demonstrate that Islam does not promote or support a clash of civilizations.

Don’t miss Part 3 where we tackle the myth “Islamophobia isn’t real”

Help us promote peaceful coexistence through education and critical thinking.

Thanks for watching.

About Danielle LoDuca
Danielle LoDuca is a third generation American artist and author. Drawing inspiration from personal life experiences, her writings highlight the familiarity of Islam in a climate that increasingly portrays the Islamic faith as strange. She holds a BFA from Pratt Institute and has pursued postgraduate studies in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Foundation for Knowledge and Development. LoDuca’s work has been featured in media publications in the US and abroad and she is currently working on a book that offers a thought-provoking American Muslim perspective, in contrast to the negative narratives regarding Islam and Muslims prevalent in the media today