The inevitable clash

Published: June 15, 2010

Those who still believe that there is a place for composite dialogue and understanding between Islam and the West, are badly mistaken.

Would you like an atheist as Chairman of WAPDA? A white City Nazim for Karachi or for that matter a British Director General of FIA in Punjab? Would you encourage wine shops and dance bars across Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad? How would you react to roving half-naked girls at Constitutional Avenue in Islamabad and at Millennium Mall in Karachi? Just as you don’t want significant titles in your country given to westerners and your way of life swayed by secular thoughts, same is the case in United States, Europe and India. They don’t want their culture altered under the shadow of Islamic civilisation.

There is nothing wrong with the reaction that the West has, as it is exactly similar to how Muslims’ respond to when their societies are threatened by liberal and secular thoughts. However, over the past few years, this reaction has been institutionalised to a dangerous level, resulting in segregation of Islam and the West. It has become possible due to controlled American media, campaigning strategically against Muslims since many decades. 9/11, 7/7 and Mumbai attacks have catalysed the process and have given more strength and a tangible result to these stakeholders.

Europe and the United States have been key players in this. The laws addressing detention, ban on scarf and minarets are not only ceilings on symbols of Islamic faith, but in a broader perspective, they are more about funneling Islam towards a rejected religion.

The Swiss ban on minarets is not a matter of beautiful terrains; it is a symbolic reaction to what is perceived as an Islamic threat. During the campaigning for ban on minarets, the organisers discussed little on the construction and architecture of minarets and campaigned more about the influence of Islam, its Shariah and the Burqa. They portrayed Islam as a civilisation contrary to their beliefs, in order to gain voters for their drive. The posters reflected images of Switzerland as if it was taken over by Islam. The Swiss people termed minarets as Muslim power symbols.

Despite the ongoing campaign, thousands of Muslims have migrated to United States and other western countries over the past decades. Better economic conditions and improved standard of life is what immigrants might have achieved, but at what cost? Total loss of identity is what trickles through generations, or one observes people returning to their homelands after being offended. It further strengthens the argument that Muslims have never been welcomed in the West and will never be.

In order to stop the influx of Muslims, methods are being adopted to institutionalise suppression of self-esteem. The full body scan introduced at American and UK airports for majority Muslim countries reflect the same. Similarly, the ‘terror threats and suspects’ mechanism ensures that Muslims do not create stronger bonds with Masjids, the Muslim community and their faith.

Those who still believe that there is a place for composite dialogue and understanding between Islam and the West, are mistaken. There are no options left. Clash of civilisations is the only thing that can happen between the two camps. Both are extremists, assertive and insist on their ideology, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, logic and philosophy of mind. Its time to decide, which side are you on?


Sana Aijazi

A commentator on defense and security issues. She is associated with The Eastern Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Gulmeenay

    I honestly couldn’t care less what the religious/spiritual beliefs of the Chairman WAPDA are as long as he’s able to do his job competently. And if the Chairman WAPDA was incompetent, I really wouldn’t assume that his religious beliefs or lack of them had anything to do with it.Recommend

  • Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    “Despite the ongoing insult and ridicule, thousands of Muslims have migrated to United States and other western countries over the past decades, falling prey to Western civilisation”

    I find that very hard to believe. No one is falling prey to anything, if anything, Muslim families in the West are far more conscious of their religion and culture. Also you are assuming that the Islamic faith and Islamic culture are the same. Far from it, there really is nothing as a global Islamic culture.

    In your first paragraph, whether white or black, whether alcohol is sold or not has nothing to do with local culture or Islamic culture. Those are indigenous values superimposed and portrayed as Islamic. The same way as Karo Kari is justified as compatible with Islam.

    Further, what you define as the West, is not uniform either. To bracket hundreds of millions of people as either being Western or being Islamic does no justice to reality.

    The full body scans for Muslim nationals passing through US airports has already stopped. Mosques are very vibrant in the West, just visit any mosque for the UK to begin with.

    Dealing in stereotypes, and giving ultimatums, to choose which side you are on just drives hatred and to what purpose?Recommend

  • Muztarib

    To understand Ms Aijazi’s , check out her video “analyses” on YouTube.Recommend

  • anas n butt

    i didnt understand the point of this post at all if there was one. if the heathen head of WAPDA did a better job than the Muslim one, I’d want him indeed. The writer wants the “west” to respect Islamic traditions but Muslim countries today react terribly to any sort of “western” influence. so a Muslim woman in the “west” should be allowed to wear a burqa but a western woman can’t wear a skirt in Islamic countries?Recommend

  • Shoaib

    Well…there is no issue at all if a non-Muslim runs an institution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As long as he or she is fulfilling his or her responsibilities according to the rules & regulations & serving the purpose in an efficient manner, there is no problem. Yes, there are some positions which should only be for Muslims (don’t want to go in that detail rite now).

    As far as culture & civilization is concerned, one should know about the “type” of the place he or she is living – One should understand the difference between a secular & an Islamic country (again, is Pakistan really an Islamic country or not – separate debate). Why should Pakistan, a country based on the two nation theory & whose basic slogan was Islam & Fundamentalism allow to wear bikinis or drinking alcohol? West can do this because they are secular & there is nothing wrong for them in it but if u go and study Christianity or Judaism or even Hinduism, there are also restrictions for the all the stuff Islam doesn’t allow.

    The war today is not completely because of religion, its the war of taking over the resources (Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq etc.) & some sacred land (Palestine). If religion or 9/11 was the only issue then why didn’t they attack Saudi, i think they cant even think of wearing skirts there & btw, most of the 9/11 suspects were also Arabs..but u c…they are their one of the best friend….But Why? …and the answer is “OIL” … Shah Faisal is no more there!!!Recommend

  • Rhazes

    “Just as you don’t want … your way of life swayed by secular thoughts”

    What makes you think that this is true for all Pakistanis?

    You need to learn the meaning of secularism first. You seem to believe that secularism equates to apostasy. This flawed concept is the starting point of your post, and from there everything goes downhill.Recommend

  • Menaal

    I totally agree with it, and they consider Islam the biggest menace to their domination, Afghanistan and Iraq is the clash of civilisation, very soon we will be seeing straight forward crusades like it used to be in the past.Recommend

  • H.

    Swayed by secular thoughts!?? REALLY?Recommend

  • Tazeen

    Sana if u have visited Syria, Egypt and Jordan have u noted preIslamic churches and Synagogues in these countries still existing and admired and respected because of their religous, aesthetic and historical values.When Muslims in the middleeast are respecting their religous institutions why not they respect our minarets.
    Don’t quote the special case of Saudi Arabia here. Is there a mosque in Vatican??? Contrary to the common belief it is becoming more and more difficult to construct a mosque in Europe.Recommend

  • JT


    Asking for a mosque in the Vatican, is like asking for a church in mecca. We go a step further, we disallow any non-muslim from entering the city.

    I personally think Muslims are more biased towards other faiths (including “fake” muslims like shias, sunnis , ahmedis, ismailis etc etc depending on the house you are born in).

    The writer was building on a strong point, it just got lost in the latter gibberish. Either that or the basic racial prejudices common to Muslims that even her words don’t hide.


  • Shahid

    Is the job of the Chairman WAPDA to propagate religion and defend it or efficiently manage our hydro power generation and water storage?

    What a bigoted column from a “security” expert.Recommend

  • Rashid Saleem

    I disagree. The space for a ‘dialogue’ never exists naturally in any conflict; it has to be ‘created’ through sincere efforts. That is what we need to do. You cannot go on fighting with the people of other faiths all the time. You have to learn how to co-exist. Plus I really don’t understand that why we (Muslims) always talk about ‘clash of civilizations’, why have I not seen western authors ranting about it?Recommend

  • Sohail Tariq

    Britian bans famous Indian scholar Dr. Zakir Naik. Isn’t that another evidence of what the lady is talking about?Recommend

  • Adeel

    Britain also banned the Dutch rascist Geert Wilders!

    This women is talking tripe and causing more frictions and divisions instead of bringing people together!!!Recommend

  • Atiq Rehman

    The clash of civilization was around when the non-believers would throw stones and garbage on the prophet (pbuh). Instead of taking sides and distancing himself from them he brought them closer to himself in order to reform and convert them.

    It’s not supposed to be a “us vs them” match. Its supposed to be a “us guide them” scenario. But to do that, we have to reform ourselves and our mentality first.

    By the way, just for a reality check… if it was “us vs them”, they could vaporise the lot of “us” with a singular nuclear submarine.Recommend

  • Atiq Rehman

    And how I wish we had an honest Chairman Wapda and an honest FIA.

    It seems the author prefers these organisations to be in the hands of the incompetent, ineffecient and downright corrupt, yet so called ‘muslim’ hands which have destroyed them in the first place.Recommend

  • Talha

    I think the writer has hit the nail right at its head and everybody is hiding behind the bush by criticizing the starting paragraph of the article. Our beliefs about “the moderate Islam” are much distorted and that if we revisit our basic beliefs we will find that they are in stark contrast with the current western culture and way of life. Never the less, as true Muslims, we should respect each other’s values but on the other hand we should not waste our energy in finding out a middle way.Recommend