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The Image of Islam In The West


The Islamic world and the west have interacted with each other since the very beginning in different fields. However, in the wake of the growing hostility of western governments and their mass media against Islam and Muslims, especially in the aftermath of the highly suspicious incidents that rocked New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, ties have become rather fluctuating and the question is being asked: What is the image of Islam in the west?


The answers are obvious. During the past 14 centuries since the advent of Islam as the last revealed code of divine laws for the entire humanity, the Christian world had been having relations with Muslims. As reiterated in the holy Qur’an, Islam considers Jesus (PBUH) as one of the five great Prophets of God and invites the followers of all religions including Christians to a peaceful co-existence with Muslims. At the same time, Islam rejects many of the superstitions and distortion of beliefs in Christianity as a result of the unwitting tampering by the Israelites with the message revealed to Prophet Jesus. In the medieval ages when Europe was engulfed in darkness, Islam was viewed as a rival by Christianity, mainly because of fears in the West of having direct relationship with Muslims. The information of the westerners about Islam was mainly received from priests who had no positive opinion towards this divine and human religion. For this reason, the atmosphere of suspicion and insult against Islam has always prevailed in the western world and has continued so far.


For instance, as a result of adverse propaganda and improper approaches by Christian priests, the European people in the medieval ages considered Islam as an innovation. The different accusations they leveled against Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) were because of the speedy spread of Islam in different parts of the world. Christian priests could not believe that the Prophet has succeeded within a short time in attracting a large number of people including many Christians to the justice-spreading religion of Islam. It is noteworthy that the charges of the Christian priests are similar to the accusations that the Arabs during paganism attributed to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The holy Qur’an has logically answered these wild accusations.


On the other hand, Christian priests believe that the religion of Jesus (PBUH) was confined to worship and hermitage. They feared the spread of Islam because it pays attention to both spiritualism and material aspects of human life, would end their monopoly and attract people. Therefore, they tried to undermine it. In this regard, individuals like Damascus John and some other Christian priests who had relationship with Muslims termed the Muslims as Bedouin Arabs and attributed insulting stories to Islam, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and his followers, which remained in the minds of the western people. Even the first translation of the Holy Qur’an in English by Robert Sale was not aimed at understanding the truth of Islam and for this reason many distortions are seen in it. The explanations of Christian priests about the Holy Qur’an were always accompanied with new accusations against Islam.


The Crusades deepened the gap between Muslims and Christians. Although as a result of these wars, the westerns became deeply familiar with the glorious manifestations of Islamic civilization. The renaissance in Europe and the exit of the church from the scene of politics brought about the hope that a clear image of Islam would be created in the west. But unfortunately this did not happen and the superstitions of the medieval ages still persisted as the basis of thoughts of westerners on Islam. A study of some books and writings of the Renaissance era indicates that their writers have not much information on Islam and that their writings are based on the improper sayings of their ancestors. At the same the glorious achievements in culture and science of the Islamic civilization could not be denied by Europe. In fact, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution could not have taken place but for the Islamic Civilization.


In the recent two or three centuries we come across some attempts by Europeans to understand Islam. The Scottish philosopher and Islamologist Thomas Carlyle considered the Holy Qur’an as a sound wonder. Dismissing the unfounded topics of the biased western writers, Carlyle said: God has taught this great man knowledge and wisdom and we have to listen to his words before anything else. The German philosopher Goethe also attempted to properly understand Islam and even some believe that he became a Muslim. Carlyle quotes Goethe as saying: “If this is Islam why we should not live under the umbrella of Islam?”


Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright was also ardent admirer of Islam and has forecast Islam as the future religion of Europe and Europeans. 





The Image Of Islam In The West (2)

In part one, we explained the misconceptions of the past few centuries and also said that in the 19th and 20th centuries, some of the European intellectuals such as Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, and George Bernard Shaw began to shun the biased approach and hailed Islam as the dynamic religion. However, relations have continued to fluctuate, mainly because of colonialism and after that of the indirect hegemony of the West, especially of the US on the majority of Muslim countries. Today western governments exploit many Muslim states, not only economically and politically but also culturally and socially. The statesmen in the West have no proper understanding of Islam. The US heads the list in this regard and pursues a barely disguised hostile policy against Islam and Muslims on the assumption that it is the champion of Christianity and humanitarian values. Presently, the west applies different means for propagating against Islam and undoubtedly the most important of them is the mass media. Unfortunately, most segments of the international mass media are under Zionist control, and are dictated by crusader attitudes, which were openly admitted by US president, George Bush, in the aftermath of the highly suspicious attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.


For instance films are regularly produced in which Islam is indirectly portrayed as the religion of violence, recession and backwardness. These films leave negative impression on the audience, which is deliberately kept in the dark on the dynamism of and support for peace, liberties and social justice in Islam. In Europe and America and other societies influenced by the West, the press, radio, TV and now the Internet, presents a negative image of Islam. Every day hundreds of articles, books and news reports spill venom against Islam. The other factor for fanning anti-Islamic sentiments in the west is Zionism. The Zionists try to introduce Arabs and Muslims as the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The Western press has taken the Zionist bait and repeats these wild accusations without mentioning that the real cause of war and tension in the Middle East is the usurper state of Israel. The other accusation leveled against Muslims in the past two decades and especially after the September 11 incident is terrorism. According to the western media and governments the Muslims who defend their rights against aggressors are terrorist and violence seekers. These media particularly level the charge of terrorism on Palestinian Muslims defending themselves against the attacks and savagery of the Zionist regime.


In the past few years the western media and governments have intensified their unfounded charges against Muslims at a time when the US is openly pursuing its expansionist policies in the region and has militarily occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. The so-called intellectuals in the West have come up with the weird theory of the Clash of Civilizations to justify their sinister goals and mislead ordinary people. However, despite the efforts made by the western governments and mass media to undermine the visage of Islam, not all people in Europe and the Americas believe the poisonous version that is dished out. Although, the US and some European governments practically follow the theory of clash of civilizations vis-à-vis the Islamic world, many Christians have chosen the pattern of dialogue with Muslims. Useful talks have been held between Muslim and Christian thinkers and the successful continuation of this trend is a proof of the real visage of Islam to the world. On the other hand, the Muslim immigrants in the West have familiarized the western people with the valuable teachings of Islam. Muslims have also made great efforts to use the media convey the message of Islam. Today many Islamic books and the works of Muslim thinkers have been translated into European languages. If only the international radio and TV networks of the Islamic world could pool their resources and become conscious, the real image of Islam and Muslims would be properly presented to an eager world. The access of European and American people to credible Internet sites on the genuine teachings of Islam have greatly helped dispel the negative image. The growing trend towards Islam in the west is proof of the fact that Europeans and Americans fed up and frustrated with the brazen materialism of their liberal democratic societies are eager to discover their innate spiritual values. This has alarmed the enemies of Islam, especially western politicians and the Zionists, but it seems there is nothing more than they can do, having exhausted all their cultural, economic and now military resources in the futile fight against the religion decreed by God for humanity.



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