Let us celebrate Eid this year with a more determined approach based on a more humane dialogue and a mission to spread world peace and global prosperity.
Let us capture the true spirit of Islam that is no threat to the world rather a source of stability and moderation.
Islam today is challenged with critical problems and fundamental tensions within the Muslim world. It is challenged to address the misguided and hostile youth and their negative attitudes that can no longer be tolerated or ignored.
These tensions throughout the Muslim world must be confronted with a new and more realistic approach. Today serious and significant debates are taking place in many parts of the Muslim world.
Obviously there is a confrontation between Muslim intellectuals and the conservative elements of their societies.
However, the moderate argument is not strong enough to influence change. What is needed at this stage is the acceptance of Muslim societies of modern ideas and global coexistence.
A renaissance of “ijtihad” (or in Islamic legal terms, “independent reasoning”) is needed to address the distorted interpretations of Islamic values and principles. Extremist views have contributed to the factionalism and fragmentation of the Muslim world.
Muslims continue to suffer from the influence of extremists who encourage sectarianism. The prevalent perception that the extremist ideology is the only correct one has misguided the Muslim youth for too long.
Muslim societies need enlightened scholars who can interpret the old and introduce the new to serve Islamic ideals.
Today Muslims are struggling to live up to their own moral standards and ideals. They are striving to achieve prosperity without compromising their traditional values.
However, they are intimidated by the continued pressure from the West to change and modernize. Social scientists assert that the Muslim masses need to understand that they can modernize and adopt all the technological developments, without being forced to Westernize.
For, despite the global influence of Western ideas, the Muslim world continues to strongly reject its culture and norms.
The majority feel that the West is determined to erode Muslim values and moral ideals. When the Western society modernized, it has radically changed values and the norms, instituting new ethics and eroding the traditional values and morals.
The breakup of the marriage institution, homosexual culture, children out of wedlock and pornography are among the newly-accepted attitudes and legally adopted in the West. They go against Muslim culture and its moral conservative teachings.
Islam today is challenged with critical problems and fundamental tensions within the Muslim world.Samar Fatany
Meanwhile the West also views Islam as a threat, not only because of the violence committed in the name of Islam but rather for the conservative way of life and the morality that many in the West still share in spite of the prevailing new ethics and ideas.
Western attempts to impose its culture and laws as universal laws on the Muslim world continue to be a source of tension between the two civilizations.
The negative reactions in the Muslim world against Western civilization is partly due to this arrogant attitude that is viewed as a new form of ‘cultural imperialism’ or ‘human rights imperialism.’
The revival of religious values among the younger generation in the Muslim world is a reaction against Western designs to impose their cultural influences.
The West remains at war with Islam. Just as the West must reassess its superior attitude, Muslim societies must also address the rigid interpretation of Islamic laws and values.
There can be no global coexistence in the present atmosphere of suspicion, bigotry, and fear. Islam and the West both have much to contribute to humanity. It is time we stop the clash of civilizations and give peace a chance.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 12, 2015.
Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”