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The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind

Photo by Almas Baig | CC BY 2.0

The inherited distorted Islamic narratives forming the general discordant epistemology governing a Muslim’s thinking process and attitude is reinforced in acts by the Arabs of misperceived self- defense and assertion of identity warranted by Western Oligarchs’ “Politics of Expediency” in the hegemonic drive for the control and the dominance of Arab world post WWI.

Posing as the avaricious predators with utterly narrow Machiavellian objectives – short of any well-intentioned benevolent plans and programs in the service of the freshly newly colonized Arabs – the far much advanced and domineering West only compounded the sense of a lingering mistrust; alienation; self-victimization and pent up negative sentiments by the colonialized Arabs.

Thus, what could have been an opportune occasion – other things being equal – for the progressive West to take the generally backward Arab and Muslim worlds by hand on a benign journey of embarking on a genuine far-reaching benevolent socio-economic and socio-political development turned around into a bonanza of a plan of Western colonialist powers exploitations and crude military dominance.

Fresh out of four centuries of Ottoman Rule where the Arab world receded further into social, economic and political backwardness in full contrast to a Western World that was in the interim experiencing and drawing the benefits of four centuries of renaissance touching on every aspect of a human’s life culminating in the immersion in the blesses of the age enlightenment; the Western powers, the domineering Western oligarchs, could very well have engaged in confidence-building measures with the Arab and Muslim worlds that could have ensued in genuine symbiotic plans for development touching on all aspects of peoples’ lives.

Islam, as a religion, as true of all backward and illiterate masses, represented to the Arabs and Muslims at the time the sole avenue for meagre knowledge, social cohesiveness and the assertion of identity in the absence of any other meaningful and viable alternatives in the midst of the ravages of intensifying bewildering vying geopolitical schemes and ambitions.

The Arabs and the Muslim Worlds were in dire need to shed archaic and stale social systems, foremost religious narratives and narrowly interpreted Islamic teachings, and embark on a meaningful social and political developments that the Western democracies were in the best position to render and assist in the implementation.

The Arab world needed the lull, the time and space to engage in deep self-introspection process; needed a profound revamping of Islamic beliefs and ethos, as the Laic West was in the best situation to genuinely extend guidance and support.

However, most tragically in the broader historic purview and the prospects of future International relations, the Oligarchs of the Western powers, sought, in the typical narrow purview of politicians pinned down on the “Politics of Expediency;” the Western planners started dealing freshly anew with the Arab world from where the historic Crusaders left, nearly seven centuries earlier.

Actually, sadly ironically, it was widely alleged that when the French General Henri Gouraud – appointed as representative of the French government in the Middle East and commander of the French Army of the Levant upon the end of WWI – visited the tomb of Saladin in Damascus, General Henri Gouraud exclaimed, “Here we come back, Saladin*.” This, following on the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement to divide the spoils, the remains of the Ottoman Empire of the Arab world patrimony between the British and France; seems, sadly to have summed up the narrow schemes and interests of the Western powers’ return this time to the Middle East.

The Arab world was in dire need for deep socio-political reforms in emulation of a prosperous West. Much the Western powers could have done to cause a huge jumpstart to causing this to happen had the Western oligarchs and narrow-minded political planers not started from the lingering old exclusivist divisive paradigm of the “They” and “Us;” designating, as currently the case with the American neoconservatives and the Trump Administration, the entire Arab and Muslim worlds in the single brush, without exaggeration, of the “Enemies” of “West.”

The West in the experience of the colonization of the Levant and Mesopotamia, the Sykes-Picot Plan, have foregone a major historic potential turning point, a historic opportunity of all proportions, to advance the causes of a more lasting peace between civilizations; the cause of cultural dialogue and open international relations between the West and the Arab world, rather between all nations of the world.

In hindsight, it is not all that farfetched to assert the “Divide and Rule” in the service of narrow exploitative colonialist agenda was the sole interest and sole objective of the Western powers in the Middle East.

The fragmentation of the Middle East into mini-states under the control of the Western powers began with earnest with the appointment on the head of each newly created local political entity of lackey local rulers with strings attached. No plans were genuinely put forward by the supposedly enlightened Western powers to develop truly representative functioning democracies in the region leaving new appointed Middle East political regimes to rule by decree and at the whims of the absolute rule of appointed local leaders.

Islam, as represented by the clergy and religious institutions, remained exclusivist in its central doctrine and distorted historic narratives; archaic interpretations precluding the development of a Muslim’s mind and modern social institutions. However, the local temporal authority, the vassal of Western powers, thrived in the conduct of their absolute rule on the close alliance they forged with the clergy stifling meaningful development of the political and social life in the Middle East.

The creation of Israel on the back of other people, the Palestinians, came in fulfillment to promises by the West, the Balfour Declaration, and the active support of the entrusted British Mandate under the League of Nations in 1922. The anomalous creation of Israel on the force of massive dispossessions and exodus of the indigenous Palestinians contributed to protracted conflicts and wasted scarce national resources best had been allocated for the socio-economic and socio-political developments of the Arab people and the Arab world.

Ironically, and instead of the enlightened West engaging in assisting the Arabs to embark on religious reform, Islamic reform, the Western powers manipulated the concept of Jihad, holly war, enticing, actively, Muslim extremists to advance narrow Western political agendas giving further rise to Islamic Extremism and the closing of the Muslim Mind.

Invoking Jihad as a powerful motivator, the West gave rise to “Al-Qaeda” to serve the fall of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. However, most bizarre, is the support the West, by all different indirect means, gave to the current Jihadist Salafists hordes in the destructive and still lingering wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.

Turns of political events that followed, most tragically, only contributed to the Arabs’ continuing slide into the unfathomable abyss; this, as the rift between the West and the Arab world only widened, especially with the privileged position enjoyed in the political and strategic decision-making of the Zionists sympathisers in West.

* Saladin was the Muslim Kurdish leader who defeated the Crusaders in the decisive battle of Hittin recapturing Jerusalem in 1187 C.E. However, the Crusaders remained in the Levant another century later until 1297 C.E.

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Rajai R. Masri is a former lecturer of Finance at McGill University and Boston University.

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