The Contemporary Challenge to Global Peace and Security

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S. Iftikhar Murshed[1]




(The conflict between Islam and the West is not a post-Cold War phenomenon as Huntington’s  “Clash of Civilizations” theory imagines – it has being going on since the early years of Muslim ascendancy in the seventh century. The foremost contemporary threat to global peace and security is terrorism from which no nation, big or small, is immune. This provides sufficient reason for the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds to cooperate in the fight against terror. Both have been its victims. The Muslims need to undertake genuine reform and revert to the actual teachings of the Quran. There is also need for the international community to stop stereotyping Muslims as extremists and understand the Quran’s doctrinal emphasis on non-aggression and peaceful co-existence. If this is achieved, then genuine cooperation between Islam and the West will replace the hostility that has lasted for centuries. – Author).



The Continuing “Clash of Civilizations.”

When the Egyptian-born theologian, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, died  on 18 October 1505, “his reputation as  a scholar and the aura of godliness which were already his during his lifetime, then reached their zenith; his clothes were bought as if they were relics.”[1] Although he lived for only sixty years, a 1983 study credits him with the authorship of 981[2] works the central message of which was “everything is based on the Quran.”[3]

The Quran is Islam. In the early phase of their history when Muslims adhered to its injunctions, they were able to bring progress and enlightenment to the world. When they deviated from its teachings, the civilization they had built crumbled. Civilizations, it is said, are born and continue to grow so long as they are able to meet the challenges of their times but they decay when they fail to respond. [4] Muslims were able to contribute to the intellectual ascent of man through the spirit of scientific enquiry but the complacency, which often accompanies success, rendered them incapable of confronting the new realities and all that they had achieved withered.  About four hundred and fifty years after Suyuti’s death, the nineteenth century reformer, Jalal ad-Din Afghani, wrote, “Every Muslim is sick, and the only remedy is the Quran” but to some writers in the West, such as Conor Cruise O’Brien,  “the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.” [5]

This perception has been reinforced after 9/11 and the continuous wave of terrorist violence perpetrated mostly, but not exclusively, by a radicalized minority who profess Islam. As a consequence, the Quran’s doctrinaire emphasis on non-aggression has been obscured and strengthened the erroneous belief that it encourages violence. The sense of victimization coupled with a real or imagined threat perception are perhaps the two most important reasons for recurring acts of terrorist violence and this is not peculiar to Muslims alone. For instance, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka “are the world’s single largest group of suicide bombers. Their cadres are not Muslim, but Hindu by religion and nearly 40 percent are women.”[6] However, the impact that Tamil terrorists have had has been local and directed against the Sri Lankan government but that of so-called Muslim extremists has been global.

With the end of the Cold War, intellectuals such as Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington have tried to examine whether the existing “fault-lines between civilizations” would replace “the political and ideological boundaries of the Cold War as the flashpoints for future crisis and bloodshed.”  He quoted M. J. Akbar, an Indian Muslim writer, who believed: “The West’s next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Islamic world. It is the sweep of Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for the new world order will begin.”

Huntington’s essay titled, “The Clash of Civilizations,” appeared in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and, according to the journal’s editors, only George K. Kennon’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” which he published in the 1940s under the pseudonym “X,” had generated so much comment. Kennon’s piece inspired debate in Washington’s policy formulation circles and finally resulted in the US Cold War doctrine of containment.

In contrast “The Clash of Civilizations” theory or, more precisely, confrontation between the West and Islam did not forecast anything new but merely reaffirmed the continuation of a conflict that has existed since the rise of Islam in the seventh century. That conflict arose and continued through the centuries with varying degrees of intensity because Muslims had become a formidable, unified global power that posed an intellectual, ideological and political challenge to the known world of the times and in particular Europe. Despite the Quran’s stress on non-aggression and peaceful coexistence, Islam spread like wildfire within a hundred years of Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632. Arab armies established a vast empire stretching initially from Spain, across north Africa to the river Indus in what is now Pakistan. The inspiration, however, was political and had more to do with a forward defence policy than religious zeal. In fact proselytizing was actually discouraged in the early years of Muslim ascendancy. [7]

The tensions between Islam and Christianity predated the Crusades by several centuries. According to one assessment, “the bitter history of Muslim-Western relations can be said to have begun with an attack on Muhammad in Muslim Spain” in 850.[8] Perfectus, a Christian monk, used abusive language against the Prophet in a marketplace in Cordova and was dragged off to prison. Though the Quran does not prescribe any punitive measure for such slander, under the laws of al-Andalus offenders were liable for capital punishment. The judge was extremely reluctant to award the death penalty because Perfectus was merely responding to a provocative question from a Muslim. The hope was that the monk would recant so that he could be set free. However he became even more vitriolic in his denunciation of Prophet Muhammad and was executed. He was followed by others and about fifty people are said to have been similarly put to death by the summer of that year. These so-called martyrs of Cordova were as far removed from true Christian doctrine as are the present-day Islam-professing suicide bombers from the teachings of the Quran. They were sternly criticised by the bishop of the city as well as by the majority of Christians of al-Andalus. Though the episode was an aberration in the history of Muslim Spain where Jews, Christians and Muslims lived  alongside each other for centuries in peace and harmony, it demonstrated the historical truth that empires, no matter how liberal or enlightened, cannot be sustained indefinitely and provoke, at the least, resistance against the occupying power. It heralded the start of a “cold war” between Christendom and Islam which was to explode into hot-blooded conflict with the launch of the Crusades.

Although the establishment of the Islamic empire, like all empires, was the outcome of unprovoked aggression, Muslims constantly refer to the hatred of their religion as a recurrent theme of history. They feel that the political and military violence against them did not end with the Crusades or even with the successful completion of the Reconquista in Spain when, on 2 January 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella received the keys of the Alhambra, the Muslim palace in Grenada. On 3 August of that year the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed west as the leader of a small fleet provided by Isabella and reached the Bahamas, which he thought was near China.  The voyage symbolized a new phase of European expansionism.

In so far as the Islamic world was concerned, the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed aggression against and occupation of Muslim territories in the Middle East and North Africa. In 1830 the French colonized Algiers, the British captured Aden in 1839. These colonial powers between them took Tunisia in 1881, Egypt in 1882, the Sudan in 1889 and Libya and Morocco in 1920. They promised independence to these countries but, in effect, divided the region between themselves into spheres of influence and occupation. The end objective of the colonizers was the perpetual subordination of the occupied territories through subtle cultural imperialism long after the latter regained their independence. This was demonstrated in a statement by Lord Macaulay in 1835 in respect of India where Muslim rule under the Moguls was replaced by that of Britain:


I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”[9]


With the collapse of Muslim power, Islam continued to be looked upon with ill-disguised contempt. The message of the Quran was distorted and the Prophet Muhammad was vilified as an imposter and a charlatan. Even liberal literary stalwarts such as Oscar Wilde succumbed to this temptation when he wrote in his The Fisherman and his Soul:


“Then he asked me who was the prophet of God, and I answered him Mohammed. When he heard the name of the false prophet, he bowed and took me by the hand, and placed me by his side.” [10]


Through all this and much more the “crusader” attitude towards Islam continued to prevail in the West. On entering Jerusalem in 1917 General Allenby boasted that “the crusades had been completed” and when the French troops reached Damascus their commander went straight to Saladin’s tomb in the Great Mosque and declared: “Nous revenons, Saladin!”[11] Even in the twenty-first century some western leaders have claimed a divine provenance for their decisions. The knee-jerk American reaction to 9/11 was a commitment to launch a “crusade” against terrorism. During a meeting in the autumn of 2005 with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush is reported to have said:


“I am driven with a mission from God. God tells me ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God tells me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.’ And I did.”[12]


To Muslims, the Crusades signified outright aggression against Islam which also   found expression in the colonization of their territories in a later period of history. From 1945 till the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the US-led West was selective in its approach to the Islamic world. It supported those countries that could promote its Cold War objectives but was, at best, indifferent to those it did not need to defeat communism.

History records a tragic tale in which violence has been the predominant theme. The last hundred years have been particularly blood-soaked. The Muslims were mere bystanders, not the perpetrators of the mayhem. Nor were they responsible for the holocaust. The two world wars of the twentieth century, which were European in origin, resulted in unparalleled devastation.  In the near half century that the Cold War lasted the number of combatants killed almost equalled that of the First World War in which approximately 8,400,000 soldiers are said to have died.[13] When civilian fatalities are added the total is astronomical. According to the Nobel Prize winning authors, Heidi and Alvin Toffler:


“in the 2,340 weeks that passed between 1945 and 1990, the earth enjoyed a grand total of only three weeks that were truly war-free.”[14]


The Islamic countries supported by the West during the Cold War era were ruled either by autocratic republican regimes or by absolute monarchies. Despite their horrendous human rights track records, they were considered “moderate” because they were anti-communist. A revealing example was Iran under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, who preferred to be known by the grandiloquent title Shahanshah Aryamehr. The Shah’s secret police, the Savak, unleashed a reign of terror that has few parallels in recent history. Despite this the Carter administration, which placed so high a priority on human rights, ignored the excesses. The pro-West Shah was considered “moderate” and, therefore, had to be supported. An attempt was made to explain this by the next US administration. Alexander Haig, who was then President Reagan’s Secretary of State, drew a distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes. Authoritarian governments formulated and executed policies that affected only a small area of human rights. Totalitarian systems, on the other hand, tried to control every aspect of an individual’s life the result of which was the complete destabilization of society.[15] The pious hope was that authoritarian regimes would gradually evolve into democracies.

The atrocities of such “authoritarian” regimes against their own people and the indifference of the international community generated internal opposition movements, often spearheaded by clerics. In this sense, the West unwittingly provided the impetus for the Ayatollah-led Iranian revolution. On 16 January 1979 the Shah left Iran never to return, two weeks later on 1 February the aircraft carrying Ayatollah Khomeini landed at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.  Immediately on arrival Khomeini went straight to the graveyard to pay homage to those who had laid down their lives in the struggle against the Shah. This dramatic gesture added immeasurably to his stature in the minds of the Iranian people as a charismatic leader who had liberated them from decades of oppressive monarchic rule.

Despite the Cold War alliance of convenience between the West and some of the autocratic Muslim rulers, the hatred for Islam continued at the popular level. Many years before 9/11, when Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses was published, the Muslim street reaction was to publicly burn copies of the book and to support the infamous decree issued by Ayatollah Khomeini condemning the author to death. This captured media headlines in the West. The sensation-hungry press gave no prominence to the unanimous rejection of the decree by the Organization of the Islamic Conference during its meeting in March 1989. No less repulsive than Khomeini’s decree were the graffiti that appeared on the walls in British cities: “Kill a Muslim for Christmas!”  “Nuke the mosques!” etc.[16] This again was largely ignored by the print and electronic media.

The arms race between the Cold War superpower rivals sapped the Soviet Union of its economic lifeblood and presaged the collapse of communism. The decisive battle of the Cold War was fought and won for the West in Afghanistan by Muslims. They were trained, indoctrinated, armed and given financial assistance with the approval and support of the West and the more affluent “moderate” Islamic countries, notably Saudi Arabia. Thousands of volunteers from Muslim countries and particularly the Arab world were flown to training camps in Pakistan and sent into Afghanistan to fight the Soviet occupation forces. They were acclaimed as the “mujahideen” or holy warriors and were lionised as the heroes of the liberation struggle. By one account, mujahideen commanders were paid between US $ 20,000 to $ 50, 000 each per month while those that were more influential received US $ 100,000.[17] Afghan, Arab and Pakistani mujahideen were convinced they were fighting a holy war against the godless communists. This is what they were taught in some, but not all, of the seminaries or madrassas of Pakistan. In 1971 there were approximately nine hundred madrassas in Pakistan by mid-1988 the number soared to eight thousand recognized religious schools and “an estimated twenty-five thousand unregistered ones.”[18]

The Soviet retreat from Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of what President Reagan regarded as the “evil empire”[19] dealt an irreversible body-blow to the communist ideal.  Fanciful theories, besides Huntington’s clash of civilization concept, emerged. Francis Fukuyuma interpreted the defeat of communism as “an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism” which signified “the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”[20] Closer to the truth was the emergence of a new threat to global peace and security in the form of religion-motivated terrorist violence. The same extremists who had been trained, indoctrinated, financed and equipped by the so-called free world to defeat the Soviet forces in Afghanistan now had a freehand to pursue an agenda of their own. The Afghan people who had sacrificed so much in the way of freedom were forgotten and Washington imposed sanctions against Islamabad on account of its nuclear weapons development programme. This was ignored through the 1980s because Pakistan was needed to reverse the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In that period Pakistan, which was under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq, became the third biggest recipient of US economic and military assistance after Israel and Egypt. Although Zia-ul-Haq promulgated and ruthlessly implemented repressive laws, ostensibly in the name of Islam but actually far removed from Quranic tenets, he was considered another of those “moderate” leaders who the West was determined to support.

Although conflict and tension between Islam and the West has been prevalent through history, after 9/11 hasty, perhaps even thoughtless, opinions have emerged that the recurring and incremental acts of terrorist violence demonstrate that Huntington’s warning of a  clash of civilizations was fast becoming a reality. The opposite is probably more correct. For the first time, Muslims and non-Muslims alike face a common enemy in the form of terrorism. Though a majority of those who have carried out such acts profess Islam, Muslims themselves are among the major victims of extremist violence. Moreover the Islamic world has ceased to be the unified monolith that it was in the early years of Muslim ascendancy and, therefore, could not pose any threat to the international community. On the contrary it is an entity divided against itself. For example, approximately one hundred thousand people are said to have died in the five wars between Israel and its Arab neighbours in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 but statistics show that more than ten times that number were killed as a consequence of inter-Arab rivalry during the Cold War era. In that period, Syria invaded Jordan in 1970, Iraq attacked Iran in 1980, Syria occupied Lebanon in 1976 while North and South Yemen fought a decade-long civil war. These conflicts would have taken place had there been no Cold War and no Arab-Israeli wars.[21]

But the contemporary challenge to global peace and security is far more complex than the inter-state conflicts of the past. The international community has not even been able to reach an agreed definition of terrorism from which no nation is immune. The problem is that the enemy is amorphous. There is no structured organization that can be identified, targeted and eliminated. Terrorism is the symptom of a malaise that feeds on perceived political and economic inequities. Till the causes are redressed the symptoms will keep reappearing with or without Al Qaida and similar outfits, with or without persons like Osama bin Laden and his likes.  It is the idea, therefore, that has to be vanquished.

Muslims need to wake up from their slumber of centuries and re-establish the fundamental tenets of their religion so that the erroneous interpretation of the Quran used by obscurantist and extremist ideologues can be defeated. No less important is the need for the world to understand the actual Islam and its doctrinal emphasis on rationalism as well as its worldview which is based on peace and harmony. If this is achieved then cooperation can replace the conflict between civilizations. The first step is to clearly define the message of the Quran and then to identify the reasons for its distortion. This could result in a partnership, a strategic alliance between the Islamic world and the international community.



The Quranic World View.

The Quran states clearly:


“There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from (the way) of error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all knowing.”[22]


Therefore forced conversions, wars of religion, Inquisitions as in post-Reformation Europe, the burning alive of heretics and any form of religious persecution are strictly prohibited. The Quran goes even further and urges Muslims to defend all places of worship where the name of God is mentioned including churches, synagogues and mosques.[23] Any attempt to prevent followers of other creeds from practicing their religion is forbidden. One of the early Muslim biographers, Ibn Sa’d (d. 845), narrates a striking illustration of this principle when a delegation of Christians from Najran called on Prophet Muhammad shortly before his death. They were given free access to his mosque and allowed to perform all their religious rites even though the attribution of divinity to Jesus, or to any person, violates a fundamental Islamic tenet.

The first Quranic revelation allowing Muslims to fight came immediately after Prophet Muhammad left Mecca for Medina in 622. However the permission, which had nothing to do with the propagation of the religion, was conditional and restricted to fighting only in self-defence. This stress against aggression is further elaborated in the second chapter[24] revealed about a year later and repeated in other Quranic passages. Al-Baydawi (d.1291), who is considered “the soundest and most authoritative commentator of the Quran,”[25] defined aggression as:


“initiation of fighting,  fighting those with whom a treaty has been concluded, surprising the enemy without first inviting them to make peace, destroying crops or killing those who should be protected.”[26]


The clear and simple message is that the only justification in Islam for war is to counter actual aggression or to pre-empt an attack. Muslims are also obliged to terminate warfare should the aggressor subsequently incline towards peace. [27]

Furthermore kindness and not hostility towards those professing other beliefs is ordained:


“As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of (your) faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably.”[28]


Muslims are also obliged to grant protection to “those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God” and escort them to a place of safety should they ask for such help.[29]

The Quran restricts fighting in self-defence to “those who fight against you” [30] i.e., only combatants are to be fought and civilians must not be subjected to any form of violence. Furthermore the damage inflicted on the aggressors must never be excessive and always proportional to the harm they have caused.[31] There cannot be a stronger condemnation of terrorist violence and the use of weapons of mass destruction. Both   are strictly prohibited.

The conditional permission to fight authorized by the Quran is not restricted to war against non-Muslim aggressors. In the event of inter-Islamic conflicts, it is incumbent upon believers to bring about reconciliation but if one of the parties persists in aggression then military action is permissible against the aggressor.[32] It is in this spirit that several Islamic countries are closely involved in the global fight against terror. Participation in multilateral peacemaking and peacekeeping operations is supported. Humanitarian intervention in concert with the international community is enjoined:


“…And never let your hatred of people….lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity…” [33]


Treaties are sacrosanct and this is repeated in several passages of the Quran.[34] Not even Muslims can be defended if there is a treaty arrangement with the community in which they reside.

The moderate and proportional response to aggression allowed by the Quran contrasts sharply with that of the Bible:


When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it will be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.  But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:  But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.”[35]



Misinterpretation of the Quran.

Despite the emphatic renunciation of violence and aggression by the Quran, the question arises how a small number of extremists have managed to distort its undoubtedly peaceful message. The first reason is that they have de-contextualized some of its pronouncements particularly those relating to war. The Quran is stylistically concise. Its 114 chapters, which vary in length from 3 to 286 verses, are neither arranged in their chronological order of revelation nor do most of them deal exclusively with a single subject. Even within individual chapters, the discussion on a specific issue is often interrupted only to be resumed either in the same or in a subsequent chapter. This results in repetition which serves the purpose of emphasizing fundamental doctrines and laws such as divine unity, the belief in an afterlife, the supremacy of reason, the condemnation of superstition, tolerance, human rights, non-aggression and peaceful coexistence. The Quran stresses, and commentators agree, that its injunctions are consistent and free of contradictions.[36] Its contents can, therefore, only be correctly interpreted against the background of its entire text. In other words, verses of the Quran on a particular subject or a principle, regardless of where they occur, explain   and reinforce each other. Isolating any of the passages, therefore, inevitably results in the misinterpretation of fundamental spiritual and secular principles.

The second reason is the questionable interpretation by several theologians including Muslims of verse 106 in the second chapter of the Quran which states:


“Any message which We annul or consign to oblivion We replace it with a better one…”


The word “message” (ayah) in this formulation relates to the earlier scriptures and this is obvious from the preceding verse which declares that the Jews and the Christians will never accept any scripture subsequent to their own. All that is stated in 2:106 is that the Quran has superseded the Bible. However, “ayah” is also used in a more restricted sense to denote any of the 6247 verses of the Quran[37] because they unfailingly contain a message. This has induced a number of commentators to advance a fanciful “doctrine of abrogation” according to which some of the earlier verses of the Quran were cancelled by subsequent ones during the twenty-three years that the process of revelation lasted. In effect this “doctrine” de-contextualizes 2:106 which must to be read in conjunction with the previous verse. “Abrogation” theologians have, therefore, unwittingly or otherwise contributed towards faulty interpretations of several passages of the Quran and this has been exploited by extremists. Furthermore, the verse in question was revealed in Mecca i.e., in the first thirteen years of Prophet Muhammad’s ministry and all upholders of the abrogation doctrine concede that there was no annulment of any Quranic verse at that time. They are also indefinite about which and how many of the verses were cancelled. Lastly, implicit also in this controversial doctrine is a presumption of Divine fallibility. The implication is that God made His commandments known but then had second thoughts and amended His earlier pronouncements.[38]

The annulment indicated in 2: 106 was necessitated because of human manipulations of the earlier scriptures. For instance, it was only at the Council of Nicaea in 325 that the concept of the divinity of Christ became the basis of Christian beliefs. This, however, generated controversy which raged till 381 when the Emperor Theodosius the Great convened the Council of Constantinople which confirmed the Nicene doctrine of Trinity.

A Quranic verse often ignored by commentators states that it is a:


“divine writ containing messages that are clear in and by themselves” and “others that are allegorical.”[39]


This key-phrase occurs only once in the entire Quran, but it is indispensable for a correct understanding of its text. Literal interpretations of allegorical statements result in distortions. It is interesting that the Quran itself predicts in the same verse that some of its allegorical pronouncements will be distorted even by some Muslims.

Three indispensable principles, therefore, emerge for a correct interpretation of the Quranic message. The first is that its injunctions cannot be taken out of context and have to be understood against the pronouncements of the Quran as a whole; the second is that not a single verse or statement was abrogated during the long process of its revelation; the third is that allegorical verses must not be taken  literally or erroneously interpreted.

Extremists have extracted individual passages of the Quran to justify suicide bombings and other terrorist acts. They have also exploited the flawed concept of abrogation. For instance the verses pertaining to the conditional permission to fight only in self-defence are said to have been cancelled by pronouncements such as:


“And so, when the sacred months are over, slay those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God wherever you may come upon them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every conceivable place. Yet if they repent, and take to prayer, and render the purifying dues, let them go their way: for behold, God is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace.”[40]


The killing of “those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God” has been taken out of context to justify violence although the verse pertains to an ongoing war and cannot imply the initiation of hostilities because aggression in any form is prohibited. This passage, which is misconstrued by extremists as authorization for indiscriminate slaughter, has been described as “the sword verse” although the word “sword” does not appear even once in the Quran.[41] In fact the very next passage enjoins believers to protect polytheists who have not attacked them and conduct them to a place of safety. The second part of this so-called “sword verse” beginning with the words “Yet if they repent…” is said to have abrogated several passages of the Quran such as 2: 256 which unambiguously affirm that there cannot be any compulsion in matters of faith. This has not only resulted in the mistaken belief even among Muslims that apostasy is punishable by death but has also led to the distortion of history that Islam spread through the sword though closer to the truth is that the religion established itself   in spite of the sword. The requirement that those who repent should “take to prayer, and render the purifying dues,” etc., is only one, and by no means the exclusive, way in which the aggressors can demonstrate the termination of hostilities.[42]

Furthermore, words such has “jihad” have been misconstrued and wrongly translated as “Holy War” – a term which does not exist in Arabic.


“The term which is specifically used in the Quran for fighting is ‘qital.’ Jihad can be by argumentation, financial help or actual fighting.”[43]


Its implication is vast and is not confined to war which, in any event, can only be waged against an aggressor. It includes the continuous struggle that man must wage against himself, on behalf of himself. This is borne out by a remark of Prophet Muhammad after a military campaign:


“We have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad – the struggle of the individual with his own self.”[44]


It is the same struggle or jihad that is needed for the establishment of a genuine Islamic society which can only be built upon the bedrock of social welfare, justice and equality of opportunities.

Exhortations such as that of Osama bin Laden’s three years before 9/11, “to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is the individual duty of every Muslim who is able, until the Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem) and the Haram mosque (in Mecca) are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam”[45] are clearly far removed from the teachings of the Quran. Yet men and women professing Islam have been motivated alike to sacrifice even their own lives because they feel that they are the victims of aggression.

Continued Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories and the Indian occupation of a part of the disputed state of Kashmir are just two examples of aggression where Muslims are the victims. In both, resolutions of the UN Security Council have been violated by the occupying powers. The US-led invasion of Iraq, whatever its actual motive, without UN approval and the continued presence of coalition forces in the country has resulted in terrorist violence including suicide bombings which occur almost every day.

In Afghanistan, where the Taliban were militarily toppled but not eliminated, the Karzai government was literally parachuted from the skies. Though it has since legitimized itself through a traditional Afghan grand assembly, or loya jirga, as well as through presidential and parliamentary elections, the presence of foreign forces has spurred extremist violence.

In Chechnya the brutal scorched-earth policy being pursued by the  Putin administration  to quell the insurgency, has provided an excuse to extremists to perpetrate criminal acts of terror in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian Federation the most glaring examples of which were the siege of the Moscow theatre in October 2003 and the  Besslan school tragedy the following year.

Besides the flawed interpretation of the Quran, the perception that Muslims are the victims of aggression and violence has been exploited by extremists to carry out terrorist acts in the name of religion. Although an extremely small group, numbering no more than a few thousand out of an estimated Islamic population of 1.5 billion, subscribe to extremist ideology, their impact cannot be underestimated. Only nineteen persons were involved in the 9/11 incidents but the fallout was global and prompted the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the 9/11 atrocity was condemned even by hard-line Islamic clerics such as Sheikh Fadallah,[46] a leader of the Iran-sponsored Hizbollah, and others, while Osama bin Laden did not accept responsibility for it[47] “because he wanted to highlight more the atrocities of the United States and wanted the American to focus on that, rather than the details of what Al Qaeda had done,”[48] religion-motivated violence poses the foremost threat to international peace and stability.

This was recognized by Richard Nixon in his last book, “Beyond Peace,” in which he agreed with Huntington that a clash of civilizations in which conflict between the West and Islam is envisaged as the centrepiece was not necessarily inevitable but could become a self-fulfilling prophesy if the West continued to be indifferent to conflicts in which the Muslims were the victims. He observed:


“It is an awkward and unavoidable truth that had the citizens of Sarajevo been predominantly Christian or Jewish, the civilized world would not have permitted the siege to reach the point that it did on February 5 (1994), when a Serbian shell landed in the crowded marketplace. In such an instance, the West would have acted quickly and would have been right in doing so.”[49]


However the problem is far more complicated than the mere indifference of the West to situations in which Muslims have been the victims of violence or for that matter the failure of the international community to redress the illegal occupation of their lands. Fundamentalist Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century, the most influential of whom was probably Sayyid Qutub of Egypt (1906-66), saw modernity and western concepts as the enemies of Islam. The world was accordingly divided into the Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) and anything beyond it was the Dar al-Harb or the abode of war.  Qutub was influenced by Maududi of Pakistan who felt that Islam was under attack from the non-Muslim world and tried to introduce jihad as the sixth pillar of Islam.[50] Qutub added a new dimension to Maududi’s version of liberation theology by stating that the enemy was also within the Islamic societies that were led by secular dictators.

However, Qutub was not originally an extremist. He spent two years in the United States and was disillusioned by some of the more stark aspects of secular societies. “Even after he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1953 he had been a reformer, hoping to give Western democracy an Islamic dimension that would avoid the excesses of a wholly secularist ideology.”[51] It was only after his imprisonment in 1956 by president Gamal Abdel Nasser for membership of the Brotherhood that he espoused extremist violence to which he remained committed till his execution in 1966. Nasser’s violent secularism that involved the torture and brutal repression of dissidents convinced Qutub that Islam was also under attack from within Muslim societies. In a letter from prison he wrote that any society that obstructed Islam “becomes ipso facto part of Dar al-Harb. It should be combated even if one’s own kith and kin, national group, capital and commerce are to be found there.”[52]

It is this world view that is endorsed by terrorist groups such as Al Qaida. They believe that jihad has to be waged both against secular rulers within Islamic societies as well as the perceived external enemies of the religion. Furthermore, within Islamic societies there is also a replay of the persecution enacted by the Roman Catholic Church against Protestants in post-Reformation Europe. The difference is that the two mainstream sects in Islam are both victims of each others violence. The clear injunctions of the Quran not to split religion into sects are deliberately ignored.[53]

In the last quarter of the twentieth century sectarian terrorism has afflicted mainly Pakistan and, after the US-led invasion, also Iraq. Despite the Quran’s denunciation against the fragmentation of religious unity, the first signs of sectarianism – which was later to develop into the Shiia-Sunni divide – emerged after Prophet Muhammad’s death on the question of political succession. After  the initial years of violence the two groups, which were to undergo further divisions, eventually learnt to tolerate each other albeit grudgingly. In South Asia, Sunnis and Shiias lived peacefully together through the centuries till the Iranian revolution of 1978-79. Since then the commitment of the Ayatollahs to export their revolution and the equal determination of Sunni extremists to first defeat the “godless” communists of Soviet occupied Afghanistan and then to turn against their “heretical” co-religionists has resulted in massacre and mayhem in the name of religion.

At another level, despite the clear Quranic injunction, “and do not …..say unto anyone who offers you the greeting of peace, ‘Thou art not a believer’ ”[54] clerics have not desisted from issuing fatwas or decrees excommunicating an individual or a sect. In the late 1970s the constitution of Pakistan was amended by the secular government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto under pressure from the religious right declaring the Ahmadi sect a non-Muslim minority. The motive was no higher than to enable him to stay in power but this policy of appeasement backfired. His regime was toppled and he was sent to the gallows by the western-supported Islamist military regime of Zia-ul-Haq.

It is the comprehensive, all inclusive, nature of Islam that has enabled extremists to develop absurd theories such as the Dar al Harb. Anything, ranging from state structure to the private lives of individuals, that does not conform to their concept of the religion is considered un-Islamic and is to be opposed or even fought against.  The low level of education in Muslim countries has facilitated the erroneous interpretation of the message of the Quran.


The Defeat of Extremist Violence.

In the context of Islam, the only way to defeat extremism and the violence that it generates is through the Quran. Unlike the Bible, there is only one version of the Quran and this fact is accepted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Several Quranic passages assert categorically that it is a divinely protected Book which is not susceptible to change[55] through human manipulations and there is sufficient historical evidence to show that it is the only surviving authentic scripture among the three main monotheistic religions. As the passages were revealed, they were immediately memorized, committed to writing and inserted into the text of the Quran in accordance with the instructions of Prophet Muhammad himself. Not a word has been changed since.  Muslims may dispute the authenticity of some of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad which were compiled some one hundred and fifty years after his death but they dare not question the injunctions of the Quran.

As has been noted, the Quran is Islam and there cannot be a more precise and accurate definition of the religion. However the decontextualization of its verses coupled with the flawed doctrine of abrogation has been responsible for the distortion of its message of peace and harmony.  Often verses of the Quran are taken out of context even by educated well-meaning Muslims whose motive is none other than to disseminate its teachings. For instance, a major English language newspaper of Pakistan unfailingly prints a Quranic verse every day in its editorial page. Some of these passages pertain to  fighting, others deal with  the hostility of the Jews and Christians or some other controversial subject which can only be interpreted in the context of the teachings of the Quran as a whole. Thus a message is conveyed which is at times totally at variance with the actual teachings of Islam. Yet not a word of advice has been given to the editors of the newspaper and, even worse, this unwitting distortion of the Quran has gone unnoticed.

The Muslims, therefore, need to understand the liberal and moderate emphasis of   the Quran or else this religion, which does not believe in priesthood,  will continue to be exploited by those whose agenda is based on violence. But here one encounters a formidable problem because, despite Islam’s emphasis on knowledge and learning, the level of literacy and education is alarmingly low in Muslim countries. Even more disconcerting is that little is being done to rectify this problem. The extent of regression is evident from a telling comment in a survey done by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in July 2002:


“in the 1,000 years since the Caliph Mamoun…the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in a single year.”[56]


According to the same UNDP report, among the approximately 280 million Arabs 65 million adults are illiterate and 10 million children do not attend any school.

A recent study done by a Pakistani scholar shows that 57 Muslim majority countries have an average of ten universities each. This means that there not even 600 universities catering to 1.5 billion Muslims. In contrast India has 8,407 universities and the US 5,758.  No less appalling is the finding that among the 1.5 billion Muslims there are less than 300,000 who qualify as scientists i.e., 230 scientists per one million Muslims. In comparison the US has 1.1 million scientists (4,099 per million) and Japan 700,000 (5,095 per million). [57]

Other than the late professor Abdus Salam of Pakistan and Ahmed Hassan Zewail of Egypt no one in the Islamic world has won the Nobel Prize for science. So powerful is the hold of religious extremists that Salam is hardly known in his own country because he belonged to the Ahmadi sect which was declared a non-Muslim minority through an amendment of the constitution to appease the extremist fringe of Pakistani society. Yet Salam’s contribution to physics is acknowledged worldwide and among many publications finds mention in Stephen Hawking’s record-breaking bestseller, “A Brief History of Time.”[58] It is revealing that in the past 105 years the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims have produced only 8 Nobel laureates while a mere 14 million Jews have produced 167 Nobel Prize winners.[59]

The first step, therefore, in the fight against extremism and its skewed presumptions is massive investment in education. Only then will Muslims be able to live up to the ideals of their religion through a proper understanding of the Quran. It is not the exclusive prerogative of the mulla or the imam to interpret the Muslim scripture. It is the right, in fact the duty, of all who profess the religion to understand its tenets and teachings. This becomes all the more important because the spiritual and the secular aspects of human existence, unlike the other monotheistic creeds, are not divided into watertight compartments but are mutually reinforcing. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Caesar do not exist as unrelated entities. The will to political expression in the form of state structure, governance, public laws, juridical principles, economic development, education, social advancement, human rights and foreign policy are integral to Islam. When this is denied, the Muslim community becomes a mere group of individual without a clear cut sense of direction. In this sense, Islam is more than a personal faith – it envisages a political community which provides the framework for the fulfilment of the Divine will on earth. This is where Islam disagrees with Francis Fukuyama’s  “End of History” theory. To Muslims “western liberal democracy” is not “the final form of human government” because they believe that it is Islam that is the “endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution.”

This unity between the spiritual and the secular, which brought stability and glory to early Islamic societies, was misused in later history. Absolute monarchs and republican dictators alike distorted the message of the Quran and caused incalculable harm to their countries. Draconian laws, major provisions of which were sharply at variance with Quranic tenets, were promulgated for no higher motive than the perpetuation of the autocratic regimes. The Zia-ul-Haq period in Pakistan provides a striking example. Some of the supposedly Islamic ordinances concocted with Machiavellian ingenuity by his legal experts had little to do with the religion. An educated population that knew and understood the Quran would never have accepted this. The false image of Islam as a harsh and intolerant faith was further reinforced.

Contemporary scholars ponder whether the Islamic world can be integrated into a liberal and progressive global civilization. The answer is a categorical “Yes” if those professing Islam adhere to the true teachings of the Quran. It is probably this that James Walsh had in mind when he observed:


“At bottom, the Prophet Muhammad’s revealed word is among the most egalitarian of religions. Certainly one of Islam’s strongest appeals down the centuries was to peoples who felt victimized, and deprived of worth in God’s eyes, under the social hierarchies sanctified by some other faiths. In theory, with an ethic that allows merit to be rewarded, Islam ought to serve as a solid platform for political flexibility and economic growth.”[60]


What then is the basis for this political flexibility? The Quran is specific that the leader of the community should be a Muslim of unquestionable probity and that society owes him fealty so long as he does not resort to persecution or violate the tenets of the religion.[61] After Prophet Muhammad’s death, Abu Bakr, Omar, Usman and Ali succeeded each other as leaders of the Islamic community. Only Ali, the last of the four caliphs who are known in Islamic history as “the rightly guided,” was the Prophet’s blood relation and this casts doubt whether hereditary monarchies are acceptable in an Islamic society though the Quran does speak of prophet-kings such as David and Solomon.

Although Islam believes in strong central authority, it does not accept totalitarianism. The powers of the head of state are circumscribed by the sharia or the laws of Islam. He does not have the option to deviate from the injunctions of the Quran. A  Hitler or a Mussolini is inconceivable in a truly Islamic society. Scholars such as Olivier Roy believe:


“there can be no such thing as totalitarianism (the reduction of civil to political society) in Islamic countries, insofar as in Islam the development and interpretation of laws does not depend on the state. By definition, a return to the shariat can neither be fascist nor totalitarian (which does not mean that it is therefore democratic).”[62]


The Quran is silent on how the leader is to be chosen, the duration of the tenure and the method of succession. The absence of Quranic injunctions on these political details leaves ample space for the incorporation of modern concepts into the constitutions of Islamic countries. The only requirement is that the leader of the community should be a Muslim and there is nothing to stop women from becoming the chief executive. The Quran refers to the queen of Saba (Sheba), initially a polytheist, who later converted to Solomon’s monotheism.[63] In recent times, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Khalida Zia and Hasina Wajid of Bangladesh, Tansu Ciller of Turkey and Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia have been prime ministers and president as well as leaders of the opposition in their respective countries. These nations, three with a population of over a hundred and fifty million, collectively represent more than two-fifths of the Islamic world.

The sharia also curtails the powers of the legislature as it does that of the chief executive whether a head of state or a head of government. In this sense, Islam does not accept the complete supremacy of the parliament. No legislature can promulgate the profane or prohibit what is lawful. There can, therefore, be no question of a parliament in a Muslim society legalizing homosexuality, altering the basic laws of the Quran or curtailing the rights that it gives to men and women. However this does not substantially restrict the competence of parliaments to legislate because only about 190 of the Quran’s 6,247 verses deal with personal, penal and civil laws as well as jurisprudence and testimony.[64] Therefore, there is no impediment in the way of Islamic legislatures enabling them to enact laws in line with modern values.

The state structure outlined by the Quran more than fourteen hundred years ago   was, therefore, more advanced than the absolute monarchies that prevailed at the time in the known world. However, whereas there has been political evolution in the West and the divine right of kings was gradually eroded by the transfer of power to parliament, the Islamic political structure witnessed no such change. The main transformation in several Muslim countries during the second half of the twentieth century was the replacement of absolute dynastic rulers by autocratic republican regimes. Only a few are now emerging as democracies. Malaysia is the only Islamic country with a constitutional monarchy. Almost all of them, whether monarchies, authoritarian republics, or quasi-democracies, have to contend with extremist or, at best, obscurantist religious forces.

The space that the Quran provides for adapting the state structure and laws to modernity has seldom been availed by Muslims. Instead, distorted interpretations, wilful or otherwise, have obscured its progressive and liberal spirit. Although there is no priesthood in Islam, illiteracy in Muslim societies has been exploited by clerics to propound regressive doctrines which are far removed from the message of the Quran. In many instances these distortions have resulted in social practices that have been blindly accepted on the presumption that they are required by Islam. The wearing of head scarves or hijab by women is one such example. According to Gamal al-Banna, the brother of the famous Hasan al-Banna (1906-49) who founded the Society of Muslim Brothers in Egypt, this is not prescribed by the Quran or in any authentic saying of Prophet Muhammad.[65] Other misrepresentations of doctrines have far more serious implications for peace and security.

It is one-sided to pin the blame for the violence in the contemporary era only on the Muslims. Christian and Jewish fundamentalist are no less culpable. For instance Christian Zionists believe the escalating violence in the Middle East “an ordained prelude to the great Battle of Armageddon that will herald the end of the world as it is, Christ’s reappearance on the Mount of Olives and the start of his glorious thousand-year reign.”[66] They reject the May 2003 “Road Map” peace plan envisaging measures for the creation of a Palestinian state because God promised Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, a homeland stretching from the “great river of Egypt” to the Euphrates in Iraq.  This Likud party dream of a Greater Israel is shared by a significant number of the Christian right in the US.  The famous US televangelist, Jerry Falwell declared:


“To stand against Israel is to stand against God. We believe that history and scripture prove that God deals with nations in relation to how they deal with Israel.”[67]


In October 2002 Falwell ranted during CBS’s prime time television programme, 60 Minutes, “Muhammad was a terrorist” Moses and Jesus preached love but “Muhammad set an opposite example.”[68] This venom against Islam was repeated by former presidential candidate, Pat Robinson, “Adolf Hitler was bad but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse.”[69] During his sermon at President George W. Bush’s inaugural address, Franklin Graham could not resist the temptation of describing Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.”[70] These pronouncements were embarrassing for the Bush administration which sought to end all references to the clash of civilizations and had advised its European allies to keep religion out of the Arab-Israeli conflict.[71] The pronouncements of Christian and Jewish fundamentalists  have to be taken seriously because of their potential of impacting on policy. About 25 percent of President Bush’s 50 million vote were from Christian Zionists i.e., “people who think it is contrary to God’s will to put pressure on the Israeli government.”[72]

Extremist violence in the name of Islam can only be defeated through the Quran. Religion is not merely the opiate of the people as the Marxists believed but if wrongly interpreted it is the poison that destroys society. The correct understanding of the Quran requires education and this must be the first step in the reformation of Islamic societies. The process is long and there are no quick-fixes. At the same time, the West must stop stereotyping Muslims as extremists and fundamentalists because the Christian and Jewish right are no less guilty of excesses in the guise of religion. Only then can genuine inter-faith understanding develop into meaningful cooperation and replace the centuries-long clash between the Islamic and western civilizations.







[1] The author is a former Ambassador of Pakistan.

[1] The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. ix, p.914, Leiden, 1997.

[2] A. Khazindar and  M.I. al-Shaybani,, Dalil makhtutat al-Suyuti wa-amakin wudjudiha, Cairo, 1983.

[3]M.A.S. Abdel Haleem,  The Quran: A new translation, (Introduction), Oxford University Press, 2004,

[4] Arnold Toynbee, Civilization on Trial, ch. 4, 1948.

[5] Quoted by Karen Armstrong in Muhammad, p. 43, Harper Collins, 1992.

[6] C Christine Fair and Hussain Haqqani, “Think you understand Islamist Terrorism? Think again!” Daily Times, Lahore, 2 February 2006.

[7] Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History, p 41, Weidenfeld & Nicolson., UK,  2000.

[8] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad, p 21, Harper Collins, 1992.

[9] Lord Macaulay’s statement to the British Parliament, 2 February 1835.

[10] Oscar Wilde, The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, p. 257,  Collins, London and Glasgow,  1969.

[11] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad, p.40, Harper Collins, 1992.

[12] Tanvir Ahmad Khan, “An Issue of Sovereignty,” Daily Times, Lahore, 3 February 2006.

[13] Ibid. p 13.

[14] Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War, p. 14, Warner Books, 1995.

[15] Alexander Haig’s address to the Trilateral Commission in 1981.

[16] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad, pp 7, 12, Harper Collins, 1992.

[17] Steve Col, Ghost Wars, p 151, Penguin Books, 2005.

[18] Ibid p 180..

[19] President Reagan’s speech at the British House of Commons on 8 June 1982.

[20] Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History,” published in the summer 1989 issue of  National Interest.

[21] Richard Nixon,  Beyond Peace, p.142, Random House, New York,  1994.

[22] ‘The Quran, 2: 256.

[23] Ibid. 22:40

[24] Ibid, 2: 190-194.

[25] Cyril Glasse, The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam, p. 83, Stacey International (revised edition 2001).

[26] Quoted by Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Understanding the Quran: Themes and Style, p. 64, I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 1999.

[27] The Quran, 2: 193

[28] Ibid., 60: 8.

[29] Ibid, 9: 6.

[30] Ibid., 2:190 etc.

[31] Ibid., 2: 194.

[32] The Quran, 49:9.

[33] Ibid., 5:2.

[34] Ibid., 5: 1, 16:91-92 etc.

[35] Deuteronomy, 20; 10-18, The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version, World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa Falls, Iowa.

[36] The Quran, 4: 82,  39:23.

[37] The number becomes 6360 if the words In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace, are counted as a verse because 113 of the 114 chapters of the Quran begin with this sentence.

[38] Muhammad Asad, The Meaning of the Quran, (footnote to 2: 106), Dar al-Andalus Limited, 1980.

[39] The Quran, 3: 7.

[40] The Quran. 9:5.

[41] M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, Understanding the Quran: Themes and Style, p. 65. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 1999.

[42] Muhammad Asad, The Meaning of the Quran, (footnote to 9:5).

[43] M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, Understanding the Quran: Themes and Style, p. 62, I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 1999.

[44] Ibid., p. 62.

[45] Osama bin Laden, “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders” quoted by The Economist, Special Issue on Islam and the West, 13-19 September 2003.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Osama bin Laden’s interview to Pakistani newspaper, Umma, 28 September 2001.

[48] Friday Times, (book review) Lahore, 26 May -1 June 2006.

[49] Richard Nixon, Beyond Peace, p. 154, Random House, New York,  1994.

[50] Karen Armstrong, Islam: A ShortHhistory p.168, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, UK, 2000.

[51] Ibid., p. 169.

[52] The Economist, Special Issue on Islam and the West, 13-19 September 2003.

[53] The Quran, 6:159, 21: 92-93, 23: 52-54, etc.

[54] Ibid., 4:94.

[55] The Quran, 15:9, 56: 77-80, 85: 21-22.

[56] The Economist, Special Issue on Islam and the West, 13-19 September 2003.

[57] Dr, Farrukh Saleem, What went Wrong?..

[58] Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, pp.76-78, Bantam Books, 1993 (third edition).

[59] Dr. Farrukh Saleem, What went Wrong?

[60] Time magazine, 15 June 1992.

[61] The Quran, 4: 59.

[62] Olivier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan, p. 5, Cambridge University Press, 1986.

[63] The Quran, 27: 23-44.

[64] The Quran, A new translation, Introduction, M.A. S. Abdel Haleem, Oxford University Press Inc., New York, 2004.

[65] Daily Times, Lahore, 13 August 2006.

[66] Victoria Clark, Holy Fire, p. 229, Macmillan, 2005.

[67] Internet: www.

[68] Internet.

[69] Internet.www,


[71] Victoria Clark,  Holy Fire, p.241, Macmillan, 2005.

[72] Dr. John Green of Akron University, interviewed by Victoria Clark for ‘Christian Zionists’ in Prospect, July 2003.

S. Iftikhar Murshed is a former ambassador of Pakistan.