Important Step Towards Muslim-West Understanding

  • 15 February 2010

The announcement made by the United States President Barak Obama – in a message delivered during the opening session of the 7th US-Islamic World Forum in Doha on Saturday – to appoint a special American envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) represents an important step in support of greater understanding between Muslims and the West in general and the US in particular.

The step is also important because it confirms the American President’s affirmation to go down the road that he started in his historic speech, addressed to the Islamic world at the Cairo University last June, where he called for the opening of a new chapter in the relationship between the US and the Islamic world, despite the attempts that have been made in the recent past by some forces that wish to fuel tension between the two sides and disrupt this approach.

The rising indications of hostility against Islam in some European countries recently – especially on issues related to hijab, call for prayers and immigration – have been fueled by forces that create an atmosphere of fear about Islam and Muslims and dub them as a threat to the Western civilization. The recent developments indicate that there is an urgent need to tackle this dangerous phenomenon because it directly impacts the world’s security and stability and the relations that exist between the different countries, their people, civilizations and culture. History is witness to the fact that the most dangerous types of conflicts have been waged in the name of religion, culture and creed and therefore leaving room for conflict between religions and civilizations means spreading venom, leaving its ill-effects and taking all human beings on a disastrous path.

If the American President is adopting a different approach, within the framework of the relationship between the United States and Islam since he came to the White House, then it is the responsibility of the entire Islamic world to engage in this process and contribute in this fight against false stereotyping of Islam’s image in the West. Serious efforts should be made to fight attempts to link Islam with terrorism through serious and active engagement of Muslim organizations, especially religious institutions. All this should be aimed at achieving three main goals – firstly introducing Islam in its real un-distorted image to the West. The second objective should be to delineate between the real essence of Islam and forces that claim to be speaking on its behalf and resorting to terrorism and violence using these slogans and symbols. The third goal should be to conduct a constructive dialogue with the West based on mutual interaction and understanding and built on proper awareness of civilizations and political, social and economic circumstances in the Western countries.

The United States of America’s interest in building bridges of cooperation and understanding with Muslims is an important step that the Islamic world should invest their energies on so as to restrict the forces that always seek to take matters backwards and stand to lose in the wake of any cooperation between the two parties.