The Muslim Ummah: Three Encounters with the West

Opinion
Typography

 

Introduction:

Garrick Utley, the veteran news caster on Sunday January 13, 1991 on the eve of the Desert Storm conducted the NBC program MEET THE PRESS. At the end he said “ These final days and hours before the deadline, is, perhaps a time to recall the long road which has brought us to this point---not the one that began last August but rather the one that leads back more than one thousand years to when Islam’s armies first invaded Europe. The road winds through the middle ages, the councils of Europe in the middle Ages----not unlike Congress this weekend debating whether to commit armed forces to a crusade. They did! Then came the counter Crusades---Suleiman the magnificent in the 16th century marching his armies to the gates of Vienna to defeat the infidel. Then came the counter offensive, Western imperialism in the Middle East---Then came oil, Arab nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. What we are seeing on our television screens has happened before----our fleet in the Persian Gulf was preceded by the Battleship New Jersey off Lebanon’s coast a few years ago, which was preceded by Napoleon’s fleet off the shores of Egypt, which was preceded by the Crusaders’ ships off the Holy Land. So what we remember these days is the longest ----running saga of confrontation and clashes between two worlds---The Arab Muslims verses the Western Judeo-Christian. We like to think, of course, that we are masters of our destiny, so do Saddam Hussain, George Bush, and the members of Congress---but it looks as if more than one thousand years of history is about to be, for both sides, our destiny once again.”

When I ponder on that “one thousand years of history” it becomes apparent that Muslims have three encounters with the West. My first observation is that the first and second encounters belong to the history of the past, which Muslims did intentionally. The third and final encounter, which is in progress now, is unintentional.


When I ponder and reflect on them, my second observation is that each encounter has a span of 700 to 800 years, and their peak occurs at an interval of 600 to 700 years (732, 1402, and 2001). Their thrust is towards Europe in general and North Western Europe in particular which is called the heart of Europe. Each encounter has a point of beginning and a point when it stops or is stopped. In between it stabilizes, flourishes, and dominates. Then it declines, disintegrates and ends. We know how the first and second encounters ended. We do not know how the third is going to end.

Third observation is that 100 t0 150 years before an encounter ends, beginning of the subsequent encounter is made. There is an overlap of 100 to 150 years.

Fourth observation is that a particular group of Muslims is involved in each encounter. Muslim Moors in the first encounter, Muslim Turks and Tatars in the second. In the third and final encounter more or less Muslims all over the world are involved.

Fifth observation: In the first encounter there was no involvement of USA or Russia because there was no USA at that time. In the second encounter Russia was implicated. USA and Canada came in picture towards the end (USA declared independence on 4th July1776 and Canada was given independence on July first 1867. In the third encounter USA is very much involved along with North Western Europe (heart of Europe), Russia, and Canada.

Sixth observation: In the first and second encounters the North Western Europe and British Isles were spared. Muslims could not reach there. In the third encounter they are the main focus of attention along with USA and Canada.

Seventh observation: In the first encounter Muslims invaded Europe from South West in the second from the East. In the third encounter Muslims did not invade, they arrived here for the first time in the history in to North Western Europe (Heart of Europe), UK, USA, and Canada on invitation. Why I say invitation I shall explain later.

Eight and final observation: In the first and second encounters Muslims went in Europe to rule and to subjugate them with military might, military power. They succeeded in that though they were in minority. In the third and final encounter Muslims arrived in the North Western European countries (the heart of Europe), England, USA and Canada to live under their rule, no doubt as freemen!

FIRST ENCOUNTER 24 A.H. 644 A.D. TO 898 A.H. 1492 A.D.

The Muslim warriors in the initial era of Islam erupted out of Arabia like a volcano and spilled all over and reached Europe in a zeal to establish the word of God. They started to knock at the doors of Europe right from the time of our third Khalifa Usman bin Affan RAA. During his time Habib ibn Maslama Al-Fihiri raided Armenia, went as far as Erzurum and Dvin .
27AH 647 AD. Khalifa Osman(raa) allows Ameer Myawiya (raa) to conduct a naval campaign against Cyprus. In this campaign , great Muslim personalities such as Khalid Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, Abuzar Ghfari, Abudarda, Miqdad, Fadala, and Waylah Al-Kinani participated as volunteers. One hundred year old Kaab Al-Ahbur also volunteered. Khalifa Uthman (raa) orders Abdullah bin Nafe Bin Haseen to conduct a naval campaign against Spain. This is the first reference to Andalus (Spain) in Islamic history.

In 28AH 648 CE Ameer Muawiya (raa) assisted by Abdullah Bin Qais, Ameerul Bahr(commander of the sea, the word is later adopted by the Europeans as Admiral)sails from Makkah. Abdullah Bin Sa’d Bin Abusurrah also dispatched a fleet form Alexandria. The Muslim forces advanced in a pincer operation from opposite directions and conquered Cyprus. A peace treaty was signed. The Cypriots agreed to pay the new Muslim rulers the same 7000 Dinnars, they were previously paying the Roman Empire in tribute. The blessed Prophet (pbuh) once staying at the house of Umm Haram (aunt of Anas bin Malik) predicted the Cyprus campaign. She was informed then that she would be among the warriors. Three women Umm Haram, Wife of Ubada bin Samit, and Fakhta wife of Ameer Muawiya (raa) participated in the naval campaign. Umm Haram is the first Muslim woman to die in a naval campaign. She is buried in Cyprus and is proclaimed as a pious lady.

32 AH 652 AD Ameer Muawiya accompanied by his wife led a campaign against the Byzantine ruler and reached the vicinity of Constantinople

34 AH 654 AD Rhodes was raided by an Arab fleet.

35 AH 655 AD Battle of Masts took place. Arab fleet wins command of Aegean in naval battle fought off the coast of Lycia. In this sea battle the Bytzantine ruler tried to crush the Muslim power. He attacked Egypt near Alexandria with 500 to 1000 warships. Ameer-al-Bahr Abdullah bin Surrah and Ameer Muawyia (raa) met the challenge. The infant Muslim navy plunges in to combat with 200 ships against a fleet three times its size. An intense battle is fought with swords. The sky was clouded with masts. Thus the battle is called the Battle of masts. The byzantine force could not withstand the zeal and strategy of the Muslim mujahideen and had a humiliating defeat. From then on the Muslim navy became the master of the Mediterranean Sea.

43 AH 663 AD Marks the first Arab raid on Sicily.

Byzantine Empire was divided in to Western and Eastern flanks. The seat of power of Eastern flank was Constantinople. Muslims had an eye on it right from the beginning Hazrat Ameer Muawwyia(raa) after consolidating his power went after Constantinople. The Arab navy that hazrat Ameer Muawyia built, dominated the Agean sea. Sicily and Crete were repeatedly attacked. Using Rhodes as his advance base he kept the triple walled city of Constantinople under siege for ten years from 668 AD to 678 AD. This siege, a series of attacks by sea, would last for ten years.

49 AH 669 CE Yezid bin Muawiya led a large army against the Byzantines and after a fierce battle besieged Constantinople ( Istanbul). In this campaign great companions such as Abdullah Bin Abbas, Abu Ayyub Ansari, Abdullah Bin Umar Abu Al-Khttab, and Abdullah Bin Zubaur took part. Abu Ayyub Ansari died during the campaign and was buried at the front, on European soil. Today a beautiful mosque
stands in the western part of Istanbul and is called Ayuub Sultan. During Khilafat-e-Osmania the Caliph was traditionally decorated with the sword of Uthman in that mosque.

53 AH 672 CE Janada Azdi led a naval campaign against the island of Rhodes and conquered it. After the Pyramids of Egypt the Muslims now controlled the colossus of Rhodes one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The colossus was a bronze statue of Apollo, 100 to 150 feet high, erected around 280 BCE in the harbor. It had fallen during the earthquake in 224 BCE, and was found lying face down in the water when the Muslims entered Rhodes.

59 AH 678 AD The Arab fleet commanded by Yazid was defeated by Byzantine naval force at the battle of Syllaeum. Ameer Muaywia called off the siege and a truce was signed. It would take another 800 years for Constantinople to be conquered by Muslim Turks.

92 AH 711 AD Tariq Bin Ziad, who was a young governor of Tangier and lieutenant of Musa Bin Nusair crosses the straight with 12000 soldiers on 5th Ramadan 92 AH( 27th April 711 CE) and lands in Gibralter. Tariq overruns all of southern Spain. A few months later Musa Bin Nusair crosses the sea with 10000 soldiers and conquered parts of Spain unconquered by Tariq. During the same period Musailma Bin Abdul Malik conquered Island of Sardinia.

98-99 AH 717-718 CE Constantinople was kept under siege by Sulaiman Son of Khalifa Abdul Malik.

116 AH 732 CE Muslim armies penetrated deep in to France and reached Poitiers 40 miles south of Paris. A battle was fought at Tours. On Muslim side the commander was Abdul Rehman Al Ghafiqui (who was from Yemen). Muslims were defeated and Alghafiqui was martyred. Had the Battle of Tours been won by Muslims, wrote Edward Gibbon in the Rise and Fall of Roman Empire “ perhaps the interpretation of Quran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet”. There would be no Christian Europe. Poitiers, said Gibbon, was “ an encounter, which would change the history of the world”.


Why Muslims were defeated?


Michael Hamilton Morgan wrote in his book “ The Lost History”. “ The Muslim Army consisted of Persians, Berbers, Yemenis, Arabs, and Spaniards. These soldiers could not agree on a commander, overnight they withdrew. The Franks have won. The outnumbered, poorly equipped Franks have defeated the army of Al-Ghafiqui, whose men have withdrawn because they could not agree on a new commander”.


About the same battle the British Encyclopedia wrote “ The Muslim troops had to be withdrawn because the Berbers had revolted in North Africa and Charles Martel earned his undeserving glory”. Justice Ameer Ali of India explained as to why Muslim Army had to retreat in his book “ A Short History of the Saracens”. He wrote that the Battle of Tours is called Balat-ush-Shuhada from the number of prominent men who lost their lives with Abdur Rahman. He wrote “ at the peak of war when they were on the verge of a decisive victory a cry arose that the Arab camp with all its treasure was in danger. At the news the Muslims quitted their ranks and flew to defend their booty: in vain Abdur Rahman endeavored to restore order; all the efforts were useless and he fell pierced by lance. The fall of the general threw the whole army into disorder. Soon the night fell. Both sides withdrew to their camps. No sooner the Muslims reached their camp than furious dissensions broke out among Abdur Rahman’s lieutenants and the legionaries turned their arms against each other. Victory over Franks was now out of the question; a safe retreat was the only possible course open. Under cover of the night the Muslim generals quietly withdrew leaving the battlefield empty”.

So the Muslim advance was averted. The thrust towards Northwestern Europe (heart of Europe) was thwarted. This was the turning point of the first encounter. Further march was stopped because of our greed, our own divisions, dissensions, and disunity.

The vigor, the valor had vacillated. It took nearly one hundred years when Sicily was conquered in 208AH 823 AD. Crete was conquered in 210 AH 825 AD. In 846 C.E. a naval expedition from Sicily even entered the River Tiber, and Arab forces sacked Ostia and Rome.

300 AH 912 AD Muslims entered in Savoy in Switzerland. Again they entered France and occupied Frejvis, Marseilles, Grenoble, Nice was held by them for a considerable time.

The highlight of the first encounter was the Muslim rule in Spain for 781 years from 711 AD to 1492 AD. The ruling elite had their infightings, intrigues, inter marriages, and collaboration with the enemies. In spite of that they developed a most prosperous multiethnic, multi religious multi cultural state full of tolerance, where Muslims, Jews and Christians worked together. The Jewish historians write that it was the golden period, the golden era of their existence when they were not persecuted. Muslims did not rule all over Spain for 800 years. Franks were constantly pushing them southwards. At the end only kingdom of Granada remained under their rule. The kingdom was 210 miles long from East to West and 75 miles wide from South to North. Additionally in the last ten years there was fracticidal war among Muslims, the son was fighting with father uncle with nephew while the city was under siege. Eventually both were defeated and on 3rd January 1492 Muslims and Jews were told to go on exile or be baptized or be killed. The last ruler Boabdil was sent on exile. The world remembers “The Moor’s Last Sigh”. Boabdil, on his way to exile, and his family took the road to Acpuxarras, where he was to abide. When he reached the mountains of Padul, he casted a last look at Granada and wept. His mother, hitherto his evil genius, turned upon him with the words “yes you may well weep like a woman at the loss of what you could not defend like a man”. THE FIRST ENCOUNTER ENDED!!

The Muslim rule in Spain came to an end. Not only the rule ended,but Muslims were thrown out from Spain because their roots were not deep enough. Elsewhere in the world Muslims were very powerful, but they did not come to rescue their brothers in Spain.

SECOND ENCOUNTER 700 AH 1300 AD -----1343 AH 1924 AD

By the turn of the thirteenth century and beginning of the fourteenth century two significant things happened in and around Eastern Europe, namely Turkey and Russia. In Turkey, somewhere in 699-700 AH Osman, the founder of the Caliphat-e-Osmania (The West in hatred calls it Ottoman Empire. Ottoman means foot stool) was staying with his murshid {mentor) Edebali. One night he saw a dream in which he saw that a moon arose from his mentor’s breast and came to sink in his own breast. A tree then sprouted from his naval and its shade compassed the world. Beneath this shade there were mountains and streams flowed forth from each of the mountain. some people drank from these running waters, others watered gardens, while yet others caused fountains to flow. When Osman awoke he told the story to his mentor, who said “O my son, congratulations for God has given the imperial office to you and your descendants and my daughter Malhoun shall be your wife”. This myth may or may not be true, but still it is alive in Turkey. Carolyne Finkel writes in her book “Osman’s Dream” (about Ottoman’s history) that there is documentary evidence that a holy man known as sheikh Edebali lived at the same time as Osman and there is some evidence that Osman married his daughter as one of his two wives. This story is also told by Sultan Ghalib Al-Quaiti in his book The Holy Cities Pilgrimage and the World of Islam. In any case as the Muslim rule started to decline in Spain, beginning of a new Muslim empire was made. That was the beginning of the Muslim’s second encounter with the West.

As the process of eviction of Muslim Moors began from Southwest Europe(Spain) the Muslim Turks started to enter Europe from the East. History records the first military engagement in 1301 AD between the Byzantine force and troops led by Osman at the Battle of Bapheus. Descendants of Osman Orhan, Murad I, Bayezid I went on consolidating and expanding their rule.

In 1389 the Serbs and their Balkan allies were defeated in the battle of Kosovo Polje. Murad I was killed in that battle. Bayezid I who earned the soubriquet ‘Yildrim’ (thunderbolt) became the Sultan.

797 AH 1394 AH Siege of Constantinople began under his command.


799 AH 1396 AH Bayezid Yildrim defeated and ended the final major crusade at the city of Nicopolis on the Danube in what is now Bulgaria.


From 1396 t0 1402 Constantinople was under siege. Bayezid had to end the siege to face Tamerlane, who attacked him from the rear. The dispute was about a fugitive. Tamerlane defeated Byezid. Humiliated him, made him a footstool, and put him in a cage. This was the turning point of the second encounter. In addition to this mishap between1602 and 1612, and again between 1616 and 1627, Perisa and Turkey were at war, and the Persians won a number of successes. Distracted by this struggle in the East, the Trucks were obliged in 1606 to make peace with the Austrians,i Once again the advance towards Northwestern Europe (heart of Europe) was averted. The thrust was thwarted. The momentum was broken because of our own rivalries, our own disunity. It took another 50 years to conquer Constantinople. Finally, Sultan Muhammed the second conquered Constantinople after 53 days of siege in May 1453(858 AH). It was Muslim’s 12th attempt to take Constantinople over a period of 800 years. He was 21 years old.

1529 AD Suleiman the magnificent failed to conquer Vienna. 1683 AD Turks were defeated in Vienna on 11th September 1683 AD at Kahlenberg.  On 26th January 1699 AD ( 1110 AH ), treaty of Karlowitz, was signed between the victorious Austrians and defeated Turks. In this treaty the Muslim Turks were once again told as in 1492, be Baptized, be killed, or leave from the south of river Danube and Sava. That was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire. “ It was the end of a threat of Islam for almost a thousand years from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna” wrote Bernard Lewis in his book Islam and the West. He also wrote that during that time Lutheran Prayer Book included a prayer beseeching God “Save us from the evil designs of the Pope and the terror of the Turks”.

Between 1237 and 1240C.E. the Mongols conquered much of Russia and Eastern Europe and established a state known in Russian annals as the Khanate of the Golden Horde. Baraka Khan, Lord of the Golden Horde from 1256-1267 accepted Islam. He entered into a close alliance with the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Ruk Al-Din Baybars. The mixed Mongol and Turkish people of his realm became a Muslim nation. They are known in Eastern Europe as Tatars. Russia with much of Eastern Europe was under Muslim rule from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. They are known in Russian annals as “The Tatar Yolk”. 12 years before the Muslims were driven out of Spain in 1492. The Russians ended the Tatar Yolk in1480 AD. Even after the breakup of the Khanate of the Golden Horde, the successor Khanate based in Kzan, Astrakhan and the Crimea continued to rule.

In mid sixteenth century Ivan IV the Terrible conquered the Tatar Khanates of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan(1556), but he could not subdue the Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatars captured Moscow in 1571 and burnt it except Kremlin. They tried to do it again in 1591 but could not succeed.

The defeat of the Ottomans at Vienna and the treaty of Karlowitz broke the backbone of the Ottoman Empire. So was the defeat of Tatars by IvanIV broke the backbone of the Tatars. From then on it was a downhill march.

The Russians occupied the Central Asian lands of Muslims. Russia occupied Azerbaijan in 1720, Dagestan in 1722, Kazakhstan in 1854, Turkmenistan in 1864, Uzbekistan in1868, Tajikistan in 1884, and Kyrgyzstan in 1895.

Elsewhere in the world the Northwestern European Powers, The Dutch, The English, the French, and the Italians occupied Muslim lands. Not only did they occupied Muslim lands but they also put arbitrary lines on the maps of Muslim lands and created new countries. Algeria was occupied in 1830, Yemen in 1839, Tunisia in 1881, Egypt in 1882, Sudan in 1889. Italy annexed the Ottoman provinces of Tripoitania and Cyrenacia in September 1911. They were united by Italian Royal Decree on 3rd December 1934 to form a single colony renamed Libiya. Morocco was occupied in 1912. Sykes-Picot agreement divided the territories of moribund Ottoman Empire in 1915. Sykes and Picot ( a French and a British diplomat) put the map of Muslim middle eastern lands on a table and put arbitratory lines and created new countries. They injected the cancer of nationalism in the Muslim body politics.


730 years after the capture of Jerusalem by Salahuddin Ayyubi, while entering Jerusalem through the Jappa gate on 11th December 1917 British General Allenby declared that “now the Crusades are over”. French General Gouraud had the audacity to go to the tomb of Salahuddin Ayyubi and to kick his grave and say “Salah we are back”.

On 10th August 1920 Treaty of Serves was signed and finally the Ottoman Empire was dismembered. All Muslim lands were occupied except four places where there was no physical occupation. They were Afghanistan, Iran, Arabia, and Turkey. Though there was no physical occupation in Iran, Arabia, and Turkey; Iran was under the political influence of British and Russians, Arabia was in the lap of the British, and Turkey declared to abandon Islamic value system and adopt western value system and became a hybrid state. The only one Muslim country, which truly remained independent, was Afghanistan. Europe covers roughly 7% of the landmass of earth, but by 1800 it ruled 35% of the globe and by 1914 a staggering 84%. England’s King George V alone ruled a quarter of the land surface of the planet.


THE SECOND ENCOUNTER ENDED. GEORGE CURZON, THE BRITISH SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIR(1911-1921) ADVISED THE WEST “ WE MUST PUT AN END TO ANYTHING WHICH BRINGS ABOUT ANY ISLAMIC UNITY BETWEEN THE SONS OF THE MUSLIMS. AS WE HAVE ALREADY SUCCEDED IN FINISHING OFF THE CALIPHATE, SO WE MUST ENSURE THAT THERE WILL NEVER ARISE AGAIN UNITY FOR THE MUSLIMS, WHETHER IT BE INTLECTUAL OR CULTURAL UNITY.”

At the end of the first encounter Muslim rule in Spain came to an end. Muslim Moors were driven out of Spain. But elsewhere in the world Muslims were very powerful, Moghuls in India, Mamluks in Egypt, Safavids in Iran, and Ottomans in Turkey.

The second encounter ended with the expulsion of Muslim Turks after centuries of their rule in Southeastern Europe and dismemberment and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire with enslavement of all Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia.
In both of the encounters Muslims could not penetrate in Northwestern Europe (the heart of Europe) and British Isles. These lands remained virgin lands for Islam. In the first encounter Muslims were stopped at Tours (France) in732. In the second encounter Muslims were stopped at Vienna (Austria) in 1683.

At the end of the second encounter Islam was an unknown entity to Western masses. Muslim presence was negligible in Northwestern Europe (the heart of Europe) and British Isles. There were no mosques in Northwestern Europe. There were only two Mosques in British Isles, Masjid Abuhurrara in Cardiff, and Masjid-e-Shajehan in Surrey (built in 1889)

THE THIRD ENCOUNTER 1776 AD -----------------------2476 AD

A new nation the United States of America declared independence in 1776. The nascent nation struggled for seven years for recognition in the world body. The very first recognition came from the Muslim world. Sultan Mohammad 111,The Sultan of Morocco was the first sovereign in the world to recognize the new nation in 1783.

During the same period, when the Muslims were driven out of Europe and European Powers and Russia were occupying Muslim lands, Muslims were brought in USA as slaves from Africa. A beginning of third encounter was made. According to Yuvoune Haddad 1/5th of all the slaves who were brought to America were Muslims. Fareed Nauman, a Muslim researcher says that from the year 1530 to year 1860 ten million slaves were brought to North America. Thirty percent of them were Muslims. This was the first wave of Muslims, which was brought to the USA by force. The second wave of Muslims came to the USA after the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire after the first World War.

Within a span of thirty years 1914—1944 two World Wars took place and caused a colossal murder and mayhem. About the first World War Charles L Mee wrote “ By November 11, 1918 when the armistice that marked the end of the war was signed eight million soldiers lay dead, twenty million more were wounded, diseased, mutilated, and twenty two million civilians had been killed or wounded”. About the Second World War, Patrick Buchanan wrote that fifty million died to bring Hitler down.

After the Second World War there was an acute shortage of manpower in North Western Europe (the heart of Europe) and United Kingdom. UK needed labor. Muslims came with others from India and Pakistan. France needed labor. Muslims arrived from North Africa. Germany needed labor. Muslims came from Turkey.

In mid sixties of the last century, at the height of the Vietnam war America needed skilled labor. The Johnson’s administration relaxed the immigration laws. Highly qualified Muslims immigrated to the USA from 65 different countries. This was the third wave of Muslims.

As I pointed out before in the first and second encounters the Northwestern Europe (the heart of Europe) and UK were spared. Muslims could not penetrate there. For the first time in history during the last 50 to60 years Muslims have established themselves in the heart of Europe (Northwestern Europe) and UK along with the USA and Canada.

There are 23 million Muslims in Northwestern Europe and British Isles. Total number of Muslims in Europe as a whole in 2007 was about 53 million (7.2 %).


15 % of Copenhagen and Birmingham are Muslim. 10% of London and Paris are Muslim. 5% of Belgium is Muslim. Muslims in British Isles have done extremely well. They are present in every walk of life. You see them on BBC Some are members of Parliament, a few in House of Lords. Mayor of London is a Muslim.There are 1500 mosques in England where there were only two 70 years ago.There are 100 Sharia Courts. Mr. Gibbon must be uncomfortable in his grave because a department of Islamic studies has been established at Oxford University under the patronage of the heir apparent, Prince Charles.

In France the number of mosques doubled in 20 years from 1000 to 2000. Mr. Charles Martel must be turning in his grave because a mosque is built in Tours, where he claimed to have stopped the advance of Muslims in 732.

In Germany there are 2600 prayer areas out of which 1200 are called mosques. 114 mosques have minarets.

In Austria, according to recent Gatestone Institute report, the Muslim population now exceeds 500.000 (or roughly6% of the total population), up from an estimated 150,000 (or 2%) in1990. The report further states that Muslim students now outnumber Roman Catholic students at middle and secondary schools in Vienna, the capital and largest city of Austria and Austria is also in the process of introducing new taxpayer-funded textbooks for the formal teaching of Islam in all public elementary schools across the country. This is the first time Islam is being taught to Austrian students in German language.

Belgium had 350 mosques as of 2005. A few years ago the municipal council of Brussels (the capital of the European Union) of 21 members had 10 Muslim members.

Switzerland has 114 mosques catering for the need of 400,000 Muslims. Recently the government of Switzerland has banned the construction of minarets.

In Canada there were 579,740 Muslims according to 2001 census.

In United States of America there are 4 to 5 million Muslims. There are 2007 Islamic Centers/mosques. There are two Muslim members of Congress.

When one reflects on these encounters certain realities, certain facts emerge. In the first and second encounters Muslims gave their blood and treasure. Hundreds of thousands were martyred and maimed but they could not penetrate in the heart of Europe. In the third encounter, not a single person died or injured and Muslims established themselves in the West. It is a divine design. It is a test for Muslims.

In the beginning it was said that each counter has a point of beginning and an end. In between it reaches its peak its pinnacle, where it is hindered, hampered or stopped. The peak of the first encounter took place in 732 and of the second in 1401.The third encounter also had to have its peak, exactly after 600 years of 1401 the unfortunate incident of 911 occurred in 2001. Please also note that only we the Muslims are responsible for what happened in all the three encounters. It is only our doing. If Muslim solders were united in 732 things would have been different. In 1402 if two big Muslim Powers would not have fought with each other things would have been different. The end result was, in732 Islam’s advance was stopped at Tours (France) and on 1401 Islam’s advance was stopped at Kosovo (Eastern Europe). But after 911 Islam did not stop. Islam for the first time in the history has become really global.....that every household of the world hears about Islam 24/7. It is a different matter that the honeymoon of Islam with the US came to an end. The cold war, which was fought with the communism under its red banner ended. A new war, which is rather hot, started in earnest on the pretext of terrorism with Islam’s green banner.

It is a fact that so for the establishment of Muslims in the West, specially the heart of Europe is concerned, the third encounter is the most successful. Bernard Lewis has acknowledged this fact in his book ‘Islam and the West’.

The real question is how this third encounter is going to end? Will there be a new inquisition In Europe like1492 to expel all the Muslims from Europe. Will there be an internment of All Muslims in USA as it was done to Japanese after the Pearl Harbor incident? These are the issues, which Muslims have to ponder about. In my opinion there will be no inquisition or internment. There will be no battles or battlefields. There will be no armies or armistices. There will be no truces or treaties. It will be a different kind of struggle. The end result of the third encounter depends as to how the Western Muslims shape up. Choice is ours. Either it will be a story of rack and ruin of Islam or a rebirth and renaissance of Islam. The prevailing condition among the Western Muslims points to the most likely scenario that our progeny will get drowned and dissolved in the predominant, pervasive, permissive, and most alluring and seductive Western culture—will get melted in to the melting pot. The story of rack and ruin of Islam will be written.

Today 38 to 40% of the Muslims of the world live as minorities. There are 77 countries in the World in which the Muslim population is 2% or more than 2% and soon USA will be the78th. By the year 2050 more than 50% of the Muslim masses will live as minorities. Western Muslims especially the Muslims of USA have to lead. They are highly educated and most economically viable and live in the only super power of the world (decisions made here have a global impact). We must know as to where we stand. The press writes about and we boast about that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the West. But no body knows and no body talks about as to how many second generation Muslims are leaving the fold of Islam or are just Muslims for names sake. The efflux is greater than influx. To have the rebirth and renaissance of Islam the challenges are many. The greatest challenge is to keep our progeny on the right path.

US Muslims have many challenges to meet.


The challenge is to muster up a political clout that the media dare not demonize us and dehumanize us.


The challenge is to create a place for ourselves in the public square-------to get a place on the table----to have a platform from where we can persuade our government to not only sit in the world as a military might but to stand tall morally right---to tell our government that the national interest is not just to have a continuous flow of cheap oil. National interest is to fight for the truth, for human rights and justice for all, to have a platform from where we can demand loud and clear to stop the name calling; there is no such thing as Militant Islam, Mystic Islam, Political Islam and Radical Islam. Islam is Islam Deen-Al-Haq. Yes, a Muslim can be militant, mystic, radical or fanatic. American Muslims are not militant, mystic, radical, terrorist or fanatic. We are peace loving, law abiding, tax -paying citizens. We have to have a platform from where the immigrant Muslims will say loud and clear that we made this country our country and the indigenous Muslims will say we are the sons of the soil, part of the American soul. We the American Muslims, Immigrant and indigenous will make this country a better country. We are going to live here and we are going to die here. We are not selfish people. We are a unique lobby. We want equality for all, justice for all, whoever he may be, an atheist, a Budhist, a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew or a Muslim. We embrace the constitution of the USA, not only because we are the subjects of the land, but for its greatness. All Islamic values are embedded in it. We want our administration, also, to hold to our constitution.


We have to have a newspaper of a national caliber and a TV station. There are 1912 think tanks in this country, maximum in the world. We do not have a single think tank, so for as I know. The challenge is to have one!


These are lofty goals. To achieve them we have to have our house in order, which is properly run. We have to have a hard look as to how our organizations are run, how our children are taught. We have to have a complete paradigm shift. We must abandon the bi-polar management of our organizations and adopt a unipolar management, which is an Islamic model. We must stop marginalizing the 50% of our working force, our women folk. They must have an equal share in running our organizations. We must change the ritualistic Islamic education of children, where the Quran and life of our Prophet SAS is kept at the periphery, to a real Islamic system where the teaching of Quran in its entirety and life of our Prophet SAS in its proper context should have a central position. WE HAVE TO ESTABLISH THE INSTITUTION OF ZAKAT.

Our deen gives us a golden half an hour every week, our Friday Sermon.That tool, that treasure, is not properly used by the owners of the pulpit. These people are in the driver’s seat. The driver who takes you to the destination safely by seeing through the wide open windshield in front, by looking in the right side and left side mirrors and by seeing through the rear window. Most of them they just drive by seeing through the rear window. There are three purposes of Friday sermon. Remembrance of Allah Subhana-o-Tala, Reverence for our Prophet SAS and relevance to the world we live in. All of them definitely talk about the first two but the third is always missing. The audience say do tell us the old stories but steer us. Do tell us the old narrative but open up mew frontiers for us. No body gives direction to the younger generation. No body tells them that just becoming a pious Muslim is not enough to survive in this world. No body tells them to participate in each and every walk of life in this country: to have a broad based education. Nations are not built by just producing physicians and engineers. We have to have artisans and artists, architects and astronauts, doctors and diplomats, educationists, and entrepreneurs, geologists and journalists, politicians, poets and playwrights. Friday sermons have become routine ritualistic rigmaroles when there is a hunger among the audience to be kept engaged and to get energized. I am quite sure that our preachers know Islamic history, but they must also know the American history. They must know the constitution of this country. They must read books on current topics and at least one national newspaper every day. Time has come to make the Friday sermons a two way street. Preachers must give their e-mail addresses so that the audience can contact them about their sermons.

American Muslims have to struggle and strive in two spheres namely spiritual and secular----what I call internal and external struggle. We have to work on both the fronts simultaneously. Internal struggle is the need of the hour, absolutely essential and most vital. The essence of Islam is the development of a God conscious and a God fearing personality. A devout Muslim cannot be melted in the melting pot, but he can become part of a mosaic. He adds beauty and a grace to that mosaic. A good Muslim is a best citizen of any country, is an asset to any community. To become a devout Muslim, one has to struggle with oneself. When returning, from the Hunayan Expedition the Prophet SAS had declared “we are back from the lesser jihad to a greater jihad”. A companion asked, what is the greater jihad o Prophet of God? He answered, “ it is fighting the self ego”. Is to become a better Muslim from our previous self. American Muslims have to hold fast to their Deen and embark on a massive jihad-e-akbar.

To secure our secular demands, if we cannot create a place for ourselves in the public square or a place on the table, we should join with the ones who have a place. There are hundreds of lobbying groups. We should join hands with the ones who cater to our needs. There are three groups of our interest. The first group is working for the political refinement at home such as Common Cause and Public Citizen. They are working to have term limitation on the politicians and campaign for finance reform. The second group, the Council for the national Interest is working toward a fair and balanced foreign policy in the Middle East. The third group is working on moral issues such as permissiveness, homosexuality, drug abuse and alcohol abuse. They include Concerned Women of America and Mothers against Drunk Drivers. We should continue to work in various interfaith dialogue groups and human right groups. ASSIMILTION IS TABOO IN ISLAM BUT INTERACTION IS A MUST IN ISLAM.


What is to be done to get back the glory for Islam. There is only one way for each of us is to attain piety coupled with professional perfection and supplement with persistent patience, and prayers to put us on the path of glory for Islam. Almighty God knows better what the historians in 2474 will write about the Muslim’s third encounter with the West. Inshallah, it will be a story of rebirth and renaissance of Islam.

Dr. Syed Habeeb Ashruf M.D.
Retired consultant in Emergency Medicine
Ex-President of Islamic Society of Baltimore
Home Telephone 1-410- 747-3534
Cell phone: 1-443-928-9480
E-Mail: shashruf@yahoo.com