Islam and the West, a Dialogue of Civilizations

January 25, 1998
Part 6---Interview With Iran's Former Ambassador to the Holy See Mohammad Masjed Jamei Q- Why was Islam's real image revealed to the West only in recent years? If the mentioned interaction is derived from Islam and the West, it should have taken place from its beginning or emergence? A- This question is also important. You should first define the meaning of interaction as it is applied.

This interaction at least at the present is from the West rather than Islam. As a religion Islam requires its followers to observe its fundamentals. According to Islamic law and regulations a Muslim should obey the rules, and codes which have been prescribed by the religion of Islam. Here the problem is that the Europeans cannot tolerate this belief. A native European feels the principles and laws from his point of view.

He believes that the globalization tendency has encountered with barriers; therefore the feelings of disappointment and agitation cast over his life. His last words are: Islam is the latest answer to all his anxieties in the light of a fundamental sublime culture replacing the previously corrupted one. This process has been accelerated in recent years due to the several reasons, including developments in foreign countries and the strong re-emergence of Islam in recent decades.

The revival of Islamic culture was one of the main factors behind the disintegration of the Communist Empire. Many Western strategists believe that the collapse of communism was not just due to crumbling of politico-military structure, but rather it was the collapse of an ideology, socio-economic and psychological system of a superpower. They believe this ideological system dismantled as soon as it confronted with the strong Western ideology and this event paved the way for Westerners to be deceived in believing they were righteous in their long struggle against communist ideology.

At this juncture, the Westerners were not expected to face with the ideological rivalry. Meanwhile, Islamic ideology emerged forcefully and worldwide once again, especially in the heart of European countries. From European Muslims to its Muslim immigrants to Europe, the revival of Muslim movements in Egypt and the major victory of Muslims in Algeria in 1992 democratic elections all exemplify that political Islam has come again to the scene.

The Muslims were determined to capture the power in this period. For the West the flourishing of Islamic tendency among Muslims was a new strategy to destabilize pro-Western governments. This means that the Muslims rose up to challenge the West's interests. Meanwhile, West could not show any resistance as Muslims were firm in their struggle. During this period Muslims demonstrated their long-standing aspiration for implementing Islamic laws in total in the contemporary history.

Q- How do you foresee the relations between the West and Islam? A- This question has equal importance for both sides. Despite all the existing realities, they have to live with each other and the relations should be based on cordial and mutual friendship, avoiding any tension. In today's world one cannot be indifferent to others and at the same time others should have the same understanding.

We have common cultural, social and economic interests which must be safeguarded and upgraded to the highest level. Western thinkers have similar ideas on the same issues. In the new world era, which has been created in recent years, those enjoying abundant wealth, industry and high economic base might unlike the past cannot dictate their opinion or be indifferent to others.

Today, mutual dependency has reached to the extent that it has even restricted the initiatives of mighty powers and in some cases silenced their voice to be heard. (To be contd)