In this article we will temporarily cease our research on need and necessity, to handle the problem of communication between the Islamic community and its western surroundings. This week, I attended a conference in Istanbul held in response to an invitation from both the Turkish and British governments to study Muslim situations in the West. For my part, I looked to explain the oversensitivity that some segments of the European community have towards Muslim existence in the West.
I attempted to present the problem as follows. The variety of people’s colors, languages and beliefs represents a sign of the divine power, just as the flowers and natural landscapes represent a sign that man enjoys. But man is not always able to enjoy the variety of his own kind: “And also (there are signs) in your own selves. Will you not then see?” (Al-Dhariyat51:20-21) Man is able to look around, but he seems unable to enjoy the variety of mankind.
Perhaps this is the problem that drove this assembly of scholars and wise men to come to this city to study this issue. A number of questions must be asked: Why do we prevent ourselves from seeing the beauty in each other? Why do we feel unable to bear one another? Why do we not feel at ease with each other? Why does one cast the other outside of the earth and wish death upon him? Why do people kill one another?
It is despair, frustration and madness. It is man in his animal, primitive and brutal nature. When a man hates another, he will prefer animals over him. An Arab poet once said: “When a wolf howled, I felt company; but when I heard a human voice, I was about to fly.” Despite our ability to subjugate the chaotic universe through the advances forged in science, we have not been able to tame the aggressive nature of man. But, why this aggressiveness? Why bear malice? Are we not partners in life in this universe? Do we not inhale the same air and sustain on the same food? Is not our God one and our forefather one? This is what the heavenly messages, in which we believe, say.
Do we not all love to live and to be happy and hate death and unhappiness? If so, then what is the problem exactly? Is it the problem of having different values? Is it the problem of having different cultures? Is it perhaps the problem of real and unreal interests? Is it a case of inexpressible psychopathy? Or is it a problem of misunderstanding and xenophobia? Who is responsible? Can we say that all are responsible or that we are all innocent? There are many questions. However, firemen do not ask who lit the fire; they simply extinguish it. This is what we will attempt to do.
Paradoxically, many sound-minded persons, from both academic backgrounds as well as lay people, desire to change this situation. But the key to spiritual communication is still amiss. The crisis is one of communication. Thus, we are here to search for the key. We do not have a magical key; only words of wisdom and caution. We will not be able to provide a plan to disentangle the confused emotions; and even if we did provide such a plan, we will not be able to carry it out. What are going to provide? This is what we will attempt to answer in the coming article.