A. Bill (professor of government and director of the Reves Center for
International Studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia)
writes - 'By the turn of the century, for the first time in history,
the number of Muslims (those who practice Islam) will have surpassed
the number of Christians in the world.
is a monotheistic religion, civilization and way of life now practiced
by 1.1 billion people. Easily the world's fastest growing religion,
Islam is not confined to the Middle East. It is a truly universal
force. More Muslims live in America today than all the Presbyterians
and Episcopalians put together.
There are more than 1,200 mosques in the United States and 1000 mosques
in England, where the Muslim community has established its own national
parliament. There are more Muslims in Indonesia than in Egypt, Iran,
Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia put together. More live in Malaysia than
in Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait combined. Nearly 20 million Muslims live
Wherever one looks, Islam is on the move. As the people of many
societies find themselves rootless, disconnected and alienated, they
increasingly seek help in a comforting Islamic ideological refuge. In a
world of incoherent violence, widening inequities, political corruption
and shattered families, many are massing behind the green flag of
Islam. This is essentially a populist movement, a bubbling up from
below, a march of the distressed, the dispossessed and the oppressed.
… Although the great bulk of Muslims seek to improve their status
through quiet, moderate and pacific means, violent methods have been
adopted by fringe groups—elements also present in Christianity and
Judaism. Oblivious to their own profound ignorance and often harboring
crude political motivations, many Western opinion leaders consistently
label all Muslims with words such as 'aggressive', 'militant' and
'uncivilized'. Islam is the 'religion of the sword'; Muslim activists
are 'terrorists,' and Muslims countries that challenge Western policies
are 'outlaw states'.
Muslims themselves maintain quite a different worldview. It is in the
deepest interest of the United States to attempt to understand this
perspective. In brief, Muslims see themselves as the afflicted, not the
afflictors; they feel themselves desperately on the defensive, not on
the offensive; they consider themselves the objects of violence, not
the initiators of violence. In sum, Muslims across the world consider
themselves victims. In support of their position, Muslims will take
their Christian and Jewish neighbors on a quick tour of the world. They
inevitably begin with Bosnia, where nearly 200,000 Muslims have been
slaughtered by Serbian Christians. Muslims are horrified and sickened
by the fact that 22,000 Muslim women, aged 9 to 82, have been raped by
Christian troopers. Muslims wonder privately about the weak and very
late Western response.
In Kashmir, Indian occupying forces violently oppress Muslims, killing
thousands of Kashmiris. Elsewhere in India in December 1992 and January
1993, violent Hindu mobs went on a rampage in Bombay, killing over 800
Muslims, destroying 5000 Muslim homes and forcing 200,000 Muslims to
flee the city. Mosques were firebombed and mothers watched as their
sons were pulled from their homes and slain or burned alive. In
Tajikstan and other places in Central Asia, the Communists have made a
comeback and, with the help of Russian troops, have attacked and killed
more than 20,000 Muslims. Another 350,000 have been forced to flee.
Even in China, Muslims find themselves under heavy military pressure.
Chinese troops oppress Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang.
Even in many of the predominantly Muslim countries of the
Middle East, Muslims find themselves under attack where the leadership
is essentially secular. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein continues his war of
genocide against the Shi'ites in the south.
In Algeria, when the Islamists scored a surprise victory in
the December 1991 elections, the regime declared the election null and
void. Since then, Algeria has been the scene of a bloody civil war. The
government blames Islamic fundamentalists of striking terror in the
very same areas where they had received majority of votes from. The
governments explanation of fundamentalists unleashing waves of terror
in their own strongholds, sounds very plausible indeed and casts
shadows of dound over the credentials of the secular government
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak's regime, facing widespread
disaffection of its people, pursues a policy of torture and execution
of members of the Muslim opposition. In March 1993, his troops fired
upon 500 unarmed Muslims at prayer in the Rahman Mosque in Aswan,
killing nine and injuring 50. In the West Bank, another more widely
publicized mosque massacre occurred a year later in Hebron when a
Jewish settler killed 30 in a group of praying Muslims before the
survivors could beat him to death. This litany of anti-Islamic violence
is recognized and recited by Muslims everywhere. The situation is
exacerbated when Muslims incredulously find themselves labeled as
terrorists and when Western governments encourage their secular Middle
Eastern allies to confront Muslim populist movements with brute force.
One result of these Western perceptions and policies, of course, is
that they begin to radicalize the huge mass of moderate Muslim
believers. Meanwhile, the extremists on the fringes become more active
A vicious cycle of misunderstanding, misguided policy and
increasing violence has been set in motion. Before this vicious cycle
begins to spin wildly out of control, it is essential that non-Muslims
make a major effort to slow it down. Such an effort will, as the very
first step, require that stereotypes be discarded.
Second, recent history shows that the application of force is not
always an effective way of countering a system of deeply held ideas and
beliefs. The steady flame of resurgent Islam will not be extinguished
by the breeze of bullets or the blast of missiles. A recently published
report in Washington Post, confirms Islam to be the fastest growing
religion in the United States despite hostile government policies and
negative media stereotyping, only goes on to prove the truth of this
statement. It is time for everyone to take a crash course on Islam.
More recently, CNN too published a report, first of US kind ever done
in this part of the World, titled as: Islam in US - Growing and maturing