Islam Today

Charles Gai Eaton

It has been said of the Irish people that they are "utterly immune to reality." There have been times when I have wondered if this might not also be said of the Muslims today, at least in terms of politics and of the bitter realities of the contemporary world. One should, of course, add that, on a higher level, the Muslims are fully aware of reality, the true Reality, the supreme Reality of Allah (SWT). But many of our brothers do seem to have only a hazy perception of the nature of the world in which they are now awakening. Significantly, the Irish were for many centuries an oppressed people. This is true also of the Muslim Ummah. It is understandable that the experience of intolerable oppression should result in an unwillingness to face facts. Unfortunately, facts have to be faced.

There have always been Empires of one sort or another, but European imperialism had a unique quality. The only possible comparison would be with Roman imperialism, upon which it was modeled. It was based not only on superior worldly power, but also upon a claim to human superiority, that is to say, superiority in intelligence, morals, culture, and the general conduct of life. The Europeans did not simply say to their subjects, Asian or African: "We are stronger than you, so you must obey us." That would have been bearable. They said, in effect: "We are better than you, so you must learn from us as children learn from their teachers." Many of their subjects were persuaded to accept this assessment.

Pride and self-confidence might have been restored if the subject peoples had won independence entirely through their own efforts. Except in the cases of Algeria and Indonesia, this was not so. Elsewhere the colonial powers withdrew, on the one hand because they had lost the will to rule, on the other for economic reasons. You might ask me: What about India? I am sorry if this offends anyone, but in my view the independence struggle would not have succeeded if the British had not lost the will to rule and the ruthlessness which reflects this will. Imagine how the Nazis or, for that matter, the Soviets under Stalin, would have dealt with Gandhi and others like him. I do not think they would have lived for long.

I might add that I do have some knowledge of these matters. In the late 1950s, and early

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