Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Inevitability of the Clash of Civilisations by Hizb ut-Tahrir (Part 1)

The following is the translation of an excerpt from the excellent book, The Inevitability of the Clash of Civilisations issued by global leadership of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Safar 1423 Hijri (May 2002 CE).

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


A civilisation (hadhara) is a collection of concepts about life; it can be divine—from god—or it can be from man. The divine civilisation emanates from a doctrine ('aqeedah); for example, the Islamic civilisation emanates from the Islamic aqeedah. The man-made civilisation may emanate from a doctrine or it may not. The western capitalist civilisation is a collection of concepts about life emanating from the doctrine of separating religion from life. Conversely, the Shinto, Greek, Babylonian and Assyrian civilisations do not emanate from a doctrine. This type of civilisation is simply a collection of concepts that a people or a group of peoples have agreed upon, it is called a man-made, or national, civilisation.

It is possible for a people or peoples to have a religion (deen) and a doctrine, but for the religion to have no concepts regarding life; this is the case with the religions like Christianity and Buddhism. Because their doctrine doesn’t produce these concepts, people instead agree on a set of concepts about life that are specific to them and these concepts form their civilisation. This civilisation does not have any relationship with their religion because it does not emanate from it. So their civilisation is not a divine one, despite the fact that they have a religion. Hence, it is possible for various peoples to associate in one civilisation, despite the difference of their religions like the Japanese, Hindus and Sikhs and French; their religions are different but their civilisation is one, namely capitalism.

Material objects that are used in life's affairs are not part of civilisation, even though they sometimes result from it. There is nothing wrong with giving the technical term, ‘madaniyya’ to these tangible material objects, so as to distinguish them from the collection of concepts for which we used the term, ‘hadhara’ (civilisation). If these material objects resulted from—and are specific to—a particular civilisation, like statues for example, then they are part of the specific madaniyya. However, if they resulted from science and industry; like television, rockets, planes and penicillin for example, then they are from the universal madaniyya. So madaniyya can be specific, and it can be universal. The nature of the madaniyya is different to the nature of civilisation, in that civilisation cannot be anything but specific. The meaning of specificity is related to our [the Muslims’] adoption. So it is not permitted for us to adopt that which is specific, whereas it is permitted for us to adopt anything that is universal.

The distinction between civilisation (hadhara) and madaniyya must be observed at all times, similarly it is imperative to distinguish between the madaniyya that is derived from civilisation and the madaniyya that is derived from science and industry. This is in order to observe the distinction between the types of objects when adopting madaniyya. There is nothing wrong with adopting the western madaniyya that is derived from science and industry. As for the western madaniyya that is derived from the western civilisation; it is not permitted to adopt it in absolutely any case. This is because its doctrine (‘aqeedah) contradicts the Islamic civilisation, and this doctrine is the basis upon which it is built. Our doctrine is different from their doctrine (which is built upon a compromise solution and the separation of religion from life) in its outlook on life (i.e. criterion for actions), which is the halal and haram for us, and benefit for them. Our doctrine is also different in what it means by happiness (i.e. permanent tranquillity), which is attaining the pleasure of Allah for us, and attaining the bodily pleasures for them.

In order that we become fully aware of what we adopt from others and what we leave, it is necessary to distinguish between civilisation and the madaniyya, and between the madaniyya that results from civilisational concepts and the madaniyya that results from pure sciences and industry.

If it is said; “Why did you adopt the term, ‘hadhara’ for concepts and the term, ‘madaniyya’ for the material objects instead of the reverse?” The response to this is; the linguistic meaning of, ‘hadhara’ is to reside in a civilised region (like a town), while ‘al-hadhir’ is the one who is from the town or village. Al-Qatami said; “Whoever is pleased with residing in towns. Which Bedouin men will see us?”
To, ‘madana’ in a place means to reside therein, and ‘madina’ means to arrive to the town (madinah), so the two meanings are close to each other. Similarly it is said [concerning hadhara] in response to our self-directed question; hadhara is used linguistically for meanings related to thoughts, so it is more appropriate to use it for describing concepts. It was said in Al-Qamus; “Hadhura is like nadusa, which is the man of eloquence, (bayan) and understanding (fiqh).” In Al-Lisan, it is said; “a man [is] ‘hadhr’, to mean he is eloquent, and a man ‘hadhir’ if he brought something good.” It also came in Al-Lisan; “and in the hadith; ‘Say that which yahdhurukum’, i.e. that which is present and existing in you, and do not burden yourselves with something else.” So hadhara is closer in meaning, more consistent and more appropriate to use as the term for the collection of concepts than madaniyya is. Similarly madaniyya is closer in its meaning and more suitable to be used as the term for the material objects. It can been said that there isn’t any disputation with regards to technical terminology (istilah), since what is important is distinguishing between the concepts and the material objects derived from them, and between these objects and those derived from pure sciences, inventions and industry. The objects that are derived from concepts are rejected and it is not permitted to take them, while it is permitted to take the ones that are not derived from the concepts.

We have said that the civilisation (hadhara) is a collection of concepts about life, and that either it is a divine civilisation or a man-made civilisation. An example of the divine civilisation is the Islamic civilisation, and an example of the man-made civilisation is the Indian civilisation and the western civilisation. The existence of these civilisations is a definite matter and an incontestable established fact. Similarly, the difference between them is an established fact; such that nobody but the liar can deny it. The source of the divine civilisation, according to its people, is revelation; whilst the source of the man-made civilisation is the people who agreed upon it. This alone is enough to show the distinction and difference. Even if there appears to be a similarity in some of their concepts, it is not actually an agreement, similarity or common matter. This is because civilisation, when it is adopted, must be adopted together with the basis from which it emanated, or the basis upon which it is built. So if the bases of the two civilisations are different, the agreement between some of their concepts, or the existence of a similarity between some of their concepts about life, is not worth paying any attention to. This is because the concept is a branch from its basis, and it cannot be adopted except with its basis. Both the Islamic civilisation and the western civilisation allow the eating of fish, the wearing of wool, private property, women to act as represenatives, accounting the ruler and taking medicine. However, these ideas and their like are not considered to be from the Islamic civilisation unless they are adopted on the basis of the revelation from Allah to Muhammad (saw) (i.e. upon their being Shar'a), whereas in the capitalist civilisation they are adopted on the basis of their benefit (maslaha) or rational preference. If the Muslim adopts them based upon benefit or rational preference, it is not considered to be adopting from Islam.

The difference between civilisations is a fact that can’t be denied. What concerns us is the difference between the Islamic civilisation and the other civilisations, in particular the western civilisation. We also want to see what results from or is built upon this difference, such as; dialogue [with a view to reconciliation], the clash (as-sira'a), the possibility of founding one universal civilisation, the forms and types of clash, and whether the clash will end, be concealed, or result in victory for one civilisation over the others? What is the meaning of dialogue between religions in the eyes of those who call for it, and what is the correct view on it? And what is the difference between religions and civilisations? And there are many issues besides these.

Religions are of two types. Firstly there is the religion from which a civilisation emerges—meaning it has a collection of concepts about life—such as the Islamic deen. Secondly, there is also the religion from which no civilisation emerges—and there isn’t a collection of concepts [about life] contained in it—this is like the Christian religion. Although it has ideals like, ‘Do not steal’, and, ‘do not commit zina’, it has no collection of concepts covering all aspects of life. Hence, the Christian religion is an appropriate example of a religion from which no civilisation emanates.

The capitalist civilisation does not emanate from the Christian religion; even if it came about in countries where the majority of the people are Christians. So the dialogue, clash, or partnership between Islam and Christianity differs from the dialogue or clash between it and the capitalist civilisation.


When we speak about dialogue or clash we are speaking about the Muslims, their deen and their civilisation being on one side, and the Christians with their religion and the capitalists with their civilisation, being on the other side. It is a malicious attempt by the leaders and intellectuals of the capitalist civilisation to differentiate between Islam and its followers i.e. between Islam and Muslims. So they claim that Islam is great but that Muslims are backward and some of them are terrorists. They are lying when they propagate this view, since if they really thought that Islam was great then they would have embraced it. However, they attempt to delude the naïve from amongst the Muslims, attempting to reduce the rancour that is generated against them when they strike the Muslims, or when they try to spread the concepts from their civilisation among the Muslims. They know that the Islamic aqeedah still remains in the souls of the Muslims and that it is strong in the majority of them. So if they openly declare their enmity to Islam, they will stir up the Muslims and provoke them. So they use these words as a weapon to anaesthetise Muslims and to deceive them. Some Muslims would swallow this bait and accept this dialogue in the way it is presented by the Christians and capitalists, or promoted by their intellectual agents. They concentrate on three matters in defining dialogue. The first is equality between religions and civilisations in the dialogue without superiority or preference of a religion or civilisation over another. The second is that the limit of the dialogue is restricted to only knowing the other’s opinions without addressing these opinions in respect of refutation or invalidation. The third is creating an alternative civilisation through arriving at the common denominators between the two religions and two civilisations.

This is the meaning of dialogue as they see it. They claim that its benefit is; “Productive interaction between cultural peculiarities, to form an alternative, superior civilisation, that invites to accept the other on the same footing” [Dr Milad Hanna in a cultural debate held in Cairo on Monday 02/04/2001]. 

And; “Every time civilisations seek to find what is common between them and what is human, they advance, flourish, and peace would spread” [Dr. Jafar Abdussalam, the Secretary-General of the Conference of Islamic Universities]. One of them went to the extent of saying that; “Islam is a deen of interaction and a deen of development, and not like what is said, that it is a deen of obscurity and a deen of isolation. On the contrary, the golden age of Islam and Muslims was when the Islamic civilisation interacted with other civilisations in the world, and when Islam spread in the world, took from and had a room for all the legacies and other human civilisations and gave them from its legacy and civilisation. This was the golden age of the Islamic State” Dr. Qasim Jafar spoke, in a study circle on ‘The First War of the Century’, on Al-Jazeera channel, under the heading; ‘Are the American explosions an incentive for dialogue or the clash of civilisations?’ on 29/9/2001. He said; “It is upon us as Arabs and Muslims to abstain from this problem…it is upon us to possess sufficient confidence in ourselves, in our civilisation, and in our history and legacy, so as to burst forth in the world from the position of equality, and not the position of the follower (tabi')…” [The above-mentioned study circle of Al-Jazeera channel]. 

Another said; “The Islamic civilisation was based upon the common denominator between world civilisations, so it accepted the others and interacted with it in taking and giving” [Amr Abdulkarim, a political scientist –]. Another person attempted to use the aayaat of the Noble Qur'an as evidence for the dialogue between civilisations so he said; “And our Book, the Glorious Qur'an, emphasises the manner of dialogue with the others; dialogue with polytheists (mushrikeen), ‘If one of the polytheists seeks your protection, grant him protection until he hears the word of Allah’, dialogue with disbelievers (kafireen), ‘O you disbelievers’, dialogue with the current and official religions in the world, ‘Say; O People of the Book, come to a just word between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, that we associate nothing with Him, nor some of us take others as lords’; dialogue with them from a position of equivalence…I view that it is not possible to speak of eternal struggle because we are Muslims. I point to the Qur'anic ayah, ‘Come to a just word between us and you’. This ayah means that it is allowed for us to have dialogue with Christians; we have dialogue with Jews, and we have dialogue with others. Why [do we have this dialogue]? It is to come to a common word between us; we do not say that we [have] dialogue to [bring them to] our word [our views]” [Ata-Allah Muhajirani, Iranian President adviser for the dialogue of civilisations in the above mentioned study circle of Al-Jazeera]. 

There are those who call to dialogue between religions to create common denominators between them, and stay silent about the points of difference, in order to desensitise Muslims to the clash. They call to the saying, ‘the sons of Abraham’, to strengthen dialogue between the three religions on the basis that those who came with them descend from one father namely Ibrahim (as). 

Some Muslims use the aayaat of the Noble Qur'an that say the Prophets were Muslims as a proof for this, like His (swt) saying at the tongue of Nuh; “And I was commanded to be the first of the Muslims” [TMQ 39:12], at the tongues of Ibrahim and Ismail; “Our Lord! Make us Muslims to you and of our descendants Muslims to you” [TMQ 2:128], and about the people of Lut; “And We did not find therein but one house of Muslims” [TMQ 51:36], and at the tongue of the disciples (hawariyyin); “And bear witness that we are Muslims” [TMQ 3:52]. 

Perhaps there will come those who say that Christians and Jews are Muslims, and we hear those who say that the followers of the three religions are believers even though the Qur'anic texts, which are definitely proven and of definite meaning, are decisive in charging Jews and Christians with disbelief such as His (swt) saying; “Verily those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger and wish to distinguish between Allah and His Messenger and say, ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others’, and wish to adopt a way in between. Those are in truth disbelievers, and We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment” [TMQ 3:150-1]. 

And; “Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the polytheists were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there came to them clear evidence. A Messenger from Allah reciting pure pages” [TMQ 98:1-2]. 

And; “Say; O People of the Book, why do you disbelieve in the aayaat of Allah while Allah is witness over what you are doing?” [TMQ 3:98]. 

And; “Those who disbelieve of the People of the Book and polytheists do not like that there should descend upon you any good from your Lord. But Allah chooses for His mercy whoever He wills. And Allah is the Owner of great bounty” [TMQ 3:105]. 

And; “O People of the Book, why do you disbelieve in the aayaat of Allah while you bear witness?” [TMQ 3:70]. 

And; “And because of their disbelief and uttering a grave falsehood (buhtan) against Mary” [TMQ 4:156]. 

And; “Surely they disbelieve who say, ‘Allah is the third of three’” [TMQ 5:73]. 

And; “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and His Messenger forbid nor follow the deen of truth among the People of the Book until they pay the jizyah readily and subdued” [TMQ 9:29]. 

And; “He it is Who drove out those who disbelieve among the People of the Book from their homes at the first gathering” [TMQ 59:2]. 

So, they are disbelievers (kuffar), and they are non-Muslims. It is not permitted to term them Muslims. Islam linguistically means submission and in the technical Shari'ah terminology, it means the deen that Allah subhanahu revealed upon Muhammad (saw). If it was permitted to assign the term Islam (with its linguistic meanings) to the previous Prophets (as) and to those who believed in and followed them before the mission of Muhammad (saw) and before the distortion of their books, it was not permitted to do that after his (saw) mission. So whoever does not believe in him (saw) and his message is a kafir, and it is not allowed to call him a Muslim or a believer. He ta'ala said; “And say to those given the Book and the illiterate (Arab pagans); do you submit yourselves (in Islam)? If they become Muslims, they are guided, and if they turn away, your duty is only the conveyance. And Allah is Seer of His slaves” [TMQ 3:20]. And he (saw) said; “By the One in whose hand is Muhammad's soul, none hears of me of this Ummah, Jew or Christian, then dies without believing in what I was sent with except he is of the denizens of the Fire.” And ibn Hibban extracted from the hadith of Anas that Caesar wrote to the Messenger of Allah (saw); “I am a Muslim”, and the Messenger of Allah (saw) said when he read the letter; “The enemy of Allah lied. He is not a Muslim and he is upon Christianity.”

Amr Musa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, made clear that he does not believe that one civilisation is better than another civilisation, and from the meaning of his words the Islamic civilisation is not preferable to the capitalist, Hindu or Jewish civilisations, for he says; “We do not believe that there is a better civilisation”, in the exposition of his refutation of the Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi. One of them attempted to use the aayaat of surat Al-Kahf as an evidence for accepting others as they are, without restriction or condition, and without attempting to pronounce judgments against him; “Religious dialogue is the attempt of the individual encumbered with precedent values, conventions, and beliefs to discover the other (of a different religion) – as he is – and understand him and crystallize a philosophical and unconventional (new and unbiased) view towards him without resorting to pronouncing prejudiced value judgments against him…The advocates of religious dialogue raise the slogan of sincere intention. So he divests himself of all conditions and goals except the desire to understand the other and view him intellectually…The content of dialogue does not, in principle, differ with the story that the Noble Qur'an brought in Surat Al-Kahf (aayaat 32-42) about the dialogue between two men. Allah gave one of them two gardens of grapes surrounded by palm trees and with crops in the middle, rivers flowing therein; and Allah increased its owner over the other in property and children. The tale reveals that the dialogue took place between the two men without condition or restriction, and the Qur'an brought it with its complete details; despite the inclusion of the kufr of one of them in Allah, the other did not interrupt the dialogue because of it. Likewise the Qur'an did not refrain from mentioning the sayings of kufr, because in their totality they are able to build and formulate the intellectual examination of the personality disbelieving in Allah 'azza wa jalla…Religious dialogue differs from comparative religion and religious competition even if these concepts commingle in the literature. Comparative religion is a science meaning study of a religion in comparison with others upon the level of the creed ('aqeedah), legislation and ritual worships, and its views about man, the universe and life and the like, of assuming objectivity and the possibility of eliminating prejudice. Whereas religious competition is a process aiming to prove the superiority and distinction of a religion over the other; a matter which is not off course aimed by religious dialogue which a process of understanding only” [Husam Tammam, researcher and journalist, Egypt,, under the title; ‘Religious Dialogue: A Human Necessity or world Conspiracy’].

These quotations are necessary in order to know what the advocates of religious dialogue intend by this expression, which is their technical terminology. The best thing to guide us to the meaning of this technical terminology is what they themselves say or write, since the linguistic meaning does not benefit us here. From all of these quotations, it is possible to crystallize the meaning of this technical terminology in the following:

Firstly: Equality and equivalence between religions and civilisations, and non-preference between one religion and another or one civilisation and another.

Secondly: Accepting the other as it is and discovering it without pronouncing judgments against it, but rather understanding and recognizing its views without restriction or condition.

Thirdly: The objective of dialogue between civilisations is interaction in order to create an alternative superior civilisation by finding out what is common and good for mankind; a matter that leads to the advancement and flourishing of civilisations, and the spreading of peace. The objective of dialogue between religions is to prevent Islam from entering the arena of the struggle.

All these concepts completely contradict Islam. There is not a single concept from these that has evidence or probable evidence for it. They are not from Islam; rather they are all distortion and deception, and their danger against Islam is certain.

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