4. Specific Strategies for Meeting Western Mentality
We have uncovered the underlying, basic features which have produced secularism and New Age mentality. These are a lower, primitive layer of polytheism, a second layer of Christianized superstition, and an upper layer of imperial control. Whatever the pretence of rationality and individual freedom, basically, the Westerner has a magical concept of the world and believes the must be controlled.
The Muslim missionaries in the Balkans built on this foundation and the result was the only stable and permanent Muslim communities in Europe. Their strategy worked on the basis of superstition and military control. The Sufi practitioners used sleight of hand tricks to awe the superstitious Christian population and thus convinced them of the superiority of Islam by miracle-working. They reinforced this by military control. These were the two things that Europeans could understand and they worked.
On the other side of Europe Islam failed to preserve the flower of European civilization, Andalusia, because of its dependence on other means of presenting Islam. In Muslim Spain the emphasis was on reason and culture. There was no European Dark Age, merely because Paris and London were agricultural market villages. There were centres of civilization at the time, but all of them were in Muslim Spain. Reason and culture were ploughed under and the Christianization of Andalusia five hundred years ago turned the cultural and intellectual centre of Europe into a ghetto from which it has never recovered.
The conclusion is that the most effective way to reach Westerners remains trickery and miracle-working along with a show of power. These are the very methods presently used in the West. Marketing advertisement is an appeal to trickery that by-passes the reasoning processes. The threat of military power continues to be the only way of controlling the Balkans even today.
Obviously there is a self-defeating element in such an approach. There is another aspect of history, and that is the fact that Medieval Islam contributed culture, science and philosophy to the West. These continue to have an influence, and if constantly applied have the potential of spreading Islamic values. The challenge is to maintain these elements of Islamic influence in one’s contact with secular individuals and, insofar as one can, to influence matters more broadly. These influences have continued for over a thousand years. Muslims may and can retrieve the pre-colonial values of Islamic civilization through education, the arts, and sciences. Globalized civilization is of such a low and superficial character that it is unable to compete with the vitality of what has been proven through centuries of success to be better. A bold penetration of the academic world on one hand, and the world of entertainment on the other, with Islamic education, science, and arts would be irresistible. The best strategy in dealing with secularized Westerners is to develop these areas in one’s personal life and aggressively share them.