Owing to the Western media’s partial reporting and Western doyens’ subjective commentary of Islam, the occidental world has pityingly failed in circumscribing an unprecedented groundswell in Islamophobic sentiments. The grand alliance between Orientalists and journalist-cum-scholars of Islam – with meager acquaintance with indigenous moors and studies designed for them by their predecessors who also relied on secondary sources – kick-started the campaign of churning out a type of literature that would render interpolated and prejudiced rants, inspired by whims and caprices, as axiomatic. Hence, unquestionable. By reason of this, the trend of prefixing Islam with fundamentalism and extremism has become the idée recue in the Western world. Fundamentalism and extremism are defined as throwbacks to seventh century Islam.  

The thesis, forwarded by Samuel P Huntington in Clash of Civilizations – which argued that Islam is even bigger a threat than Communism for the Western civilization and then for Sino-Confucius civilizations because the last of Abrahamic religions is inherently monolithic and xenophobic – received so enormous an endorsement that it snowballed from America to Europe to Scandinavia so on and so forth. Such blanket espousal for the Clash of Civilizations theory has got nothing unique to leave avid observers of Western media slack-jawed. Edward W. Said sums it precisely, in the book Covering Islam, by saying, “The media and the experts determine how we see the rest of the world”. Unanimous consensus on isolation of Judeo-Christian world from Islamic world on cultural lines is the apotheosis of how media defines the zeitgeists of Western societies.

Television host Bill Maher more often than not denigrates Islam and this is Maher and a slew number of other reporters-turned-scholars who are the barebones behind this almost absolute espousal for the Clash of Civilizations. Maher says, “The Muslim world… has too much common with ISIS”. The norms of ISIS are, indeed, retrogression to the very taboos of dim and distant past that Islam came to abolish. Then comes Sam Harris by dyspeptically professing that Islam is” the mother lode of bade ideas”. There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Millions  living quite serenely in Malaysia and Indonesia and more adaptable to Western secularism, are thrust into the gross generalizations by Maher and Sam Harris, revered as authorities on Islam and their recommendations are earnestly reckoned while making foreign policy strategies and decisions, in Europe and America.

Generalizing an anomalous version of Islam as Islamic fundamentalism and pitting it against Western secularism, analysts like Daniel Pipes play with the ignorance of the Occidental populace using the influential outlets of print media like Atlantic, Commentary and National Interest. Pipes in his article titled, There Are No Moderates: Dealing with Fundamentalist Islam, published in the National Interest, overplays himself with generalization--- the fundamentalist Islam. He posits that fundamentalism inheres in Islam. Consciously, contrary to the standards of scholarship, he absolved USA from the blame of its heinous policies in the Middle East. Reaction to Hosni Mubarak’s oppression, whose sustainability banked upon US dollars, and reaction to Pahlavi in Iran by aboriginal population, is named Islamic Fundamentalism. In addition to this, Pipes opined that there should not be taken any action redressing their grievances; on the opposite, he recommended their containment and isolation. He further moved on to say that fundamentalist threatens the world more gravely than communism. This is senseless mainstreaming of Islam in Western media by Western scholarship.

The same dilemma is also shared by Martin Peretz, the former owner of the News Republic. In the August 13, 1996, issue of his journal Peretz first justifies Netanyahu’s brazen politics, and then adds that, after all, Israel has to deal Arab countries in which there is no “cultural disposition for scientific and industrial takeoff”. First, atrocious Israel has been spared the blame of bloodbath it instigated on the basis that it is incumbent upon Israel to ward itself off Bedouin and gypsy Islamic civilization. Unashamedly, he forgot that it was the same Bedouin civilization that translated Hellenic literature for them to be utilized in the renaissance of their civilization during 16th century. He forgot that it was the same gypsy civilization that produced pioneers of mathematics, geometry and physics. To further add, it was the same civilization that provided asylum to more than two million Jews and Christians.

Islam, from Edward W Said’s point-of-view, defines a relatively small portion of what actually takes place in the Muslim world, which exceeds one billion people, and includes dozens of societies, traditions, languages. It is simply false to trace all this back to something called “Islam”. No matter how vociferously polemical Orientlists strive with crass generalizations that Islam defines Muslims from top to bottom and flummox their ordinary compatriots with superficial knowledge of Islam, it is completely misleading to buy this version.

Last but not the least, this deliberately created association, to conceal US misdemeanor, between Islam and Fundamentalism ensure that the ordinary reader and audience of Western media comes to see Islam and Fundamentalism as the same thing or two names of the same thing. A handful of retrogrades outweigh and outnumber millions of Muslims.

Had the Western media tried to give a precise meaning either to “radicalism”, or “extremism”, or “fundamentalism”, or lending those phenomena some context, for example, by saying that 4 percent, or 10 percent or 50 percent of Muslims are fundamentalists, it would have saved the Westerners from propounding the politically-motivated thesis of the Clash of Civilizations and foolhardy smugness.

In contemporary Western media much representation of Islam is designed to manifest religions inferiority with reference to the West. This has to change. Otherwise, it will keep both the worlds, Eastern and Western, teetering on the cusp of blood and animosity.