Today the BBC posted an anodyne video entitled Islam: The world’s fastest growing religion based on data from the Pew Research Center in the United States.
This is fine and dandy, but not only is the video at least 25 years behind the curve, it also refuses to look at the implications of this monumental change.
We examined this development in depth in a series of articles on Islam and Germany in 2016 and pointed out that the problems of mass immigration into Europe were forecast in print in the early 1990s.
Western governments, however, have been asleep at the wheel and are now astonished at the populist reaction against Islam and immigration into Europe and the United States.
Suffice it here to repeat Bassam Tibi’s 1992 forecast:
If the people in the scientific and technologically advanced hegemonic West… do not dial back their arrogance and megalomania and fail to understand the underdogs better… it is likely that religious fundamentalism in the 21st century will remain the response of these people.
Globalisation cannot be reversed… but can be reduced to a minimum by joint efforts. That is the only hope.
Otherwise, the 21st century will see global civil war due to the grave population increase in the world of Islam, which is doubling every 25 years, and the resultant migration to the rich lightly-populated Western industrial countries. [emphasis in the original. Translated from the German by Ian Pryde].
Bassam Tibi, Islamischer Fundamentalismus, moderne Wissenschaft und Technologie, Frankfurt, 1992.
Ian Pryde’s 1992 review of Tibi’s book in Russian with an English translation can be found here.
It would, however, be a mistake to assume from the quote that, in line with Western Marxists and countless developing world intellectuals, Tibi blames the West for the problems of Muslim countries.
On the contrary, Tibi paraphrases the call of Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto for “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” as Islam must cast off its selbstauferlegte Ketten – its self-imposed chains.
Tibi is a Syrian-German scholar, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Göttingen University and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, Princeton and Cornell, He is Germany’s leading expert on Islamic fundamentalism and is also a hafiz – someone who has memorised the Koran.
As I noted here, when I began studying Islam in the late 1980s, I was astonished to find that Tibi was virtually the only scholar who had actually read any fundamentalist literature or bothered to ask fundamentalists what they thought, rather than imposing his own Western scholastic assumptions.
No wonder that the West is caught off guard time and time again by developments in the Muslim world.
Surprising as it might sound, when Trump said “we don’t know what’s going on” in the Muslim world, he was more right than most of his critics allow – as experts such as Tibi, Michael Scheuer and Edward Luttwak were pointing out long before Trump announced his candidacy and the 2016 US presidential election campaign.