The project draws on the intents of Islamic law in publicizing Islam and refuting all allegations attributed to it out of ignorance or out of wilful neglect. It also reviews Islam’s contribution to erecting the edifice of universal civilization, upgrading the quality of man’s prosperity, preserving human dignity and rights and strengthening the bonds of understanding and cooperation. Moreover, the project aims at furthering the ethics of difference and promoting dialogue of religions, civilizations and cultures with a view to enhancing cooperation, understanding and peaceful coexistence among peoples and nations. It equally calls for incriminating those who insult heavenly religions and spiritual sanctities. To this end, the project pursues the best means of reasoning and argumentation and averts uttering or doing what is injurious; it draws on the premise that human civilization is based on interaction, diversity and difference of races, colours, languages and traditions. Indeed, this is where lies the secret of its survival which is in harmony with the innate disposition (Fitra) with which Allah has endowed all human beings. Allah says, “If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people” (An-Nahl, 93), while calling for averting conflicts through referring to the principle of the unity of human origin: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (Al-Hujurat, 13).
The project deals in some of its axes with the issue of freedoms’ limits and the safeguard of particularities in the ever-expanding world of information. It is dictated by the continuous fierce attacks mounted against Islam and Muslims in Scandinavian countries (blasphemous caricatures), Europe (Pope Benedict XVI’s lectures) and America (hatred campaigns in some universities). Attacks are also condoned in the statements of some politicians as well as in cinema and media in some western countries, being driven by different motives such as:
- To fill the programmes and curricula of universities and the institutions of higher education and scientific research with fear of Islam and Muslims; this is the project of hostile offices for strategic studies;
- To infiltrate Muslim societies in order to shake their faith and induce them to convert to Christianity.
- To omit Islam’s contribution to the human civilizational edifice, and to accuse it of departing from rationality, knowledge and noble morals.
- To provoke value conflicts among civilizations and cultures (theory of Huntington – Fukuyama)
It is worth mentioning that these projects and schemes are ongoing and their offensive tendencies have not waned despite the efforts exerted within the forums of religious dialogue between Christian clergymen on the one side, and Muslim scholars on the other. In this regard, we can refer to the refusal of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Council of Churches to sign the final communiqué of the conference on dialogue among divine religions, held in Egypt in 2001, which describes Islam as a divine religion.
In a lecture given on 27 June 1995, French Orientalist Jacques Berque summed up the position of the West vis-à-vis Islam in these words, “Islam is the last of the three divine religions; it is followed by more than one billion people in the world. It is close to the West geographically and historically and even in terms of values and concepts … It is still regarded by the West as the unknown cousin, the rejected brother… who is permanently disavowed…. permanently banished, accused and suspected.”
While our religion advocates tolerance, peaceful coexistence among human beings and complementarity among civilizations and cultures, other parties view the clash of civilizations as an established fact. Actually, these campaigns have aroused a fear of Islam and Muslims (Islamophobia) among some western people. This has greatly contributed to perpetuating injustice and aggression against Islam and Muslims in various parts of the world.
Furthermore, these campaigns do not cease. Rather, they take on different dimensions. Indeed, an injurious campaign abates in one area to be ignited anew by media, politics and other quarters. These campaigns range as follows:
- Academic campaigns (Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture);
- Artistic and literary campaigns (the Danish caricatures that disparagingly depicted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), works of Salman Rushdi, Michel Houellebecq, Taslima Nasreen, Oriana Fallaci and others);
- Media campaigns (staging an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week in American universities and reproducing the offending caricatures in newspapers and in other audio-visual media);
- Educational campaigns (in the curricula of some western countries).
Accordingly, we propose a draft university action plan based on four programmes: