Islam is the antithesis to secularism; it is a political phenomenon that draws its life from the spiritual and moral. Should the west, therefore, view Islam with fear, hope or indifference? ‘
Of the three it is hope that looks out of place, beyond the scope of consideration, in today’s discussions, but George Bernard Shaw once, writing quite some time before the sharp polarisation of thinking post 9/11, made a challenging prediction about Islam: ‘I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.The world has changed drastically since these words were written: the communist bloc has collapsed; the west has assumed an unrivalled ascendancy and a new challenger to that ascendancy has been named: Islam. Now that Islam is in the spotlight, could it ever, as G B Shaw predicted, be ‘acceptable’ to Europe and the west; is it a threat to Europe and the west along the lines of Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilisations’ prediction, or is Islam just a mild nuisance as per Fukuyama’s ‘end of history thesis’?