A Muslim Critique of Fukuyama and Huntington
By Ibn Yasin Introduction Both Fukuyama’s hypothesis of the ‘End of History’ and Huntington’s hypothesis of the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ is discussed below in relation to their lack of usefulness in understanding the aspirations of Muslims in the modern world.
The End of History In his hypothesis to prove that the only system that will survive into the future is Western liberalism, Fukuyama dismisses Islam and Muslims by looking at the global Islamic revival movement as ‘fundamentalist’ and thus having no appeal in the modern world because it has little to offer non-Muslims and due to Islam’s ‘restrictions on certain forms of economic behaviour’.1 By dismissing the aspirations of millions of Muslims worldwide who look at their own history and sacred scriptures for answers to the challenges posed by modernity and the myriad ways in which Muslims from different countries, schools of thought and levels of religious practise have undertaken to look for solutions and directions for their daily living, Fukuyama did not see the forest for the trees. The Muslims are portrayed as a monolithic community acting and reacting in one way, whereas the reality is far removed from this very misleading and false notion.2 This shows a deep lack of understanding towards Islam and what it has to offer to the world today. It fails to appreciate the fact that Islamic tradition has principles that offer alternatives to Western liberalism while not rejecting everything Western or modern, be it in the fields of politics, economics, finance and civilisation.3 It is true that Islam restricts certain forms of economic behaviour but this is true for all capitalist economies as monopolistic behaviour, insider trading, price fixing, racketeering, securities fraud, embezzlement, bankruptcy fraud, Ponzi schemes, etc are all against the law and carry significant penalties for individuals as well as for corporations. In Islam, economic development principles focus on the ‘real needs of a humane society and a just economy’, which the Western liberal capitalist model has not been able to achieve. The Islamic model caters for human needs at a material, social, moral and spiritual level because in Islam economic development is a ‘value-oriented activity, devoted to the optimisation of human
Francis Fukuyama, ‘The End of History’, Quadrant, August 1989, pp. 15-25. rd John L. Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, 3 edn, New York, 1999, pp. 284-289. 3 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History, and Civilisation, New York, 2003, pp. 173-186.
well-being in all these dimensions.’4 This model not only benefits Muslims but also nonMuslims, just as Islamic principles have benefited humanity in the past, even in non-Muslim countries like Spain and India. Fukuyama also believes that only Western liberalism ‘will continue to dominate world politics’ because ‘time is on the side of modernity’, it will ultimately become the only successful system in the world. However, his analysis of Islam is only focused on what he calls ‘radical Islam’, meaning those who totally reject modernity, as well as those who sympathise with them, i.e. the majority of Muslims.5 Islam as an economic, political, social, financial system and a way of life has inbuilt mechanisms to adapt to different changing circumstances and conditions in order to guide Muslims to solutions and answers on all matters relating to human existence that will benefit humankind.6 As such Islam will continue to challenge the status quo of any system which claims superiority over it. Islam concedes that there will be times in history when the Islamic model will not be the dominant system, however it still asserts that it is the best system for humanity at all times.7 In time, Muslims will be able to truly realise their aspirations of developing an Islamic framework for politics and good governance in order to play a more active part in their destiny...
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