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He said: No, you will be many in number, but you will be scum, like the scum of a flash-flood, without any weight, since fear will be removed from the hearts of your enemies, and weakness (all but rings true with both the present chaotic situation prevailing in the entire Muslim world, and with the ongoing ominous antagonism between the West and Islam.As a result, the much-feared “clash of civilizations” seems closer at hand than ever.

Surely, one of the illustrations of this state of affairs is the history of Islam—a religion, a civilization today, more than ever before, finger-pointed by some as the source of many evils.And so, in another book precisely titled “Islam and the West”, the Christian poet endeavors to give his readers or, rather, listeners some idea of the Saracen religion.According to this vision, the Saracens worshiped a trinity consisting of three persons: Muhammad, the founder of their religion, and two others, both of them devils, Apollin and Tervagant”.The concentric attack of the modern West upon the Islamic world, according to Toynbee, has inaugurated the present encounter between the two civilizations, which he saw as “part of a still larger and more ambitious movement, in which the Western civilization is aiming at nothing less than the incorporation of all mankind in a single great society, and the control of everything in the earth, air and sea which mankind can turn to account by means of modern Western technique”.Thus, the contemporary encounter between Islam and the West “is not only more active and intimate than any phase of their contact in the past, it is also distinctive in being an incident in the attempt by the Western man to ‘westernize’ the world—an enterprise which will possibly rank as the most momentous, and almost certainly as the most interesting feature in history, even for a generation that has lived through two world wars.” Toynbee drew the conclusion that Islam is once more facing the West its back to the wall; but this time the odds are more heavily against it than they were “even at the most critical moments of the Crusades, for the modern West is superior to it not only in arms, but also in technique of economic life, on which military science ultimately depends, and above all in spiritual culture—the inward force which alone creates and sustains the outward manifestations of what is called civilization”. And who, better that Bernard Lewis, a leading Orientalist and Professor Emeritus at Princeton, could address that story?

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