A distinctive period of human development is often referred to as a "civilization," along with an appropriate referential adjective placing it within the historical or geographical continuum of time and culture.
Hence we speak of Ancient Civilizations, Western Civilization; or in reference to peoples, the Egyptian, Chinese, Roman, or Greek civilizations.
Only the Islamic civilization, however, was characterized primarily by a foundational Idea, epitomized by a specific set of principles and a broad worldview containing them.
By contrast, there has been no "Christian civilization" per se, although Christianity was a significant influence on the ancient Roman Empire, post-Roman Europe, and still (though more limited) on today’s dominant Western Civilization.
There is no "Jewish Civilization" either, although the relatively new term, "Judaeo-Christian values" has emerged to indicate that today’s Western Civilization owes elements of its character to religious and cultural roots found in both faiths.
In fact, the term should be expanded to "Judaeo-Christian-Islamic values" to reflect more accurately the influence of all three monotheistic religions on today’s Western Civilization, since we owe so much to the influence of Muslim Spain.
Every civilization tries to build an empire that reflects its primary values. Thus we have the Chinese Civilization and its Chinese Empire, the Roman Civilization and its Roman Empire, and so on.
Later history has seen the rise of Western Civilization and the British Empire; and now we are witnessing the construction of the American Empire.
It is not widely known that the Islamic Empire took less than 100 years to build — the shortest such emergence in recorded history. It took the ancient Romans about a millennium to accomplish the same feat. But a preferable name for the Islamic Empire would be the Islamic Commonwealth, which describes more accurately how Islamic Civilization developed and grew.
Empires typically spread by establishing colonies and dominating indigenous peoples so as to exploit their resources for the benefit of the empire’s central power base. In Africa and Europe, for example, the Romans established colonies whose goods and labour primarily served Rome. During our post-modern era, the American Empire is being built up to serve the rich and powerful in the U.S.
By contrast, the Islamic Commonwealth was established from the beginning on equality and justice; local resources were mainly used by locals for their own benefit. Moreover, marrying from within the local or indigenous population was considered a practical way for differing peoples to become fully and peacefully integrated. Consequently, there was relatively little discrimination between "us" and "them," or between "locals" and "foreigners."
The principle underlying the benign interrelationship of formerly separate peoples comes from Quranic injunctions pertaining to human rights and universal justice, which were practiced from the earliest years of the Islamic Commonwealth. For example, most local social customs, called "al-aorf," were accepted, as were the practices of other religions.
Within the Islamic Commonwealth freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and the freedom of each community to administer its own religiously based family laws were all freedoms practiced in fact (on the ground) and not just in theory.
Thus, Islam was not forced on local indigenous populations — it took Egypt all of 400 years to change from a Muslim minority country to one with a Muslim majority.
Early Muslims understood the Quranic teaching that the Creator will not favour people, any people (including Muslims) unless and until they change themselves; so they worked very hard to change the environment around them for the better. In today’s political and social terminology, the early Muslims were not only the most caring citizens, but were also the most socially and politically proactive.
Local people were given equal preference for leadership roles and equal citizenship in the Islamic Commonwealth. No wonder Muslims were not regarded as hostile occupiers! Resistance against them, including armed rebellion, was virtually non-existent.
To recreate such a scenario today, the occupying Americans in Iraq would have to give all Iraqis automatic American citizenship, accept them in American schools and universities, treat them like any Americans in courts of law, allow inter-marriage, and pull out their 140,000 soldiers.
Instead, Western Civilization has almost always used extreme forms of violence and oppression to expand its world dominion, to quash any perceived or real challenges to its power, as well as to settle scores among Western nation states competing for a larger share of the world’s finite natural resources.
As a result, never in human history have so many people been killed by a single "civilization" — never.
The West perfected its military machine not only to kill, to destroy and to spread misery during our present era, but also — thanks to nuclear weapons — to threaten many future generations. For the first time in human history, untold millions of the totally innocent and unborn, will have to pay the price of their forebears’ war-mongering.
We have seen how Western Civilization planted European colonies in Africa, Asia and in the Americas to serve the rich and powerful elites of London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, et al. Now we are witnessing the frantic and aggressive building of American colonies in the heart of the Muslim world.
Muslims today are living in a new era of recolonization that has resulted in a widespread malaise of defeatism, political fatalism, and the tragic loss of cultural identity.
But that does not have to be the final verdict on today’s Muslims. They could in fact become a new force in Western civilization-building, living like equal masters, not slaves.
Such a revitalization, however, can happen only if they first become fully aware that they are living in a new era of recolonization — the recolonization of their lands, their resources, their culture, their religion and their identity.
If they become aware of this reality, they can turn the tide of defeat and become successful civilization-builders, just like their ancestors.