God in his heaven sent down the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Right here on earth, the Church gave us the Pope. And now the Pope and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, some among the followers of both say, are on a collision course.

This should warm the cockles of Harvard Professor Sam Huntington, who, in his 1996 book titled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, argued that the world was inexorably headed in the direction of a culture clash between Islam and the West.

But the outgoing United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan, Prime Minister Jose Zapatero of Spain, the former Reformist President of Iran Mohammad Khatami and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey seem to take a somewhat different view. They all argue that maybe it is time to work for the building of an alliance of civilizations rather than fan the fires of a clash of cultures. Mr. Anan is particularly concerned about reducing prejudice and misunderstandings between Islam and the West. [...]

The inimitable Iqbal once sent out a message to the world — from the East. In a way, it was part of the Muslim ambivalence in coming to terms with the realities of Western domination over Muslim lives, lands, resources and cultures.

He called it Payaam-e-Mashriq.

The time has now come to send a message from the West back to the East — and to the rest of the world. Hence this column Payaam-e-Maghrib.

Except that in the world of Allah, there really is neither East nor West. The Muslims would know that if they had either mastered the science of geography, as they once had, or had carefully examined the super-science of Qur’an, as they must at all times.

As it stands, the very terminology of East-West dichotomy smacks of a tacit surrender on the part of the world — Muslim world included — to the domination of Western culture, thought and influence on its thinking and imagination. [...]