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One of the biggest obstacles in trying to educate a typical Westerner about Islam is the common Western tendency to view Islam, the Islamic world and Muslims as being ‘weak’, ‘poor’ and ‘third world’. This is an obstacle because of human nature. Excluding some pathological extremes, nobody likes mocking or ganging up on the poor and the powerless. It offends human esteem and is considered little more than bullying.

But is the presumption really accurate in this case? Are Muslims and the Islamic World ‘weak’ or even ‘powerless’? The answer is absolutely not.

It is no exaggeration to say that in combined economic and military measures, the Islamic world is on a par with the EU, Russia, China or America. It is a superpower, able to absorb and respond to violence without any aid. Let’s look at some facts.

Nearly one in four human beings are Muslim. In the course of this century, that portion may creep closer to one third. There are more Muslims alive today than there are Han Chinese, Hindu Indians, or White Europeans. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, with demographic growth rates far in excess of Buddhist, Christian or Hindu numbers. Added to this, most Christian demographic growth occurs in impoverished areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, while Islamic growth is occurring in economically competent regions such as Indonesia, the Gulf, Mesopotamia and North Africa. Islam has a presence in every major country in the world, including a quickly growing community in the United States. In the course of this century – barring radical action by the Moscow government – over one quarter of Russians will be Muslim. India and China, developing superpowers both, have very large Muslim populations of their own. On military matters, the Islamic world contains numerous states with military capabilities at or above European standards. These include the armed forces of Iran (unofficial estimates posit more than 2,000,000 soldiers), Turkey (1.300,000+ soldiers) Egypt (1,000,000+ soldiers), Pakistan (1,000,000+ soldiers), Indonesia (485,000+ soldiers), Saudi Arabia (250,000 soldiers) and the UAE (100,000+ soldiers). Two Muslim states have nuclear weapons – Turkey (200+ as part of the NATO nuclear sharing agreement) and Pakistan (120+). Islamic States with active nuclear power programmes include Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Some of the richest countries in the world (per capita) have Islam as the state religion. These include Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. Resource-wise, the Muslim Middle East has the largest oil reserves in the world, dwarfing Russia and the United States many times over. Economic growth rates in states like Indonesia, Egypt and Turkey are far in excess of the declining or hobbling prospects of Western powers.And so on.

It is important, vital even, to remember that in facing down the world (and culture) of Islam, we are not picking on a starving child, but wrestling with a behemoth, a monster of gigantic and terrible proportions. If any culture has reason to fear for its existence in this world, it is not Islam, but the West – once so high and mighty, and now so pitiably weak.

D, LDN