It does not reflect well on our own intellectual maturity when we attribute every act of aggression by the West to an anti-Islamic motive. We are talking about pirates who attack every ship in the sea, and when they attack ours we say it is because we are Muslims, no, it’s because they are pirates.
This is not to say that there is not an element in their hostility directly connected to their hatred for Islam; of course there is…no one who reads the Qur’an could deny that; and no one knows this better than someone who has been a non-Muslim. The animosity towards Islam is deep and far exceeds their animosity towards any other religion, and the truth is, they are generally hostile towards religion of any hue (it could be plausibly argued that Christian fundamentalists are portrayed almost as negatively in the media as Muslims). But this hatred for Islam is not necessarily the cause of their aggression in every single instance, even if it is an ever-present feature in their minds.
Iraq under Saddam Hussein was hardly an Islamic state; does anyone really believe that the motive for the US invasion was to prevent the establishment of the Shari’ah? Of course not.
Was Qaddafi removed by Nato because he was an Islamist? Of course not.
As I have written, they can tolerate Islam as long as it does not negatively impact their material interests, and as long as it does not create defiance of their authority. In some ways it is similar to their opposition to Communist movements around the world in the 20th Century; in Vietnam, in Indonesia, in the Philippines, in Cuba and Latin America, and so on. These movements represented a threat to their material interests, and a defiance of Western power. They cannot tolerate independence. And when Islamic movements begin to instill a sense of defiance in Muslim populations, this is dangerous.
But, frankly, despite the fact that Muslim majorities around the world express their desire for the establishment of Shari’ah and an independent Islamic system, the Islamist parties have yet to successfully mobilize the populations towards any realistic achievement of these aspirations. In other words, we have not really created an Islamic movement that poses a substantial threat to Western interests. We have not even been able to articulate to our own people what “Political Islam” means in terms of actual policy.
What that means is that the religious motive cannot rationally be identified as the primary driver of Western aggression in our countries, even if it is present in their thinking, and even if it plays a significant role in their public justifications for their aggression (“fighting Islamic extremism” etc). No, they are aggressive towards us for the same reasons they are aggressive towards everyone else: to steal our resources, exploit our labor, to dominate and secure their interests. Obviously, they do not want to see an potential of religiously-rooted defiance develop, and no belief system has that potential more than Islam. They do not want anyone to have an alternative to enslavement. So, of course, they work to corrupt us, to dilute our Deen, to indoctrinate us into their religion of materialism; because, even if our Islamist leaders are incompetent, they know that Islam is ultimately the belief system that carries the demise of their power. We have not yet understood how true this is.
For an example of what I am talking about, look at the difference between how China deals with Muslims in the mainland and Muslims in Xinjiang. In Beijing, there is no notable repression, in Xinjiang, Muslims are prevented from even fasting in Ramadan. Why the difference? Because in Xinjiang, Islam and Muslim identity have become intertwined with an independence movement, and this independence movement threatens Beijing’s material interests.
And this principle applies in case after case.
They do not want any popular independence movement, anywhere, unless it is a popular movement against a regime that is itself defiant of Western power (like Libya, like Syria, like Yugoslavia, like Ukraine, like Venezuela, like Argentina, and the list is very long).
Do they hate us? Is their hatred for Islam a factor in their aggression? These are rhetorical questions for anyone with an even rudimentary knowledge of Islam; the obvious answer to these questions is not informative nor helpful, and frankly, if you need to have it constantly reaffirmed to you that our life in this world is a struggle between Belief and Disbelief, you have failed to evolve beyond an introductory grasp of the Deen, or indeed of life in this World itself.
Rasulullah ﷺ proposed offering a share of the crops of Madinah to some of the tribes participating in the siege of the city, because it would have worked; does that mean that those tribes would suddenly not hate Islam? Of course they still would, but their material interests would supersede that hatred. Did Rasulullah ﷺ not understand the battle of ‘Aqeedah? AstaghfirAllah.
The fact that there is an ongoing battle between Imaan and Kufr, and it is a fact that no one disputes, and everyone knows, does not automatically mean that it is the only, or even the main motive for Western aggression in every case. As I have said, they do not attack Malaysia, why? If their sole motivation to which they are exclusively dedicated is to eradicate Islam, why would they attack us in one place and not another? Material interests; that’s why. The same reason they attack or refrain from attacking anyone else.