Is There An Islamic Problem?
It has become fashionable in some circles after September 11 to excoriate Islam as the source of the problems facing the Islamic world. The air is thick with theories which claim that Islam has been paralyzed by a deadening obscurantism since the twelfth century, and this paralysis will only end when Muslims decide to replace Islam with secular humanism. It is time these theories were deconstructed.
A Matter of Timing
I will turn directly to the thesis of the early demise of Islamic civilization: since the castigation of Islam often hinges on how and when this happened.
First, and this is very important, this thesis is quite wrong about the timing of the decline. It claims that Islam lost its creative power in the twelfth century as a result of the twin blows dealt by orthodox 'Ulama - the religious scholars of Islam - and the Mongols. These ideas have an Orientalist odor.
This canard was first challenged by Marshall Hodgson in The Venture of Islam (1974). He believes that the brilliant works, in architecture, philosophy, and the visual arts, created during the sixteenth century - in Isphahan, Istanbul, Delhi and Agra - were not inferior to the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
The scientific work did not face sudden death either. In fact, George Saliba, in A History of Arabic Astronomy, extends Islam's golden age to the fifteenth century. After the Mongols are supposed to have devastated Eastern Islam, major observatories were being set up as late as the fifteenth century. The astronomical tables computed at these observatories, together with the work of Ibn-Shatir (d. 1375), a time-keeper in the central mosque of Damascus, were passed on to Europe, and are believed to have contributed to the Copernican revolution.
Did Islam Stumble?
If Islam did not suffer a decline in the twelfth century, when did this happen? The beginnings of this process, as well as its sources, must be sought not so much in Islam as in Europe. It wasn't Islam that stumbled. Rather, it was Europe that gathered speed and moved ahead, in gunnery and shipping, starting in the sixteenth century.
Europe employed its maritime strength to plunder the gold and silver of the Americas, create an Atlantic economy, and dominate the commerce of the Indian Ocean. This deepened Europe's commercial and financial capital, while squeezing the trading profits of the major Islamic empires as well as the smaller trading states in the Indian Ocean. Over time, Europe's military advantage became decisive. And by the beginning of the nineteenth century - in India even before that - Europe started its project of dismantling the Islamic polities in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
Why couldn't Islamic - or other - polities resist this growing European thrust? The Euro-centric narratives would have us believe that this was fait accompli: the simple working out of Europe's racial, geographic, climatic, and cultural advantages over others. Asia and Africa could have done little to resist.
A historical narrative tells a different story. Their colonization of the Americas, their growing control over the trade of the Indian Ocean, their mercantilist rivalries and incessant wars - all rooted in the anarchy of nation states - accelerated the dynamic of historical change in Europe, allowing it to outpace the more centralized, mostly land-based empires in Asia and Africa. Europe's advantages were historical - and, in part, accidental.
This takes us to the troubling question of Islam's failure - unlike India and China - to mount an adequate recovery from the losses of the colonial epoch.
Why has Islam, which commanded several power centers before the rise of Europe, failed to reconstitute its lost power in the post-colonial period? Once again, those who attribute this failure to Islam are inverting the order of causation.
As recently as 1750, Islamic polities stretched from Mauritania and the Balkans in the West to Sinjiang and Mindanao in the East. But this power lacked an adequate social base. In 1800 the Arab population in the Middle East was quite thin. Elsewhere, in the Balkans and India, the Islamic empires ruled over mostly non-Muslim populations. The early collapse of Muslim power in India and the down-sizing of the Ottomans in Europe had much to do with these demographic draw-backs.
The Ottomans, the Maghreb and Egypt faced another handicap: they were only a few day's sail from Europe. This made them tempting targets for European capital and cupidity, mixed with some of the old zeal for eradicating Islam. This mission was taken up successively by France, Britain and Italy. An early and deter-mined Egyptian effort to industrialize - initiated in 1810 - was dismantled by the British and French in 1840. When the Egyptians mobilized again in the 1870s, it led to their colonization in 1882. Britain, France and Israel mounted another invasion of Egypt as recently as 1956.
This suggests some sobering reflections for those who would blame the present troubles on Islam's antipathy to modernity. Imagine if the Egyptian bid to industrialize had not been dismantled by imperialist Britain and France; it is then likely that an industrialized Egypt would eventually have led the entire region to industrial growth, prosperity and power. This thought experiment explains why Egypt's industrial drive had to be aborted. An industrialized Middle East may have renewed the old threat of Islam to Europe.
The disarray of the Arabs in the post-colonial period goes back to two additional factors: the Zionism and oil. The Zionist movement was founded on a confluence of Jewish and Western interests in the Middle East. In time, this led in 1917 to Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, the dismantling of the Ottoman empire in 1919, the vivisection of the former Ottoman territories in the Levant, the British mandate over Palestine, and the creation of Israel in 1948. The Islamic Crescent had been splintered, and part of it occupied by a Jewish colonial-settler state.
In the meanwhile, United States and Britain were making arrangements in the Persian Gulf to ensure Western control over the richest oil reserves in the world. They decided to place the region under archaic, absolutist monarchies whose survival, against the rising tide of nationalism, would depend on United States. As part of this plan, when the Iranians overthrew the monarchy in 1953, United States and Britain instigated a coup to re-instate it. In 1967, with the decisive defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan - leading to the occupation of Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza - Israel cut short the career of secular Arab nationalism. The Middle East straightjacket was now securely in place.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 did not loosen the straightjacket. On the contrary, by raising the specter of Islamist power, this revolution paved the way for an 'Arab' war against Iran, with the blessings of United States. In time, after the collapse of Soviet Union, this led the corrupt Arab regimes to form a grand alliance - under the aegis of United States and Israel - to control and repress their Islamist movements. When foolhardy Iraq dared to challenge this grand alliance, it was bombed back to the stone age and crippled with comprehensive economic sanctions.
A new 'cold war' had descended on the Islamic world in the 1990s. Its rules were clear. The United States would support the Islamic despots - of whatever stripe - so long as they kept the lid on political Islam. If any country dared to depart from the terms of this contract, it faced economic and military sanctions; and, if these did not work, they would be followed by swift and devastating reprisals. Iraq showed to the Islamic world the price it would pay for challenging this new contract. Similarly, Algeria stands as an example of what happens when the democratic process threatens to empower Islamists.
An explanation of why the 'democratization' of the 1990s bypassed the Islamic world might be found in this new cold war. Most Western commentators think otherwise: they choose to blame Islam. Their method is classic - damnation by accusation. If Islam is obscurantist, anti-rationalist, fanatical, and misogynist, then, it must also be opposed to democracy. The Orientalist has spoken: the case is closed.
Those who believe that Islam is anti-democratic need a short lesson in the modern history of constitutional movements in Islam. Muhammad Ali of Egypt appointed his first advisory council in 1824, consisting mostly of elected members. In 1881, the Egyptian nationalist movement succeeded in convening an elected parliament, but this was aborted only a year later by British occupation. Tunisia had promulgated a constitution in 1860, setting up a Supreme Council purporting to limit the powers of the monarchy. But this was suspended in 1864 when the French discovered that it interfered with their ambitions. Turkey elected its first parliament in 1877, though it was dissolved a year later by the Caliph; a second parliament was convened in 1908. Iran's progress was more dramatic. It started with protests against a British tobacco monopoly in the 1890s, and quickly led to an elected parliament in 1906, with powers to confirm the cabinet. A year later, however, the British and Russians carved up Iran into their spheres of influence, a development that would lead to the dissolution of the parliament in 1910. Nevertheless, the constitutional movement persisted until it was suppressed in 1931 by a new dynasty brought to power by the British.
Compare these developments with the history of constitutional movements elsewhere, not excluding Europe, during the nineteenth century - and the world of Islam does not suffer from the comparison. Incredible as this appears to minds blinded by Euro-centric prejudice, Tunisia, Egypt and Iran were taking the lead in making the transition to constitutional monarchies. The 'resistance to democracy' in the Arab world even today does not come from their population. Quite the opposite. It comes from neo-colonial surrogates - brutal military dictatorships and absolutist monarchies - imposed by a United States determined to safeguard oil and Israel.
A New Colonial Contract
The US-imposed straightjacket has deepened the contradictions of global capitalism in the Islamic world: a development that is pregnant with consequences which threaten to spin out of control.
During the Cold War, the elite factions in many Third World countries - especially their military elites - competed to win the US contract for repressing their populist movements. As long as they did their job, they enjoyed a degree of autonomy in managing their economies. A few of them in East Asia, the most favored ones, became showcases of capitalist success. When Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, this contract was terminated. It was replaced by the Washington Consensus, enforced by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization. The elites in the periphery would now compete to open up their economies for takeover by multinational corporations.
There are two versions of this new colonial contract. Countries in the non-Islamic periphery are generally encouraged to compete for the contract through the ballot box. In countries that have strong Islamist movements, this option is not available; they are allowed to keep their dictators and monarchs. The excuse for this two-track policy is flimsy. It is charged that the Islamist parties oppose democracy: that they will use the ballot to shut down the ballot. The real reason is Western nervousness over the Islamist's twin goals: introducing an Islamic social order, and reversing the fragmentation of Islam.
This siege of the Islamic world is unlikely to produce the desired results. On the contrary, it has engendered contradictions that will only deepen over time. After the rout of the Arab armies in 1967, the failure of secular, nationalist movements to reverse Arab marginalization was becoming transparent. In 1973, with appropriate offers of American 'aid', Egypt made a separate peace with Israel. In abdicating its leadership of the Arab world, Egypt wrote the obituary of Arab nationalism. From now on, the historic task of liberating the Arab world would be assumed by the Islamists.
Although defeated, the corrupt Arab regimes remained ensconced in power. They owe their survival to the new colonial contract which allowed them to keep their repressive apparatus if they used it to wage war against their own people. The turn around was quick, moving through capitulations at Camp David and Oslo, normalization of ties with Israel, and capitulation to the Washington Consensus. The war against Islam intensified. The Islamist parties were banned, rooted out of professional associations and trade unions, and eventually their leaders were jailed, executed, or hounded out of the country.
This repression of Islamists has produced two results. Nearly everywhere, it immobilized mainstream Islamists who wished to work through the institutions of civil society: through political parties, professional associations, the media, the courts, and charities. The focus now shifted to the extremists willing to engage in violent action to gain their ends. But the extremists too had little crawl space under the repressive Arab regimes. Those who survived were driven underground, or went into exile in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Western countries.
At this point, some of them decided to change their strategy. They would target their problems at its source - and inflict damage on United States. They wanted to sting the United States into lifting its siege of Islamic countries. Alternatively, they hoped to start wars - like the one in Afghanistan - on the chance that this would spark rebellions against the American surrogates in the Islamic world.
Giving Up 'False Notions'?
Of late, sagely voices - outside and inside Islam - have been counseling Muslims to give up the 'false notions' of Islam. I hope to have shown that the false notions we need give up are the Orientalist narratives - of an Islam that has been (mis)represented as irrational, misogynist, fatalist and fanatical.
Rational thinking did not begin with the Enlightenment. In fact, several Enlightenment thinkers turned to Islam to advance their own struggle against medieval obscurantism and the intolerance of an organized clergy. It is time for alienated Muslim intellectuals to tear the Orientalist veil that obscures the face of Islam, re-enter the historical currents they have abandoned, create a deeper understanding of the dynamics of derailed Islamic societies, and lead them into an Islamic vision of a world where all communities participate in a race to create works of excellence.
The West too must give up its false notions of Islam as the irreconcilable 'Other', that must forever be battled and besieged. If Islam is a greater threat to the West than India or China, that is because our actions - in large part - have succeeded in preventing it from reconstituting its center, its wholeness and history. More than a fifth of the world's population seek their place in the world within a stream of history that flows from the Qur'an. They want to live by ethical ideals that in the past have produced nobility, magnanimity, sobriety, tolerance, science, mathematics, philosophy, architecture and poetry. Islam may do so again if only we lift the siege - and allow the light, freshness and sweetness at its core to find expression again in a contest of creative minds and soulful hearts, intertwined with reason and mercy.
M. Shahid Alam is a Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is also the author of "Poverty from the Wealth of Nations: Integration and Polarization in the Global Economy Since 1760", published by Macmillan in 2000. He can be reached at [email protected]
The history of the conquerers has always been to dictate to the conquered the way he lives. What is changing is the identity of the master otherwise the concept of conquering remains the same. Knowing that they defeated the muslim world in all the above mentioned fronts, they need only to defeat their spirits and phsycology. And to do that there is a single firewall that had to be fallen forever which is Islam. Hence msulims shouldn't be frustrated if the Western Authorities perform what others before them had been performing for ages. What has to frustrate the muslim world is whether they should give up. According to my point of view the muslim world needs to learn from the history of jews. It is a fact that jews had always been wining against the church and the western authorities in all ages. The muslim world needs to learn all the policies the jews were following to win.
The muslim world had to attack the western citizens spritually, phsycologically and philosophyically. The weak should not hate if he wishes his word to be heard. Muslims should keep in mind that spreading the message is the most effective weapon they have.
Regarding the current affairs the muslim world needs to go into a low profile situation until such time they can be able to stand for the their ideals, their way of life and their religion.
May Allah the most High Give us the best of Guidance and protection from the fitnah of ungrateful people
With regards to all seekers of truth
You can keep your stone god!
It is a pity that Islam needs to be defended against such (lame) criticism, though you do it so eloquently and with such irrefutable arguments that it was a pleasure to read.
You have dealt with Part A of an interesting problem - the cause. Part B is then the more interesting question of how are we going to deal with this issue? How are we going to convince the non islamic influences that Islam is not against them and hence should be allowed to come out and flourish? Do we even believe that position is accurately reflected among us or does there need to be a war within Islam between those who want to advance along with the west (and bring out a better modern Islam) and those who want to take us back to the 7th century.
Thank you for doing a good job and I hope i have given you a topic for your next article.
Esther, it's people like you people should fear of ever getting into postitions of power. your ignorance would be the demise of either your self or of another. you should research the topic before opening your mouth. First of all, muslims never "invaded" europe, and they never "invaded" spain.
on the contrary, in islamic history its called the "futuhat" (arabic for the openings), the spanish of that time were attacking the edges of the islamic empire, which did not have proper defenses. so in responce to their attack, the islamic nation conquered spain, they did not kill and sack the civilions. instead they introduced to them medicine, science, astronomy, physics, math, and islam which they accepted.
Muslims never invaded europe unless provoked by the europeans.
"It is bad enough we have to suck up to corrupt Arab leaders in order to buy oil at cheap prices." what do u want it for free??? and were do you about assuming that the americans are sucking up? do you not know about the deal done by senior Bush? or did you not bother at all?
the deal was that as long as amercans provide protection to the saudi kingdom from sadam's army, the saudi's had to sell oil to them at a certain rate which never went down a certain price. heh why do you think they never "found" sadam and killed him? the real corrupt leaders or living in the white house now. and besides the oil is for arabs, if they choose not to sell then the hell with everyone, no one should force us in selling.
and yes if the arabs had weapons like the west does, then we would use it to defend our selves, just like the americans are, whats wrong with that? are they the only ones allowed to defend them selves? if the jewish army is going to kill a family and buldoze their houses then we have a right to go to their houses and kill them. is the price of our blood not the same of that of an american? what about the 2 million iraqies that died? sala
These reasons are valid even today. They are also related, the second being caused by the first. The Qur'an had declared us one brotherhood and had warned us against in-fighting. We have ignored those teachings and the billion-strong ummah has turned into an ummah fragmented into a billion segments.
ALHAMDU'LILAAH, I'm Agree with our brother, M. Shahid Alam, And there is a Problem within Us, and by looking within ourselfs to solve our problems Will Lead us to a Bright Future, Insha'Allah! I think One of our Biggest problems is the devitions between us and our in fightings! We need to Unite and Hold Tight to the Rope of Allah, and Not Be Devided! Hence, United we Rise, Devided We Fall!
muslims are excelling in education and alhamdulilah muslims have acknowledged the importance of it in this world today! however they, in their home countries are extremely oppressed. So i do not think that is the problem and i hope u will too!
A very thaughtful and insightful coverage of the history of Islam and the critical remarks, slogans, and trends that are meated out by activists blaming Islam for their demise!
The author covers a range of important issues that highlight that it is not Islam that is to blame, but represseive and barbaric policies of the west which have influenced and manipulated many a politician and diplomat to conform to their ideoligies. This has transcended down into nations, institutions and cultures dispersing, dividing and anihilating the muslim masses from within.
Economic and political objectives in eradicating the "other" or making it conform with the west have been carefully and strategically saught over for many centuries culminating in zionist strategems in Isreal and American foreign and economic policy to utilize the worlds natural resources (oil) for themselves, and if need be to devastate and destroy states in the process to achieve those aims.
In terms of Islamic renaisance, there is no doubt that the west had gained alot of the riches of the peaks of Islamic civilization, where we find today that theoratical, theological knowledge is found in the west. There is the countervailing argument that intellectual Islam arises in the west and spiritual islam in the East, but this demands authencitation and verification.
One should not blame Islam for the present demise or situation, it is the human's who supposed to be adhering to the faith that have let themselves down by being subjugated by the demonic, or hegemonic onslaught of the west and its dictates.
It's only when the muslims start to look at themselves from within as a collective trans-national entitity and rectify our inate deficiencies that we as the embodiments of the true faith and light will re-emerge on to the world stage recapturing the heights and peaks of Islamic civilizations in the past.
Secularism is not the means by which we modernize our people and become globally competitive in military, economic and cultural spheres, but neither is a reactionary return to the stifled thought many of our so-called ulama' crave. Instead, we should seek the Islamic intellectual vigor that characterized the flowering of Islamic society for most of our history.
I, for one, have not seen one instance where Jews have even for once condemned Baruch Goldstien and Rabbi Meir Kahane.
"Many" Muslims foolishly already condemn assuming that the allegations by the media & the establishment both are enough to assume guilt of Bin Laden. However very "few" do not because he's innocent until proven guilty. If & when he's fairly tried & proven to be guilty, then he stands together with those who inflict crime on inncoent.
Those who continue their search for truth, should include www.whatreallyhappened.com in their list.
Good job and wish all of us success.
May God bless be uppon all of us and lead us to brigter future, when we can make our own ways and be proud of who we are! Ensha-Allah!
Also, don't you think Muslems should take some reponsibility for their actions? Blaming all of Islam's problems on the West is easy because then Muslems don't have to work on self-examination and self-improvement. Muslems don't seem to be able to criticize those among them who act fanatically. Remember than most Jews vociferously condemned the acts of Jewish extremists like Meir Kahane and Baruch Goldman. Why won't Muslims condemn Bin Laden?
Hope more scholars like Prof. Alam will come out
to give Islamic-Muslim view points.
S. Waqar Ahmed Husaini
Visiting Scholar, Stanford Univ.(1986-continuing)
Founder-President, IISTD/Institute of Islamic Sciences, Technology, and Development
You make some very far reaching comments. "It was decided." By whom? Where's your proof. It looks to me like you are pointing at Israel and Western powers for the failure of Islam to acheive the dream of a perfect society. Is there no self-reflection or self-criticism in Islam? What is the reason for the dream of a unified Islam? What would that achieve? Whose vision is it?
previous commentor that the last couple of
paragraphs could use some expansion,
though. Through all that comes to my mind is
one word: Satyagraha (i may have misspelled
that). this is an Indian word quite often
mistranslated as passive resistance. In truth it
means doing whatever is neccessary to
resist. Of course it still retains some of the feel
of passivity for many due to Ghandi's use of it.
One thing that is most neccessary for us as
Americans, at this time, is to slough off the
ages old covering of mysogeney, fatalism, and
irrationalism. These things are not Islamic
and anyone who has ever studied Islam (and
not modern day Muslims) should see this.
The problem is due to our un-Islamic ways. Let us follow the path of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and things will take care of themselves.
We need to start TALKING about the DOING. Frankly, it isn't Islam that is the problem or the West that is the problem, but misguided notions of FATE. People who study the Middle East or even live in the region have this idea that since its been a bloody mess for the past century, nothing can be done about it. The Orientalists are afraid of Islam and Muslims, forgetting that the vast majority of the region's people and even Islamic activists are peaceful, progressive and modernity-minded, and most of all frustrated. The Islamically-oriented tend to blame everything on the West, forgetting that even anti-western countries such as Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Cuba are still failures.
The Islamic world needs self-empowerment, not box-cutters or B-52s. The Islamic world needs to social order, the return of core Islamic values such as education, gender equality, and tolerance in order to build a civil society that will give way to nation-building. Islam isn't the problem, but Muslims are.
Very insightful piece, though I'm not equipped to comment on your spin of many of the historical events you cite. I find it troubling, however, how quickly you descend into the usual Us vs. Them patterns of reasoning and retread old, tired indictments of the US, Israel, the "West", etc. as a main source of problems in the Islamic world.
Nevertheless, there's reason for hope at the end when you touch on the subjects of reason, tolerance, and the Enlightenment...perhaps you already recognize (but wisely leave unstated) the inevitable conclusion when such behavior becomes the norm rather than the exception as it is among most people, Islamic and non-Islamic alike. ;-)
Some respondents (Amir Raza, Mohammad Qasem, Imran (UK), Steve (US), and others) clearly miss this point as is evident in responses which expose their blind, unquestioning obediance to their own favored set of beliefs. Sadly, they demonstrate how easily even literate and presumably well-educated people fall prey to patterns of lazy and close-minded thinking. One day, their heirs will recognize that the 1st step in making progress towards positive resolutions to the difficult issues which divide us is the admission that each one of us may be wrong, including in our beliefs of God, Allah, in atheism, or whatever.
Masha'Allah, very good article.
May Allah bless you.
What is even worse in this entire affair is the disturbing practice of combining the events of September 11th with legitimate freedom-fighting struggles around the world. Bin Laden, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and Islam have absolutely nothing to do with Arafat, Fatah, or the Palestinians. Bin Laden, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and Islam have absolutely nothing to do with the Tamil Tigers, the Zapatista movement, Khalistan, or even the struggles of Africans and African-Americans for rights many third-world nations obtained decades ago.
Many victims of democratic-sponsored terrorism worldwide view this international war on terrorism as simply an excuse for police-state governments and violaters of basic human rights worldwide to accept a raincheck rather than address the issues and/or compensate the victims of their brutal, illegal practices in the name of worldwide security and democracy. We all remember how quickly the many issues brought up at the UN Conference on Racism were instantaneously sugar coated by the USA and Europe under the disguise of not wanting to get sidetracked from the issues.
"We're working on it" will simply not be an acceptable statement. If the USA, Israel, and other nations that support Democracy have the right to declare war on terrorism, then innocent victims of democratic terrorism have the same right to take a stand and have their voices heard and their grievances addressed. Too many innocent people in numbers supassing the victims of September 11th have already been killed worldwide. It is time for words of wisdom to be ways of wisdom.
This war on terrorism cannot be selective. Terrorism is terrorism, period.
I myself am of the opinion that the problem with Islamic states is just that; that they are Islamic states, as opposed to one Islamic state.
This in mind, western powers are more than happy to exploit, perhaps even promote, the division, through whatever means, and thus reap the economic and political benefits of the internal divisions of these Islamic nations.
Extremism, in conjunction with the perpetual campaign of fear mongering perpetrated by Western media, has laid the groundwork for Western powers to walk over Islamic nations with the approval of the citizens of said Western powers.
This time last year, few would have approved a large scale military action in Afghanistan. Now, it is in full swing.
Is there a problem with the nations in which Muslims live? Yes, in both the Islamic nations and the Western Nations many muslims call home, but this is not an 'Islamic problem'. The problem is not so much related to Islam itself, as the actions in relation to perceptions of Islam, both by Western powers, and Muslims themselves.
Judging from what I have seen to this point, the problem is not set to get better any time soon.
If large scale military action and imperial conquest have help lay the groundwork for the current situation, I myself fail to see how they can help to better it.
The average American person would be horrified that their Government sponsored Dictators like Saddam, Pinochit, Devile, Shah of Iran, Maputo of Zaire, Pol Pot (Kam Rough of Cambodia) and many many oppressive governments in order to divide and rule the world.
Democracy is the last thing any world power would promote in the Muslim world. Democracy in the Muslim lands is a threat to American attempts to control their governments and their resources. A government in those Muslim lands for the people by the people would never allow the U.S government a free hand in their lands. The media and the government at home could never make a public case to attack another democratic government. When we use dictators like Saddam and when we don't need them anymore it's quite easy to attack a dictator when they are brushed with the same paint as Hitler. This divide and rule policy is an old practice the British used to rule the world. The world is still recovering from the British failed attempt to rule the world.
The Media have done their best to keep the American people in this matrix of an ALICE IN WONDERLAND state of mind.
The Muslim people are probably the most peace and Democracy loving people in the world. In World War1 who killed 30 million people? and in World War 2 who killed over 55 million people? Which people or continent had the biggest killers of human beings in history (Hitler and Stalin)? The only form of government that is the only form of government is a Democratic form of gov't.
The very few people in those secretive societies that run the U.S policy towards the Middle East need to abandon this futile attempt to control Islam. Islam is like an irresistible force of nature that can't be controlled or contained
I liked this article and agree with most of what is said. However, I would like to see a greater development of the last two paragraphs. While this article correctly emphasizes the impact of colonialism, it does not offer a good analysis of the internal forces (within muslim countries) that contributed for the current status quo.
We must admit that although Islam is misrepresented as irrational, misogynist, fatalist and fanatical, there are unfortunately many muslims that behave in that way. And it is our duty, as muslims, to do something to change that.
I would like to hear more propositions, constructive ideas of how to rebuild the muslim world, this time, under the ethical principles described in the last paragraph.
I could only ever forsee a true democracy in force if the culture is based on God's Law. Islam can be the only solution to true peace and prosperity. All those who submit to God's will would give glory to God in His grace and mercy. It is only God who is gracious in His provisions and bounty. It is only God who is righteous and just. Praise be to God. God is the greatest. All thanks to God for His promise that evil will be overcome and all falsehood banished. May peace be upon you.
The Koran cautions Muslims npt to have Jews or Christians as friends,
NO more garbage about how peace loving Islam is.
If Islam stands by terrorists, it WILL be destroyed like the Taliban.
If Islam choses to live in the seventh century,it will DIE in this century.
Islamic societies have been left behind by time and by God.
Or are you so stupid that you cannot see.
If you refute this, name one highly developed, robust and democratic Islamic society.
Assalalmu Alaikum to one and all:
May Allah reward brother M. Shahid Alam for having tried to expose the anti-Islam propaganda war with the intention of blaming Islam for the backwardness of the Muslims and branding Islam as one against progress and advancement of the humanity. No doubt that all these are done with the intention of preventing or dissuading the Muslims from seeking to make fresher and intellectual look at the ever-enduring dynamics of this Deen of Allah in order to find their respective place in the comity of nations.
No matter how ferocious the propaganda may continue to be, Islam is destined to make its comeback but it needs is Muslims equipped with all the necessary intellect to carry the banner of Islam and engage in fields of human activity and also open friendly discourses with non-Muslims. In short, we need to be more practical and organize ourselves in order to be back on track.
I found your article interesting and well written. As an American convert, I have been one of those who has needed a "re=education" of the facts and realities of the Islamic world and its history.Inshaa allah, those who need to hear the truth will see it in your article. Jazak'Allah.
I tell you, Ottoman achievements or what the people built in Iran and Baghdad were NOT any measures of success for Islam nor muslims at large. And I am an engineer and I believe that we should build non-stop. But...
The major problem we face today is the very definition of SUCCESS and as you know SUCCESS IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS.
Lets not go to 12th century Islam lets talk about Boston last 10 years.
You see people flocking to the Masjid to WRITE CHECKS for Afghan refugees, just few months back the woman in charge of Roca in Chelsea who oversees the muslims refugees was not able to convince anybody to even say salaam to Afghan refugees in Boston prior to 9-11. The same last year and the year before and the year before. The same I am sure right this moment in Jan 2002. The same for Balkans refugees still coming to Boston the same for Somalian refugees ...
Measure of success for muslims in Boston is "DID THEY TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN"? Widows and Orhpans and refugees? No they did not. why? not because they are bad people, but because they are not TAUGHT that taking care of MASAKIN, WABNI SABIL and BAES AL-FAGHIR is the fundamentals of their faith!!
But they are TAUGHT that nuclear weapons, large buildings, huge amounts of capital and lots of media coverage is indeed measure of success.
We love to be like the Americans, and if we have their wealth and armies and weapons we will destroy this planet by our ignorance and misguided personal desires.
Sometimes Allah may makes a nation poor and weak, in order to save them from destroying themselves and others. I think we are at that point. Lets be poor and destitude but share our food with our neighbors. Lets be meek but not have bloods of innocent people on our hands.
But meanwhile lets BUILD, lets create a culture of TEAMWORK and BUILDING from early childhood. Lets teach our people that we can build in Boston an infrastrucutre that any re
The things we have to do:
1. Re-affirm our belief and stick to the teachings and practice. We all should remember that there is no other way by Allah. Either you are will Allah or against him.
2. Help ourselves in promoting the brootherhood. There is no concept of Nationalism in Islam. We are all one.
3. Work relentlessly to oppose the zionist media.
This media promotes evil in ourselves.
How can we do it ?
1. Promoting political awareness in the Muslim World.
2. Establishing our own media outlets.
3. Creating our own financial institutions.
But the great hurdle is the West and it's puppets in the Islamic world. First we have to get rid of all those corrupt leaders from Algeria to Saudi-Arabia from Turkey to Indonesia and from Pakistan to Kazakistan.
Lets pray to God because if he accepts our prayers for the change No super-power can change his intensions. I pray to the end of the wicked empires and unity among all the Muslims and Muslims states (57 + states) in all my prayer.
Insha'Allah that day would come soon in our lives. Ameen.
- Or do you think that you shall enter the heavens without such trials as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so struck shaken that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When the help of Allah will come." Verily, the help of Allah is near (AlBaqara, The Cow:214).
- Did you think that you would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard and remained steadfast? (Al Imran, Family of Imran: 142).
- Or do you think you shall be spared, without Allah knowing those among you who strive with might and main, and take none for friends and protectors except Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers? But Allah is well acquainted with all that you do. (Repentence, Atawba: 16).
Nothing happens without the leave of Allah. It has been written for us to go through all this. Our great trial is still to come. We have to get ready.
They want to extinguish Allah's light with their mouths, but Allah is perfecting and completing His light, even though the Unbelievers may detest it.
Have no fear fellow Muslims, Islam is coming, in the most powerful and prevailing way. We just have to rebuild ourselves with knowledge, learning our religion, teaching it to our children, try to be close to Allah with our worship. We have to work hard and invite to Islam, by our acts, our behavior, and our good intentions. It may sound childish and dreamy, but I bellieve in my heart that this should be our way, at least for now to prepare ourselves. Then when the time comes, we'll be ready, either us or the next generations.
May Allah make us grateful for His favors, which He has bestowed upon us and help us to work the righteousness that will please Him and admit us, by His mercy to the ranks of His righteous servants.
Someone once told me that Muslims cannot be good humans without Islam. Let us work with Taqwa and be steadfast in what we believe and things will take care of themselves.
Mr. Shahid Alam Sahib, your colums is extremely precious, but it is need to wake rulers of the Islamic Countries and their unity. They are in such numbers they can establish Muslim United Nations, Islamic World Bank, Islamic International Sheria Court, Islamic Internaitonal Peace Keeping Force comprising every member country.
Allah aap ka hami aur nasar ho (May Allah agree & assist you)
Excellent article, im absolutely sick of seeing Islam demonized, Islam is the most perfect way of life.
Yes their was great thinkers, but you can count all of them on one hand, in any Muslim country at that time.
Jazak Allah Khayran