Change: Where to Begin?

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Views: 2957

One tyrant is gone, but there are many more who are in control of the Muslim world. Through coercion, deceit, corruption, nepotism, and murder they have been able to silence their masses and disfigure them. The unknown graves of the victims of human rights abuses all around the Muslim world speak of the desecration of death that the rulers have imposed even in the graveyards.

The postcolonial Muslim world had an opportunity and obligation to rebuild its societies reflecting the principles of justice, liberty, peace and prosperity. The offspring of people who had offered their lives fighting colonial rulers were keen to play a role in the so-called independent states. But, those who acquired power after independence became the enemies of their own people. They became a willing pawn in the war game that then superpowers and the former colonial masters had laid on the world chess board. During the sixty years of independence, dictators have ignored and suppressed the masses. They refused to uplift the socio-economic conditions of their people. They became subservient to the interests of their masters who often lived in London, Washington, Paris or Moscow.

The intellectuals who spoke for people paid a heavy price. The religious leadership acted in an ineffective manner to tackle the 20th century issues with a sectarian and obscurantist mind that had no answer to the problem of impoverishment, under-development, political powerlessness, and economic deprivation.

With over a sixty percent illiteracy rate, the people whose aspiration in the post independent world was to live a decent life were pushed on the periphery of poverty. Today, nearly forty percent of the Muslim world lives below the poverty line. While the masses continued to suffer, the rulers looted the public money. Many Muslim rulers left the throne of power with massive amounts of stolen wealth stashed in bank accounts in foreign countries.

Despite the fact, that oil and natural gas in several Muslim countries brought unprecedented financial boom, the masses have been reduced to disadvantaged people.

The political hierarchy and oligarchies bought religious leadership and scholarship and the intellect at their will. Those who refused to sell their soul soon found them to be part of the graveyard of the unknown. There were still voices that sought for change. Some turned to Marxist-socialists ideologies, but the majority remained committed to Islam, not even knowing how that commitment would bring about a positive change in their socio-economic conditions. The powerlessness gave rise to the politics of rhetoric where past became the refuge and the future an oasis of hope with an unlivable present.

In this scenario, leaders rose and fell: Some called for a violent overthrow of regimes, others suggested a sustained campaign against those who were the foreign backers of their regimes and still other sought solution to people's movement at the grass root levels, a luxury that was impossible to acquire in a despotic world.

Consequently, everyone else developed an agenda to reform, change and re-shape the Muslim world except Muslims themselves. It is this chaotic state of affairs that the Muslim world finds it self in. It is a reality that we must accept. But mere acceptance of this cruel reality will not solve our problems. We have to prepare ourselves for a new challenge to create a world that reflects our values.

We the Muslim people, need to focus on a some essential areas to achieve our rightful status among the nations of the world.

The first and foremost is the development of a Muslim character that is strong enough to weather the turmoil and crisis. A Muslim character in a socio-political context is reflective of values such as justice, compassion, freedom, peace and equality. It means that Muslim institutions and parties, religious or secular work tirelessly to uplift those who have been left behind in the last sixty years of independence in the field of education and development. It would mean working for the empowerment of landless farmers, bonded labors, and underpaid workers. It would mean mobilizing people's resources to uplift even the last of the least known person.

The second is the development of public institutions that would ensure that the gains achieved at grassroots levels are sustained through state or private run institutions. Development schemes for clean water, safer roads, efficient hospitals, secure banking, and decentralized power structures are essential to invigorate the confidence of people in themselves and their institutions.

The third is to develop processes that may enable people and their leaders to learn from those who have succeeded in overcoming some of the problems faced by Muslims. It means an open exchange of ideas conducted in a free social and political milieu for the betterment of people. It means developing the habit of living with dissent and acknowledging its relevance for a healthy society. All three are the essential tools for change as one finds them clearly marked in the Quran and substantiated throughout history. Nations rise and fall on the strength and weakness of their character, institutions and process. Those who are weak are always swept away by others who are strong.

Let us not live under any illusion that things would change on their own. If we feel that Islamic values have any meaning for our world, then let us internalize them and make sure that these values echo with reverberation in all our communities. From here they would flourish and blossom into a beautiful mosaic of giant sequoias and other trees that give fruits, oxygen and shade to all those who want to remain healthy.


Dr. Aslam Abdullah, is the Editor the Minaret and the Muslim Observer

  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
Views: 2957
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Older Comments:
I am not sure that "a Muslim character that is strong enough to weather the turmoil and crisis" is any good element of solution. I am not sure either that such a thing would please Dr. Abdullah if he would look at it in its (violent) reality rather than in pure theory.

As I see it, Muslims do have a strong "Muslim character" already and it is rather a part or their problem.

I don't think any religious-related solution will ever lead to any good and stable state, sole way to peace and justice among people. The first thing you have to do in order to live in peace is to accept the rules of tolerance. A word most Muslims do not even know it exists.

No. Let's forget any Muslim character. Let's open people minds without restriction. Let's mix it all, accept that it gets mixed, that Muslims stop praying whenever they like, that they live according to other civilizations' rules, other philophical codes or even none at all if they please. Let's accept it very officially, so that Muslims who live that way already don't have to hide for doing it. Let's try and create liberty, as far as we can. And maybe we will succede a bit.

If Muhammad really was a good prophet, his teaching will survive any such liberation. And if his teachings don't survive, let's forget Muhammad, and let's live. Live in Allah's world. Allah doesn't need Muhammad. Allah doesn't need the Quran. Neither any of us.

There won't ever be a free world under any other sky than the real one, and you won't see this one if you look at it through a religious veil. Parhaps God is the best thing a human mind can aspire to know, but all gods of the books and of the mighty ones sure are but prisons, sources of anger and hate.

Public institutions exist already, too. There are even much too many of them, especially in the Muslim countries. No. Let's create (real) free entreprises rather, separate from the political power. That would be new in the Muslim world.

Short: start with the t

What has changed? The US right now is installing Chalabi to rule Iraq! History is being repeated in the Muslim world all the time.

The only solution is in the hands of the people. So long as people accept these despots, the despots will rule them wellingly. People must pay a price in blood and sweat to regain control of their countries. Without this resolute opposition from the ground roots, nothing will change.

Opposition must be organised by the people. They must constantly come out in the streets and peacefully show their views and wishes. They must refuse to obey the selected leaders by outsiders. They must voice this peacefully and in the streets of their towns, villages, cities. They will be imprisoned and shot at. But they must never give up. Every cloud has a silver lining.

With their mass demonstrations, palacards and voices people must take charge of their lives and demand to rule their own lives through consultation and democracy.

It would be naive to think that the US wants democracy in the ME. By its very nature a democratic ME means support for Islamic values, the very thing that the US fears. This fear however, is very much unfounded and is drummed into the Americans by the much controlled Zionist media. For truly if they understood Islam they would understand that we are no different to them and that our values are indeed very similar to theirs.

So, trust Allah. Speak the truth and never give in to treachery and lies and never spill blood of the innocent but have absolute faith in Allah for He alone is the giver and taker of life. We are born free and must live free for a life of slavery goes against our religion.
God bless.
Ahmed Asgher


good article!

It's always a good sign to see someone reconizing the problem as it is instead of blaming the US and Jews for the condition of the Ummah.

The answer to muslim problems are in muslim hands.

As a muslim nation we should promote dialogue with other nations. Each sector of the nation needs to focus on their knowledge expertise for example religious leaders , scientists or politicians will need to work together and centralise the different sectors of knowledge and create a room where there is a dialogue. The internet is one such good medium. People from all walks of life can bring solutions and ideas which can help towards bringing solutions not only to muslim nations but to all mankind across the globe. Islam as a religion incorporates all knowledge so single person can own knowledge. Knowledge is there as an international asset for all to contribute and share be it science, medicine and so on. Only can then civilization flourish.

As Muslims we should all follow the example of our prophet(p.b.u.h). Allah instructed us to seek knowledge and surely if we don't travel and seek knowledge it will not seek us. As human beings on this globe we are all seekers of this knowledge. We are not to own this knowledge but share it with all humans across the globe. One should not exclude others from their contribution to the knowledge either. In today's environment where continents are sharing good practices and resources for example how to save the environment or eradicate poverty and so on it is not practical to exclude anyone. There are a lot of forums created to help towards these discussion and we should all take part in it.

Muslim countries need to do a lot at grass root level for example: decision sharing and evaluation, consultation, embracing change in a positive manner, learning from our mistakes which can all contribute towards our civilization. We should also learn from our past good or bad and be sincere about what we do and don't lie to ourselves. We should respect the basic concept of human rights and make sure that every person has the right to basic education, health, water and so on. Last point it is people that form governments not vice ver

If there are any Muslims out there would like to see more people become Muslims, perhaps they might wish to consider freeing other Muslims from those tyrants who profess to be Muslims - rather than attempting to make such tyrants, especially those who would choose to be idolized and feared throughout their countries, a little more comfortable. Until that happens, I suppose that Allah (who is without partner) will continue to utilize polytheists for the liberation of oppressed Muslims throughout our world.

Also, many new Muslims might possibly be keeping their shahada to themselves. I personally can't blame them for doing so - not if it is widely proclaimed to be a Muslim's duty to defend with their life any Muslim tyrant who is assaulted by someone with a different religion.

May Allah protect us and offer us guidance and peace. May it be the will of Allah that we gratefully receive it.

As-Salaam Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Strategically we must embrace Islam with sincerity and behave as believers in Islam "Muslims"; the first step must be to ask Allah to aid our following in the sunnah of Muhammad.

In all of the discussions I hear little said about the example of Muhammad (PBUH). He is the model for Islam, for Muslims and for humanity. There is no other individual in history that addressed the problems of mankind in the manor and form as did Muhammad (PBUH) in the most perfect manor. The context which he was obedient to Allah, and his example (sunnah) instruction advising the Ummah is being ignored by Muslims, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the week and this is why we are in difficulty with the kufr society.

There is no other concept worthy of consideration for the Muslim other than worshiping Allah in Tawheed, our freedom from tumult and oppression is in the Aqeedah of Islam.

I think the tone of this is good in general. To me it seems hopeful, except for the perceived separation from other peoples. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. seem to center on what separates, rather than what is most certainly shared. Politics, war, failure and deeply held beliefs towards peace and harmony are common to all. We all share the same shame, and the same hope. I agree that Muslims must internalize, put into action on what ever level personally possible, the effort toward peace justice, and equality. I also think non-Muslims are also responsible for this, and would argue a great many non-Muslims follow a path in this pursuit. For myself this makes Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and the rest human. A thought, for now, Fundamentalist Christians should probably forget about Muslims "accepting Christ as their personal Savior" and Fundamentalist Moslems should probably understand that the "Peace of Islam" will never come about by killing civilians. We should all internalize what we believe is right and good. If each of us starts there, I think as our traditions teach us, the world will be a better place.

First I must say that you are right with change comes new ideas, and also solutions. Unless people believe that they need to change then there will be no progress and hence no change.

Change also means one must start at the grass root level. This does not mean also that other processes can not go on at the top level. We need to enable people from grass root level to be incorporated into decision making. This means that unless people are comfortable with these changes and are happy with the outcomes then we can say that we have a healthy dialogue in our communities.

Education is also another great area that needs to be tackled. Education covers broad areas and we should use all the tools that will bring humanity together.

Including women in decision making process is another area that needs change. Women are professionals and have different roles in society be it mothers, sisters, wives and so on and have a wealth of knowledge to bring into nation building.

Working in partnerships with nations of different cultures across the globe is another area for change. Culture unites nations across the globe and we need to tap into that. No nation is superior to another nation and dialogue must be established at all times for nations and our human civilization to flourish.

With change comes the fear of the unknown. One must feel at ease and don't feel threatened for example by thinking that she/he will comprise his/her culture, religion. By sharing and respecting each other's culture and religion will reduce the threat. We also need to be proud of each other's progress.

Taking part in bringing solutions to wolrd issues at all levels in education be it schools, universities and religions institutions is another area that needs change.

Change is healthy and with change also comes pain & experience so let us be patient and learn from our hardships in life and get closer to our humans across the globe rather than isolating the muslim nation all

A very good article, illuminating Key issues that may help muslim's realise, that their worst enemy is themsleveles.

Before you can fix something you must "Accept" that something is wrong, then you must try and undertsand "WHY" it went wrong, finally you must try and implement "How" to fit it.

There is no point in constantly blaming others "WE" by we I mean all muslims must aspire to educate ourselves more in the Knowledge of the Quran, the History of Islam and the History of the Modern World. By doing this we will be able to impletement the teaching's of the Quran, discover our contributions to mankind, and how the world works today.

You cannot compare a five year old with a 35 year old and expect the former to have all the knowlegde and wealth of the latter. Since the demise of the Ottoman empire the muslim world has regressed to that five year old and been held there by our own leaders and the Western powers to keep the status quo. We must take steps to remedy these constraints and take once again a central, if not the key role in the development of mankind.

What you've written about what Muslims and Islamic govts. should do to bring about contructive changes to the lives of the people have been and are being done in Malaysia. Malaysian govt. may not be perfect but it has done and is still doing excellently to upgrade the lives of the people and at the same time internalizing Islamic values among the Muslims (of course it doesn't work on everyone). Perhaps some Muslim thinktanks should look at how the Malaysian govt. crafted its mould of educated, affluent and relatively devout yet tolerant Muslims of Malaysia.