What's wrong with the Arab world?
An almost countless number of pundits, commentators, and "experts" have rattled off a number of reasons for the decrepit situation of the Arab world. Many, such as Elan Journo of the California-based Ayn Rand Institute, lay the blame solely on the shoulders of Islam: "The plight of the Middle East is not an accident. It is born of and reinforced by certain ideas: the precepts of Islam, which subordinate reason to faith and the individual to the collective."
In particular, Mr. Journo decries the definition of Islam as the main problem: "In Islam piety demands the total surrender of one's life to Allah - and to those claiming to be His representatives on earth. In practice a Muslim has no right to his own life." Examples he cites of this horrible "dictatorship of the Divine" include property rights being "anathema" to Islam, and that the Zakat, or alms tax that Muslims are required to pay, purifies the Muslim "from the supposedly base activity of earning a living."
These claims are fallacious, based on stereotype, myth and half-truth. Islam denotes submission of one's will to that of God alone. Nowhere does Islam claim that Muslims must also submit to those who claim to be God's representatives on earth. A Muslim believes that, since God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Giver of Life, it is only right that his will be trumped to God's. It is a similar concept to that embodied by the phrase "Thy will be done," found in the Lord's Prayer.
First of all, property rights are not anathema to Islam. Islam upholds the individual's right to own property. Earning a living, in fact, is considered to be an act of worship of God. In addition, Islam was first in human history to guarantee property rights to both men and women. The submission to God that Islam calls for, however, dictates how a Muslim earns that living. For instance, since theft is forbidden in Islam, a Muslim must not earn his living by stealing other people's property or cheating his or her customers.
Secondly, the Zakat is due from Muslims with a certain minimum amount of unused wealth accumulated from the past year. It amounts to 2.5% of that wealth and must be given to the poor. The Biblical parallel is the concept of tithing. Payment of Zakat ensures that the poor--who are exempt from this tax--are adequately cared for and purifies the Muslim from greed and miserliness, not the "base activity of earning a living." The Zakat is yet another example of the submission Islam demands. If a Muslim earns an infinite amount of wealth, Islam would not raise any objection. That wealthy Muslim, however, must own up to his responsibility to provide for the less fortunate through his or her payment of the Zakat.
Thirdly, Mr. Journo goes on to claim that: "a Muslim must surrender [his mind] in order to demonstrate his faith in his religion's key tenets," and that the pitiful state of the Arab world is due to "the Muslims' rejection of...reason." This is fallacious as well. Journo must not have read the numerous verses in the Quran, Islam's holy scripture, commanding its reader to think, ponder, and use his or her intellect. Journo must also have overlooked the vigorous, centuries-old debate among Muslim philosophers, such as those of the Mu'tazilite and Ash'arite schools, over reason and its relationship to faith. Obviously, there are instances where faith does trump reason: most notably, with the belief in the existence of God. Nevertheless, to claim that Islam demands human beings be little more than robots with no mind of their own is sheer fantasy.
Lastly, Journo faults Islam for subordinating the "individual to the collective." Does not democracy, or any other system of governance for that matter, do the same thing? For example, if we disagree with a Federal law currently on the books, we are still obliged to obey that law. Isn't this also subordinating the individual to the collective?
This does not at all imply that there is nothing wrong with the Arab world. The United Nations Development Program issued a report which exhaustively detailed a number of problems in the Arab world today: 65 million of the 280 million people in the Arab world are illiterate; 10 million children do not attend school; the unemployment rate is the highest in the world; Arab women are an oppressed majority. These problems hinder the progress of the Arab world and must be corrected. Nevertheless, the reason for the backwardness of the Arab world does not stem from Islam. This claim is an old and tired one and does nothing but fan the flames of hatred and intolerance against Islam and Muslims at a time when more understanding between the West and Islam is desperately needed.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for the Independent Writers Syndicate. He is author of "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the Book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale).
Topics: Arab World
I wont comment that on the article but will give my personal view of the Arab world. Im coming from Europe and Im a Muslim, thank God. For the past 4-5 yrs I have been living in the Gulf. What I noticed from dealing with the Arabs is that they are really nice ppl. Thank God, I never experienced anything bad from their side. However, what I dont like about them is that they feel inferior about the USA and Europe. It seems that they undermine everything related to Arabs but praise things coming from the West. Of course, I am for taking positive things, but it seems that the Arabs are adopting the negative ones and unfortunately very fast. Somehoe they lost self-confidence. THey pay attention to trivial things instead of directing energy toward more important matters. It is inevitable to say that if they followed the Qur'an, this would not have happened. Nevertheless, I cannot understand how they could let Americans to rule them, especially when we know that the Arabs,esp. the Gulf region do not depend on them financially, i.e. they do not have to dance as those play. The main problem lies in a fact that the Arabs are not unitied and are disorganized. They dont support each other and thats why they are vulnerable and submissive to the West.
Explaining the Arab Democracy Deficit (Part I)
Do underlying social, political, and economic conditions preclude a democratic breakthrough in the Arab World?
by Gary C. Gambill, editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
People like Journo have misunderstood the religion and keep insisting they know better.
God save us from such rigidity in beliefs
another that helps explain the problems and what
could be done about them. Must Arab muslims
continue with the status q
i am nothing express my opinion well because iam
not know english better.
M. Alothmani commented - the belief in the
existence of God, in my opinoin, is forever
reinforced by reason and reflection of the
creation of the universe. If it were not for
reason, I - and many others would not have
become Muslims. By using the intellect, al-
jebr ;), and reflection - Allah & His attributes
become more obvious. But for everything
else, I pretty much agreed. Jazaikallahair
The article's title, "What's wrong with the Arab World?" is not addressed until the end of the article. And statistics and vague, subjective statements like,'Arab women are an oppressed majority' does not suffice to prove the point. The standard call for more understanding between the West and the Arab world does NOT give us a viable alternative to what we are doing now, since on the intellectual level, the two civilizations have been becoming reacquainted with each other for some time now. And the arab world is no better off than they were before.
Allah has told us that there will always be enemies of Islam. This is nothing new and if we are going to concern ourselves with their opinion of us, it will rob us of some serious self-reflection into our own personal crises. Crises like our weakness in faith, the forsaking of our roots, bad leadership, control of our resources, dated education and health systems, poor economy, and our propensity to blame the 'zionists and americans' for everything.
You seemed to give credit to Islam and the Qur'an and then you turned around and critisize the Sharia (Allah's Law) by saying:
You must be a completely confused Muslim. First of all what does a law that deals with raping some one has anything to do with whats going on in the Arab world?? How will it benefit them by changing it? For your information there are hundred times more cases of rape and murder in the US than probably the whole earth put together.
Another thing when Allah decreed those laws, are you implying that he did not know what will come in the future? That way we need to change His laws?? So what happens then if every generation of Muslims come along and decide to change the Sharia, would it still be called Sharia and Qur'an?? I doubt it.
No one has a right to change the laws of Allah.
The problem in the Muslim world today is most Muslims are ignorant of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and thats why many are complaining and wanting to see Allah's laws changed. The truth is if most Muslims will follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah, most of these criminal codes laws in the Qur'an would never have to be applied. People will have fear of Allah that their moral standard will be high that they wouldn't be drinking, fornicating, raping, stealing, etc etc.
So rather than complaining about the Sharia laws, lets go back to the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Would be nice if the author addressed "the dictatorship of the Divine."
This is the "rightly guided scholars" who are not often so "rightly-guided" but instead are puppets of the ruling clan of the land they preach in.
These HUMAN BEINGS have achieved GOD-LIKE status with the community of Muslims that attend prayers in Masjids they lead.
The scary thing is that most muslims DO NOT question the words that come out of these people's mouths but instead take the stance that "if the Imam says so...then we must do it and if it's wrong..then I have an excuse on the day of Judgment"
This mentality have created the business of Fatwa's...where people like Bin Laden have a pulpit to preach their madness in the name of Islam instead of in the name of POLITICS.
Muslims need to address and realize this reality if we wish to behave like the Ummah of Muhammad (saw) since it's OK to seek knowledge of others but it's wrong to do things blindly simply because a toupe wearing, beard having so called sheik said so.
The answer to Muslim problems are in Muslim hands.
First let me ask you have you ever read the Quran? Have you ever read any books about the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW)? Or have you read any books in general about Islam?
The reason I ask you these questions is because you sound like a person who is judging a religon based on what you have heard from the news media.
My advice to you is to one day (InshAllah - if GOD wills) is to open up the Quran and read with an open mind about Islam.
Lets start with the first sura (chapter):
Surat-ul Faithah (the opening)
1. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
2. All Praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds
3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
4. Master of the Day of Judgement
5. You alone do we worship and You alone do we seek for help
6. Guide us along the straight way -
7. The way of those whom You have favoured and not of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray.
The point I hope you get from this short post is that religion is religion. Never judge a religion based on the people who follow it. Instead look at the religion for what it is. If your looking for a perfect Muslim then pick up a book on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and after reading it throughly then judge the religion. GOD willing, after reading about the Prophet and his life you will become a Muslim.
Allah (GOD) is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The point the brother is trying to make in the article is that a true Muslim Nation relies on Allah and Allah alone. Driven by the only true pleasure of pleasing Him. All wealth, power, decisions belong to Allah and Allah alone. Yes every Muslim reserves the right to make money to support his family and in doing so he is praising Allah by providing for his/her family.
Not so my message is lost, my advice to you is to learn before you judge.
As-salamu-alakum (Peace be unto you)
am truly puzzled by his statement that the belief in the
existence of God is an exercise in faith as opposed to
reason. In all my experience with Islamic theology, I
cannot recall ever hearing something like this. Perhaps
the author meant something else, but I would argue that
believing in the EXISTENCE of God is definitely a
matter of reason (although faith does follow when a
Muslim is told in the Qur'an--which he/she believes
based on reason--about some of the attributes of God
which are acceptable to our mind, but not necessarily
derived from reason).
As for Jean-Mairet, it seems that he is happy founding
his own religion that is based upon skepticism. But for
Muslims, religion is not looked upon as a man-made
institution that is subject to our whims, but that it is a
divine institution that calls for out unwavering devotion.
Now they launch wars to install yet another friendly dictator in Iraq and lay the blame on the masses. The problem lies with the West and its culture of hatred, intolerance and colonial conquest. Take a look at their colonies and proxys to see how they administer "democracy." Islam is ofcourse going to the targetted by these parasites since it is the only ideology on the earth which instills spiritual, moral and cultural resistance to the invaders. The failure of the Arabs reflect the failure of their conquerers...that of petty nationalism, fascist secularism and ethnic stryfe....it is when the Arabs return to Islam that they will once again acheive greatness.
I believe that when one's enemies get desperate and realize that they are losing out at all levels--moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical--they begin to use each and every good point/ asset of their opponent and then attempt to destroy them by misrepresenting them, misquoting them, etc., etc.
If one were to analyze everything negative written about Islam and Muslims (both at the present time and in past centuries) by non-Muslims, particularly by hostile westerners, one will find this particular strategy. Its purpose? To demean and destroy Islam and Muslims everywhere. They are not being honest or rational because they are reacting out of fear more than anything else!
Two major events have resulted in the current state of weakness of the Arabs: 1) lack of legal innovation and 2) pure greed. Around the 10th century A.D., the declaration of legal finality of Islamic law resulted in the complete end of Islamic thought and quest for knowledge. For instance, four (4), I repeat, 4 witnesses are required to convict a man of rape. This is the most obtuse law out there and has no justification whatsoever. Yet, we are not allowed to change it because Islamic law is viewed akin to the Quran. A fallacy that is still prevalent to this day.
The sheer greed of the Arabs resulted in the overthrow and destruction of the last Muslim empire, the Ottomans. After this destruction, the Arabs have focused on taking the 'white man' to a god like status while efficiently stealing and killing each other.
How can the Arabs solve their problems? 1) Return to Islam and learn to adapt laws to modern life; and 2) over throw your greedy and racist leaders and intellectuals.
The decrepit (whatever that means) situation of the Arab world is painted by the west as a means of belittling Islam. A muslim lives the way he is shown by the Seal of the Prophet (SAW), through the Final Revelation from the One and Only God.
In my opinion, the root problem of the Arab world stems from failure to follow the ways shown by the Holy Prophet (SAW).
Islam is a beautiful religion like you said but being of a certain religion does not force anyone into a cult. How can you say that prayers do not bring you closer to God? What does? Doing good deeds? Paying charity? Fasting maybe? The truth is all of them do and they are incomplete without prayer. Performing five prayers a day (or more) like good Muslims do is very helpful in our relationship with God/Allah. True, it becomes quite hectic if you've got a busy schedule but you will be rewarded in the hereafter for atleast trying because you had the Niyyat(intention).
I really liked this article, it's an A+. =-)
In fact, if you compare the Arab states to the former colonial states in sub-Saharan Africa (especially those with different ethnic groups with strong tribal loyalties), the Arab states have done quite well. Look at the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where millions (that's right millions) have died in a civil war in the last 5 years. The problem with top-down imposed artificial states [including the imperialist Khilafah entities that have many enthusiasts] is that they destroy the underlying loyalties that hold people together, and try to impose a structure and government on society that has not evolved to the culture of the people. That leads to corruption and nepotism, as the people have no loyalty to the artificial entity. The only way to stop this is to actively restructure the entire society, or to dismember the states and turn them into more workable entities.
follow islam in the correct manner.As it says
do or work for this world as if you will live forever, and work for the end as if you will die tomorrow!!(ex. plant and leave behind goods,don't worry that you will ot live to see it, others will benefit from it, and do good deeds and worship and fear GOD as if you will die tomorrow!!
Saddam was west`s blue eyed boy.Where is he today ? His palaces are in ruins. His palaces did not offer him any protection. Treachery and disloyalty,which the Quran strongly detests, is the name of the game called liberation and democracy. Why west refused to accept democracy in Algeria? Simply because Muslims are in majority? Why will not west accept true democracy in Iraq? Simply because Shias are in majority? Democracy stinks.
To add to the confusion, western writers who have no concept of Islamic philosophy, and are almost certainly biased about Islam, start writing about Islam.
You are making a lot of noise. What proof do you have for all the noise you are making. Or are you one of those prophets?? I see!
I am actually for this article, because it correctly defends Islam against the obvious, false accusations, BUT I would have liked to read the REAL reasons for the state of the Arab world on the other hand. The defense of Islam would have been even stronger.
The true faith is the path that leads to god, and it can be but lonely. As long as you genuinely try to follow Muhammad, or any other truly inspired man of faith, and wait for the angel to whisper in your ears, you are doing well. But the very day you'll be sure that you have heard him, that you have the truth at your fingertips, that you've figured it out completely, as say all religions, then you'll be an enemy of god. Then you'll start to rely on cults, on minute details as to what "correct" religion should be, as to what people ought to do to be in accordance with the "truth". Then your mind will rigidify and your soul will burn. You might be powerful then, but you will have lost the path.
Islam is beautiful. Islam is magnificent. Islam is a unique source of wisdom and intelligence. But don't you believe in it. You'd belong to Iblis, then, not to god. Islam's message, if you read it well, is to listen to the angel's voice, to retreat and hope to receive the inspiration in times of need, and sure not to follow some second-hand learning. God's word is not enclosed in books; his path is not made of this kind of discipline you can learn by obstinate repetition of prayers. God is the lighting, not the thunder.