The Muslim extremist critique of the West goes something like this: the West has high levels of crime, abortion and divorce therefore Western ideologies -- secularism, democracy and Christianity -- are devoid of any value. The problem with such a critique is that it fails to recognize that many of the problems that exist in the West occur in spite of the values and systems that underpin Western civilization or occur in isolation to those values.
Unfortunately, a similarly disingenuous approach is often applied by some on the Left to the Islamic world. As an example, the problems of honor killings and crimes against women are routinely cited as evidence of the failings of Islamic fundamentalism.
"What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence," Bertrand Russell once noted, "is an index to his desires - desires of which he himself is often unconscious." It seems that the willingness of some supposed progressives to impugn Islam because of the social problems of the Muslim world is driven by the same overall antagonism towards religion that leads others to declare Christianity bankrupt of all value because of the transgressions of some priests. These critics begin their analysis with the culprit and villain already in mind and then gather the 'evidence' to support their hypothesis.
The fact is that much of what our critics charge our societies with is true. There are indeed problems with violence against women, honor killings, female genital mutilation and sub-standard levels of education. However, if one examines the situation with a dispassionate and unblinkered view, one finds that Islam -- particularly Islam in its most puritan, austere form -- is innocent of any responsibility for these problems.
The fundamental problem that the Muslim world faces is a pervasive ignorance. It is a secular ignorance -- as evidenced by the poor literacy rates -- but more importantly we face a spiritual ignorance. In the Muslim world, religion and culture have been conflated with no distinction made between the two. For this reason, one finds honor killings in Jordan, genital mutilation or infanticide in other parts of the world often justified with a ham-fisted interpretation of religious texts. This isn't something unique to Islam: one can find equivalent justifications for abhorrent behavior in all faiths.
In the Muslim world, the principle cause of the ignorance that hangs over our society like a pall is the view of many of our governments that Islam is a threat to their secular and totalitarian rule. They have thus hindered and obstructed the development of Islam in their countries to the point that, for the first time in Islamic history, there are now huge numbers of Muslims living outside the Muslim world.
The proposed solutions for the Muslim world - secularism, democracy and some Western notion of "women's rights" - are based on several fallacious assumptions. Firstly, it assumes that the stagnation in the Muslim world is a result of religion and therefore secularism will be the obvious panacea. However, history shows that the Muslim world was at its social, economic and intellectual zenith when it was ruled by Islamic law. It was only when the newly created nation-states began pursuing other ideologies that the Islamic world fell into decline. It's for this reason that the majority of Muslims see secularism not as a solution, but as a continuation of the problem. Secondly, it is a fact that were one-man one-vote to come to most all the Muslim societies, the result would be an Islamic government ushered into power. For that reason, the democracy that is being offered is really just a Trojan horse for a pro-western, secular form of government malleable to Western interests. As for the vacuous notion of "women's rights" which is so frequently cited as a partial-justification for the ongoing Western intervention in the Muslim world, it ignores one fundamental fact: women in the Muslim world no more want a 'feminist revolution' than they want a 'democratic revolution'.
In the final analysis, the true enemy of both Muslim and non-Muslim worlds is not necessarily the other but rather ignorance and false assumptions.
Fatima Shah is spokeswoman on Women's Affairs for the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC). She can be contacted at [email protected]
A well written article.When the yesteryears Islamic Govts allowed Muslims to follow true Islamic values,there was no ,'so called clash of civilizations.e.g.Muslim Spain and Ottoman Turkey,where Muslims and non-Muslims led peaceful coexistence.Unfortunately today the so-called Islamic Govt. do not allow the Muslims to follow true Islamic values.Hence both the Muslims and non-Muslims suffer.e.g.Egypt&Saudi Arabia.
Your six reasons for emigration to the U.S. are accurate, especially the one where you stated that democratic values of the U.S. are the closest to an Islamic system. I think that's where most Muslims see themselves today: well, if we can't ever have a truly Islamic government, then at least we can taste a little of it in the U.S. Good analysis, Hudd. I really feel as if your analysis has improved with this response.
I will not discuss all the issues in your comment, Br Ahmed Asgher already answered you, however I have only one issue to discuss and if you want to challenge what I say you have to provide the 'evidence'.
Circumcission. Is it Islamic or not? My answer is, it is practiced by the majority of Muslims(a minority do not). Because something is done by a body of Muslims, that doesn't render the deed Islamic. Example, wearing turban, kufi, kaftan, using kohol, using misk(musk) etc. are merely practiced by the people of Middle East or Asia. They are local cultures. A person wearing a suit and lacker shoes, sun-glasses and an umbrella is as much dressed as a Muslim as the man in jalabiyah and barefoot. Islam is a condition of the heart and mind, not a set of clothes or rituals or initiation practices like circumscission for the Jews and baptismal for the Christians. Accept it Adam, circumscission is not part of Islam, if it was, every new comer would need to do it!
God bless and Peace to all!
"And in ANY MATTER where your knowledge is limited DO NOT venture into it or even give an opinion, cos this is one of the must grevious offence you will commit against Allah to invite His wrath."
Like I said in my earlier posting. This is exactly what I mean. Some hard nuts insits that no one has the right to express their opinion about any subject in Islam if it contradicts the norm. Why? Who syas so? and where is the position of Quran and Sunnah on that? Let us examine all that and then come to such ignorant ruling as no one has the right. It is thro questioning that we find knowledge.
Then the writer goes on to say:
"Now the issue of circumcision (for both female and male) in Islam is a standing order in Islam"
Where exactly? Please give us a reference from Quran and Sunnah and let us examine these and come to an informed understanding instead of living in ignorance.
Bear in mind that it was Omar who, after gathering all the written ahadith from the Sahaba, he sat out to burn the lot. Then he banned reporting of any such Ahadith and this ruling continued for over 50 years. It was not until Omar bin Abdul Aziz who ordered the Sunnah to be written down again.
This might come as a surprise to some Sunneh brothers but please visit your history books. Islam is a religion of knowledge; The first verse of the Quran states; "READ", it came as an order to the Prophet mpbuh.
I wish this article was longer so one could gain more out it :o)
And Ronni, I agree about the terrorists in Iraq, when are going to call your trailer park troops home ?
And the same goes the other way. We see the 9/11 people, the crazy terrorists in Iraq who are only sabotaging their own future and draw conclusions about Islam.
I am surpised.... impressed... pleased... RELIEVED, that such people do truly exist in the world. People like Fatimah will ultimately help bring about healing and reconciliation, if only her voice can be heard more loudly and received more clearly by us all.
Now they are after plunder of Iraq's oil and call it the first step in democratisation.
Anybody with half a brain understands that if true democracy ever dawns on Arabs and Muslims the only loser would be U.S.A.
U.S. has so enraged the Muslims in the last 50 years that the first act of any democratic government would be to kick the Americans out and Americans are not that dumb to understand that. Behind the fog of flowery rhetoric lies the desire for perpetual control over resources and markets - in a nutshell it is the "capitalism" - servitude to American multinationals - that motivates their every move.
The entire Western world was outraged at " Tienammen Squre" democracy fiasco but these same champions of democracy were lining up to offer their material and moral support to Algerian generals when they cancelled the Algerian democracy. The West was not mourning the loss of democracy in China, what it was wringing its hand over was this - here was a golden opportunity to send China packing into economic wilderness exactly in the footsteps of Russia- and this once-in-millenium gift was missed.
The Western solution for the Muslims is to impose and then control dictators and puppets like Mubarak, Musharraf, Abdullahs, Saddam -while beating their chest over lack of democracy.
For Muslims it is more important to conform to the traditions of their cultures than to Islam. Quran, which is our guiding light has been pushed in the background while hadeeth etc. which is no more than "hearsay" has become sacrosanct.
AND STOP THIS PHOBIA OF COMPARING WITH THE WEST.
IF FATIMAH WANTS TO KNOW WHY HUGE NUMBERS OF MUSLIMS LIVE OUTSIDE THE MUSLIM WORLD LET HER SPEND A DAY IN CAIRO OR KARACHI AND SHE WILL KNOW THE REASON. THE CHAOS, THE LACK OF SOCIAL DISCIPLINE, THE CORRUPTION, THE OPENLY VULGAR LANGUAGE ON THE STREETS, THE LACK OF HYGIENE, OPEN SEWERS, BOMBING OF MASJIDS BY RIVAL ISLAMIC SECTS ETC., ETC. ALSO, HER STATEMENT THAT THE MUSLIM WORLD WAS AT ITS ZENITH WHEN IT WAS RULED BY ISLAMIC LAW IS ALSO A TYPICAL GLORIFICATION OF THE PAST THAT IS FOUND IN ALL SOCIETIES. THE FACT IS THAT THE MUSLIM RULE BY CALIPHS, MOGHULS AND SULTANS WAS ALWAYS BRUTAL, DICTATORIAL AND SALACIOUS. WHAT IS GOING ON NOW IN ISLAMIC SOCIETIES IS THE FRUIT OF CENTURIES OF MISRULE,
GENOCIDE, AND PLUNDER. ITS TIME TO STOP GLORIFYING A MYTHICAL, NON-EXISTENT PAST AND GET ON WITH THE BUSINESS OF DEVELOPING WHAT THE CURRENT GENERATION OF ISLAMIC NATIONS HAS TO WORK WITH. BISMILLAH.
What is this based on? Does the author have any polls or studies to back this statement? Or is it just her opinion? I would think that at the very least, 'women in the Muslim world' would want the rights due to them as set down in the Quran. Are these not "women's rights"? What makes them 'vacuous'?
There is also the argument that democracy will lead to a secular government. Or possibly to an Islamic government. I'm not sure what the author's point was there. And if huge numbers of Muslims are living outside the 'Muslim world', I think that is proof positive that secular government and Islam are compatible. If the author is against a 'one man one vote' system (a phrase fraught with sexism), then is she happy with the status quo with most of the Arab world? Kings and dictators don't get voted in, so that should fit her criteria.
She also writes: 'It was only when the newly created nation-states began pursuing other ideologies that the Islamic world fell into decline'. I believe she's off by at least 400-500 years here. I think you can start with the fall of Cordoba, or earlier. Many think the real decline started with the fall of itjihad. See http://www.alphalink.com.au/~jperkins/ProspIsl.htm
In addition to the issues raised in this article, I lay the blame squarely on our leaders over the centuries for keeping the Ummah in ignorance. Amongst those leaders one party must take most of the balme and that is our Ulemaa or religious leaders.
Brothers and sisters. Islam forbids any man of God to recieve money from public purse. Today majority of our religious leaders are approved or appointed by governments and they receive wages from the government. Our beloved prophet has said that any money/food the religious leader receives from the reigning king shall turn into fire in his stomach on the Judgement Day. Why so, you might ask? How can a man give allegiance to two dieties? One he worships and one he receives money from and thus he must give his worldly allegiance to. How can he speak against injustices that arise from such kings and governments if he receives cash from them???
Man og God must be free from worldly allegiances and his allegiance must only be with Allah, the Eternal God of this Universe and thus he can hold his head high and speak the truth and only fear God for His retribution.
If one looks at our history, in any Islamic country and that is the case today to a large extent although some retain their independance. The rulers of the day, the kings have appointed the religious leaders. They are in it together. The religious leaders have the mandate to passify the public/community and keep them busy with his fanciful fatwas and 'guidance' and interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah, almost to the exclusion of any thinking person.
Now the issue of circumcision (for both female and male) in Islam is a standing order in Islam. The question of how it is done in both cases is where going to school is essential. Also the issue of one man one vote in Islam is clear. Neither the Prophet(SAW) nor the Sahabas practiced it. It therefore does not usher in any Islamic government, but as necessary evil, we find ourselves in the situation where this is being imposed on us. One thing that is very clear there is no stopping the Ah-lkitab especially the Jews in providing us with so many innovations that look as the only choice, even though these may go against the teachings of Allah perfected in Islam. The unfornate thing is that "Islamic scholars" use to give green light to these innovations tagging them as "Good innovations". Is there anything good about innovation? When the prophet(SAW) gave his verdict, he didn't categorise any innovation as good or otherwise, ALL INNOVATIONS IN ISLAM are rejected!
Please let us go back to school even if it means starting from the beginning(aqeedah or the knowledge of Tawheed), in this way, may be, Allah will have mercy on us and give a way out to the decline so prevalent in the Islamic world today.
This is a very sad state of affairs. The Prophet of Islam,pbuh, advised the Muslims to marry as far as possible of their tribes and nations in order to strengthen their blood(meaning obviously, the genes). As for the freedom of women in Islam, did not women question the prophet,pbuh? Does not the Quran say:"Male and Female has He(God) created them, equal members of one another" When an erudit person states something like, "Muslims should reform or revive themselves", they all get panicked like the very Islam would be put on the line! Yes, indeed, Muslims should revisit their heritage and traditions and make the big sweeping like the prophet,pbuh, did the sweeping of the idols of the Kaabah!
I personally hate all forms of oppression, as Allah said in one of the Hadith Qudsi:"I(God) have forbidden oppression to Myself, therefore do not oppress one another." We have so many examples in the stories about those times or Hadiths in which there is a beautiful example to follow. I have a black cat and she comes everywhere with me. When my Muslim neighbours see her, they scream and make place for me as if I was carrying a Siberian tiger! Muhammad,pbuh, had a cat named, Moezza. Once, Moezza, fell asleep on his coat. Muhammad,pbuh, rather cut the sleeve of his coat not to disturb the sleeping cat in order to dress that coat.