1422 Moons Ago
This week marks the beginning of a new year in the Islamic calendar and serves as a time during which we must reflect upon the current state of affairs for all mankind.
The calendar begins from the night Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) began his journey from Makkah to Madinah one thousand four hundred and twenty one years ago. This journey is a momentous occasion in itself, and it includes a message for mankind of historical proportions. This last messenger put it upon humankind to pursue the establishment of justice and peace.
Physical migration and perseverance are important milestones on the road to establishing justice and peace. Intellectual migration from the subjugated minds to an awakened spirit is equally important.
The message of One God is timeless and universal, started by Prophet Adam and continued by Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon all of them). Now mankind is in need of the day to renew the same call, made 1421 years ago.
Society deserves to marvel its scientific achievements but by the same token, we must all combat what has aided in the decline of modern society. Moral degradation, selective justice, purposeless life, meaningless pursuits have become common principles. The world today -- the whole system of political, economic and cultural relationships that have grown out of the two hundred years of Western domination -- has refused to understand the true concept of justice.
Within this global system, the poor South, which is the home of the vast majority of the world's Muslims, had to "pay" the rich North an estimated 264 billion in debt servicing in 1998. It is estimated that 800,000 children die across the Developing World each year because of debt payments. It should also be noted that in 1980, 20% of the world's people who live in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% and by 1995, 90 times as much income. What is even more distressing is the fact that the world's 225 richest people have a combined wealth of over US $2 Trillion, equal to the annual income of the poorest 47% of the world's people (2.5 billion). The three richest people have assets that exceed the combined GDP of the 48 least developed countries.
These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg -- and only the economic iceberg at that. We will be dumbfounded if we examine the data on other structures --from resource control and technology information to everything in between. It is shocking that such severe inequities have been allowed to persist for so long at the global level. The world is crying out, albeit silently, for conscientious people to step up and stop the exploitation of weak, the inequitable distribution of wealth, and the wide chasm that divides North and South.
Good Muslims, many people say, should concentrate on perfecting their piety and practices, without getting their hands grubby trying to interfere in power or political matters. This is a modern Muslim version of the traditional Christian separation of church and state. In fact, many Muslim governments are heavily investing in human resources who are not only trained to believe in such passive thinking but also made to advocate this mantra to others.
In the migration of Prophet Muhammad, we learn of an amazing blend in the pursuit of establishing peace and justice without depriving any one or creating any disparities. Followers of his mission must examine the much too flexible approaches and compromising attitudes being adopted today. The timeless and universal call of one God must continue to be made but not by compromises. Migration of minds and thinking is the need of the day.
In fact, intellectual revolution is an essential pre-requisite before the socio-political order in a society can be changed. Some Muslims still carry the intellectual baggage of the colonial era, preventing them from understanding the issues clearly needed to bring about meaningful change in their societies.
And there is no better place to start than at the bottom of the pit. After all, there is only one-way to go, and that is up. And the life of the Last Prophet offers the only and the best example to follow in plotting the way out.
The world is up for grabs - the people of justice and truth should step up, or else they will continue to be trampled upon.
Shakeel Syed is an iviews.com writer on international affairs and author of the weekly Islamicity bulletins. He lives in Los Angeles, California.