"WE HAVE A LOT TO LEARN"
By Dr Faisal Al Qasim, Special to Gulf News
05 September 2009
There is no doubting the fact that Arabs and Muslims are sadly the most regressive people in the world, according to the Human Development Reports supervised by renowned Muslim and Arab scholars, and released by the UN and other similar reports. In other words, the term 'Muslim' has been linked, in the minds of the people of the world, with violence, terrorism, anarchy, chaos, disturbances, famine, poverty and backwardness. There are of course certain exceptions to this rule, but not many.
Even Pakistan , a nuclear power, is at risk of becoming a failed state, due to poverty, corruption, internal fighting and political mismanagement. And when it comes to Turkey , seen as an exception in the Muslim world, the secularists there consider themselves closer to the West than to the Muslim world. They also ascribe the progress achieved by their country in many fields to a secular approach, rather than the influence of Islam. I have heard top Turkish scholars, thinkers and politicians say that they prefer to be at the rearguard of the Western world than at the vanguard of the Muslim world.
It goes without saying that some Arab countries exist in a less developed state politically, let alone scientifically or technologically.
Why are those who are supposed to be 'the best of all peoples', as revealed in the Quran, lagging behind? Why are the supposedly infidel people of the world making great progress in various fields, while the 'faithful' are lagging behind everybody else?
Ironically enough, a huge percentage of the Chinese people, whose number is approaching 1.5 billion, are atheists. But these non-believers have achieved the highest development rate the world over - it reached 13 per cent at one stage. Add to this the fact that these atheists have 'invaded' almost every house in the world with their products. A high-ranking Chinese official once bragged that, "It is China and not the United States of America that is invading the world". He challenged the Americans to get their products into a quarter of the houses entered by Chinese products. The official also bragged that the Chinese have 'invaded' the US itself. "Aren't the American flags fluttering over the White House made in China ?" he asked.
Experts predict that, in the near future, half of the products that will be sold in the world will be made by the Chinese. Even the Ramadan lambs that are slaughtered by Muslims in Cairo and other Muslim and Arab countries are raised in China . The prayer mats used by faithful Muslims the world over are made by Chinese non-believers, who only believe in doing their jobs in a very sincere and faithful manner. It goes without saying that all the little presents, such as rosaries and Islamic handicrafts, that the pilgrims take home with them after the pilgrimage season are made in China .
It is true that a Muslim country such as Malaysia has made great progress technologically, but some argue that were it not for the Chinese minority in that country, the Malaysians would not have been able to achieve what they have.
And if we consider the second-most progressive country in the world, India , we find that the majority of the people there revere cows. But that has not prevented them from competing with America in the computer industry, to the extent that the famous American writer Thomas Friedman fears that Silicon Valley will one day relocate to India.
In other words, the most progressive people in the world are non-believers by Islamic standards whereas we, Muslims, ironically waste most of our time classifying the peoples of the world into believers and non-believers, and fighting among ourselves over who is more 'faithful'.
I wish we spent more time learning from the non-believers, who produce most of the products we buy. If we had, we would probably be less regressive.
This is by no means a call for atheism - God forbid - but a suggestion that we better ourselves, as our great religion instructs us to do. The great Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) called upon us to seek knowledge - even in China.
Dr Faisal Al Qasim is a Syrian journalist based in Doha .
By Dr Faisal Al Qasim, Special to Gulf News
05 September 2009
Dr Nik Howk......
My take on this issue is that KNOWLEDGE or ILM, or the lack of it, is not the main factor that ails us the Muslim ummah. We have more problem than than. Our 'software' have been invaded by a virus decades ago!
The Chinese in China or the Indians in India, are apparently prospering now not because there have a greater monopoly of ILM. There is a combination of extremely cheap labour in abundance, the philosophy of the 'godliness' of money, and the lack of a belief in the afterlife among the ruling and business elites of these two giants, among other things contribute to their apparent success. Their so-called apparent success, we as an ummah do not envy, and we do not need to follow. I say apparent because the great majority of the people in these two countries still live below the poverty lines.Dr Faisal Al Qasim is being too superficial in his thought.
Having said that we are still 'among the low of the low' in whatever indices of 'good living' that we care to compare: literacy rate, maternal mortality, infant mortality, GNP, Per Capita Income, corruption Index, human right, Income distribution index,....and whatever that you care to name
The word Muslim now conjures the suffering of Somalia from years of big power politics, Palestinians under decades of Israeli inhuman maneuvers and time wasting tactics,Afghanistan increasingly under the tight grip of the crusading armies of the West, and elsewhere not very much different.Poverty,low income, abuses of power from a minority of those in power.Low literacy, low expectation and blind acceptance from the 'ruled' ummah seem to be the order of the day. Why is this so?????
My feeling is that decades of colonialization had damage the Muslim's "software": The very thing that had propelled an ignorant desert tribe from a god forsaken barren corner of this planet to control two third of the known world by the 14th century.
The same "software" that had instigated Tariq Ziad some 13 centuries ago to burn his long boats on crossing the Strait of Jabal Tariq, and brought light , science and a civilising influence on barbaric Europe to what is now known as the European Renaisance.
Part of the equation to Faisal Al Qasim's zigsaw puzzle, I feel, in the main, could be found, in a re-examination of our daily prayer. Yes, I do not feel I need to apologise for it being too simple. We have to re-examine the content and the true meaning of our daily prayer!
Minimum five times a day we professed that " Our prayers, our lives and even our death are for Allah and Allah only...".We described God, in our opening gambit of Al Fatihah as " The Most Beneficient, The Most Merciful".No poets dead or alive, or other religions could describe God better than what Prophet Mohammad did. If they are able to, I for one would like to change to that religion!
At least 17 times a day , as in Al Fatihah, we ask " that Allah show us the straight path, the path not trodden by those who earned His wrath, and not those who are behaving like they are lost sheep".
My contention is that most of us have become like the modern day 'robots'.We either do not comprehend what we pray for, and for those who can understand Arabic, do not mean what their lips say. In short ,we do not care.
That is just one side of the equation.
The other missing link is The Book. Worldwide we no longer understand The Book. We read like parrots do with no comprehension.
In 2009, the world has markedly changed from the world of our Prophet in 600 plus AD, but The Book is still The BOOK. Man has split the atom to harness energy and win wars.Man has controlled the microbial world with vaccinations and antibiotics. Man has gone to the moon and planning to go to Mars. But in other respect, man has not changed very much.We still have to contend with Pharoahs,Qaruns,with millions of Abdullah bin Ubays, with Abu Lahabs and Abu Jahals, with Suffians and Hinduns. They just come under different names now: Bush, Blair, Nethalnyyu,Gamal Naseer, Sadam, Mubarak etc, etc and etc. In the face of these characters,The Book has increasingly become more relevent.
But just how many of us understand The Book? Of those who understand,how many of us lived by The Book? Just last week we have a Muslim professor from a Sumatran Islamic University who went on Aljazira infront of 400 million audience saying that the Syariah should not and could not be applied to Indonesia, a country with more than 90 % Muslim population.That to him will tantamount to a basic sin against Pancasila!A Prof in Islamic theology! I wish I was there. I could have smashed his brain to pieces!
That is the extent of the 'damaged software': A professor teaching Islam in a 90 % Muslim majority country coming with that most profound conclusion about Islam ! Mashaallah! And when we have Tsunami and earthquakes hitting Indonesia we blame the weather. We blame and rationalise everything but left God's wrath conveniently behind. It is no longer fashionable and politically correct it seem to blame God's wrath.
You may think I am rather simplistic in my assertion. OK fine. Let us get back home to Malaysia and take one example:
Just one simple example in Malaysia. W e all are passionate about Halal and Haram with respect to food especially. If we just practice the principle of Halal food alone quite strictly,we could just bring the whole food industry in Malaysia ,which is sadly almost 90% controlled by Non Muslims, on their bended knees....all restaurants claiming to serve Halal food must have 30% Muslim content, ie cooks/supervisors etc and etc, otherwise we are not going to be their customers.We are not going to war, we are just not going to into their restaurants until there are tangible proof that the food they serve are halal!
There are 1.5 billion Muslims out there....Imagine the impact just on the basis of Halal and Haram. And we do not even have to talk about using OUR OIL as a weapon yet!Muslim countries are mainly lined around the equator.Do you guys wonder why solar panels is still expensive?.....Lack of drive to make it cheap.Why should the West do solar research when the Muslims already have oil.They are not morons, the West I mean. We are morons for expecting them to !...We can go to the next level if we reinvent and rediscover our strenght...
And this is just about understanding our prayer and practising some of the precepts from The Book. We are not delving as yet into the Muslims going in a big way into ILM, breaking the atom for peaceful use,cleaving the genes to find cure for illnesses, and bankcrupting all the Jewish banks, with personal alms and zero interest loans!
The Book talks about "utopia". A world that has done away with banks because poor people are looked after by their rich neighbours by alms and by interest free loans which could be turned to grants if they end up poorer! A world without child molestation,rape , robberies and plunder by the rich and powerful, because the Hudud laws when applied with wisdom would be a deterrent.A world of cheap electricity and power because there is proper research into solar energy utilisation and peaceful usage of nuclear fission energy. A world of excess food production and equitable sharing of technology and knowlege-based industries, where they is no Bill Gates or what have you saying that that basmati rice you ate last week is still due to him because he has a monopoly of the gene!.A world in which knowledge and the search for knowledge is based on human need and human decency rather than greed and the blind surge for power over others[ ..see earlier discussion on Islamisation of knowledge..]. Within predominantly Muslim countries, a world without the state police because self policing on the individual basis become more meaningful than community policing.
You may say that I am , just like John Lennon, a dreamer! You may say that what I have described is just an Utopia. But yes indeed! The Book is just about 'Utopia", just that we Muslims failed to comprehend and 'sell it to the world at large'.
Imagine, our Rulers, Kings, Prime Ministers, Generals, Administrators, Business giants, Shakers and Movers and the masses with their 'empowered prayers' and ILM. The Muslim world will not be crawling on their bended knees, as what is happening now, waiting for crumbs to fall from the Presidential High Table of Obama, Sarkozy and Angela Meckel.They represent the lost sheep. They should be the ones crawling.......crawling to Islam for answers.
"Allah would not change a people until they change their hearts".......[ The Quran ]
The accent there my dear friends is on the "hearts": The "changing of hearts".
Dr Nik Howk
"And in truth We have made the Qur'an easy to remember; but is there any that remembereth?" [ Surah Al Qamar , 54:40 ]
"O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." [ Surah Al Hujurat,13]
"Ye should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if ye did but know. (11) He will forgive you your sins and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, and pleasant dwellings in Gardens of Eden. That is the supreme triumph. (12)"
[ As Saff , 61 :11-12 ]
"The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Ye believe not, but rather say "We submit," for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts. Yet, if ye obey Allah and His messenger, He will not withhold from you aught of (the reward of) your deeds. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (14) The (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere." (15)
[ Surah Al Hujurat, 14-15 ].....Ilm is that missing link between just being a Badwi Muslim and a Mukmin..