Every now and then, you read some comments or hear people blaming Muslims and Arabs for the ongoing chaos and unending violence currently happening throughout the world. At large, people, mainly those living in the north-western hemisphere, criticize most of the Muslim world and Arab countries in particular, for being cruel, belligerent and indifferent to international human rights. They see most Arab and Muslim people as either ferocious extremists or dormant notional populists, or fluffy pleasure seekers.
Many of those blamers relate the inscrutable case of Muslim and Arab nations to the intense presence of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, others to the rigid application of Islamic Sharia (laws) and traditions, some others to the spread of poverty, a lack of civility education and general awareness. While, moderate analysts link it up to several sociopolitical factors: primarily to the absence of democracy and real human development, to the long presence of autocratic regimes, prolonged colonization, and indirect foreign dominance.
On the Eastern side of the hemisphere, the many of Arabs and Muslims blame their governments, leadership as well as paramount world powers for their underdevelopment and adversity. They denounce most powerful western countries, like the UK, U.S., France Russia, Germany, for instance, for being a group of opportunistic countries who just seek national interest at any cost. Summing up that, though those advanced nations practice democracy at home, preach high moralistic values and lecture democratic orientations; yet, their foreign policies and international dealings are in contrast with what they proclaim.
Unfortunately, considering why and how western powers are ignoring the ongoing massacres in Syria (where more than one hundred twenty thousand Syrians have been slaughtered) is affirming Arabs allegations—not to mention the U.S. supportive role of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Many Muslims analysts associate the current chaotic sociopolitical situations to the rise and spread of foreign ideologies; like socialism, communism, capitalism, and other wild notions. Meanwhile, most Arabs and Muslims relate their economic stagnation to some ceaseless foreign political scheming and covert intelligence operations. They also believe that such unenviable foreign activities along with the unending series of security threats are constraining the political will and national capabilities of Arab countries to employ their economic resources according to their own political and socioeconomic interests.
Given these arguments and accusations, one starts to wonder whom to blame for Muslims unending nightmares; and what is the fact of such contentious matter? Obviously, it is difficult to find the answer.
However, to get onto such case, people have to leave off their absorbed suspicions, prejudice and prejudgments so that they could ideate the bare truth. As neutral as possible, the unfortunate fact is that most of those allegations and conclusions are somehow valid. Otherwise, it would not have been that knotty to build real trust between East and West.
Looking to the East in an attempt to tag one common destabilizing factor (though some have more than one) among many restless Asian and African Muslim countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestinian territories, Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mali, and Nigeria; or have weighty Muslim communities like Lebanon, China, Myanmar, Philippine, Indonesia, India, and Cyprus, for instance, will bring out one answer. Away from any defensive instinct or justification, it is the heavy presence of hardline Islamic fundamentalist groups and adverse role of militant Muslim extremists.
Likewise, a look into the regional security and political conditions of the Arab world, the supposed guiding center of the Muslim world, will show that Arab countries are struggling to cope with the aftereffects of devising many militant radical groups–not to discuss why some Arab authorities have clandestinely supported Islamic fundamentalism for more than half-century. In fact, Arab governments are paying now a heavy price to decommission the fanatic killing machines, which they themselves and the U.S. have created in order to fight the communist Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
As to the issue of Islamic Sharia and traditions, albeit that the present malpractice and the inflexible frame of mind of some Muslims are mislabeling the entire Muslim world, nonetheless, the current pattern of practice has no ground in the Quran or in other Islamic dictations. Actually, the issue of rigidity is an agelong cleric-made case, which is a dispiriting case to the mass majority of moderate Muslims—let alone Muslim and non-Muslim intellects.
Like or not, the responsibility falls on all Islamic religious authorities (industries would be more accurate) and their fundamentalist peers, most of whom have wrongly misinterpreted and falsely redefined many pivotal Islamic teachings just to maintain a solid grip over the social life of Muslim people, especially over pious and poverty-stricken Muslims. Disregarding that, the Quran denounces the role of clergymen, and has not granted any authority to those always-right Imams, divine commanders, and their religious industries the right to impose their readings on the Muslim masses; since the Quranic scriptures call for the abolishment of all sorts of priesthood, clergy, and sheikhdom.
Over and above that, the world sees and hears Arab and Muslim governments openly claim their strong inclination to facilitate democratic reform and secularization. While they discreetly empower the role, fund the operations and authorize the rulings of their national religious authorities so that to maintain indirect control of what is beyond their political authorities. Bearing in mind that, in the golden days of Islam, it was the masses who had the prerogatives to nominate and select (by a majority vote) the Caliph, Muslims’ highest religious reference and top executive—not the governments or some group of influential pro-government politicians.
Contrary to that, nowadays, it is the governments who officially appoint, through a prearranged good word of some alleged Islamic religious council, the Grand Muftis, the supposed heads of national religious authority.Knowing that the Grand Mufti, Islamic judges and all other bureaucrats are fully-paid government employees, most of whom were appointed for their allegiance to one chieftain or another, irrespective of their knowledge and integrity.
On the socioeconomic and human development track, there is no doubt that the big share of Muslim nations are among the poorest countries of the world, seeing that even rich Arab countries have failed to reduce their countries’ high levels of poverty and illiteracy. It is depressing to know that, according to UNHDR 2010, around 40% of Arab population (over 140 million) including oil-rich countries lives below the poverty line. While on the literacy level, one in three Arab people is illiterate (over 120 million people) including 46.5% of all Arab women. To make it worse, most Arab governments camouflage their failure by lecturing their people about the importance of human development and economic progress, instead of utilizing their resources and efforts to overcome these momentous shortcomings
In effect, this alarming reality is not only crippling any reform process and development efforts to modernize Arab and Muslim communities, but also adding enormous risks to the security and safety of all nations, since poverty and ignorance are the bottom layers of terrorism and criminal acts.
To their discredit, many Arab and Muslim authorities, still blame other nations for their cultural downslope and low nation-worth. Whereas, they should blame themselves first, admit their fatal mistakes and start over a new liberal path of life while they can.
However, if Arab and Muslim governments and people alike really want to change that reality, they should act in accordance with what Imam Al-Shafi’i said before one thousand two hundred years ago.
بقَدْرِ الكدِّ تُكتَسَبُ المَعَالي *** ومَنْ طَلبَ العُلا سَهِرَ اللّيالي
ومَنْ رامَ العُلى مِن غَيرِ كَدٍّ *** أضَاعَ العُمرَ في طَلَبِ المُحَالِ
تَرُومُ العِزَّ ثم تَنامُ لَيلاً *** يَغُوصُ البَحْرَ مَن طَلَبَ اللآلي
Loftiness is attained in accordance to one’s struggles
And whoever seeks nobility, remains vigilant by night
Whoever wishes to achieve, without due effort
Will waste their life in seeking the impossible
You search for glory and yet you sleep at night
It is only the seeker of pearls who dives deep into the sea
If they do not, they should not wonder why they are living death.