Muslim world through the crystal ball | By Tariq Aqil
The Muslim world through the crystal ball
WITH the phenomenal spread of the Islamic religion in the Arabian Peninsula, the world has witnessed the re-enactment of shattered justice, new concepts and values and a totally different social and political framework never seen before in the history of humanity.
The Arab peoples who had lived in disunity as fragmented tribes in a continuous battle of war and chaos for centuries united under a new religious concept and with a new social order and a new flag.
Today there are around 54 Muslim countries in the world and ironically the sad reality is that the entire Muslim world is lagging far behind in all areas of human endeavor and has failed miserably to meet the standards. human development requirements.
All the Muslim countries of the world have been under colonial rule for many years, but even after the end of colonialism they did not really develop as modern nation states. Economically, most of the Muslim countries are still heavily dependent on Western European countries, the United States or more recently on China and some on the Russian Federation.
The richest and oil-rich Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Iraq depend on Western corporations and corporations to develop their vast oil and gas fields.
Many African Muslim states are facing serious economic problems and their economies would collapse without massive financial aid and assistance from Western democracies.
Pakistan, one of the main Muslim states and the only nuclear power in the Muslim world, still depends on Western support economically, socially and politically. Even seventy-four years after independence, the country is still struggling to develop a self-sustaining economy.
We are still under the yoke of the IMF and the World Bank which provide financial aid with a lot of conditions and our economic leaders are very happy to dance to their rhythm. Our next Muslim neighbor, Afghanistan, is another sad example of total dependence on foreign countries for its survival.
With a few exceptions, most Muslim countries have failed to develop democratic institutions. Democracy does not exist in the Muslim world. Most Muslim nations are dictatorships, absolute monarchies, one-party regimes, or military dictatorships.
Countries like Libya and Egypt have seen dictators reign for more than forty years and as a result they are far behind developed countries with suffering and economically disadvantaged populations. Countries like Pakistan, Indonesia and even Turkey have repeatedly faced military dictatorships in their short history since independence.
Education is another major factor in human development and, unfortunately, Muslim countries have not shown any progress in this area, especially in the area of science and technology.
In the past 120 years, only nine Muslims have received the Nobel Prize, including two in a scientific discipline.
Today, all of the best universities in the world are located in Europe or the United States, and no university from a Muslim country has a significant place in the world’s university rankings. The leaders of Muslim countries are deliberately denying their people a world-class education because it prompts them to think about and claim their human and democratic rights.
The fabulously rich oil economies of the Middle East have built huge cities, gigantic ports, airports, and many awe-inspiring monuments to self-glory, but they have failed to build a single university or research center of world class. Pakistan has an education system which leaves a lot to be desired.
Even today, more than 30% of Pakistanis cannot read or write and yet the current government is once again experimenting with a unique new national program, which is again a step backwards, bringing the nation back to the Dark Ages . Serious efforts are being made at the national level to convert our education system into a madrassa type system.
Scientific and technological subjects are neglected and an excessive dose of religious injunctions is introduced which will have very damaging and serious consequences in the long term.
What’s wrong with Muslim nations? Why all the mushroom growth of religious fanatics? Why this intolerance and fanaticism? Contempt for human values? Crush intolerance? Murder of non-Muslims? Kill and burn alive people in the name of religion? Rise of Islamic organizations rooted in terrorism? Sectarian killings? Suppression of independent thought and feelings? These questions haunt the Muslim world from Iran to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
There is no short answer to these troubling questions, but if we judge history, the panacea to all the problems of Muslim nations lies in two words: Education and Democracy. The first antidote to the problems of the Muslim world is a return to a system of governance based on free secular democracy and a complete separation of state and religion.
Second, put more emphasis on education and the development of world-class universities and research centers. Muslim countries must follow new developments in the world on their own and drastically reduce their dependence on the help and assistance of others.
– The writer is a history professor based in Islamabad.