Muslim Ummah in the Contemporary World

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Essay,

The weaknesses of MuslimUmmah

  • Introduction
  • History – Muslim Golden Age.
  • Weaknesses;
  1. Lacking of education including higher education.
  2. Lack of scientific knowledge and technological research including industrialization.
  3. Lack of UNITY
  4. Sectarianism & Intolerance
  5. Absence of Democracy
  6. Leadership crisis & political instability
  7. Economic disparity.
  8. Poverty & unemployment
  9. Controlled and inefficient mass media to counter propaganda against Muslims.
  10. Low status of women
  11. Leaving off Islamic traditions and culture and (social disruption).
  • Solution to weaknesses.

Ummah is an Arabic word meaning “community” or “nation”. It is used to mean the diaspora or “community of believers”, and thus the whole Muslim world. Muslim world covers the globe from Northwest Africa to Southeast Asia comprising fifty- six independent countries. Muslim ummah has a population of  around 1.3 billion people, which is roughly twenty two percent of the world population and greater than the combined population of United States, Europe and Japan, with 900 million living in the Muslim world and 400 million spreading in other countries. Despite having immense manpower and natural resources, Muslim ummah is in, unprecedented miserable conditions presently. Muslims were not always enslaved by foreign powers as evident from their glorious past.

History tells that Muslims golden period was full of prosperity, progress and wisdom. Islamic golden age or Islamic renaissance is dated from seventh to fourteenth century, and during that period Islamic world immensely contributed to every field of life i.e., arts, agriculture, economics, industry, law, literature, navigation, philosophy, sciences, sociology, technology and many other fields, both by preserving and building upon earlier traditions and by adding inventions and innovations of their own. Howard R. Turner writes:

“Muslim artists and scientists, princes and laborers together made a unique culture that has directly and indirectly influenced societies on every continent”.

Crusade wars and Halaku Khan’s incasion of Baghdad in 1258 brought irreparable damage to the Muslim rule. With many other causes, Muslim golden age declined in 13th century which persists till to date.

Every decline or fall has certainly some reasons which don’t come in limelight suddenly but gradually expose themselves. Today Muslims are the weakest of all nations and are being oppressed and humiliated everywhere. These weaknesses are great in numbers, however, must be overcome.

Among them, low education level as well as poor education standard is certainly foremost. Educations play a critical role in building human capabilities and accelerate economic growth through knowledge, skills and creative strength of a society. Education also creates awareness, tolerance, self-esteem and confidence which empower people to defend their rights. That why Islam embraced learning from the first verse revealed in Quran in which God addressed His Messenger (P.B.U.H) saying:

“Read in the name of your lord and cherisher…He who taught (the use of) the pen taught man which he knew not. Alaq (1-5).”

Similarly, Holy Prophet says:

“Seeking knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim”.

Despite all this importance of education, Muslim world’s literacy rate lags well behind western countries. Further, the curriculum and quality of education do not commensurate with modern standard. Muslim world has about five hundred universities and US alone has 5758 universities’ while India has 8407 universities. Also no university of the Muslim world is among top 500 universities of the world. The poor quality of education in Muslim countries is depicted by the low number of inventions associated with Muslims. The entire Muslim world spends only 0.2% of its GDP on research while Christian countries spend 5%.

Technological advancement and research are the outcomes of higher education. Islamic world has 6 Nobel Prize laureates while Jews have 165 such winners. Research institutions and innovations invariably come from the western world and Muslim nations just adopt and consume their inventions. This is because the higher education; research and technology are not the priorities of Muslim rulers. It is through research and technological advancement that western countries excel in every field of life. For example, US invade other countries especially Muslim countries on the basis of its technologically advanced military.

Another important weakness of Muslim ummah is the lack of unity. Allah says:

“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves. (3: 103)”

Muslims all over the world are divided. Individualism prevails over collectivism. The foreign powers have conquered them and rule over them by simply using the principle of “divide and rule. Iran, Iraq war and Gulf war 1991 are prime examples. It is the lack of unity which led this situation and transfer of Muslim natural resources into foreign hands. No Muslim country stood up to criticize the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by US and NATO forces. The allegation of accession of WMD proved wrong, but it confirmed the fact if one Muslim country is attacked and destroyed, rest of the Muslim world would just be a spectator to it. However, Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said”

“The Muslim are like a body, if one part of the body hurts, rest of the body will also suffer.”

(Sahi-Bukhari)

Muslim world is divided into many sects, which weakened its strength of Muslim Ummah. Shia, Sunni sectarianism is well-known all over the world and this divide has engulfed hundreds of innocent lives including eminent scholars and teachers. Lack of tolerance creates parochial and prejudicial feelings and inability to understand the second perspective.  Tolerance which was once the basic ingredient of Muslim society now is a rare commodity. Taliban regime was the most intolerant so-called Muslim government.

Another problem of the Muslim world is the absence of functional democracy. Technically not a single Muslim country has a true democracy; all are filled up with dictatorship and totalitarian governments in one form or the other. As a result, there is a disconnection between people and their rulers.

When there is equality and rule of law, healthy competition develops among masses. This eventually led to the development of leaders of great stature who can change the fate of a nation. There is extreme paucity of sincere and loyal leadership in the Muslim world. Leadership motivates the nation, stirs the distracted people and promotes positive attitudes among people. Western world, on the contrary, through regular holding of free and fair elections, has continuous supply of esteemed and outstanding leaders who led them from the front and developed their countries.

Political stability comes from impartial election process and proper and fair representation of various ethic entities. Muslim world, under the dictatorship, goes under the every election with partial election commission and therefore, it is selection not election in practical terminology. The underrepresented groups then find militant ways to redress their grievances. In this way, society becomes fragile and development process is halted. East Pakistan became Bangladesh just because of absence of democracy and democratic rights.

Yet another basic flaw in Muslim Ummah is their much deteriorated judicial and legal system. Every Muslim country has manipulated judiciary which obliges only the elite and powerful people while suffer injustice. Justice guarantees the rule of law and fairness in matters of life. Inequality causes grievances among the victimized people, and as stated earlier, they express their frustration in violent way

Economic disparities in the Muslim countries are rampant. Some of the Muslim countries are rich, thanks to presence of oil on their shores, whereas most of the Muslim countries have feeble economies. We rarely see Muslim countries cooperating with each other to address their economic woes. Invariable, poor muslim countries are left at the mercy of European dominated international donor agencies.

Just five Muslim countries: Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt account for over quarter a billion of the world’s poor with incomes less than two dollars a day. However, Muslim world is obsessed with war, crime, military rather than working on eradicating economic and social disparity.

Another weak point of Muslim ummah is the absence of vigilant, efficient and responsible media to keep effective control over government and counter western propaganda. Government controlled media cannot reflect the true feelings of the society. Media is the fourth pillar of state and it is said that the media is the mirror image, however, controlled media cannot perform role required from it.

Another important weakness is the miserable conditions of women in the Islamic world. They are deprived of basic rights of education and work. Because of conservative approach and illiteracy, Muslims women are contributing little, if any, in national development. Many Muslims westerners argue that Islam prohibits women from education and working but that’s not the case. Islam actually gives the rights and acknowledges the status of women as necessary as that of men. Quran says:

“Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer verily, to him we will gives a good life….”

Islam grants goodwill to those who are righteous in their path whether male or female Islam allows women to get education, to practice various professions, to deal in financial matters, to perform household duties, to get married, to receive inheritance from parents and to engage in charitable purposes. It is the tribal thinking, feudalistic approach and sheer propaganda that put blame on Islam. In facts, Islam gives equal but different status to women recognizing their inherent differences.

Muslim ummah is deficient in practicing true Islamic values. Social disruption is on the peak because equality, socio economic justice, ethical values of tolerance, freedom of expression, protection of minorities, good behavior towards others and to stand for right cause which were once the peculiar qualities of the Muslim world, are now becoming extinct. Muslims are over whelmed by different cultures mainly western.

Another important weakness of Muslim ummah is the ever-increasing corruption in their societies. Bribery and nepotism are common practices. Profit giving and stocking of commodities are done in open way and Muslim authorities and governments including people, all are responsible for it.

Muslims have to recognize their inherent values. They have to unite themselves and make a dynamic active progressive organization. They should encourage tolerance and rebuild their institutions to strengthen democracy. Loans and macro and micro-financing should be upgraded. The free trade zone should be set up; man power of poor Muslim countries should occupy rich Muslim countries. Muslim countries must encourage and promote higher education by establishing quality centers of higher education. In the meanwhile, scholars and students be given scholarships to pursue advance education at reputed international institutions.

There is no double that the current condition of Muslims is sorrowful and gloomy. But nevertheless they can be defeated and overpowered. Muslims ummah has immense talent, intellect and energy that they can compete with anyone. No nation is perfect, it has some discrepancies which can be corrected and same is the case with Muslim ummah. By adopting the different methods of advancement; by addressing the main drawbacks of their weaknesses through proper planning and then implementing the solutions completely in a fair, transparent manner. Muslim ummah can achieve its rightful status, respect, honour and power if it adhere to true Islamic principles and address its shortcomings.

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