By: Sher Alam Khan
This paper comprises the urgent needs for the development of Muslim
Ummah in regaining its right place in today’s world civilization. I
will discuss that how Muslim could reclaim the inherent strengths
which at the height of their civilization equipped their societies
to excel in diverse areas of human endeavor.
The Muslim World, as its stands today, is characterized by
paradoxes and contradictions. We have Muslim nations that are
resource rich but economically poor and weak. Despite the bounty of
Allah, the majority of the Muslim masses live in poverty, amidst
plenty for a selected few. During the last few centuries, we saw
the Muslim Ummah tumble from the heights of the Ottoman Empire to,
at one stage, becoming colonial servants of other masters. Towards
the end of the last century, we did witness the liberation of
Muslim countries, one by one, from the shackles of colonialism,
culminating in the independence of the Central Asian Muslim
Nations. And yet, despite our independence, democracy and despite
our divinely blessed resources and natural abundance, we continue
to be a disparate assortment of third world countries. Some of the
following comparative figures will indicate how really weak the
Muslims are in their thoughts of diversity, pluralism having
fundamentalist approach of religions.
Economic prosperity and philosophical development go hand-in-hand
with a certain amount of individual freedom. It is about creating
an environment where people can participate in deciding their
economic, theological and social futures. It is about creating
opportunities for everyone to pursue their hopes and dreams.
Unfortunately, in much of the Muslim World, the people generally do
not have a voice in the development process that touches their
lives. This is true particularly for women due to local taboos and
culturally gender biasness.
Moreover, apart from particular religious and secular books, a
large section of the people does not read any knowledge-based books
or articles of other sects of religions and school of thoughts.
That is why much of the Muslim world is suffering a crisis of
identity, as the crumbling of the Islamic Civilization in the
modern age has left Muslims with a profound sense of alienation and
injury. Challenges confronting many Muslim nations - failures of
development projects and the inability to respond effectively to
the Israeli violence have induced deep-seated frustration.
The present dire states of the Ummah, undoubtedly a tragedy, could,
however, also turn out to be a strategy for the Ummah, if it can
renew, once again, our search for a new order based on Islam. The
renewed quest for our destiny should make us more conscious of our
ideological and historical identity, and should bring us back to
the original source of our success Islamic beliefs and values.
Deriving spiritual and intellectual strength from our rich Islamic
traditions, we have the potential to climb out of the dark abyss
that we now find ourselves in.
We have seen in history that periods of crises often blossom into
periods of creative thinking. Today, world order appears to be
crumbling; we could be again in such a period of crisis and
creativity. To move forward in unity towards a period of peace and
prosperity, as well as physical and spiritual well-being,
particularly in the vastly complicated world of today, with its
inherently anti-Islamic bias, we need to think outside the box and
initiate changes, some of which would be more in the nature of
revolutionary rather than evolutionary. The task at hand is,
undoubtedly, difficulty, but if we set our minds and hearts to it,
and display a new freshness in our thinking, we should be able to
meet the challenges.
We have only to look back into our own past, where a small group of
people in Medina who, despite being surrounded to the North, West,
and East, by mighty superpowers, were able to courageously spread
Islamic influence across three continents. Surely, our task is much
easier compared to challenges, which the early Muslims in Medina
faced. But I meant not by the source of sword and terrorism. We
still have with us today the same source of inspiration and wisdom
that launched the Muslim Empire. While we are materially and
physically poor, our moral principles and spiritual strength are
fairly intact. What we need now is the will to unite and act
decisively to regain our dignity.
It is clear that we the Muslim Ummah must once again rely on
ourselves. Many attempts in the past have been made to unite the
Muslims religiously and politically. For instance the Organization
of Islamic Conference (OIC) was formed as a forum and platform to
have a common voice. Indeed, the OIC has not been able to move
beyond being a talking-shop because the Muslim Ummah is not united
and does not appear to have the political will or the mechanism to
strengthen it and their religious traditions and agreed heritage.
Secondly, the balanced and creative approach of Islamic education
was killed off. The spirit of Islamic learning was replaced by a
sanitized approach. Gone was the inquisitiveness to learn of God's
creation and sciences; gone was the boldness to create and innovate
for the betterment of mankind. Since the soul of Islam itself had
been extracted out the equation, the study of the physical sciences
was soon equated with materialism by colonized Muslims, resulting
in a general aversion to the sciences.
Through systematic propaganda and disinformation, the Muslim's
respect for his own religion and brotherhood was destroyed. All
references to Islam's glorious and rich historical and cultural
heritage were replaced with the objective of creating a sense of
inferiority among the colonized Muslims. To confuse and distort the
true unity of the Ummah, multiple exaggerations and names were
created among Muslim communities and different schools of thoughts
Due to that by the turn of the 21st century, Muslims had been
secularly and spiritually weakened, cut from each other both
economically, religiously and militarily. Muslims were powerless to
help each other.
Having identified the method in which the Ummah was systematically
divided and weakened, it is quite possible that we can reverse the
process and once again regain and strengthen the Ummah through a
rebuilding process. This process would include re-establishing
liberal Islamic thoughts, financial and economic systems;
restructuring the current education system by infusing it with
Islamic and modern pedagogical, andragogical education and learning
methods that encourage creativity and curiosity; rebuilding morale
among the Ummah and reconstructuring a real Muslim view of the
peaceful world. We need to keep reminding ourselves
self-sufficiency and efficiency is not impossible.
Shortly, we must need to build up our strength in every field of
life, not just in armed might. Our countries must be stable and
well-administered, must be economically strong and technologically
advanced. This will take time, but it can be done and it will be
time well spent. We are enjoined by our religion to be patient.
Even today, we have sufficient assets, human intellectuals,
scholars. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to
make use of them in a proper way in order to regain the real
meaning of Islam which was introduced by the Prophet Mohammad
(peace be upon him) the messenger of God. This is entirely possible
if we start to think, to plan, to strategies and to take the first
few critical steps. Even these few steps can yield positive
The writer is an Educationist