The Middle East Tribune

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Whom to Blame for Muslims’ Unending Nightmares

Poor Arab family in Yemen-photo source: http://www.news.cn

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, Arab countries in particular, for being cruel, belligerent and undeferential of 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, lack of civil 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 existence 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, leaderships as well as paramount world powers for their underdevelopment and adversity. They denounce most powerful western countries, like UK, U.S., France Russia, Germany, etc… 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 120 thousand Syrian have been slaughtered) is affirming Arabs allegations—not to mention their supportive role of Egypt’s Islamist groups.

Many Muslims analysts associate the current chaotic sociopolitical situations to the rise and spread of foreign ideologies; like socialism, communism, capitalism and wild liberalistic notions. While a large number of Arabs and Muslims relate their economic stagnation to some ceaseless foreign political manipulative process and covert intelligence operations.  They also believe that such unenviable foreign activities, along with the unending series of security threats, are constraining their political will and national capabilities to employ their economic resources as per their own political and socioeconomic interests.

Actually, given the notions and accusations of both camps, one starts to wonder who is to blame, and what is the mere fact of such contentious matter? Obviously, none is easy to answer.

To get onto such case, however, one have to leave off his/her absorbed suspicions, prejudice and prejudgments in order to be able to 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 countries, such as China, Myanmar, Philippine, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian territories, Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria and others, 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 now paying a heavy price to decommission the fanatic killing machines, they themselves, along with the U.S., have caused to sprout in order to fight the communist Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

As to the issue of Islamic Sharia and traditions, albeit that the present malpractices and inflexible frame of mind of many Muslims are mislabeling the entire Muslim world, nonetheless the fact is that the current pattern is neither intrinsic in Islam nor based on Islamic divine 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) as well as on their fundamentalist peers, who have wrongly misinterpreted and falsely redefined a number of pivotal Islamic teachings just to maintain a solid grip over the social life of Muslim people, especially over those devout and poverty-stricken Muslims. Disregarding that, in Islam, there are no clergymen or always-right Imams or divine commandment, which grants those religious industries the right to impose their readings on the Muslim masses, given that the Qur’anic scripture call for the abolishment of all sorts of priesthood, clergy and sheikhdom.

Pakistan’s Islamic School photo source: http://www.nytimes.com

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, at the same time, they discreetly empower the role, fund the operations and authorize the rulings of their national religious authorities so that to have 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 some group of influential politicians.To the contrary, 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 who are mostly appointed for their loyalty, 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 high levels of poverty and illiteracy. It is depressing to know that, according to UNHDR 2010, around 40% (over 140 million) of Arab population including oil-rich countries live 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 worst, albeit the obvious failure of Arab countries, they keep talk fancy about the importance of human development and economic progress, rather than putting forth efforts to overcome these disastrous 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, most Arab authorities, likewise many other Muslim countries, still blame other nations for their cultural downslope and low nation-worth, whereas they should blame themselves, admit their fatal mistakes and start over a new liberal path of life while they can.

Arab and Muslim governments and people alike should contemplate what Imam Al-Shafi’i said more than 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 not, Arab and Muslim countries should not wonder why they are living death.

———————–

Author’s Note: This article is also simultaneously published at Arabian Gazette

 

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18 comments on “Whom to Blame for Muslims’ Unending Nightmares

  1. Vesna Tasevska Dabizljevic
    December 10, 2013

    It will be useful if the people with other religion read this article….

    Like

  2. Angela Grant
    November 20, 2013

    Hi Mohammed,
    Very nice review article delving into stereotypical misunderstandings and fundamental communication issues between East and West; and the use of Islamic Sharia and traditions to subjugate the masses.

    I just reblogged. Thank you.

    Like

  3. Angela Grant
    November 20, 2013

    Reblogged this on Failure to Listen.

    Like

  4. Dr. Khan
    September 27, 2013

    The synoptic view of the Muslim world would not have been more thoughtful, Muhammad S. Moussalli

    For most of the ills, Muslims are to blame themselves. When the Muslim rulers indulged in extravagantly wasteful life at the expense of state coffers and failed to protect masses through absolute social justice, shirking their responsibility of preventing them being gulped by the monster, called hunger, the wounds in all Muslim societies festered and rot became incurable. Here the stage set in for universal dogmas of eliminating such dynasties by the those who had been eternally vigilant and knew the price of liberty. Therefore such questions that who jumped in the arena and subjugated the Muslims from where and how long, tantamount to self-deception and bigotry. Thus runs the narrative through the historic landscape.

    Turning to 21st century, imagine the repression and tyranny Muslim masses are going through, precisely against the tenants of Islam that not only acknowledge basic human rights, justice and rule of law but also hold the rulers responsible for even a goat gone hungry on the bank of distant Euphrates. In the absence of classical wars and territorial grabs, a few exception notwithstanding, ‘Mulla’ took upon himself to restore the glory of Islam but his political motives were even more pernicious and menacing than the earlier neglect of languishing rulers. Illiterate or half literate youths, more often just for food or paltry amount, have been lured in to win paradise and wreak havoc under the pretext of ‘jihad’ against the foreign forces or against the ‘social evils’ that ‘he’ perceives within his own country. Now the struggle would need revenue to fill his personal coffer as well as pay his fanatic recruits.

    Consequently, he needed several fronts and incidentally they were available readily. Hence he justifiably became an extortionist, drugs and arms smuggler, human trafficker and inducted his sleeper cells in developed countries where he could harvest larger donations from ignorant Muslim expatriates. While his networks operate like bees, day in and day out, his personal life-style put the earlier monarchs or dictators to shame. Then he emerged as a significant person in that country politics where the fragile and corrupt governments are bound to seek his blessings. In other words, when Islam discourages seeking personal gains, precisely in the name of Islam he has emerged to prominence, trespassing all hurdles of hard work and competence. Finding such recipe paying, why others (no dearth of numbers) would lag behind. After all, it needs a few slogans and access to a mosque that any one can build anywhere. Such is the story of radical pursuits of pseudo ‘Mullas’ who have brought slur to a fantastic religion, ‘Islam’ that has answer for uprooting all ills provided the leaders are true to the faith in letter and spirit. Their number is mercifully not even 0.01 per cent and hence patience of silent majority would prevail sooner or later when public opinion would force the government to eradicate them by dispensation of justice across the board.

    There are however, a number of eminent religious personalities who enjoy respect among the masses when they live as a model ‘Muslim’ and thus cast sobering effect on radicals.

    Like

  5. bruce brittain
    September 25, 2013

    Your piece is nicely written and thoughtfully constructed. Congratulations.

    I have two observations that may be old news but didn’t seem to be directly addressed. First, Islam is the youngest of the Abrahamic religions and has, to date, not had the equivalent of the Enlightenment. Therefore, many Muslim clerics are free to preach the most fundamental interpretation of the Koran with very little push back from those who might want a more enlightened version of the sacred text. This, plus the very tight bond between religion and government in most of the Muslim world, provides the kind of stifling environment that blunts a wide-ranging and liberal base of learning and discourages equal rights for many, particularly women.

    Even in the U.S. we must still stand guard against our own Christian fundamentalists who would prefer that we had a tight bond between church and state. Wisely, the framers of our Constitution, recalling the problems of this partnership in Europe, built a fairly strong defense that, hopefully, will not be breached.

    Second, many Muslim countries are less nations than they are a collection of tribes and/or sects. The West is particularly guilty of creating this situation with its semi-arbitrary creation of countries following the First World War. The lack of true national identity, keeps many of these countries locked in internal bloody conflict, each tribe or sect seeing the conflict as a zero sum affair. They kill each other daily, keeping the country from concentrating on social, scientific and other nation-building progress. Then, they look externally for whom to blame.

    The west is certainly not without blame for ham-handed meddling. Having admitted that, I cannot imagine serious progress throughout the Muslim world without significant internal reflection and change on the Islam-Government connection. Unfortunately, such reflection and change happens only over long stretches of time and it threatens entrenched power.

    Like

    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      September 26, 2013

      Thank you for your nice words and contribution. As for your observations, I agree with you on the second, and would like to add one note to the first one.
      Actually, going deep into the Islamic era, one will see that Muslims had an Enlightenment age, in terms of Islamic teachings, thought and conduct. It was on most of the the first Islamic century, or less, but gone less noticed in history because of the continued,as of then, degeneration of real Islamic practice .
      Thank you very much

      Like

      • Paul "Chip" Hill
        September 27, 2013

        Indeed… I believe that the development of geometry was one of the primary contributions to come from the world of Islam from the era you reference, Mohammad… in fact, I also think the Christian world of Western Europe was still in the midst of the ‘dark ages’ while it was the Middle Eastern states that were rapidly evolving.

        Like

        • Mohammad S. Moussalli
          September 27, 2013

          That’s true, Chip. The issue stems from the misinterpretation and intentional misuse of Islamic clerics

          Like

  6. T.E.Manning
    September 24, 2013

    Thank you all for the article and the sensible comments.

    May I carefully suggest that radicalism and revolt are caused by inequality ?

    In paragraph 20 of his report A/68/183 dated 24 July 2013 to the General Assembly of the United Nations the Secretary-General stated :

    “Income inequality has increased in the majority of countries over the past 30 years. About two thirds of the countries for which data were available experienced an increase in income inequality between 1990 and 2005, despite globally robust economic growth. Similarly, the income gap between the wealthiest and the poorest 10 per cent of income earners increased in 70 per cent of the countries. There were large differences in mean income across countries, which accounted for two thirds of global income inequality. Global wealth was highly concentrated, as the richest 1 per cent of the world’s population owned 40 per cent of global assets, while the bottom half held just 1 per cent.”

    As the Secretary-General had just pointed out in the preceding paragraph 19 : “growing inequality jeopardizes progress towards poverty eradication and social stability. Situations where the poor are excluded from economic growth, or trapped in low-productivity jobs, result in the gains from growth going disproportionately to those already better off. ”

    Paragraph 20 of the Secretary General’s report refers to the period to 2005. The situation of the world’s poor has worsened since then. Gini coefficients reflecting levels of inequality have gone up sharply in most countries.

    The wealth of some muslim countries has come from exploitation of easy-to-get finite commons [the natural property of all], in particular oil, by elites in their own interest. This has led to increasee in inequality there and reduced social participation in the formation of monetary wealth.

    “The global commons are not being exploited merely because nature’s services are underpriced in the market, but because they are being propertized, commodified, subsidized and subjected to interest-bearing debt.” (Quilligan, J.B. , Interest Rates and Climate change : Realigning our Incentives through the Power of the Commons, Kosmos, Vol. X, Number 1, Fall/winter 2010, p. 27, Kosmos Associates, Lenox, 2010.)

    As Quilligan puts it this is “Robbing assets from the future and selling them in the present” depriving young people of their future.

    Like

  7. nonentiti
    September 24, 2013

    Mohammed: Wonderful article. A lot of what your say rings familiar. Like the clergy and the state keeping each other in power. This is something that happened in Europe for centuries and in some cases there are still remnants of that. I agree that it is hard to get a population to stand up if they don’t have enough to eat.
    I also agree that many countries claim to uphold democratic values, yet in words only. But that is not just an Arab problem. Democracy is a phrase that is used as a weapon to admonish others with, yet nobody really practices democracy and besides that, the presumed link to freedom is a deception – in the west possibly more than elsewhere.
    I feel for the people of Syria, but international intervention if it comes from the west is going to come across as an act of war unless the other Arabian nations take the initiative and ask for help, so that it won’t be seen as a west versus east by those who cannot see past the stereotypes.
    On a very large scale, however, the problems of the Arab world are the same problems different populations have suffered all through the ages – and they are a result of how human nature works.
    Change cannot come about quickly if you need the support of the masses and rapid change is often the cause for the next problems.

    Like

    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      September 24, 2013

      Thank you for your praise. Though some of the forwarded views are familiar to some, yet unknown to many.
      As for your views about democracy, I simply don’t agree. Firstly, because democracy is not an ideology in itself , albeit that many try to present it as though. It is a system to provide a set of freedoms. knowing that all systems are subject to modifications in which it matches the requirements of unlike societies.
      Unfortunately, again, I don’t agree that suffering is “a result of how human nature works”. Probably you have to delete the word “nature”.
      Thank you again

      Like

  8. Paul "Chip" Hill
    September 23, 2013

    Mohammad, your words speak volumes towards untangling the political/social mess that paralyzes so much of the Middle East. Let us not forget, however that only when a human being is fed can he/she become educated and the reforms so necessary can take root. Until a population is not struggling to find its next meal can any hope of educating the masses be accomplished. Alas, this has to be an ongoing process as most political/social reform takes generations. The West has ownership in its failures to be more helpful in meeting these basic human-rights needs. My belief is that the West hides behind international laws and national politics to impede any chances to grow real political and social change from within most Middle Eastern states. This position works in conjunction to actually support many harsh established Islamic religious codes, which you have pointed out, as well as the political interests of individual Islamic power brokers vested in suppressing their populations.

    As always, I enjoy reading your commentaries.

    Like

    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      September 23, 2013

      Yes Paul, no doubt that bread and butter comes first, since empty stomach paralyzes the brain.
      It’s to my pleasure to know that you enjoyed it.
      Thank you

      Like

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