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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Makkah Conference: M. J. Akbar Speaks|
|09/25/05 at 07:06:35|
|Note by Dr. Amir Ali: Reportedly, the Saudi Kingdom has invested one trillion (one thousand billion) dollars in the American banks, which is earning a minimum of fifty billion dollars annually that the Saudis do not take. Who gets fifty billion dollars annually? Evidently, this money goes to the American government of which a minimum of ten billion dollars go to Israel to kill Muslims and the rest goes to kill Muslims and subvert Muslim countries by the American armed forces, CIA and other subversion organizations of the American government. If the same one trillion dollars are invested in the Muslim world for science, technology, agriculture, manufacturing and trade, it will bring a lot of prosperity, closing down IMF and World Bank for the Muslim world. Other gulf states have another trillion dollars in the West and Japan, which should have been invested in the Muslim world. Is there anyone to bring the attention of these rulers to direct their surplus money coming out of the Muslim ground should be invested in the Muslim world? |
Makkah Conference: M. J. Akbar Speaks
Arab News, Jeddah
The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily
Hello, Abdul Hameed Khatri is suggesting the following article from http://www.arabnews.com: The Alternative Voice Is Not a Hostile Voice -11 M.J. Akbar On Sept. 9, a select group of scholars and intellectuals gathered in Makkah at the invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. The objective of this "Preparatory Forum of Eminent Muslim Scholars" was clearly defined: To formulate, over three days of intense discussions in the shadow of the Kaaba, a new vision for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world body of the Islamic Ummah. The key word of the new vision was also clearly defined: Reform. This is the second and concluding part of the ideas presented by M.J. Akbar, the only Indian invited to the Makkah forum. He outlines the response to the American neo-con onslaught against Islam and Muslims, as well as the real challenges facing the Muslim world in the 21st century: Poverty, knowledge and equality.
Yesterday I mentioned that a few weeks ago, in mid-August, I was at a seminar in Berlin on "Europe and Modern Islam". The very title of the seminar was nonsense. To begin with, there is nothing called modern or medieval or ancient Islam; Islam is Islam. Second, "West" is geography and "Islam" is a religion. How can you compare the two? You can discuss the West and West Asia, or South Asia, or wherever. Alternatively you can discuss Islam and Christianity. West vis-à-vis Islam means something only if there is a prejudiced subtext in which "West" implicitly corresponds to enlightenment, progress and all that is modern-good, while "Islam" represents darkness, regress and all that is old-decadent. The notion of Islam as a "barbaric" religion while Christianity was civilized, a staple of the Crusades, has not been eliminated from the discourse.
The term "Islam", when used as a collective noun for Muslim nations, throws a range of different histories and cultures into a meaningless common basket: The reasons for Indonesia's current levels of economic, political and social development have absolutely nothing to do with Morocco's. To suggest that Islam has kept some nations both poor and/or autocratic is a corruption of facts and a reduction of complex reality to stupidity. Similarly, "Islam and Democracy". Islam is 1400 years old. How old is democracy? America is the only nation with any right to call democracy two centuries old, for the American Constitution is an outstanding template of individual and collective freedom. And yet American democracy did not mean the same thing to a black and a white a generation ago. It was only after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the number of registered African-American voters in a state like Mississippi rose from 7 percent, in 1964, to 70 percent by 1968.
France promised itself liberty, equality and fraternity three years after America won her independence, but took another century before doing something institutional about it. Universal franchise in the mother of democracies, Britain, is a 20th century story. Eastern Europe is just discovering the pleasures of adult franchise, and more than a billion Chinese have not known democracy till this day. I do not know if any academic institution has held a seminar on Confucianism and democracy. If many Muslim nations remain undemocratic, the reasons lie in their history, including, in many cases, the history of colonization and neocolonization, rather than in faith. It is wrong to blame Islam for the sins of Muslims. It was not Christianity's fault that Latin America was mostly run by dictators who went to church. Islam does not glorify autocracy; instead it consciously advocates democratic ideas like social justice, equality and charity as fundamental principles.
Progressive Muslim scholars have noted consistently that Islam is a democratic doctrine. In 1940, one of the great Indian Muslim thinkers and freedom fighters, Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, gave a speech at Ramgarh upon being elected president of the Indian National Congress. Among Islam's greatest contributions to India, he argued, was the gift of democratic ideas. A famous thesis talks of the end of history. When attempting to understand the state of the Muslim world today, let me propose an alternate thought: The beginning of history. This history begins in 1918, for that was the year in which, for all practical purposes, every Muslim in the world was colonized. Iran might claim that it was independent, but only nominally so: Britain and Russia had divided the country into "zones of influence" as far back as in 1906. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 (after the collapse of the Mogul Empire sixty years before) was the last nail in the long-festering coffin of Muslim independence. Nationalist Arabs expected what had been promised during the war.
Instead, the policies of the West, then led by Britain and France, hinged around the politics of oil. For the people, the control of oil became the most important definition of independence. Democracy is essential, but it is impossible without sovereignty. A free vote under the watchful eye of American soldiers will always be suspect, irrespective of how sincere it is: No one needs a fifth wheel on the democracy coach. This is not the first time that occupation has been sold as a form of liberation: This was the rationale used by the British in Egypt in 1882. I might add that no one wants to conquer a poor nation. Robert Clive called Murshidabad, a provincial capital of India, as rich as London when he entered the city as a victor in 1757. In 1790 (about 85 years after the death of the last great Mogul, Aurangzeb, and therefore nearly a century of instability) India produced more than 23 percent of the world's manufacturing output and Britain less than two percent. In 1947, the year India became free; Britain had more than 23 percent of the world's manufacturing output and India less than two percent. An ideologue could not have hoped for neater figures. But answers do not lie in anger. They lie in introspection. The strategic vision of the OIC must address the basic problems of the Muslims, problems that Muslims have created for themselves.
The OIC must offer an agenda for action to reverse this decline. A deep political, economic and social apathy afflicts too much of the Muslim world. There is no common formula for this: Each Muslim country must find answers that emerge from its own stage of development. We must have the honesty to acknowledge that all Muslims do not live in the 21st century. Many still live in the 19th century, through no fault of their own, for they have been betrayed by their leaderships. But there is at least one idea that can be considered relevant across boundaries: The need to invest in knowledge. We are sitting in the shadow of the Kaaba: I suggest to you that there are two Islamic conferences going on, one inside the room and the other in the Holy Mosque. We are the establishment. The other is the conference among the people. The distance between the two has grown too large.
Look at the faces of Muslims and you will see on many of them poverty. The OIC has little right to exist unless the elimination of poverty among Muslims becomes a vital priority of the next ten years. Hunger is the worst form of oppression. We need an immediate anti-poverty program. This does not mean just handing out aid: Aid is just band-aid when the disease is a cancer. We need programs that create an economy in the poorest Muslim nations, free of waste and corruption. Muslim nations are in decline not because they have a shortage of guns, but because they have lost the knowledge edge. Power does not flow from the barrel of a gun; it flows from the fountainhead of knowledge. In 1232 the sultan of Egypt presented Frederick, leader of the Bloodless Crusade, with an astronomical clock that opened the doors of technology to Europe. By the 18th century Egypt could not compete with the cuckoo clock. That decline has to be reversed. We need a Knowledge Fund that can create half a dozen universities and many times that number of schools that rank among the best in the world, pay the best salaries to teachers and create an environment nurtured by academic freedom. There is enough money; we need the will.
The OIC must stake a strong stand against the self-destructive sectarianism that divides Muslim societies. We often behave as if the interpreters of the law are more important than the faith. The Prophet gave us one Islam. Muslims have divided it into many sects. We need social reform - to ensure the full participation of women in education and development that was among the glorious achievements of the first phase of Muslim history. If you tell a non-Muslim today that the Prophet's wife ran a successful business, you will invite an incredulous sneer. We need political reform. Every Muslim nation must have an inclusive polity in which traditional systems leave sufficient space for contemporary demands. Democracy may be a new idea, but it is the best one we have. The test of a democracy is the vulnerability of a government. Europe has shown that democracy can coexist with a traditional system like monarchy. We are vulnerable because, in a classic symptom o despair, the Muslim voice is being taken over by deviants. Why? Muslim governments must look into their hearts and ask whether they are doing enough to end internal and external injustice. Why do Muslims fantasize about Saladin? Precisely because they want a leader who will stand up for their legitimate demands. Saladin was no extremist; he was in fact almost assassinated by deviants of his time. The OIC has a claim to be the legitimate voice of Muslims. If so, it must challenge double standards. An Iranian has the right to ask why his nuclear program is being threatened while Israel is permitted to become a nuclear military power. Why should there be two laws? Israel no longer has to fear for its existence. King Abdullah's breakthrough peace proposals recognize the right of Israel to exist, and correctly so. Does Britain, which actively helped Israel to become a nuclear military power, accept that there are conditions in which a nation might be justified in becoming a secret nuclear power?
Too many Muslim nations believe in a bank account rather than an economy. Many nations have wealth; how many have used it for laboratories that employ scientists to do basic research on biotechnology? Instead of creating industries to produce goods that can be better than the best, we have created a mall economy in which shops are full of imports. I am not an isolationist; but I would like "Made in Saudi Arabia" to compete with "Made in USA". We are vulnerable because our intellectual elites have lost the plot, and our political-financial elites have lost the courage to dream of a future for their people. The Makkah conference, convened at the behest of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, to formulate a new vision for the many nations in which the Ummah lives, must begin the long and difficult journey toward a new dream.
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hmmm... food for thought?
|Re: Makkah Conference: M. J. Akbar Speaks|
|09/26/05 at 09:17:40|
| [slm] Halima, Jazakallah for the article. To tell you the truth I do not like these terms: 'Progressive Muslims or Modern muslims'. Can someone truly explain to me exactly what it is that they do that they get such a name or call themselves that?|
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