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Islamic and Western Values Part-2
Domino Effect of liberalization in Arab Gulf Countries
Life Among Believers
And it may not be surprising that ongoing talks with the U.S over the cessation of alleged Iranian nuclear program is backed up by Iranian liberal forces who do not want to see hostilities rising with the Western nations. Iran had been termed as worst of all the lot of Muslim countries, but the recent history suggests something contrary to popularly held opinion.
Muslim countries have taken especial efforts to democratize themselves; therefore, one should not forget even Muslim monarchies which have started process of liberalizing their societies. In this regard, Jordan has legitimized opposing groups and smaller states of the Gulf, whereas Saudi Arabia has begun to take assistance from Islamic concept of consultative assembly known as 'Shura'. It is a concept which is believed to be driving force to attain some form of the democratization in consonance with the spirit of Islam and which is also acceptable to the traditional viewpoint held by conservative quarters within those countries.
Islam is always criticized for its treatment of non-Muslims and as to making them as second- rate citizens of the Islamic state. However, it is also true historically that Western secularism has not always been able to protect minority groups – the Holocaust in Germany is the worst case ever that would always would be talked about in future, when ever such shameful episodes of human history would be referred to. And even today, Muslims are pushed to the wall in France and in other countries of Western Europe, and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe are some of the disturbing trends, which Europe has to resolve.
Secuarlism of the West
In America, there is separation of Church and state for more than two centuries, but its politics is not completely secular. Only once did Americans voters elected a non-Protestant and a Roman Catholic President – John F. Kennedy, who won by a minimum of margin amid rumors of voting frauds in his favor. We might never know if majority of the American voted for him in the first place. Furthermore, Jews have outpaced other minority ethnic and religious communities in many fields but so far they have avoided to compete for top political slot in U.S. lest a genie of anti-antisemitism may awake again while the memories of two thousand years of pogroms are still fresh in their minds.
It is estimated according to latest statistics, that there are now more Muslims in America than Jews, yet it is improbable that a Muslim would be able to run for American Presidency in a foreseeable future, given the anti-Muslim sentiments that ever seem to rise. A Muslim teen from Texas was arrested by local Police on the suspicion of making a bomb, instead he was making a clock out of brief case with the help of barb-wires. By the same token, fighting to win over GOP nomination for presidency: Carlson said that no American President should be a Muslim.
Furthermore, dispassionate analysis of: If Islam really antithetical to democracy may reveal surprising facts, unknown to the majority of the human race. Many of the present day Arab Monarchies started off the process of liberalization owing to the help from the dictates of Islamic injunctions. Islam orders Muslim to consult with one an other, and 'Prophet (S.A.W)' being the role model used to abide by those principles himself. Moreover, it is considered obligatory and desirable by the Islamic scholars and hence following two verses are emphasized in this regard, one is: “...and consult with them on the matter” (3:159) and the second is: “ those who conduct their affairs by counsel”.
Saudi Arabia and smaller Gulf states have begun the process of democratization through treating shura (consultative assembly) as a guide to democracy. So at the macro level, Islam is not the antithesis of democracy; at micro level though things may not work in consonance between the two over some issues. West saw secularism as the solution to its problem of the religion, which was ever a divisive force for centuries, and it must be conceded that western societies have benefited as a result and have become become peaceful and prosperous. However, but minority religious communities have not always been lucky to benefit form western secularism. Holocaust in Germany was the worst case- anti-Muslim trends in some of the European countries and anti-antisemitism in Eastern Europe are disturbing trends.
There are reportedly more than 15 million Muslims in Western Europe, but not even one Ministerial position to the cabinet is filled by any Muslim. I have written extensively on how Jews and Christians rose to the top social and political positions in Muslim Spain and Ottoman Empire and history of the Mughal empire is replete with such examples. Akbar is eulogized to this day by the vast numbers of Hindus of India, He had been considered as the undisputed ruler of Hindustan to this day.
One conclusion can be drawn from here that Westerners are less secular in their political behavior than they actually realize and its something to do with the theory of secular laws that they so proudly flaunt.But they should translate it in practice. Muslim societies of the past were more ecumenical, and there fore more humane. Historically Islamic law protected and respected religious minorities more than the modern day secular western societies.
West-Islamic Dialogue: Citizenship and Integration
Voices and Virtues of the Cultures
Cultures should not be only judged by the virtues which become cause for their ascension but should also be assessed by the vices which become reason for their descent into the depths of abyss. Western governments, owing to their rivalry with communist state of USSR feared the spread of communism as it was an appealing concept to the poor masses of the world. While Muslim countries had a fair share of those, but to surprise of many in West, and perhaps to dismay of some in a broader world - communism could not make inroads in the Muslim world. Whereas, Christian culture proved hospitable for dangerous ideologies of Nazism, Fascism, Communism, and of nationalism, which was the very cause of two world wars.
The brutalities of Saddam and Bashar-Al Assad are recent ones; that may be similar to the brutalities of the fascism or Nazism in some respects. But in large part such brutalities are state sponsored acts of terrorism and violence, not sort of violence which was perpetrated in the name of an ideology and wholly embraced by Muslim societies. Moreover, Muslim world has been criticized for not producing the best but its rarely given credit due to its values of ethics and morality, and of averting the worst. Muslim world had no equivalence of Nazi camps of extermination, nor of conquests of Americas, Australia etc. Civilizations that once habituated those parts of earth were completely obliterated by what can historically be termed as unmatched human genocide ever known. Neither did it execute the terror of Stalinist proportion, nor did it carry out any apartheid, similar in nature approved by the then South African Dutch Reformed Church.
Devil Was the First Racist
Muslims As Least Racist
Muslim world should be considered least racist as it did not brutalize its black people who met unimaginable fate in United States before 1960s. Islam has been resistant to racism more than any other religion, and there is no place for distinction on the grounds of race, nationalism and color in Islam. The quality of human being has nothing do with race but instead to the moral worth of a person. Quran calls this, “piety” and what Martin Luther King Jr., called the “content of one’s character”. Important verse of the Quran, often quoted to address congenital differences between humanity reads as follows:
O people! We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The noblest among you is the most pious. Allah is all-knowing. (49:13)
In his last farewell address, Prophet Muhammad declared: “ There is no superiority of an Arab over non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no white man is superior to black man and no black man is superior to white man; except those who are pious. No organized and systematic racism has ever been practiced by Muslim clergy in mosques as has been the case with the Christian churches all over the world for centuries.
One of the greatest boxer upon his conversion to Islam, grudging conceded in an televised interview that He became Muslim for He felt it is free from racism, in Christianity everything is for whites, you have white Bishops even the founder of Christianity Jesus is white in such a religion there is no place for blacks. Therefore, Islam was his ultimate choice to liberate himself from slavery; as he was a slave in his former faith.
Arabs who are most conscious of their lineage did not discourage inter marriages; they who were most racial and so keen of their cultural traditions took teaching of Islam to the heart. Scions were always thought of as Arabs regardless of who the mother was; these Arabs influenced Muslim societies every where they had contact with. Of the four Presidents, who ruled Egypt from 1952 onward had black African ancestors.
The So Called Chosen People
God Almighty in Quran speaks of his chosen language – the Arabic - in which it was revealed but not of the “Chosen People”. Therefore, Islam does not have any doctrine of people being chosen over the other in the sense that if they go astray from true path. It’s likely that they would be punished and replaced by other people. Hence with power comes responsibility, and selectivity of a group of a people from God Almighty is always conditional. Arabs were told before hand in Surah Muhammad, that is: “...if you turn away He will replace you by some other folk; who will not be like you.” (47:38)
Muslim world witnessed change of guard through centuries as to leading Islamic empires; firstly it were mainly and purely Arab Ummayads, then multi-ethnic Abbasids. Arabs were at last replaced by the Turks: who led Turkish empires of Seljuk in greater middle east, Safavids in the modern day Iran (Persia), Tamur-lane and finally the greatest of all the Ottomans.
Leadership of the Muslim world was transferred form Arabs to Turks, after the fall of Baghdad in 1258 C.E. However, it has been only Europeans who have been at the forefront to lead Christianity, ever since the conversion of Emperor Constantine-1 in 313 C.E. Because of diversification of leadership of the Muslim world helped it to become racially more balanced, equal, in comparison with Europeanization of the Christian leadership.
Islam’s non racial nature appealed to millions of human beings rather it still is, and if so analyzed historically it did well by embracing similar and often conflicting cultures and civilizations that were totally opposing to one an other. And it leads to the conclusion that only Islam as a religion or the civilization has capacity to take varying cultures/civilizations in its fold. It conquers by its simple message of universal brotherhood, of co-optation, of intermarriages between different cultures, of conversion/ and not by extirpation, violence and hate.