Why Muslim cultures lag behind -- a Muslim perspective
By the Anti Jihadist
Recently, in a discussion here at Jihad Watch as to why Muslim cultures noticeably lag behind much of the rest of the world, the following eight traits were summarised as characteristics of the dysfunctional societies of Islam:
- Belief in magic
- Belief in conspiracies
- Lack of innovation
- Lack of devotion to non-family/non tribal/non clan organisations
- Lack of empowerment of women
- Lack of personal responsibility
- Lack of skilled labour
- Lack of meritocracy
Interestingly enough, an article appeared today in one of Malaysia's English daily newspapers that addresses this very topic. Entitled "The Muslim dilemma today", its author Dr. Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, Senior Fellow/Director at the Centre for the Study of Syariah [Sharia], Law, and Politics, attempts to also summarise the reasons why Muslim nations are stagnating and falling behind. As the Doctor is the director of a major organisation in Malaysia and writing an editorial in a government-backed newspaper, it can be reasonably surmised that he is in fact writing on behalf and with the full backing of Malaysia's Muslim-controlled government.
I started reading Doctor Azhar's article eagerly, hoping that the distinguished, esteemed writer (at least to Muslims) and 'Islamic scholar' would have had the decency to be plainspoken and the courage to let loose at least a little of the truth. It's probably hardly surprising to the 'Islamophobes' reading this, but I was soon to be disappointed. Worse than that, I found the good Doctor's words plainly wrong-headed and disturbing, in yet another instance of denial and self-deception.
Regardless, the good Doctor's words are worth analysing, deconstructing and given a thorough debunking. The analysis is especially needed because Doctor Azhar, as a quasi bureaucrat, writes in encoded bureaucratic language that will baffle many outsiders who try to follow his thinking.
First, the doctor starts by saying this:
MUSLIMS, regardless of times and locations, have been facing a varied magnitude of challenges since the very inception of Islam. This will never cease to happen.
But how could all these 'challenges' happen? After all, Islam is supposed to be the perfect 'deen', the perfect religion and the best way of life for everyone. That's the pitch, at any rate. So why is life so hard for Muslims? Maybe because Islam is not all that it's cracked up to be? But never mind that for the moment.
Let’s examine the conditions of Muslims in this country today. They are generally in a state of crisis almost in every respect of life – religiously, socially, economically and politically. ... But the above phenomenon can be discerned, among other things, from the increasing number of ignorant, secular and non-practising Muslims.
The first sentence is true enough. But while the first part is blindingly obvious, the second sentence is an oblique nod to the usual Islamic sham; namely, any difficulties for Muslims are either due to the scheming of evil outsiders (i.e. non Muslims) or due to the fact that many Muslims are insufficiently pious. This typical drivel should warn the clear-thinking that this 'doctor's' writing is not to be taken seriously.
In terms of politics, Muslims basically rule the country, but have been perceived as compromising too much, even on fundamental matters, at the expense of their own interests and dignity.
The references to 'compromise' and 'dignity' are not explained, so allow me to elucidate. It means anytime when Muslims treat the followers of other belief systems in Malaysia (Christians, Buddhists, Hindus) too much like equals. Namely, if a Buddhist is ever treated as the equal of of a Muslim, or anything approaching equal terms, then this is seen as a 'compromise' to Islam's/Muslims' 'dignity'. And note the author's use of passive voice -- perceived as compromising by whom? This bureaucrat of a writer fails to specify, but I strongly suspect he is referring to the various Muslim pressure groups in Malaysia (Perkasa et al) who constantly agitate for more Islamic 'purity' and 'devoutness' for Malaysians (i.e. more Shariah).
On with the good Doctor's argument.
Once ignorance spreads from top to bottom and defines the character of the ummah, the community will have no integrity and strength. ... They will gradually become more fragile and vulnerable to foreign influences, especially harmful ones.
It is this foregoing disintegration of internal qualities of the Muslim ummah that causes confusion and disunity.
Remember those scheming evil nonbelievers? According to Doctor Azhar, these 'foreign influences' are extraordinarily dangerous to Believers (Muslims), a position which adheres quite well to Muslim orthodoxy. What Azhar has primarily in mind is probably the influence of Western culture, which naturally is harmful to Muslims and their supposed 'perfect' way of life. And since everyone is failing to show up at the mosque every Friday, that's the 'disunity' he is lamenting about.
The most disturbing part of Doctor Azhar's argument is his closing, in which he states:
[Muslims should] give priority to religious consideration or interests and put aside differences in facing their common enemies.
Who are those enemies exactly, Doctor Azhar? Of course, he's keeping it vague here, but Islamic scripture makes it quite clear who he is referring to. So, if you're a non Muslim and you're reading this, you are one of those "common enemies" that he means. Doesn't this sound peace-loving, open-minded and tolerant?
So, to recap, here's Doctor Azhar's list for why the Ummah is stumbling so badly:
- Lack of Islamic piety
- Being too open to outside/'enemy' influences
- Lack of unity
This is what we can expect from the finest minds of Planet Islam. Now, compare his list with the one at the beginning of this column. Which do you think is a better diagnosis?
Doctor Azhar, with all due respect, I suggest a different remedy for you and your co-religionists. Recognize the equality of the so-called 'infidel', embrace your 'common enemies' as 'fellow humans' instead, and acknowledge the universal brotherhood of mankind. As these are all inherently unIslamic ideas, I am sure devout Muslims will not take heed. But there's a chance that the "ignorant, secular and non-practising Muslims" will.
The Anti Jihadist writes at Pedestrian Infidel.