The Islamic Empire: decline and response — II

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  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The Islamic Empire: decline and response — II

    Common Muslims, not fully aligned with either school of thought, are living their lives in confusion as they see no viable answer to the question of what practices a Muslim should follow in modern times

    The First World War (1914-1918) sounded the death knell for Muslim dominance in the world and the process of a complete European domination of whatever was left of the great Muslim empire was completed. The empire was reduced to a series of colonies ruled by the Europeans. The Muslim world’s response to their rapid economic, educational and military decline has been divided, weak and ineffective. The efforts of Muslim intellectuals and leaders in establishing a strategy for revival can be divided into two categories: Islamic modernism and a return to orthodoxy.

    In the 19th and 20th centuries Muslim scholars in the Arab world attempted to ‘modernise’ Islam by revisiting Islamic theology and bringing it in line with the demands of the 20th century. Some of the key proponents of this school were Jamaluddin Afghani (1838-1897), Mohammad Abdu (1849-1905), Rashid Rida (1865-1935) and Hassan Al-Banna (1906-1949), the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. A similar reformist movement was initiated in India in the middle of the 18th century when it had become clear that the great Mughal Empire had come undone following the death of Emperor Aurungzeb in 1707.

    The modernist reform school believed that the use of reason was central to rejuvenate Islam. This school also supported the use of ijtehad (consultation and inquiry) and the establishment of an elected shura (consultative body) similar to a parliament. One of the more radical offshoots of the modernist movement was the attempt to adopt western education, develop political institutions similar to those followed in Europe and confine Islam to the private realm only. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) successfully implemented this approach in Turkey in the aftermath of the First World War to turn Turkey into a prosperous and stable country.

    In India, this path was propagated by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who established a university (Aligarh) for imparting modern scientific education to the Muslims of India. In this effort, the orthodox Muslim scholars, who saw Islamic teachings sufficient for this world and the hereafter, roundly condemned him.

    The response to the Islamic debacle that probably holds the greatest influence today is the Salafi movement (also loosely called Wahabi), which is inspired by the teachings of the orthodox scholar Ibn Taymiyyah of the 14th century (mentioned earlier in the article). The objective of this movement is to return Islam to its purest form, i.e. using Quran and Hadith as the only authentic source for jurisprudence. Today, this is the state ideology of Saudi Arabia and militant fundamentalist movements like the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al Shabab of Somalia.

    The key element of orthodoxy is the concept of jihad. Most of the Muslim lands were colonised by western powers in the early 2oth century. A distrust of the coloniser was conducive for the radical reformist school of thought to declare armed struggle against the colonisers as a holy war and the participation in it as a religious duty of all Muslims. Thus the concept of jihad, as a military war only, was born and, to this day, it is the dominant form of resistance to western powers and their surrogate Muslim ruling classes in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Events in the 20th century and beyond have shown that both the modernist and the orthodox responses have failed. The modernist Muslim reformers have been unable to re-tool Islam to deal with the modern realities, the most significant of these being proper education in the sciences, participation of women in education and in the workforce, creating a secular environment free of conflict with the non-Muslims, and the separation of state and religion.

    Another important reason for the failure of the modernist is that a very limited political space is provided to them. Attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to come to power through the democratic process have failed since they are not acceptable to the western-backed army and their supporters who want to protect their investments and privileges. Similarly, in Algeria, the Muslim parties were not allowed to rule after winning the elections as the army accused them of wanting to bring an Islamic dictatorship that would halt any further democratic elections.

    The failure of the modernists has fueled the rise of militant orthodoxy. In the aftermath of the coup in Egypt, al Shabab, the Islamist militant movement of Somalia, issued a statement saying the case of Egypt proves that Islam can never be implemented through democratic means. While militant Islam has created a lot of difficulties for both the western powers and moderate Muslims, it cannot be deemed successful. If anything, it has spawned a cycle of violence in which not just the direct participants but also the population at large is suffering. With continued militancy and response, the hope for a peaceful world is receding farther than ever before.

    Common Muslims, not fully aligned with either school of thought, are living their lives in confusion as they see no viable answer to the question of what practices a Muslim should follow in modern times. However, the general trend has been towards increased religious conservatism, as evidenced in the covering up of women in the hijab, building of madrassas (seminaries) to impart religious education to the young, lower tolerance for religious minorities and incorporation of conservative Islamic laws in the constitution.

    The hard question today is: is there a third line of inquiry that can bring about a positive change for the beleaguered Muslims? Maybe the right answer is that, in modern times, religion cannot be brought into statehood at all and must remain strictly in the private realm of the individual. The problem with this solution is that Islam is considered by its followers as a ‘complete code of life’ encompassing spiritual, social, economic and political dimensions. Thus politics and religion are inextricably tied like Siamese twins and the separation of the two is not easy. That is why any modern interpretation and practice of Islam that separates the two may not be palatable to the Muslims for whom both culture and politics is intimately tied to Islam.

    What does the near future hold for Muslims? Muslims are finding themselves increasingly marginalised due to the suspicion with which the non-Muslim world looks at them. Unless the war on terror ends and Muslims are able to raise their heads again, and find the time needed to achieve the right balance between religion and statehood, there is a very difficult road ahead for them, no matter which part of the world they belong to.

    The Islamic Empire: decline and response — II
    *********************************************************************

    This is from Daily Times, Pakistan.

    This article indicates the state of turmoil that Muslims the world over seem to have over being in march with modernity and contemporary requirements and yet at the same time be a good Muslim by believing and incorporating Islam as a ‘complete code of life’ encompassing spiritual, social, economic and political dimensions.

    It is thus a moral schizophrenia.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Domestic fury and fierce civil strife

    In the Assemblies, in the corridors of power, in air conditioned, generator-energised corporate offices, in the Raiwind estates and Bilawal House, it is business as usual


    We are the strangest of people. Generous enough to put the fabled Hatim Tai to shame, quick to respond to personal tragedy within family and community and resilient beyond belief, we somehow manage to laugh our days away in the most trying of times. Resorting to mass hysteria at a cricket match lost and crying “foul” every time we lose an election, we manage to parcel truckloads of volunteers and household items to disaster-stricken areas and travel miles to attend a wedding, trailing a whole brood of children at the cost of a month’s salary. Kohl-eyed and ruby-lipped, we deck ourselves up in cheap satins on Eid and Christmas while stubbornly resisting the march of time and dig in our heels while balking at the prospect of educating our daughters. Persisting in our desire for a male heir despite the presence of a half-a-dozen (or more) daughters, we beat, burn, maim our wives and womenfolk at the hint of a perceived indiscretion with the same impunity as we kill others who profess belief in a different religious denomination. We perform ablutions five times a day even as we urinate and defecate in public.

    We are the best and the worst informed of people. The shrill cacophony of noise that we are at the receiving end of during daily electronic transmissions should be enough to blister all gray matter into oblivion, and yet we parrot much of what we hear with a nonchalance that expert analysts would envy. We relish the bullying and badgering of participants on panels, chortling at their discomfiture, but are quick to take offence when on the receiving end. From rickshaw wallahs to Wharton-trained economists, we are experts on how to ‘fix’ the economy and cannot, will not, tolerate any opinion other than our own.

    We are the most patient of people. As if the June heat were not blistering enough, an average eight hours of load shedding saps the spirit further. Water scarcity, sky rocketing food prices, endless lines of vehicles baking in the sun as they await their turn at gas stations, road rage, sewage seeping into the water table, storm drains choked with plastic and waste — the stench of rot is everywhere. Despite disease, want and deprivation, we go about our daily lives filled with hope and a prayer to the Almighty. We are the worst of people. The blood of men in uniform spreads across the motherland even as citizens pay their dues with grisly splatters of limb and life. In the Assemblies, in the corridors of power, in air conditioned, generator-energised corporate offices, in the Raiwind estates and Bilawal House, it is business as usual after an initial public declaration of sympathy. And yet, we the people say nothing. Those of us who do have a small voice, as in Balochistan, are asking to be blown into oblivion by the juggernaut of state machinations.

    In the recent death of Nawab Khair Bux Marri, the last pragmatic, visionary voice that hoped for a settlement of Baloch grievances through political rather than violent means is gone. There is now a great silence. The death of my own brother, Asad Rahman, less than two years ago, is a painful reminder of both Balochistan’s travails and those who govern through state force. An ardent and committed believer in the rights of the Baloch for an equitable, fair share of provincial autonomy, he was revered in Balochistan for his 10-year-long crusade for the Baloch. Having joined the movement while still an architecture student in London, honoured with the title ‘Chakar Khan’ by the Baloch he grew to love, Asad survived a decade in the bleak mountainous wilderness of his adopted home, having forsaken the comforts of his own, only to be brutally beaten by police in his own hometown for trying to intervene on behalf of a young woman driver in a hit-and-run incident that occurred near his DHA residence. With all our contacts we could not get him out of the thana (police station) where he was beaten all night until five in the morning. His crime? Trained as a paramedic during his Balochistan odyssey, he asked police not to shift the rickshaw-wallah until the ambulance (which he had dialled for) arrived. A heart patient himself with triple bypasses, Asad fell silent after the incident and it is a silence that has stayed with the family since. It was as though the life had gone out of him on that fateful September evening and he succumbed to a major heart attack a few weeks later.

    In life, as in death, Asad Rahman spoke for the downtrodden, the marginalised and the underdog. For all that they have suffered and continue to suffer, if there were a collective prize for fortitude, the Baloch and their compatriots such as Asad should be the recipients of something equivalent to a Nobel in a fairer, more just world. Which brings one to the reason for breaking the silence that has traumatised the family since 2012: in a horrible replay of senseless violence that took my brother’s life, the performance of the Punjab police in ostensibly trying to remove barricades from the proximity of the Minhajul Quran premises in Model Town, Lahore has shaken the entire country to its core. After the initial pandemonium and blame game with a few scapegoats losing their highly coveted posts, the whole country is holding its breath in anticipation of a great storm. The fact that all this is happening even while our men in khaki are attempting to safeguard our very existence, the civilian government’s stumble from one knee-jerk reaction to another is mind-boggling even as it is tragic. The lull before the storm is with us –- how and when the storm hits will be the litmus test for us as a nation and a state. As in all things, the poet says best what we mere mortals find difficult to articulate:
    “Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
    Shall cumber all the parts of Italy.
    Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
    And dreadful objects so familiar,
    That mothers shall but smile when they behold
    Their infants quartered with the hands of war,
    All pity choked with custom of fell deeds,
    And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
    With ate by his side come hot from hell,
    Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
    Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war,
    That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
    With carrion men, groaning for burial.” For Italy, read Pakistan. As for the rest, the silence speaks for us all.
    Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
    ****************************************************************

    Another view from Pakistan.
     
  4. jus

    jus Senior Member Senior Member

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    India&Israel always fighting Islamic terrorism from 9/11 US&E.U countries joined,Rus&Chi also have same problem with islamic terrorism

    Islamic world future is Grim ........ look at names US+E.U+Rus+Chi+Ind+Isr almost entire POWER BLOCK never ever in a history these powers join hands in any one issue.Islamic world is&will bleed not some liters gallons of gallons will flow :shocked:
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

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