Rabi-Ul-Awwal \ Rabi-Ul-Akhir 1424 H
Volume 16-06 No : 198
Camps \ Workshops
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‘Modernise or Languish’ could be a charitable understatement. A more realistic assessment would be ‘Modernise or perish’. The crossroads at which Muslims stand today, the way forward lies in modernising their outlook, changing their hackneyed ways to progress, modifying their way to teach the children, send across the enlivening message of Islam, beam the benign image of their faith, impart to their women the freedom Islam has guaranteed and free them from the shackles the so-called Islamic and principally Arab societies have imposed on them.
The series of tragedies that have befallen the ummah between the period of creation of Bangladesh and and the humiliating capitulation of Afghanistan and Iraq in recent months, seem to clearly stem from their being a people who refuse to move forward, a people who have technically fallen behind the others and the ones who refuse to heed the call of the times. Even in the ambience of India we appear to have paid heavily for the backwardness of the community. And ironically, so dead set has been the community against the change, that every call to modernise has always been confused with ‘Westernisation’ and consequently rejected. Modernisers like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan or Rachid Ghanouchi always lived under the fear of being called heretic. Those bolder than them like Ataturk had to almost turn 180 degrees exasperated as he got with the ulema. He was forced to adopt extreme and unfortunate postures against them and earn the ill-will of the larger ummah spread over distant lands.
Science and technology keep their relentless pace. The nations and communities that get outpaced, fall behind, lending the baton of power and progress to others. Once the rivals get empowered, their main concern shifts to denying the weapons of empowerment and science and technology to those who have fallen behind. So Arabs and Muslims are denied the cryogenic engines, nuclear fuels, reactors, remote sensing satellites etal. But at the same time, the same West is too willing to sell them airconditioners, colas, pagers, TV transponders, credit cards, McDonald burgers, Raybans, Guccis, Reeboks, Christian Diors, Sheaffers, Hollywood films and all other luxuries the sick West is ready to spit out and can be used to rake in some moolah. These do make the Arabs appear rich, but add nothing to their arsenal that could take them forward.
This must encapsulate the tragic saga of the ummah lost in the wilderness of ignorance and illiteracy. The way forward lies in modernising the attitude to knowledge, altering its world vision, and imparting to itself a new course whereby we could reject the tools of cultural degeneration and choose the ones of empowerment. The goal should lie even beyond this. It should envision empowerment of all, the black nations of Africa, the underdogs of South Asia, the Dalits of India, the subaltern classes of the Latin and North America. It should develop technologies that dilute monopolies, undermine concentration of power, evolve methods of sustainable development, knock out coteries at the United Nations and ensure equi-distribution of the Planet Earth’s riches among nations of the world.
This could be an overambitious goal for the ummah looking at its current pathetic plight where it confuses the richness with progress, imitation as invention, borrowing of technology as scientific development and winning a few converts for its faith in the West as genuine dawah. The reality is that slavery of the ummah to the West was never more critically grave than today.
The immediate precondition for a drastic change will be the removal of fuzziness of the objective. Unless the ummah says ‘yes’ to Modernisation and ‘no’ to Westernisation, the way forward may not be distinct from the beaten track.