ISLAM IS THE SOLUTION
By: Khalid Baig
The term "Third World" was coined in 1952, in the wake of the Second World War, to refer to the ex-colonies that were not part of the two newly emerged geopolitical blocs of associated interests. The "Third" then meant the third way.
But, the world order setup by the "First World" in the post-colonial period was even more exploitative than the one that immediately preceded it. It engineered a net transfer of wealth, at an increasing rate, from the poor countries to the rich, making the former poorer and the latter richer. While in 1820 the estimates of disparity of wealth between the richest and the poorest countries in the world were about 3:1, by 1950 the ratio had changed to 35:1, and by 1992 it had reached 72:1. Today it is even higher. Ironically the exploits have earned the exploiters a 'respectability' and the exploited a disdain. The term "Third World" has come to signify a rank, as in third class.
Then there are armies of "experts" who have been convincing everyone that the real problem of the exploited countries is that they are too "traditional" and their salvation lies in aping the progressive ways of the West. This is the essence of the modernization theory that seeks to move societies from the "traditional" to the "modern."
This discussion is of special value to the Muslims because almost all the Muslim countries fall in the "Third World." Today there are generations of educated Muslims who have been convinced that progress equals modernization equals westernization. For every problem they turn to the "First World" for answers, guidance, and assistance. They see their societies as decadent and attribute this decadence to their adherence to traditions and religion. Most of the rulers in the Muslim world today, unfortunately, come from this group. At the same time they claim to be Muslims and servants of Islam.
May be we can invite them to shed this hypocrisy and take an objective look at their societies. They may find out that contrary to their thinking, whatever good is there in any society, it comes from Islam. Whatever evils are there come from hypocrisy and defiance of Islam.
It is generally observed that in Muslim societies today people are neither punctual nor value time much. Their leisurely ways are in direct contrast to the world where the creed is that time is money. Islam does not promote this materialistic notion of the value of time which results in nobody having time for others. But it does teach the value of every moment of our life as providing the opportunity for earning the rewards in the hereafter. It does require us to be punctual and not to waste time. And it delivers.
In the vast Muslim world there is one enterprise that is extraordinary in its punctuality and discipline. In the big cities or the remotest rural areas, the azan is called five times a day and the people gather for the congregational prayers at the proper times without fail. Neither excessive cold in the winter nights nor excruciating heat during sizzling summer days keeps them from their sacred duty. This enterprise has not been financed by governments or big businesses. When most people are in their warm beds in their unheated homes, there is a muezzin in every neighbourhood who never fails to wake up and remind everyone, "Prayer is better than sleep."
Here is a glimpse of the power of Islam. Can we imagine the situation when not just the muezzin and a small congregation, but the entire population becomes responsive to its duty? Can we imagine when their sense of responsibility goes beyond the prayers and covers all aspects of their life?
Equally fascinating is the unparalleled power of Islam in shunning social evils that are consuming the world. Despite their myriad problems, the Muslim lands even today shine as islands of virtue in a deep dark ocean of vice.
Consider Alcoholism. In the USA alone, the economic costs of Alcoholism and drug abuse are reported to be at a quarter trillion dollars per year. This is a conservative figure. The social and moral costs are additional. But the solution evades world's most technologically advanced and organized society.
Actually it did try. In 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting alcohol. This was after a century of grass roots efforts, which included thousands of societies for prohibition and abstinence pledges in churches. They also allocated $5 million for enforcement to turn USA into a liquor-free society. A few years later the estimate was $300 million and growing. Organized crime started. Thirteen years later Prohibition was repealed. The "Noble Experiment" had failed miserably.
In contrast, Islam banned alcohol 14 centuries ago among people whose love for alcohol was second to none. In three simple steps, spanning only a few years, alcohol was banished from the Muslim world. Today, despite small areas of infraction, a map of the dry world coincides with the map of the Muslim world. Islam has declared alcohol to be Ummul-Khabaith (the mother of all evil) and no power on earth can change that designation.
We see a small example of the same miracle with respect to drugs. One command by the Taliban Ameer achieved what hundreds of experts and millions of dollars could not. In the areas under Taliban rule today the cultivation of opium has stopped. (It continues in areas under the control of the western sponsored Northern Alliance, but that is another story).
Where else but in a Muslim country (Saudi Arabia) one can find jewellery stores without armed guards, closed doors, and elaborate security systems? One of the major crimes against humanity and morality committed by the "First World" has been the exploitation of women in the form of prostitution. Whether it is legal or illegal, whether there are marked red light areas or not, it flourishes everywhere the "First World" has its way. In addition, every area visited by their armies has left behind these centres of filth. Again, the notable exception is the Muslim world.
This world was a dark place, having forgotten or distorted previous prophets' teachings, before Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam brought the light. He brought back the message of Tauheed, universal brotherhood, compassion, mercy, equality, justice, God consciousness, and morality. As Muslims turned away from Islam, the darkness started to increase again, dividing it into first, second, and third worlds. There is lot of arrogance and ignorance in these ranks. But, Islam again illuminates the way. The solution is there, if only we look in the right direction. Islam is the solution