At present, the Muslim world, in general, is caught in a downward spiral. Its socio-cultural and politico-economic fabrics are shattered. Almost all Muslim countries are crying for peace and stability. With the emergence of the New World Oder, and the 9/11 episode, the conditions of the Muslim world further deteriorated. Presently, they are facing a plethora of serious problems in the form of misperceptions about Islam, negative thinking about Muslims in the world, botched interpretations of the noble concept of Jihad, sectarianism, lack of education, the menace of terrorism and last but not least the peril of extremism. These are some of the major problems that Muslim world is faced with today.
A glance at the Muslim world
At times, even a cursory glance at the Muslim world reveals everything as clear as crystal. Every country of the Muslim world is grappling with acute and mighty problems and crises like terrorism, extremism, political instability, economic backwardness, illiteracy and sectarianism. Presently, worst countries in the Muslim world in this regard are Iraq, Syria and Libya and Afghanistan, to a large extent.
New World Order and the 9/11 episode
The New World Oder and also the terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed the world’s socioeconomic and political outlook; especially, the latter has shaken the very foundations of the world community. After the 9/11 episode, the Muslim world became the core target of all the military campaigns launched, or spearheaded, by the United States. Aggressive US foreign policy led to invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. This interventionist policy pushed the Muslim world into the abyss of anarchy and chaos. Muslim countries are still unstable and in worse conditions. In other words, it won’t be an exaggeration to assert that the New World Oder turned into a Muslim World Disorder.
Challenges to the Muslim world
The global community has been formed in such a way that it is easy to exploit the withering state of the Muslim world so as to achieve some objectives of the colonial and imperialist powers. The Western world has tactfully and aptly used ‘War on Terror’ as a ploy to project their policies and to get their aims. The Muslim world, despite having huge natural resources of minerals and energy, is facing worst crises. Though it has been blessed with Islam as a uniting force, its identity is diminishing in the wake of many challenges some of which are as under:
1. Misperceptions about Islam
In the changed global atmosphere, particularly after 9/11, Islam is being perceived as a threat to the world peace. It is wrongly considered a religion having a medieval outlook, thus unsuitable to the modern world. The derogatory tags like fundamentalists, extremists, terrorists, etc., are being deliberately pasted on the Muslims by the Western media. This perception impeded the true message of Islam from being conveyed to the non-Muslims.
Read More: Obscurantism in the Muslim world
2. Perception about Muslims as enemy
Non-Muslims have always considered Muslims their sole enemy. The 9/11 incident added fuel to the fire and ignited more hatred in the minds of the Westerners. The attack on the World Trade Centre, whether stage-managed or otherwise, further strengthened this perception. Concepts like “Green Peril” (Green being the colour of Islam), “Jihadi Organizations,” “State Sponsors of Terrorism” and “Axis of Evil” are some of the pretexts being used as a casus belli for campaigns against Muslims. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are some manifestations in this regard.
3. The concept of Jihad
The real meaning of Jihad is to strive and struggle. But, unfortunately, it is being equated by the Western media with frenzied killings with utter disregarded to its true philosophy. The Holy Quran says:
“Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant.” (Al-Quran; 9:20)
4. Leadership crisis
One of the greatest problems of the contemporary Islamic world is its egocentric ruling elite that lacks vision and is unable to provide a platform to Muslim world to unite and strive collectively for the betterment of all the Muslims. They are driven by their personal interests and an ambition to remain in power, by hook or by crook. This unquenchable thirst for power creates crisis of leadership in the Muslim world.
Another challenge for the Muslims is regionalism. The Muslim world has been regionalized (or more rightly, balkanized), partially by external forces and partially by intrinsic interests, as they are identified as Arab, non-Arab, and white Muslims and black Muslims. It, however, is completely against the Islamic concept of Ummah. This regionalism has created, and is creating, hurdles for the Muslim world.
Sectarianism is yet another crucial problem faced by the Muslim world. It has divided Muslims into sects, and has hampered their way to unity. Nowadays, the ideological conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a perfect manifestation in this regard.
7. Illiteracy and population explosion
Human being was made “Ashraf ul Makhlooqat” (the best of all creation) because of knowledge. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “Gain knowledge even if you have to go to China.” It shows the importance of knowledge. But today, the Muslims are leading in illiteracy, not knowledge. In many Muslim countries, illiteracy rate is as high as 80 percent. Consequently, illiteracy with population explosion is creating problems for the Muslims.
8. Less focus on scientific research
Muslims, today, do not even know the names of great Muslim scientists like Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Al Khwarizmi, Ibn Qura and Ibn Sina – the leaders of science and technology in the world. But, menacingly, Muslim countries today are looking towards Western world for manufacturing even needle and thread. Unfortunately, scientific research in Muslim world is least attractive activity. As a result, brain drain is rising rapidly.
9. Economic challenges
The contemporary world is going through an era of economic interests. More you are economically stable, more you will influence the world. Karl Marx rightly said: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” It is extremely flabbergasting to say that Muslim countries are rich in resources like minerals, oil and gas but still they are in the downward slide.
10. Terrorism versus fight for freedom
Scholars all over the world are entangled in the labyrinth of defining terrorism. The buzzword has assumed different dimensions for the Muslims, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 where genuine freedom struggles of Muslims are being dubbed as terrorism. Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya are the major sufferers where people struggling for their independence are considered terrorists.
To conclude this whole discussion, it is apt to say that the Muslim world is facing some crucial challenges and is in need of radical policies to sort them out. Until and unless Muslims solve these problems properly, they cannot have a powerful say in the international community.