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Are Muslims special?

26 December, 2006

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


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Khan G Farooq from Norway has raised a disturbing query: “What is wrong with us Muslims? Why do we want our own separate states in every country we are living in? What really has those independent Muslim states achieved that is so great? Are Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt and Nigeria anything except piles of population and corruption? Why do we not learn from the Jews? Would they have been as influential as they are now, had they demanded their own little state in the USA? By being a part of the USA, they are ruling the USA and the world”. These are a part of his comments on this writer’s article: ‘Kashmir: Musharraf not the lone ‘revisionist’’.

In the post 9/11 environment the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Muslim World’ have been used so much by all, including the Muslims themselves, that it looks as if the Muslims are at the centre of the universe. Poor Muslims, do they stand anywhere? They are a part of third world and that is all. It is habit with Westerners that they overreact not only to unusual things, but to minor issues as well. It is not a bad habit. Debate is their strength. It has helped them solve their problems and reach present stage of development. However, their post-9/11 debate on ‘Muslims’ was mostly one sided and negative. Most of the Muslims who joined them in this debate rather strengthened their view point.

Terrorism cannot be justified for any purpose whatsoever. What the Muslim intellectuals and the Muslim leaders, including  Musharraf, did was that they linked terrorism with the political problems of Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan; and emphasised that until these root causes are addressed, the terrorism would continue. It is heartening that this argument has not come up for so many months. In Pakistan Killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti raised the question, why when it comes to Pakistan, the root causes are not talked about. Elsewhere, theses days the Muslim and the Western intellectuals are searching for the root causes of a 1400 year old Sunni-Shia tussle and rise of ‘Pushtoon nationalism’.

Anyway, the debates, no matter how one sided, have positive effects also. Before 9/11 hardly any Muslim would raise such questions as Khan G Farooq did. It is improvement even if it has involved only a small number of the Muslims. There are common people in Pakistan who now think that the rigidity of the Muslims is an obstacle to the intellectual development of entire mankind. Accordingly people do ask when the Muslims are free to preach Islam all over the globe, why are the others not allowed to do so in any of the Muslim majority countries. And will it ever be possible for a Christian or a Buddhist or a Sikh to preach his religion in Saudi Arabia?

Muslims are undoubtedly a very special people as for as the religion is concerned. It is not possible for the Muslim majority countries to be flexible on the question of conversions. In this regard there are no chances of a change. Others will have to live with this side of the Muslims. For the people of developed world it should not be a problem. They have already thrown their religion in the backyard of their memory, only to be recalled for burial ceremonies.

However, ‘the Muslims are obstacle to intellectual development of mankind’ is an exaggerated opinion. Muslim societies have created matching equilibrium to this effect. The Muslim children do read in schools the theory of evolution and not the ‘intelligent design’. The same is true for Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Sociology, Medical Sciences and Economics. In fact all of the present day knowledge is secular and in many areas anti-religion and it has been accepted by the Muslims. Not even children of religious scholars would avoid it. Even very religious people send their sons and daughters to Europe and America for higher education.

The Muslim behaviour as far as separation is concerned is not unique either. The people of all religions, races and continents are involved in separatist activities. Notwithstanding that his opinion is limited to Muslims only, Mr. Farooq is right in a broader context, and to explain that, his query demands a debate.  The urge to separate exists at all levels— be it between individuals or families or societies or states— and it could be for multiple reasons including religion.  What must be calculated is whether doing so is beneficial or not; and also if it is possible or not. In case of East Pakistan it was possible; in case of Balochistan it is not; and that is why the Baloch are demanding meaningful autonomy only. The problem with most Muslims who are engaged in separatist movements is that they do not calculate the benefits of union, the chances of success of their struggle and the nature of outcome. The Turkish Cypriots would have been much better off today, had they remained with the Greek Cypriots. They preferred to separate 32 years ago. Now they are repenting. They want to reunite but the Greek Cypriots are not ready. It is a case where a union, a nation, disintegrated. It happened because Turkey invaded Cyprus, and not due to the efforts of the Turkish Cypriots.

The examples where separatist movement are unlikely to succeed are many, and even if they somehow succeed, their story will be no different from that of the Turkish Cypriots.  The Kurds have been struggling for independence from Iran, Iraq and Turkey for so many decades. They would not succeed unless present political divisions in the region are changed. And that is not going to happen; and if it happens at all, it will not be due to the Kurds, Major powers would do it only if it is in their interest. So, autonomy to the Kurds, in their respective countries, is the best and the only option.  In Sri Lanka, the Tamils will not attain separation, no matter how many human bombs they detonate. For them at the most a kind of self-rule is a possible target.  The same is the case of the Indian Kashmiris. Their meaningful achievement would be to regain the self-rule that they lost in 1953: And as for as Chechnya is concerned, it too will have to be content with the self rule. All the calculations support this concept. The Chechens must know that 71% of the people of 15 Soviet Republics voted against separation. They wanted to keep the USSR intact. It must be encouraging for Mr. Farooq, because some of these republics comprise Muslim majority population. In fact it was big Russia who wanted separation.

In continents of America separation is not an issue. Though the French of Quebec wanted to have a country of their own, time, referendums and relevant calculations taught them that remaining within Canada was much more beneficial. In Africa the Christians of Sudan and Nigeria wanted separation, but no one from outside supported them; and that has rationalised their approach. They are not extremists either. They would not keep on dying and killing others for their cause. An economically progressive Nigeria, if it becomes so, would be a safer place for them. Sudan too is rich in resources. All that it has to do is to become normal. Islamic fundamentalism cannot succeed in a world of today. Nor can it help grow the Sudanese economy, which is a must for societal harmony.

The Palestinian issue is different but as being perceived it is not as complex as being perceived. Though here too a one state solution is the best option, the Israelis and Palestinians are not as yet ready for that. The second option of an independent Palestinian State has been accepted by all. What is required is to adopt Bill Clinton’s ‘Land for peace’ approach. Israel will have to surrender more area to the Palestinians. It is likely to happen, but first let Israel have some years of peace also.  

End

Reader Comments:

Scientific education : need of the hour

Excellent article!....... Muhammad Ahsan Yatu has put in a lot of thought before writing this article. I think if this article was written by any of the non-Muslims it would have been greatly misunderstood. We need to appreciate the courage and the honesty of the writer. I guess he has spoken his heart.
I think this problem is not so big that it cannot be solved. With determination this problem can be solved easily. First of all the Muslim countries need to give the highest priority to education. They should provide highest quality education to their children and this education should not just be religious education but scientific education. I understand that religious education is also very important but education should not only be religious. That is where problem crop up. When young mind are trained about only religion then they are prepared to die for the religion and that's when they develop extremist thinking. In lot of friendship websites, I have seen so many youngsters having very weird profiles, where they say that their ultimate aim is to sacrifice themselves for Islam. This is so stupid. Young people should think about living happily and not sacrificing themselves. Muslim countries should understand that Islam is just like any other religion which teaches Muslims how to lead a good and happy life, How to lead a peaceful life, Not to harm anybody. Islam is a very peace loving religion but it has been preached in a wrong way. Muslims should not try to create separate countries for themselves but should try to live in peace with non-Muslims. By not doing this they are alienating themselves from the others. They should learn to be happy when others are happy; they should learn to celebrate not just their own festivals but should also join other people in their festivals. That’s how this problem can be solved. My best wishes to all.

Prashant Sonawane, Hungary - 26 December, 2006

Preaching or proselytising

Some points need to be clarified e.g.Muslims don't preach all over globe.This was and is being done by christians and it has developed into science.Proselytizing is when you offer to solve other's needs on the condition the person will accept Christianity,e.g.offering education,medical care,job,money etc.British did it in India,while French and other colonial powers did in their territories.British made dispensaries to reach to poors (where proselytising went on) and opened Schools to reach out to rich class for preparing a class to help change psyche and functioning of the natives besides proselytizing.

Muslims never did that. Immoral it is ,if you see the development of science of it. Why you see christians in Korea a purely Budhist country? I asked this question from a Christian Korean and the reply was my father and mother were small orphans whose parents had died in war and the clergies of church came and said to them,go there to the church where you will get shelter, bed to sleep and food and the price was conversion. So now the experience was so successful that the wars are waged to create a class of orphans,widows, homeless and destitue whose formed needs are met for conversion.There has been lot of talk about Muslims not allowing missionary work in 100% Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia was named before attack on Iraq as to be one of the next country after Iran,Syria and Pakistan. Republicans are Christian fundamentalists and believe in proselytising christianity at all cost to the mankind.Yes but they dare not go to Israel. It is ironic the ministry of Jesus was for Jews alone,to revive the law that was given to Moses.But Christians dare not to go to Israel ,the back lash will be very severe and cost many lot of donations and political support. Now christianity is out to convert the Muslims whom they call Heathans(while we call them people of the book).
Also a question: can any one preach in Vatican city even a non roman catholic meaning greek orthodox or protestant?. The Answer is No.Then why the heart burn about not being able to do missionary work in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia?In Afghanistan the goals of war may materialise meaning conversions of needy Muslims to christians with opening of church.Yes all under the conver of fighting terrorism.

Dr.Khan, United Kingdom - 26 December, 2006

What muslims need is an internal al-Qaida

Yatu sahib,
I am very happy that u used my comments in ur story. I may be among the first with this kind of thougts, but I am sure this will be the only and right course to save Islam and us as a nation. By beeing deeply honest, critical and awaken. Not dreaming.
Actually I am very occupaid with this matter of Muslims obsessed their being or pretending to be better than all other people. Specially NOW, when we are left behind in almost every field. We are actually nothing but a huge pile of double standard and, in everyday, anti-Islamic practising people. Here in Norway imams are called to open resturants with DOA. Resturants where pork and drinks are served. A lot of people in Pakistan do cheating and lying all day long. No matter if they are working, as government workers, at airports or police, or as shopowners, in private sector.
What the Muslim world very much need is an internal kind of al-Qaida in every singel Muslim country. An al-Qaida that is NOT AT ALL mad of foreginers but ourselvs. Only least 1000 time more.
What wrong have the foreginers done anyway? That also WE would not have done, GIVEN THE CHANSE? Would not we Pakistanis have gladly taken over Kashmir if the indians just 'forgot' it? Or would not Israel have been run over long time ago by the Palestians, if they 'just went to holidays'?
My qestion is very simpel: Would not also your shop or house, in the very castle of islam=Pakistan, bee looted if u leave it wide open and go to mojra house? Simply did not care any more about ur belobgings?
So my dear friend the ball is, always, in our side of the field. Nobody would dare to harm you if you are ALWAYS smart, hardworking, awaken and thereby strong. It is we who gave Israel, Russia or America invitation to invide us.Because the way we were runing our countries, we were just ripe to be harvested.
It sadens me deeply that even today there are well educated people in Pakistan who heil Chechnian muslims as freedomfighters. How much pain and suffering have those stupid fighters caused the common Chechnian muslims. Are they free soon? What have they acheived other than a complete destroied country? Would they not have been better off if they did not start this war? How can a tiny tiny nation alone win over an huge country? Spesially when this tiny nation is full of oil?
May Allah, who has given us so much, also give us some sense, someday.

EED MUBARAK and Happy new year to all of u.

Khan G. Farooq, Norway - 26 December, 2006

Muslims

In a global village everyone has got a right to worship whatever the religion but lately after 9/11 US President and Tony Blair who sided him in a so called campaighn against terrorism picked on muslims and its faith. Christians and Muslims who are two leading religions in the world lived all the centuries side by side but just "Muslims" and frequent use of this word for political advantages was never used except by US President who tried a few words finally arriving at "terrorists". Who are terrorists not muslims thats for sure. A very peace loving believers and law abiding citizens living on planet earth. West got an edge being developed and do pick on developing countries and its people but law of nature keeps a balance and in 21st Century there are going to be so many changes and Asian countries are going to develop faster than the west no matter what US and others do, it unstoppable progress in the fields. Then they will find some other word to keep their politics moving around. US President wanted to improve the balance of payments and their economy so got to start a war somewhere and developing countries were his targets and made them skapegoat. After two years American forces will come home and still the balance of payment problem will remain unresolved. There is always a saturation point and US economy got to come down and its seen lately dollar in trouble and so is the economy of US. Be friendly to each other and best avoided picking on anyone on the basis of his/her religion. US has done enough damage to human relations all around the world and its time they change their attitude. Be friendly and keep smiling we are here only once.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 27 December, 2006

Ref Dr. Khan

Dr. sahib,
Of course you are right. My simple point is this> Why do we fear those misioneries if we are strong in our belief? And our kids are wellfed? They come to us, wherever they do, because they see a lot of poor and desperate people wanting change. Be it in Bangladesh or in Mali. It would be no need for us to fear them if we were better of in those and other muslim countries.
THIS may sound very antiislamic and may easly be misunderstood> But how much harm will it be done to islam if couple of millions muslims left islam? Will it, ALLAH forbidden it, wanish? Will there not be any muslims left?
Or is, EVEN TODAY, the quantity of muslims more important than their relgious quality?
Man, we should rather turn this game around> If also we were better, more advanced AND NOT POOR, millions of westerns would have became muslims too.

Khan G Farooq, Norway - 27 December, 2006

Ridiculous!!!

"Muslims are undoubtedly a very special people as for as the religion is concerned. It is not possible for the Muslim majority countries to be flexible on the question of conversions. In this regard there are no chances of a change. Others will have to live with this side of the Muslims. For the people of developed world it should not be a problem. They have already thrown their religion in the backyard of their memory, only to be recalled for burial ceremonies. "


THIS IS A REDICULOUS ARGUMENT.

Anonymous, Pakistan - 27 December, 2006

Islam

Religion got nothing to do with the progress of a country. Its the policies and standard of education which did lack in many countries especially in Muslim. With the sweeping changes and world of today as a global village education is catching up and we all will see that Asia becoming a progressive continent and followed by Africa. You can only improve where there is a room for improvement and that is in Asia and Africa. Given decade or so lot of countries will be equally developed and have sufficient education. Today Iran has got 98% education and 68% graduates The highest rate of education is in Iran today because they introduced the policies and made education available for all. Same will happen in other countries. With education countries do develop and make progress if they have honest leaders. Islam never had missionaries and will never have because Islam spreads with its principles not with bribes etc. Fastest growing religion in US is Islam. Lot of non muslims are embrasing Islam daily. Same in other parts of West and there are no Islamic missionaries. I disagree that republicans are anti religion It was their weapon the "word Islam" and they started their campaign of invading Iraq and Aghanistan saying the terrorists came from those countries. Though it was denied later that Iraq had no links with Osaama Bin Laden but did not find WMD either. It was all pretex to invade and tried to overcome their balance of payment problems but so far there is no success in sight and Bush will be going for good. Let us wish and see that there is peace around and developing nations with their honest leaders do educate their people to enable them make progress and live happy.
Not many msulims change their religion, there me odd cases and those who changed must have something wrong with them.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 27 December, 2006

BLAMING OTHERS IS AN EASY WAY OUT

MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS BY NON-MUSLIMS. BUT NOT A WORD IS MENTIONED ABOUT THE PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS BY MUSLIMS AND THEIR INABILITY TO DEVELOP EDUCATIONAL, DEMOCRATIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS.

WHO IS HOLDING BACK THE MUSLIMS FROM THE FRUITS OF KNOWLEDGE BASED PROGRESS - IT IS THAT MUSLIM MENTALITY, MUSLIM COMFORT IN THE BLAME GAME AND VICTIM SYNDROME.

A. V. Rao, United Kingdom - 28 December, 2006

"Muslims are undoubtedly a very special people as for as the religion is concerned. It is not possible for the Muslim majority countries to be flexible on the question of conversions. In this regard there are no chances of a change. Others will have to live with this side of the Muslims. For the people of developed world it should not be a problem. They have already thrown their religion in the backyard of their memory, only to be recalled for burial ceremonies. "

What an apalling paragraph to read. In fact, thoughts like these are the very reasons that foster intolerance.

If you seriously think that non Muslims dont know God because they dont follow Islam, why do you people even deal with the rest of the non Muslim world ?

In fact you just backed the radical islamic fundamentalists who hope for a united Muslim world. They offer a violent way to achieve this - while you may not agree with this, you do agree with them that Muslims are the ones who have true religion, while the rest of the kafirs dont know God.

No wonder, terrorism thrives in the muslim world.

Oh, by the way, your quote about the developed world throwing religion to the background lacks perspective, context or analysis. No body who lives here in the US would agree with that statement. In fact they would say that there is a lot more religious consciousness now than ever before.

Sir, your opinions are not well informed.



Sivakumar, Pakistan - 28 December, 2006

Education yes, but who cares?

There is no doubt that education is the most important factor. Both for economy and ALSO to pull the muslim population out of the dark age. BUT THE FUNNY THING IS THAT ABSOLUTT NODODY CARE ABOUT EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN.VERY SIMPLE PROOF>There are so-called elections coming later this year. NOW NOTICE THIS how much attention will there be in election about education. I can asure u> ZERO. In almost every other country the betterment of education use to be on the top of the agenda.AMONG EVERY PARTY. Only not in Pakistan.

Khan G Farooq, Norway - 16 January, 2007

Good Article !!!

Dear Mr.Ahsan Yatu,
This is one of the good articles in Paktribune.
The other one is Shikata Ga Nai.
This article needs atleast couple of times reading to understand clearly.
I feel you are going in right direction.
My request to you is to please write an article with following thinking...
" Can Islam survive further to Al-Qaida "....or something like that....
Please do not mistake me .....
I am not against any religion. Only wanted somebody who knows Islam well to think on these lines.
As a lay man, I see Hinduism one of the oldest religions serviving based on customes/traditions, Jewish/christanity abandoned mostly in the last 2 decades catching up due to fears - not really on faith... Buddhism / jainism, are other extreme religions of non-violence, which could be hypocratic to follow.
Do please write on this taught.
I do get many taughts like this to question some good/honest minds like you.


Ramesh, Hungary - 21 April, 2009

Candid Answer

Here itself the author answers his sown question.
Indeed no pakistani muslim can write a piece without having a para somewhat like this.
This selective suspension of rational judgement will always pull down the muslim

Shakti, Hungary - 22 May, 2009

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