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Islamic World and Islamic Leader

06 September, 2005

By kabir Malik


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World is run by a few rich and powerful countries and developing countries are obliged to stay within the scheme of the new world order conjured up by the leaders of the powerful ones to serve and safeguard their interests. When there are clashes of interests between them, powerful leaders carry out nasty acts like illegal occupations, state terrorism, and illegal wars. By the sod's law of nature, Muslims always get caught at the receiving end of the conflicts and in revenge and out of frustration resort to unIslamic acts like suicide bombing, 9/11 in the USA and 7/7 in the UK; and there is no effective mechanism in place that could act as a go between and troubleshoot crises on behalf of the Muslim Ummah. Madrisas are blamed for hate preaching and Maulvies (clerics) are dragged out of mosques by the media and the governments and are expected to come up with satisfying answers for the horrific deeds committed by the perpetrators. I believe global world is too complex for Maulvi community to deal with these issues. However, we have Muslim leaders both at the local community level and at the national level doing their best to safeguard our interests in most western countries.

I believe we desperately need a world class Muslim leader who could grapple with crisis of the troubled world of today on behalf of the Muslim Ummah. This leader in my opinion must be an intellectual, knowledgeable in Quranic teachings, a good communicator able to address the United Nations, influence G8 summits if need be, handle the media, advise governments on Islam related issues, and guide Muslim Umma in crisis. I do not envisage this person as a spiritual leader but a fountainhead of wisdom out there to tackle the world problems in Islamic perspective.

History tells us that when the west was living in what they call 'dark ages', Islamic world in the east was at the height of its learning. It gave the world science to make progress and develop societies and it gave religion to live by the codes of morals and enjoy spiritual gratification. Unfortunately, Islamic world has passed its best and is no longer at the forefront of the progress today. This proposed Muslim leader, this Sallah Ud Din, the crusade buster of the modern time, in my opinion, would not rise from the east this time but most probably would rise from the west. The second and the third generation of Muslim immigrants in the west are emerging with thunder in pursuit of underpinning their Muslim identity and there are more and more Muslim converts popping up both in Europe and America with great zeal for embracing Islam; I am sure someone from this part of the world would make his or her mark and would emerge to take up this desperately needed responsibility. Western culture seems to influence most societies of the world, therefore, this new breed of Muslims who has the language and the mindset of the western culture, I believe are the right candidates for the job. Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, is a shiny example of it.

The present Islamic world is confined to traditional Islamic countries, which are stuck in the past because of their old respective cultural customs and traditions that have nothing to do with Islam. Because of Islam's historic virtues of tolerance, pluralism and inclusiveness, it is the fastest growing religion of our time, therefore, the Islamic world of the future, I guess, would encapsulate most part of the globe embracing modernity and 'enlightened moderation' in its fold. I believe Islam would be the major emerging religion of the world in the 21st century and would need a world-class tall Islamic leader at the helm of it.

Islamic leader must deal with issues, which are detrimental to the wellbeing of Islam. For example, Islam has become a religion of rituals - five times a day prayers, dress code, beard, topi, turban, Hijab, Burqa, etc. It must be brought home to Muslim Ummah that Islamic teachings go beyond these rituals - punctuality, honesty, tolerance, equal rights for women, justice for humanity (not for Muslims only) and much more. These virtues affect our daily lives but they barely exist in Muslim countries we come from. Quran teachings have been distorted and used to serve one's own agenda. Even the custodians of Islam haven't spared their old brush from tainting the image of Islam (Ref: BBC Panorama, 21 August 2005). Salman Rushdi is out of the woodwork and is ready to hurl another insult on Islam. --- The western Islamic leader I hope would tackle these core issues head on, would steer a positive image for Islam and would give a western dimension to spreading Islam in Europe, America and beyond.  

End.

Reader Comments:

The Deliverer

Yes, it is quite true that the Muslim Ummah needs a world class leader or perhaps leaders. For as long as thirteen hundred years the Muslim Ummah has been led by mostly short-sighted, power-hungry, selfish and corrupt leaders. It is not that during this long period Allah did not bless us with people who had all the qualities to be world class leaders. Almighty Allah never turns away from His promises; it is us who turn away form our duties and responsibilities. The deliverers had always been there for us and they're still out there for us, but somehow we could not and still cannot recognize them as we ourselves have become corrupt. We follow the rituals of Islam yet we are not sincere in applying the principles of Islam in every sphere of our lives. In other words, we use Islam for our personal gains. Perhaps, Almighty has designed His scheme in such a manner that only the ones with a pure heart and soul would be able to recognize the deliverer or the so-called world class leader.

Tarek Masud, Bahrain - 06 September, 2005

An article i found on internet..A MUST READ for all Part 1

ALTHOUGH 13 years have passed since the destruction of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the desecration still reverberates in both Muslim and secular Indian minds.

At the time, protestors rioted across the subcontinent; furious editorials and op-ed articles were written; and Muslim countries formally registered their protests with the Indian government. But now, a far worse act of disrespect and desecration is about to take place, and there has not been a single mention or objection from anybody that I know of, at least here in Pakistan.

It took an article in the Toronto Star, e-mailed to me by a reader, to alert me to the fact that the Saudi government plans to demolish the Prophet Mohammad's [PBUH] 1,400-years old home in Makkah. According to the article, written by Tarek Fatah, a founding member of the Muslim Canadian Council, the house is being destroyed to make way for “a parking lot, two 50-storey hotel towers and seven 35-storey apartment blocks” as part of the Jabal Omar Scheme, just around the corner from the Grand Mosque.

I must confess that I have not made the pilgrimage to Makkah, but the idea of the religious cradle and centre of the Muslim world being dominated by a crassly commercial project is repugnant. The Saudi royal family claims to be guardians of the holy places of Islam, and profit hugely from the centuries-old traffic of believers to Makkah and Madina. And yet, they are party to this barbaric desecration of the holiest sites in the Islamic world.

In the 1920s, the Saudis levelled the graveyard in Madina that contained the graves of the family and companions of the Prophet. A few years ago, they demolished an old Ottoman fort in Makkah, in spite of the protests of the Turkish government. This disrespect for ancient monuments is a hallmark of Wahabi thought, but one would have thought the Prophet's home would have been exempt. Clearly, the interests of property developers outweigh religious or historical considerations.


Allen, Pakistan - 06 September, 2005

part 2


Why has there not been a single significant protest from anywhere in the Muslim world? Or, as Tarek Fatah asks, “Why is it that when the Babri mosque was demolished, hundreds of thousands of Muslims worldwide took to the streets to protest, but when Saudi authorities plan to demolish the home of our beloved Prophet, not a whisper is heard?”

The writer speculates on the reason for this silence: “Is it because Muslims have become so overwhelmed by the power of the Saudi riyal currency that we have lost all courage and self-respect? Or is it because we feel a need to cover up Muslim-on-Muslim violence; Muslim-on-Muslim terror; Muslim-on-Muslim oppression?”

I suspect 'all of the above' is the right answer. We constantly rail against any wrongs inflicted on fellow-Muslims by non-believers, but hold our peace when Muslims kill, exploit and terrorize other Muslims. Thus, when the Americans kill Iraqis, or the Russians persecute Chechens, we are rightly indignant. But when Saddam Hussein slaughtered Kurds and Shias for years, Muslims around the world maintained a discreet silence. Ditto for other dictators in most of the Muslim world.

In his article, Fatah quotes Niaz Salimi, president of the MCC, from a letter she wrote to the Saudi envoy in Canada: “The sacred places of Islam, regardless of where they are located, belong to the Muslim community worldwide. The countries where they are located are simply trustees and have no right to destroy them.”

A Google search on the internet led me to an article by Mirza Beg, posted on the Web on August 21. Writes Beg:

“...destroying our precious heritage because of less than perfect understanding of some Muslims [read Wahabis], would be a great loss to the Islamic civilization, ethos, history and the future generations of Muslims. Destruction of the most precious sites of Islam for fear of idolatry by some, is akin to killing a child for fear that he may grow up to be less than pious...”

Now obviously, the Saudis are free to fill their cities with tasteless buildings. But considering the size of the country, one would expect them to show some respect for our collective heritage and build their new, ostentatious plazas, hotels and shopping malls on the outskirts of ancient cities like Makkah and Madina.

But we all know the Saudi mindset, and given their recent windfall in the shape of unprecedented oil prices, it is unlikely that they will listen to reason. What concerns me more is our reluctance to criticize this uncouth behaviour. Our Islamic parties, for instance, are so eager to take up real and imaginary Muslim causes, but have not uttered a squeak in the face of this flagrant contempt for our history and the Prophet's memory.

What explains this blatant hypocrisy? While many of our major religious politicians have long been recipients of Saudi largesse (allegedly often in the shape of visas and work permits that they sell), what explains the silence of people and parties who are not influenced by petro-dollars?

Fortunately for us, Pakistan has a (relatively) free media, but I have yet to come across any news or commentary relating to this impending horror in either the newspapers, or the private TV channels. So why this conspiracy of silence? This question brings us back to our reluctance to criticize other Muslims, while screaming threats at non-Muslims.

Thousands demonstrated against the alleged desecration of the Holy Book at Guantanamo a few months ago. Several people were killed in the accompanying violence. Where are those zealots now? Why aren't preachers at mosques demanding that the Saudi government halt their destructive plans?

Alas, these double standards are what now define the ummah. We have become completely neutered when it comes to criticizing other Muslims. I have often received e-mails from readers, accusing me of washing our dirty linen in public when I have written of the many problems afflicting the Islamic world. But these things need to be said out loud and often.

According to Mirza Beg, if you want to protest against the destruction of historical sites in Makkah, you can log on to the following website: www.petitiononline.com/rasul/petition.html

But while I am going to do my bit, I do not plan to hold my breath...



Allen, Pakistan - 06 September, 2005

Seeking Leaders

The Qur'an teaches us fundamentals of leadership. When Allah (TWT), told Patriarch Prophet Abraham that He would make him a leaders of men, he asked his Rabb, if He would carry the line of leadership in his progeny too? God settled the matter for all times by informing him that His promise does not relate to the wrong-doers among it. This cuts at the root of cult of personalities. Doesn't it look odd that the Irani Shias are sticking to the cult of Hazrat Imam Hissain and they officially claim that their brand of Islam is true and applicable to the whole Muslim world. Don't they heed to the Qur'an and come down to earth by following the universal trend of democracy in Iran?

Now, what did Prophet Abrahamd did for his progeny. In the context of his older son, Ishmael, he prayed to God, evoking God's own promise of raising a great nation out of the seed of Ishmael. That promise was fulfilled in the prophethood of Harat Mohammad, Rasool Al'lah (SAWS). Islam cut down at the root of cult leadership. Allah has left the governance of the people open. He takes away dominion from wrong-doers and abases them, while to those whom He grants dominion, He exalts them. And in all this excercise, Allah keeps the good of mankind a priority.

History is full of more bad rulers than the good ones. Hence, very few rulers are remembered with kind words.

As for desecration of sacred monuments, there is only one place of worship: "The inviolable House of God the "Ka'ba" at Mecca. "He who enters therein comes under God's protection". One should be mindful that the First Temple built by King and Prophet Solomon was raised to rubbles. That proves the insignificance of monuments. It is unfortunate that the people at large are misled by self-seeking opportunists and driven into extremism in religion. One of the Holy of Holies city Jerusalem has been devastated countless times and nobody knows what lies in its fate for the present and future.

As for leadership, the common feature has been of one good ruler, followed more often by one or more "culprits" and scoundrels. "Aik achcha, aik bura" has been one of the themes of history.

The study of life and history of a Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim is recommended to the readers: Here is a brief account:

In Octiber 996 al-Hakim took reins of the Fatimid caliphate based in Qairo, Egypt. He was passionately committed to the Shii ideal of social justice. Yet he was of a troubled disposition, given outbursts of fanatical rage and cruelty.

Most interesting part of the caliph's dementia were the Muslims themselves. In 1016, al_hakim declared that he was an incarnation of the divinity and had been sent to bring a new revelation to the human race. He substituted his own name for the God in the Friday prayers. This appalled Muslims throughout the Islamic world. There were riots in Qairo. Muslims were forbidden to fast during Ramadan or to make the Hajj. Shias ate a particular type of fish. He ordered all other species to be destroyed. He forbade women to go out of their abodes. For that he borbade making of shoes for ladies so they would stick at home. He had a long rein, but in 1021 he rode out of Qairo alone into the desert and was never seeb again. (Extracts noted from Ms Karen Armstrong's famous Book: "Jerusalem". I read similar accounts in our universities' intermediate history text books. The present head of Iran is declared as a direct descendent of Hazrat Imam Hussain and deemed to be given same respect and devotion.

Here is a caveat. I being a convert to Islam from Hinduism, take historical accounts as past history. The Qur'an guides us to look into the future and vie in doing good deeds and: "(Always) O you believers -- all of you --turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state."

This verse is a beacon of guidance: "Now those people have passed away; unto them shall be accounted what they've earned, and unto you, what you've earned; and you will not be judged on the strength of what they did."

This reminds me of a friend and a neighbour who never referred to the Qur'an, but continuously referred to: Jaisa ke Moulana (Moudoudi) nay farmaya..."
May God rest his soul in in peace; he is no more with us!

Sher Mohammad.
Email: sher-apr@yahoo.com

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 07 September, 2005

We don't worship buildings

Allen,
With all due respect you are confusing islam with christianity and hinduism. We don't make statues of mohammad and hold it dear to us, nor do we worship buildings. Tarek Fatah is not an Islamic Scholar he is merely an opportunist. See the thing is that when you don't have real substance or knowledge about Islam then you try to sell crazy by trying to innovate things. Tarek Fatah is doing just that. He is founder of an organization by the name of Candian Muslim Congress and he supports gay marraige. He has every right to support gay marraige, incest marraige or a marraige between a man and his cow, i could care less. What i do have a problem with is him trying to justify his agendas thru Islam. He can try but he will never be successful cause thats not Islam. He says in his article that Saudis levelled a graveyard. So what? the companions of the prophet levelled graveyards to make way for new burrials, thats the Islamic way of reinventing grave yards because we dont believe in worshipping the dead human beings, well not even alive ones for that matter. My point is that in Islam the message in Quran is what we draw our guidance and sprituality from, not from the graves and houses of prophets. Hazrat Umar RAW once demolished a tree that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sat under during Pact of hudaibiya because people would come from far away and would pray underneath the tree. We get our guidance from Quran and the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him)and the life and teachings of his companions, not from Tarek Fatah. He needs to learn the Arabic Language first before he claims to be a scholar in Islam.

ABU_SAFWAAN, United Kingdom - 07 September, 2005

reply

Hi,

Your message shows your incomplete understanding of Islam and other mentioned religion. If you don't worship buildings then some day it might be OK for saudis to level kabba. Oh wait a minute they can't do that..they make billions out if it. I am sorry i did not realize that. You kill hundreds when someone destroys a mazzar or old mosque where people don't even pray but you won't say a word when beloved mohammed's house is being destroyed. I know it is not being worshiped nor it should be but, being a historical figure he is his artifacts should be preserved for coming generations.

Wow what a Hypocrisy!!!

Allen, Pakistan - 08 September, 2005

Leadership ?

With gullible minds and empty
as a shell.We seek a leader to control our affairs with the non-Islamic world! With
petty minds we fight over the
stone and clay structures as
if they would protect us when
we meet our creator.Since the
election of Caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq, opportunists have risen time after time and will continue to prop up.We with our feeble minds will be
intoxicated by their words.If
only we seek the Truth from the Creator with an open mind
and heart.Then we will not need a single leader,for we as the Ummah shall stand firm
to the will of Allah.

Khalid Rahim, Canada - 10 September, 2005

To Sheikh-ul-Islam Allen

Allen,
You are absoluetly right I have an incomplete understanding of Islam whereas you are the Scholar in everything that is Islam, arent You? Go sell crazy somewhere else Allen! The only time you bother to post your comment is when you see an opening to bash and malign Islam, so forgive me if i doubt your knowledge in Islam. Mosques are places of worship, Kabba is the biggest most significant mosque in Islamic world so the parallel drawn between the sanctity of Kaba-tuAllah and houses are completly irrevalent. Again in Islam we don't want to leave our future generations mere symbols, because we dont worship symbols, like i said before we draw our guidance from the book of Allah the Holy Quran and that is sufficient to leave for future generations. We do appreciate your concern though but i think we'll pass on your "Fatwa" as to what is better for our future generations.

ABU_SAFWAAN, United Kingdom - 10 September, 2005

A Vain Search

I think the author is vainly looking for a leader. He may or may not be right to think that Islamic leaders from the East have failed and somebody must emerge from the West. Isn't the concept of Umma itself an anti-thesis of what the author wants to see achieved?
I believe the great prophet left this world leaving his followers to find their own ways and not leaders! He could jolly well have appointed his successor if wanted to do so. The lesson is there isn't one saviour. There isn't one guide. Unfortunately, people keep talking of Quran-sharif but fail to grasp the essence of the silent message conveyed by prophet in the evening of his life. Though, he said that Allah perfected the religion for humankind, yet he did not appoint a successor. Aspiring for a leader above all shows that this lesson is not acceptable.
The Muslim world has spread to the farthest corners of the planet Earth. Perhaps the Prophet could visualise this development and did not think it fit to launch the 'successor system'. Let us not forget that Islam is a Religion. When it spread beyond Arabia it entered into different regions having different cultures. Religion and Culture are not synonymous. The Leader too would belong to one of the many cultures. Will he be acceptable to other cultures? The spread of Islam in culturally different lands has foreclosed the possibility of emergence of one Leader.
Why do you aspire, first of all for The Leader? Where from will he come? From Bosnia? Or from Africa? Maybe from Bangladesh? Will he come from India or Pakistan? Turkey or Palestine? Iraq or Libya? Chechnya or Magyar in China? Oh, from a Western country! Superior as the Western world is, and already the leader of the world in almost every sphere! Then, why should it refuse to lead Muslims of the world? It will certainly welcome such an opportunity! So, you are already willing to bow before the Western world, you think is the most corrupting, despicable world harbouring animosity towards Islam
It is a historical fact that even the system of appointing a consensus candidate lasted in case of only the first four Khulafa-e-Rasool even though Hazrat Ali's appointment did raise controversy. And what happened after Muaviyah, the first Amir-ul-Momin? The lesson is, the leader will have a tendency to choose his confidant as his successor whether he is acceptable or not to the people at large and you find a chain of rulers of different denominations. This is what has happened to the Islamic world.
The Quranic Umma is a basic democratic idea on which you have to create modern Ummas respecting local traditions. No Umma is superior to the other Umma. And you will have Arabic Islam, South Asian Islam, and European Islam et al.
This is a cultural Islam and not a political Islam. To view Western democracies as Christian world is, at best, a myopic vision. The content of today's Western world is Capitalism and not Religion. It is Capitalism and not Religion of the West that is gripping the world (Author admits that Islam today is the fastest growing religion). It is the question of values. Judge the Muslim world on this scale.
Another thing. Every religious group has the right to follow its own religious path. In a multi-cultural society this should be a rule and not an exception. Talking about Muslims, they do not always and forever live in Muslim countries. The laws of the country they choose to live in bind them. This too will shape their umma.
No religion can be a monolith and a reality check is required to understand the process that has made Islam what it is today. At least, this will bring us to a saner conclusion that the ancient idea of a saviour – another Son of God of Christians, an Avtara of God (i.e. God in human form) of Hindus or another Rasool of Islam is not going to come to save us. Islam, of all the Religions, is very specific about it.

Dipak Dholakia
dipak_dholakia@yahoo.co.in


Dipak Dholakia, Hungary - 11 September, 2005

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