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The Failure of Muslim Majority Countries
four reasons why most Muslim-majority countries are falling behind
This post is based on a series of Facebook posts written about factors holding back Muslim majority societies, by American Lebanese Management Consultant and Quranic scholar Safi Kaskas. I have taken his words and put them together in one piece and provided them here—the ideas are entirely Safi’s, I am merely the messenger.
First: The absence of a vision.
Second: The absence of critical thinking in the education system
Third: A life without art is a life of blindness of the heart
The Muslim world has listened to unsophisticated, fanatic scholars who decreed that art is forbidden in Islam. So the people decided to push art aside and intentionally hid it from their children. Most kinds of art such as music, theatre, painting, and sculpture have been de-emphasized or disregarded. Yet architecture thrived and the results were beautiful mosques and palaces that were built centuries ago, but still well appreciated by the entire world.
Our Muslim scholars forgot to look around for centuries. For if they looked around, no matter where they are, they would have seen art. The blue sky and the green fields, the birds and their singing. The Mountains, the trees and the sound of the wind blowing in a wooded area. Can’t they see that God is the greatest artists of all and His creations are nothing but art. This world of art found its expression starting in the 1st Muslim century through the beautiful Qur'an manuscripts.
Art is a part of our lives today from the clothing we wear to the video games we play, the cars we drive to the covers or pictures in the books or magazines we read. It will continue to be a part of our future and the future of our loved ones for many generations to come. Hence, it is essentially important that children be exposed to various forms of art at an early age for a simple reason, children are less inhibited than adults in their engagement with artworks. Art helps them develop new ways to communicate their ideas and to express themselves. To feel fulfilled and balanced in a fast developing world around them.
Appreciating art should be an important part of education, regardless of age. Art is a way to satisfy our soul and feed our emotions, producing a more confident, balanced and spiritual humanity and motivating people to live and work, and even more, to create, innovate and give of themselves to others. Art allows spirits and hearts to soar high into a sky filled with optimism and hope and to move steadily down the road of innovation, creation, and discovery. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught us to cheer up our hearts from time to time because grieved hearts live in darkness.
Forth: Taking responsibility for the future
Every time a major disaster hit a Muslim majority country we hear the word “fate” even when the disaster is a result of human inefficiency. Those responsible publicly absolve themselves of responsibility, by evoking “fate.” They declare: “What happened was beyond our power and control. It was God’s will.”
To a concerned observer, this is a tragic global Muslim problem. Failure to understand God’s universal laws shows a shallow educational system that failed to properly educate this generation. Fatalism is constantly used as an excuse for human neglect and errors. Accidents, of course, happen everywhere. Yet in the Muslim world, fatalism often serves as a cover for inadequate safety measures. That is why Turkey’s top cleric, Mehmet Gormez, a learned theologian, felt the need to warn fellow Turks that “Producing excuses about ‘divine power’ for human guilt and responsibility is wrong,”. “The laws of nature are the laws of God. God has given us the ability to understand these laws and asked us to act accordingly,” Mr. Gormez declared. “What is pleasing to God is to take the necessary precautions against the physical causes for disasters. This is God’s will.”
This important statement is usually rejected by most Salafi Muslims. They play down human free will by emphasizing God’s predestination and discredit human reason. They also deny the existence of universal laws, claiming that causality is an infringement on God’s omnipotence.
Today most Muslims live within a culture largely defined by the Salafis, who gained the upper hand in the war of ideas around the 10th century and revived this culture with the oil wealth. In this culture, the human free will is easily sacrificed to fatalism, science and reason are trivialized, and philosophy is frowned upon. Consequently, “God’s will” becomes an easy cover for intellectual laziness, lack of planning, and the lack of responsibility.
Accidents blamed on fate must be taken as alarm signals for Muslims to purge their societies of this problematic understanding of Kadar as it is called in the Qur’an and seek the desperately needed intellectual revival.
A society that blames its failures on fate, is a society that does not know how to plan while seeking God’s will for its future.
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