Saturday, January 26, 2008


Overview of the Challenges Facing the Muslim Ummah

The challenges facing the Muslim ummah are very complex. To reach to an amicable and long lasting solutions to the continuous injustice, oppression or aggression against Muslim countries by the predominantly Western powers is viewed as near impossible. Nevertheless, efforts to achieve long lasting solutions to the problem are being endlessly pursued by leaders of Muslim world through various organisations, dialogues and forums which include the Arab League (League of the Arab States), Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), individual Muslim leaders and various peace initiatives organised by Western powers.

Depicted below are the major challenges that caused deep division between the West and the Muslim world.

1. We do not need to go into the long and occasionally tortuous episodes of the history of Islam to establish this. Suffice it is to mention here that in the last nearly sixty years and to this day, the primary issue driving a wedge between the two worlds has been the Palestinian issue. No other issue has alienated the Muslim world from the United States in particular as much as this issue. Palestine is also the issue that divides the Arab and Muslim world and Israel;

2. The readers will agree with me that the further deterioration in the relations at present dates from the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the “war” on terror, and the invasion of Iraq by predominantly Western powers. In the years since then other developments have aggravated the situation. Terrorist attacks against Western interests in Indonesia, the bombings in Madrid and London, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the persistent unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to arouse sentiment on both sides;

3. The pressure on Iran mounted by Western powers to prevent it from enriching uranium for peaceful nuclear energy because of suspicion that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. The West on the other hand turns a studiously blind eye on the nuclear weapons already possessed by Israel. One of the ironies of the situation is that this same nuclear weapon-armed Israel is condemning Iran for allegedly developing nuclear weapons. No Western power appears to notice anything odd about this.

4. The other major issue is the denial of assistance to the Palestinian people and the government of their democratic choice by Western powers, because Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation and because it has not recognised Israel and the road-map. Even taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinian government and people, which is legitimately theirs, is withheld by Israel in violation of all moral and legal principles. In the meantime what was already a critical situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is developing into a humanitarian disaster, and the situation is being allowed to descend into chaos.

5. One cannot leave this discussion of the factors aggravating relations between the West and the Muslim world without mentioning the unfortunate association of terrorism with Islam and Muslims. We must hold three main parties accountable for this: the groups that commit terror in the name of Islam; governments that attempt to demonise and thereby criminalise legitimate movements of resistance and national liberation, and the media.

As a matter of fact, Muslims see the killings of Palestinians and the blatant US support of Israel as a direct attack against the Islamic world as a whole. The al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin, for instance, has cited the Palestinian struggle as one of the reasons why his organisation has launched the 9/11 attacks in the US and the London bombing in July 2005.

As I have mentioned in my other article in this blog pertaining to the invasion of Iraq in which the US bypassed the United Nations and subsequently invaded Iraq under the false pretext that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). What is more, while the Bush Administration supported India’s development of nuclear programs, it opposes Iran’s. Why, Muslims worldwide ask. Is because Iran is a Muslim nation and India is not?

Thus, Muslims across the world have increasingly joined the Islamic struggle against the US and its allies, including Australia, India and the UK. In Asia, for instance, terrorist attacks continue to happen in Pakistan and India as of this writing, following the two bombings in the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002 and 2005 as well as those of the Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

In what they see as their defence against the rise of the West and its anti-Islamic values and the unilateral US foreign policy, leaders of Muslim organisations have found no other way other than resigning themselves to terrorism.

In summary, I would like to quote the speech by our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on October 16, 2003:

QUOTE - None of our countries are truly independent. We are under pressure to conform to our oppressors’ wishes about how we should behave, how we should govern our lands, how we should think even.

Today if they want to raid our country, kill our people, destroy our villages and towns, there is nothing substantial that we can do. Is it Islam which has caused all these? Or is it that we have failed to do our duty according to our religion?

Our only reaction is to become more and more angry. Angry people cannot think properly. And so we and some of our people reacting irrationally. They launch their own attacks, killing just about anybody including fellow Muslims to vent their anger and frustration. Their Governments can do nothing to stop them. The enemy retaliates and puts more pressure on the Governments. And the Governments have no choice but to give in, to accept the directions of the enemy, literally to give up their independence of action.

There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right. They believe that things can only get worse... They will forever be poor, backward and weak. Some believe, this is the Will of Allah that the proper state of the Muslims is to be poor and oppressed in this world.

But is it true that we should do and can do nothing for ourselves? Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people?-

To be continued…….

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