The Moslem World: Are we truly a nation of good standing [Archives:2005/883/Opinion]

October 6 2005

On the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, aside from the worship rites and duties ascribed to the month for Moslems to engage in throughout the world, Ramadhan is also a month of reflection and meditation, in which Moslems should take a hard look at themselves. Are we truly portraying ourselves as a nation that is joined together by one of the greatest universal message delivered to mankind? Are we being true to our religious concepts of upholding human rights and brotherhood and affirming that all Moslems should be concerned for the plight of their brother Moslems everywhere? These are important questions that Moslems must delve into, especially these days, with the Nation so fragmented and facing so many challenges, not just from enemies outside the faith, but within our own frameworks as individual states and regional agglomerations and a Nation that is bound together by a universal message.

The difficulties faced by Turkey in joining the European Union raise many questions and understandably are a clear indication that Moslem states will always be viewed as obviously out of tune with Western alliances, blocs or associations. Thus, it is not surprising that Turkey should find many obstacles towards being regarded as a bona fide European state. It is also understandable that the Europeans would have their doubts about a Moslem state being in cohesion, with the more secular outlooks of modern European states. For one thing, although the Europeans are more secular in orientation, there is a still a long historical divide of a cultural nature that the Europeans have yet to fully wrest from their minds in their prognosis of Moslems in general and of Turkey, in particular. With the Ottoman Turks holding the banner of Islamic Nationhood for close to four hundred years, the European front for Turkey was a challenging battleground, many Europeans are not inclined to look with favor upon. Turkey has gone through great efforts to portray itself as a secular state, and a state that has broken away from its Ottoman “Caliphate” status. Yet, the Europeans are still not at ease with Moslems already numbering in the millions in their midst and to infuse a Moslem state in the political frameworks of a united Europe is bound to raise eyebrows among many Europeans. The latter see this frankly as a “threat” to the homogeneity of European culture, since there are many aspects of Moslem culture, which rightfully or wrongfully are viewed as out of tune with modern European societies.

That being set aside, it is really pathetic for us as Moslems to have to look outward for seeking more strength and security for our societies, when it would be more appropriate and actually obliging to look towards greater cohesiveness among Moslem states. There is simply no better way for Moslems to seek security and greater economic prosperity than through the encouragement and active support to greater cohesion between Moslem states. They are after all under a religious obligation to do so and the challenges most Moslem states are often shared by most Moslem states, if not all of them. This should not be viewed as an advocacy for the formation of an alliance of confrontation with the West, but rather as a logical approach for peoples, who share so much culture, beliefs and interests to pool their resources to overcome the many problems that have rendered most Moslem states as stagnant in terms of economic and social development. Moreover, any moves in this direction will certainly be welcomed by most of the constituencies in the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the Moslem World stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the heart of the Pacific Ocean and crossing three continents. About the only drawback that one sees in getting any sort of effective international Moslem collectivity are the governments of most of the Moslem states that are for the most part out of tune with the true affinity most Moslems have for one another, which is clearly visible wherever one goes in this wide expanse of territory. In fact, grass roots Moslems throughout the world are always ready to express the aspirations and hopes of a united Moslem world and are quick to blame their respective governments for actually standing in the way of a real genuine effort to get the Moslems of the world to realizing their true potential as a viable interactive international community. One hears this wherever one goes in the Moslem World and can see the looks of regret at the way their respective states are not showing any signs of responding to their constituencies in this respect, not to mention their governments' failure to deal with most of the domestic problems faced in their respective countries.

If there is anything that can be learned from the success of the European Union it is that much of it is due to the empowerment that the European governments grant to their respective citizenries. With the people having a greater say in the way heir governments manage affairs of state, it is easy to discern that governments will be inclined to respond affirmatively to the wishes and aspirations of their constituencies. One is convinced that had the citizens of Moslem countries had a greater say in the management of public affairs, not only will we see Moslems opting for greater cohesiveness with other Moslem countries, but we will also find our governments behaving more responsibly in the management of the domestic affairs and doing away with all the stumbling backs that are hampering the development of their respective societies.

It is time to start thinking about the reasons of our past successes as a nation and the motivating forces that brought them on. Those successes kept the Moslem World ahead culturally and economically. In the month of Ramadhan, it might be a good idea for Turkey to start seeking greater rapport among Moslem states. It might find more favorable responses from fellow Moslem states than the cold reception its desire for membership in the EU. This response can at least be counted on from the standpoint of Moslem at the grass roots level, who will be ready to welcome any efforts in this direction with open arms. If Turkey was able to maintain the leadership of the Moslem World for four centuries amidst greater animosity, there is no reason why that should be any more difficult now than it was then, with the world moving towards globalization, which is an inherent Moslem concept as all Moslems know full well.