Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Political: Revival of Islam: A threat to fear?

An interesting article I came across in Arthur newspaper

Revival of Islam: A threat to fear?
Thameemul Ansari
The revival of Islam in recent times has been associated only with the growth of extremism by popular media, politicians and certain academics. That has fueled a growing sense of fear against that revival which has been exacerbated by the tragic events of September 11.
Though the growth of extremism itself is not a trivial issue, ironically the growth of extremism constitutes only a small part of the revival of Islam simply because it constitutes an unimaginably tiny proportion of the world Muslim population. But the larger revival of Islam is not mentioned nor brought to the awareness of the public unlike the trivial aspect of that revival. Indeed the actual revival of Islam is of the other extreme; that is, it’s the rejuvenation of the way of life of Islam, which is peaceful, tolerant and constructive amongst not only Muslims but also non-Muslims.
In fact those responsible for the perpetuation of the fear of the revival of Islam through its association with the growth of extremism are themselves not actually fearful of that trivial aspect of the revival but the other as it poses a much bigger threat to them. Before we look at this, let us look at the decline of Islam that preceded the revival.
The decline of Islam began with the age of colonization and was exacerbated when the colonies became independent. The changes colonial rulers brought about to their colonies created an alien economic, commercial, political and social system which totally countered the principles of the Islamic society. For instance, the practice of divide-and-rule by the British colonialists eroded the fundamental principle of unity and tolerance while the creation of classes through colour, nobility, income etcetera eroded the principle of equality. ‘Riba’ or interest was established, which is forbidden in Islam for it is an economic incentive of money, hence benefitting only those with money and impoverishing the poor.
The decline of Islam was exacerbated when the colonial powers gave independence to the colonies after the Second World War. Colonies that had not had the liberty to govern their societies could now do so but they had lost the knowledge of the Islamic structure and system of society which existed before colonization. Nor had they gained any knowledge of running a society from their colonial masters as they were not given the liberty to run their own societies. There were no Caliphates around either for them to emulate. In their dilemma, they decided to emulate the structure and system of society of their colonial powers which had been through tremendous construction and development throughout the colonial era. Few Islamic societies had even the liberty to make this choice as, in several instances, the leader of the independent government that replaced the colonialists was not elected by the people but appointed by former rulers; they were more keen to westernize as they believed it was the only way to modernize.
It was at this point the decline of Islam was totally exacerbated until, today, no Islamic society or country exists. Though countries today claim that they are Islamic, Islamic scholars have unanimously voiced that none qualify. Through the decades since independence the tendency has been to modernize through westernization, and then modernize through capitalism creating a dangerous mix of traditional, ethnic, western, eastern, Islamic principles. That explains how practices that are totally un-Islamic such as oppression of women and "democratic" governments with dictators came about.
Today as the ills of capitalism start to further injure the former Islamic societies that are already shackled with a self-destructive oppressive path as mentioned above, science and money have been able to solve and answer many questions and problems of life for a Muslim. But the basic questions and problems remain unanswered. As they venture in search of an answer, they are increasingly discovering there are no better solutions for problems within their "modern" societies than to revert back to the holy Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Islam is reviving as Muslim and non-Muslim women learn how Islam, contrary to popular belief, in fact does not subjugate them but rather guides them in how to juggle the roles of life with their equal opposite sex. Muslim women are increasingly standing up to demand the rights that Islam gives but their societies deny. With people grossly divided by power and money in today’s world, Muslims discover how Islam can correct the oppression through a just system of commerce, trade and law and Zakat (the third pillar of Islam). With racism still prevailing and with the current imaginary divide between the west and east being promoted at greater depths, with societies crumbling under ethnicity, tribalism, Islam offers a solution of egalitarianism despite color, sex, race or religion.
However there are two groups within this revival. One, the minority, seeks to achieve their ends by any means. The other is mindful that means matter just as much as the ends and both have to be achieved in the name of Islam- peace.
Indeed the latter group who is seeking to achieve peace in their lives and societies pose a threat to the sustainers of capitalism as they threaten capitalism itself. Capitalists and nationalists know that fighting an open war against this group will gather little support as this group is based on non-violence and tolerance. Hence as they set the stage for the show of the extremist minority, they rope in the peaceful majority with association for they know the eyes of the audience choose to believe only what it sees as long as the minds refuse to admit the folly of the eyes. Revival of Islam is not a threat to fear, and resisting or curbing it will only exacerbate the growth of extremism. As we have seen not too long ago, extremism cannot be allowed to grow.


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