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The Major Challenges Facing Muslim Ummah Today

By Zainab Gazala Sheikh

“Hawas ne tukre tukre kar diya hay na’u insan ko
ukhuwwat ka bayan ho ja mohabbat ki zaban ho ja
ye Hindi, wo Khurasani, ye Afghani, wo Turani
tu ay sharmindayeh sahil uchhal kar bekaraan ho ja”

(Greed has torn apart humankind. You Muslims, become role models of love and brotherhood. Get beyond the narrow boundaries of nationalities like Indian, Khurasani, Afghani, and Turkish and jump into the limitless ocean of Islam. – Allama Iqbal)

No doubt that our Muslim Ummah faces many challenges, most of them created by the West to control and destroy us, challenges that occurred within us, which sometimes are difficult for us to identify and admit. Western concept with which Muslim peoples were deliberately infected so as to divide and therefore weaken them politically, militarily and economically.

Muslims should Instead Identify themselves primarily as belonging to a single, undivided community, covering on the basis of “common belief-Aqidah and faith-Iman” and recognizing no differences of colour, race, language, caste, tribe or clan. Territorial nationalism has ruined the Muslims and has deflected them from the task of “changing the conditions of the entire human race”.

The first challenge that Muslims need to overcome urgently is their disunity. People are dividing them on the basis of sects.

As we know, the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was to bring peace and unity among all. He always talked about unity of ummah and was against the sectarian system. Disputes among the ummah are common on the basic issues. Certainly, the quarrel between Muslim sects and nations are obviously contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Islam and the Muslim world today are divided. They are unable to cope with the changes that are happening in this world and are reversing further and further backwards. Allama Iqbal says in his poetry:

“Firqa bandi hay kaheen aur kaheen zatein hain
kya zamane mein panapne ki yahee batein hain”

(Somewhere are religious divisions and somewhere are differences based on caste. Is this the way to prosper in the world?)

Therefore, we should resolve our own quarrels to present a united ummah. Most importantly, we should never be our own enemy. As a result of disunity Muslim nations remain largely underdeveloped, poor, unskilled, uneducated and incapable of contributing positively towards the well being of the Muslims their faiths and nations.

Muslim Ummah1Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Obey Allah and His Messenger (saw) and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast.” (Al Quran 8:46)

Another challenge faced by Muslims in this world is fundamentalist Muslims. Realizing or not, fundamentalism is one of the most abused word. Most of the time, it is associated with extremism.

Yet, if the teachings of Islam are revised, it would be obvious that the past best Muslims were fundamentalists. On the contrary, nowadays, the people who are usually described as fundamentalists are far away from following of the Islamic teachings. Most of them have seemingly reverted to the pre-Islamic jahilliyyah ways of extreme loyalty to their groups, to fanaticism or ta’asub. The answer lies in correcting or abandoning the incorrect interpretations of Islam by some of the so called ‘Ulama’.

These interpreters, no matter how much they have learned the teachings of the religion, or how large number of followers they have, or how established their teachings, they are not Prophets because Prophets can never be wrong, but these interpreters of Islam can be. If Islam appears rigid and doctrinaire, it is because the learned interpreters make it so. What Muslims must do is to go back to the teaching of Holy Qur’an and Hadiths, study them and interpret them in the context of the present day. It is Allah’s will that the world has changed. It is not for man to reverse what has been willed by Him. Islam is not only meant for seventh century Arabs. The faithful must look for guidance from the teachings of Qur’an and Hadiths in the present context.

If we Muslims understand this, then there will be fewer misunderstandings among us, and the world will be a better place.

Another big challenge is Globalization, as it is defined by the West “The generalized expansion of international economic activity which includes increased international trade, growth of international investment foreign investment and international migration, and increased creation of technology among countries. Globalization is the increasing worldwide integration of markets for goods, services, labor, and capital.” Some Muslim ‘scholars’ are exalted and believe that globalization will benefit and give positive impacts on Muslims, while others including this study take a more skeptical and critical view of this process, globalization in its current manifestation is benefiting the West as their idea of a borderless would simply means the unbridled flow of capital across the world. The huge amount of wealth some of us have accumulated through the extraction of our national resources has not been invested in our own countries. We have instead taking advantage of the free flow of capital to invest in the developed countries.

Unfortunately, they have used our money for haram purposes that we have invested. Then, they take advantage of our poverty to gain control over us. When we agreed to globalization, we thought that we would be able to share the wealth and technology of the rich countries. But the rich countries are actually thinking about how globalization would enable them to exploit the untapped resources of the poor countries by using their huge capital and sophisticated technology, whereas Islam stresses a balance between materialism and spiritualism, between life in this world and hereafter. The loss of the spiritual values in the West has resulted in unbridled materialism.

Money is considered as the most important thing in life. This must be too much to expect that our Muslim ummah would awake and fight all the challenges they are facing. But we need to fight because it is a duty towards our religion.

If we learn from the Islamic Civilization of the past, it will tell us that how a great faithful ummah can lead to greatness and establishment of one of the greatest, if not the greatest ever but civilization on earth. What has been done once by Muslims can be done again.

The world imperialist powers want the disintegration of the Muslim Ummah into different regional sects and portions so that their hegemony is not challenged and the Muslim Ummah does not become a world power. Further the regionalism has weakened the Ummah and instead of fighting for the noble cause of upholding the Word of Allah and remove all exploitation from this earth we are fighting with one another and strengthening the anti-islamic world powers of infidelity and imperialism.

When the whole Muslim world accepted one flag and one mission under the era of the Khulafae Raashideen, no non-Arab was considering himself as a slave of Arabs. Similarly the people of Madina, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and so on did not consider themselves to be the slaves of Mekkan Qureish.

Why should we consider the integration with our Muslim brethren as slavery provided we are ruled by the Word of Allah (Islam) and our rights as Muslims are respected and any type of regionalism is not imposed upon us.

United we stand and divided we fall.

We do not want to become slaves and playgrounds for these imperialistic anti-islamic world powers who are engaged in uprooting our identity and our faith which is more valuable for us as Muslims than everything else.

What happened to the Arab monarchs and Egyptian so called grand army that they couldn’t evict Israel from Palestine? It is only because of the division of the Arab into many pieces, each chunk of the land having its peculiar regional and royal interests ignoring the collective interests of the Muslim Ummah or those of the Arab peninsula. Israel with the help of the world imperialist powers has been successful in expansion of the occupied Palestinian territory and killing of thousands of innocent Palestinian people. Muslims can change their condition by changing themselves.

Muslims should always keep in front of them the following verse, which describes the law for change: “It is a fact that Allah (swt) does not change the condition of a people unless they bring about change in their own selves.” (Al Quran 13:12)

The solution to all challenges for Muslim Ummah is the oneness of them.

“Manfat ek hai is qaum ki nuqsaan bhi ek
ek hi sab ka nabi deen bhi iman bhi ek
harame paak bhi Allah bhi Quran bhi ek
kuch badi baat thi hote jo Musalman bhi ek”

(There is one common gain and one common loss for all Muslims.
One Prophet (saw) for all and one Iman for all.
One Ka’aba, one Allah and one Qur’an for all.
How great it would be if Muslims also were one.)

[Zainab Gazala Sheikh is a law student from The Law School, Jammu University, Jammu, J&K. She can be contacted at [email protected]]

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