Muslims' Preparedness for Globalization

The Muslims, by and large, are not behaving as true representatives of Islam, individually or collectively. Economically, the Muslim World is poor and dependent on the West. Politically, it is divided like nine pins. Culturally, it seems to be in a melting pot. In the field of education, research and technological development, it is far behind the rest of the world. According to a recent study, the total number of books published and translated in the Arab world is barely equal to the number printed in one, rather less developed, country of Europe, Spain.

The combined GDP of all the 57 Muslim countries of the world is less than five percent of the world GDP, or to put it differently, less than the GDP of one European country, Italy - which itself ranks as seventh economy in the world. The bulk of Muslim financial resources are in the hands of and under the management of American and European banks and investment and management houses. Muslim countries have developed a consumer economy without a sustainable production base. Despite all of their wealth and resources, almost all the Muslim countries are languishing under foreign and domestic debt, in a few cases, with menacing consequences.

Militarily, the Muslims are not only dependent on the West; they are helplessly caught in its grip. Despite all the expenditure on defense, they have not been able to even face the threat that has been hammering at the doors of the Arab and Muslim World for over 60 years in the form of the “tiny,” yet armed-to-the-teeth entity of Israel.

The state of political freedoms, the level of participation of the people in the economy and the polity, and the equitable sharing of wealth and power within Muslim societies is in very bad shape. And unless they set their houses in order, it is unrealistic to expect that Islam and the Muslim ummah can play their rightful role in the current phase of globalization.

The above being the weaknesses of the ummah today, it should be stated that all is not bad news. There are certain positive developments and there is definitely light beyond the tunnel for the Muslim World.

Khurshid Ahmad


Source: Essays on Muslims and the Challenges of Globalisation, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Republished with permission.
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