Muslims Should Not be Apologetic

Speech
Honourable Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Senate of Pakistan, Mr. Suleyman Sensoy, President of TASAM, Excellencies Colleagues, distinguished strategists of the muslim world, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am honoured and humbled to be the keynote speaker to this august gathering in our beloved and brotherly Pakistan.
 
I would like to thank our host, Defence Committee of the Senate of Pakistan and co-organizing TASAM (Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies) for the timely organization of this meeting which I hope the OIC member countries and the global community would benefit from.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Muslims today, are in defense.
 
We, the Muslims feel the psychological pressure to prove to the Christian world that we are good people! That we are peaceful people!
 
This is wrong! This is unjust! This is vain!
 
Unless we are united and powerful, no-one shall give an ear to us. This is how Jews, victims of historical pogroms and holocaust are respected by Christians today.
  
Dear Friends,
 
In historical perspective, Great Civilizations should be evaluated on the basis of:
 
1.      their theory,   (Holy Books)
2.      their practice. (Application of the sacred to governance)
 
In light of both theory and practice, the great difference between Islam and Christianity is;
 
Christianity is an “Exclusive” Civilization.
 
Islam is an “Inclusive” Civilization.
 
Starting with Madina Contract and Omayyads, all the way through the Ottoman Millet System, we muslims do know the art of “co-survival in harmony”.
 
The peoples we ruled, “we let them be themselves”.
 
Islamophobia is simply the result of a Western heritage of exclusive philosophy.
 
Hence, rather than us, muslims being apologetic, it is incumbent upon Western Civilization to prove to us that their philosophy is inclusive and tolerant.
 
As we listen to church bells next to azans since 14 Centuries, it would still be naïve in 21st Century to expect Europeans listen to azans next to church bells.
 
Out of its shame from Holocaust, Europe tried co-existence with guest workers, the “others” among them, yet it failed and threw in the towel in just 50 years.
 
As economic troubles start, Europe tries assimilation of the foreign workers, moreover, parallel to deteriorating income distribution, Racism and Christian extremism are also swiftly emerging not only in Europe, but also in the USA. What muslims face in Europe today are the footsteps to holocaust jews faced in 20th Century.
 
Dear Friends,
 
As we know, when Church took over the Roman Empire, Europe fell into a millenial dark age.
With Enlightenment, Europe discarded religion from governance, and got liberated. Yet in over-reaction to church, modernity lost the most important aspect of life, the spiritual balance of it.
Modernity created a split identity in Christian soul.
 
As for Islam, Kor’an was a book of  “integrity”, balance of spiritual and worldly needs, and that is why Islamic Civilization did not have a “Dark Age”, nor Inquisition. Pious muslims still have “holistic” soul.
 
 Dear Friends,
 
When Extremist Christians attack our Holy Qur’an for democracy, human rights, slavery, war, women’s rights etc., they try to hide Biblical verses on these subjects, which are so very radical.
 
And what a pity today that many Americans, Europeans, Africans and Far Easterners who want to choose Islam, fear being stamped as terrorists. Especially Far Eastern and African peoples in spiritual search, choose Christianity than Islam due to this psychological pressure.
 
I especially had a critical comparative reading of “King James Bible”, then “The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible” by Steve Wells, found out that if used, many verses, especially in the Old Testament may be as instrumental for discrimination, war, anti-human rights and terror today as they were for inquisition and crusades.
 
Hence when attacked, we should be on offense rather than being apologetic and defensive in countering the blame on our Holy Book.
 
A parallel approach would be on the concept of Nation State based on the division of race, ethnicity and religious secterianism. If we take French Revolution as the start of modern nation state, this baby concept is roughly a 200 year trial in deep human history.
 
Today, nation state is under attack of centrifugal forces both from neo-tribal micronationalism at the grassroots, and from global neo-empire formations like European Union, from the top.
 
As for the muslim world, Nation state, the ultimate form of which is racism, is more incompatible with the muslim soul, a separation of believers by artificial borders. As our theme is “Building Multi-Dimensional Security in the Islamic Countries”, I would say that this straightjacket is one of the main causes of the conflicts we have among our ummah today.
 
Unless we eradicate this racist virus from the subconscious of the elites of the muslim world, unlearn the learned, and return to our unitarian, holistic spirit of Islam, our muslim communities may soon be divided into hundreds of warring factions raining misery upon our ummah.
By this, I do not propose forced abolition of borders imposed upon us, but a return to the synthesizing holistic spiritual brotherhood of our ummah.
 
 Dear Friends,
 
Delving into violence and extremism, first thing to discuss is the incentive and mindset of the extremist. He may be ignorant, trained by ignorants. Or he may be analytic and carthesian through modernist education. Both lead to interest based political wars rather than jihad.
 
But the serious question which leads to intellectual unrest in the muslim mind is the pendulum between Sharia and secular needs of the ummah, forced by modernity in governance. How did our fathers solve this dilemma?
 
An example from the Ottoman Empire, private law was fully based on Sharia, (Non-muslims were given the right to be judged by their own clergy according to their own holy books.) Governance was by semi-secular Urfi law, yet not to contradict Sharia.
 
In our day, without solving the modern logical dilemma in our brains on where sharia and secular needs meet, plus where sharia stands on our relations with the non-muslims in the global village,  the intellectual anguish in Islamic world shall not leave us anytime soon.
 
Another crucial point is the concept of Jihad.
 
As 20th Century was the era of the death of ideologies, especially after the collapse of the Soviets, Islam is left as the only faith for the oppressed to be used as a materialist, fierce ideology of interests.
 
How to save our holy religion from being hijacked and turned into a materialist ruthless ideology?
 
If we do not find a solution, soon our holy concept of shahadeh, the ultimate sacrifice to save our fatherlands from invaders would be diluted, even our armies protecting our countries would be blamed as terrorists.
 
As for international relations, millenial practice of Co-survival in Harmony of muslims with non-muslims, we may refer to our Madina Contract, plus the metaphor of Roman Agora, where all faiths and races intermingle for commercial and cultural exchange, and radiate back to their villages.
 
This is the realistic relation of humans in the new Global Village, keeping their identities while respecting the identity of other fellow humans, meeting in peace to exchange their needs.
 
On security, governance and democracy in Muslim World, we should be careful about the too much Westernized mentality and alienation of rulers from their peoples. Governing elites oppressing their peoples and cooperating with few global decision makers instead of working for the interest of their own peoples, do not let a chance for their subjects let off steam democratically.
 
This turns the global village into a pressure cooker which may explode like volcanos all over the world. This is the main reason of guerilla and terror warfare. Not only for muslims, but even more so for European unemployed masses. 21st Century gives a gloomy picture of instability.
 
 Dear Friends,
 
Education is rudderless in muslim countries. In some of our countries, it is too materialistic.  And in some countries education is completely spiritual neglecting the technological sciences of this world.
 
An education balancing spiritual with material needs is the ultimate base for a safe and prosperous ummah. Yet in our day, we are bouncing from one extreme of materialism to another of pure spiritualism.
 
If I may give a humorous example from Turkey where Kemalist dogma covers all academic curriculum, when foreign investors request technicians, we may say we do not have enough technical schools,  but can give a good Kemalist to do sophisticated electronic work. Another humour can be given from  fellow muslim countries where they may say that they can give good imams to work as technicians, because they also do not have enough technical schools.
 
These archaic, dogmatic curriculums designed for rural peasant peoples of early 20th Century are what are keeping us behind in creativity, innovation and material power in 21st Century information age.
 
As for spiritual education, a lot of our religious education are made in the worst conditions, our teachers and imams on average are less than secondary school grads, and our ignorants are claiming monopoly to absolute truth. Whereas in Christian world we see preachers and teachers of religion with Masters and Ph.Ds. Unless we give priority to this cause, our young generations cannot find balance in life, they would either become fanatics, or alienated from our holy religion.
Nearing the end of my speech, I would like to touch upon an interesting academic view I remember from my old readings which asserts that Europe surpassed Asia because rough European terrain divided peoples and they fought incessantly among themselves; activity and competition leading to advancements in all fields, whereas the priority of vast Asian Empires was stability, not to rock the boat, and they were in deep slumber.
 
In our day, this process is reversed, European Union opts for stability. Islamic communities are in constant war, competition and rivalry. This situation may force the brains of our thinkers for creative solutions to our complex causes. An important incentive for our think tanks.
 
Hence we come to the ending words, pertaining to think tanks and strategic studies. As modern Western governance and business depend on strategic studies and doctrines of long term and scientific planning, our business habits are based on the momentary psychological mood of the decision-maker. This is a serious reason for the failures in governance in our countries. To save time, I shall not delve deeper into the subject, but my paper on this issue is being distributed by our colleagues as an annex to the text of this speech.
 
Thank you for your patience.

 
*Ambassador Nurhan is the Permanent Representative of the OIC to Afghanistan.
This speech covers his personal ideas and does not necessarily reflect the views of the OIC.
He can be reached at  aydin.nurhan@outlook.com
 

( Ambassador (R) Aydın Nurhan, Permanent Representative of the OIC to Afghanistan | Speech | 6th Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries | 7th March 2015, Islamabad )


 

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