Monday, July 07, 2014

Role of Islamic clergy: Ulema's rejection of Western world reason behind decline of Muslims?

Zafar Agha is a senior journalist and well-known columnist. In this article, he questions the role of Ulema who opposed the Western culture and rejected the Maghribi dunia*. 

This, he says, is among the reasons behind the decline of Muslims. Either you agree or disagree, do share your thoughts on this article and post them in the comments section below.

By Zafar Agha

There was an era when Muslims held sway over vast regions in the world. Whether you recall the Khalifas at Baghdad, the Mughal emperors at Delhi or the rulers in Constantinople, the Muslim states were superpowers of the period. [Not just art and culture, Muslim world was far ahead in science and technology too]

But, once the renaissance took place in Europe, and the West made giant strides, the Muslim world retreated. The situation hasn't improved since then. In India, even today, Muslims are in a state of defeat and suffer from victimhood.

I often point out the reason behind this colossal failure of the Muslims. The reason is that when Muslims lost their status to the Western civilsation, the Ulema considered it as extension of the conflict from the era of Crusades.

As a result, the loss was termed as a civilizational clash and the entire Western world was rejected. Hence, Muslim world also rejected the industrial culture which had given the Western world a new push, not just in terms of democratic societies but also scientific and technological momentum.

This revolution led to major progress in the Western countries. In the light of these developments, it is pertinent to ask whether a clash between a religion and a particular culture is possible? Of course, there can't be a clash between these two.

Feudal values overtook Islamic values

Islam had brought a radical change in the life of humanity. It brought equality among mankind, ended racism or the difference between black and white, gave rights to women that were unimaginable in that era and even till the modern era.

There was freedom in religion and there was no institutionalised clergy one was bound to. This was the reason that within a century, the message of Islam spread far and wide. Muslims were empowered and prosperous. Islam spread across the world, and Muslim nations became major superpowers.

But what happened in later centuries? In Baghdad and later in Constantinople, the Caliphs became Kings. The feudal system came in place. Kings became 'shadow of God on earth'. The changes were not in sync with Islamic teachings.

Rights of Muslim women curtailed

The rights of women were curtailed steadily. Hejab turned into the Burqa. Because of increasing feudalistic mindset, women were restricted to households. While the Prophet's wife Khadija was a business woman, today if a woman gets into business, it is not seen approvingly in our society.

Muslim women aren't encouraged to go for jobs compared to the men. While Islam gave the right to walk out of marriage to woman, more than 1400 years ago [khula allows woman to get out of wedlock], today Muslims in India are prepared to go to streets to fight for the 'right' to have verbal triple talaq.

The society that had emerged among Muslims after the advent of Islam, was thus transformed into a feudalistic society once again. It has more of 'Shahi-Zamindarana aqdaar' or royal-feudalistic values, which have nothing to do with the ideal Islamic values.

No 'Clash of Civilizations' between Muslim world, West

In many Muslim countries, there is dictatorship and the feudal values are propagated. On the other hand, the religious groups that seize power also have similar ideas. They restrain women from even getting education, let alone participate in other fields.

The Taliban are just one of these groups. The truth is that Muslims' beliefs have no conflict with Industrial culture of Western civilisation. These are remains of the Muslim feudalistic culture, which consider West as Crusading Force, and to uphold their feudal culture, keep pushing Muslims towards backwardness.

This is also a harsh truth that many of the flag-bearers of this 'Muslim' feudal culture and this mindset are the Ulema. Hence, it is not Western world with which we have conflict. We need to oppose and get rid of those who intend to keep Muslims stuck to the regressive and anti-West mindset.

[This is a short translation of Zafar Agha's article 'Muslim Ulama, zamindarana Muslim tehzib ke alambardar' or 'The Muslim Ulama, flag-bearers of feudal Muslim culture. It was originally published in Sahafat, the Urdu daily newspaper]
[*Maghribi dunia=Western World]