Pakistani Voice Of Reason

The Daily Times of Pakistan has a must-read editorial discussing the message of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia to Hajj pilgrims.

Like last year, the message was downbeat. In fact, one can’t remember if there ever was a happy message given to the Muslims on the occasion of their two Eids when they deserve to be encouraged with an affirmative view of life. As for the content of the message, much of it should have been shown first to an expert of international relations and modern statecraft.

But sadly, the inclination towards handing out this baleful message about the current state of affairs is routine with the Muslim clergy. No one among the clerics of Pakistan knows how to avoid threatening people and give them a positive view of their lives instead. If you ask an economist, he will not agree with the clergy about the fundamental indicators of Muslim life in the 20th century. The political scientist will not agree that the Muslims are subjugated. He will instead point out that in the middle of the last century most Muslim nations were freed from the yoke of colonialism and given a chance to live in their own sovereign states and make their own decisions about how they wanted to live. On the issue of terrorism, a Muslim political observer would have told the Sheikh to keep in mind that there was a disagreement over the definition of terrorism and that there would be problems of comprehension if he was challenged over what he was saying. Also, his assertion that the West had given “nothing but grief” to the Muslims was a half-truth, embarrassing in its reductionism to any educated person.

There is a difficulty however which the Muslims must ponder, preferably without the tutelage of the clergy, and that is that, in comparison to the development indicators among non-Muslim nations, Muslim states have not done well in the past 50 years. The backwardness manifest in the following picture has to be interpreted by the social scientists of the Muslim world and not a cleric who can think only in terms of military dominance and will be satisfied only if the Muslims overcome their “weakness” with the sword and conquer other nations they perceive as the enemies of Islam.

Like any paper, the Daily Times has its flaws, but I usually commend the editorials I read in it as a step in the right direction. In particular its fisking of the Sheikh's assertion that the West has “given nothing but grief to the Muslims” stands out as the kind of rational voice the Muslim world needs more of.

Its provocative conclusion (italics mine):

And why are the Muslims intellectually backward? Because they proliferate in numbers, thinking that Islam bans contraception, and are unable to educate themselves. The Sheikh was wrong when he bemoaned the military weakness of the Muslims. The Muslims are not militarily weak (they even have a nuclear bomb); they suffer from weakness of the mind. The education they get is mostly indoctrination they would be better off without. The bleak picture presented at Arafat was bleak only because the clerical worldview behind it was not informed with knowledge the new generation Saudi Arabia has acquired in recent years. Why not get a young Saudi social scientist to vet the speech before the Sheikh is allowed to read it? This will break the monotony and might well communicate something useful to the Muslims of the world.

The cause of the Muslim world's misfortunes is not America or Israel. The cause is a stifled intellectual culture. There are many progressive elements struggling to burst through, and fortunately the Daily Times is there to show them that they are not alone. I am not specifically optimistic about the post-withdrawal future of Iraq, or about the Israel-Palestine quagmire, but I am optimistic about the future of the Muslim world generally. We should all be.

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If I recall my (admittedly

If I recall my (admittedly spotty) historical knowledge correctly, The Islamic world was at the forefront of technological and scientific advancement during the 7 - 10th centuries. It had a significant market system and the modern day theocratic nature of its regimes was not so prevalant. In fact, I also read that Baghdad at the time was one of the worlds "greatest" cities.

I know many of my friends

I know many of my friends disliked the Syriana movie but I thought it was very good. In either case the movie shows how despite amazing oil revenues many countries have not invested in their future in the form of education, infrastructure, and human rights. I also believe there is local culture in many of the oil rich countries of being above many types of work. For example, Saudi Arabia has high-unemployment but still imports most of its labor force from Pakistan. And you know what they say about idle hands . . . :twisted:

If I recall my (admittedly

If I recall my (admittedly spotty) historical knowledge correctly, The Islamic world was at the forefront of technological and scientific advancement during the 7 - 10th centuries

Exactly. Mainly because, as you say, they didn't really take the whole religion thing very seriously. They were ostensibly Muslim in the same way that many modern Christian countries are "Christian" -- everyone goes to church/mosque and then goes back to the reality of commerce, women and booze.

And so it worked pretty well, they became the most advanced society around while the Christians to the northwest showed some of the disturbing traits that we associate with Muslim terrorists of today. Somehow (and there are lots of violently competing theories) the roles changed, and the Christian world became a lot more laid back -- to the benefit of everyone in it.

I drew the easy conclusions. :)

The substrate of the 7th to

The substrate of the 7th to 10th century Caliphate "Muslim" world was majority non-muslim. As the people (christians, jews, zoroastrians, etc) assimilated, the economies stagnated and the government grew ever more illiberal. I do not believe this to be a coincidence.

Muslim Spain did best when it was a muslim ruling minority over Christians and Jews. The more muslims there were, the more decadent and corrupt Andalusia became until it was destroyed by the Reconquista.

Muslim-ruled India was never, ever, ever, even remotely close to having a significant minority of the population as muslim. That the muslim rulers of India were prosperous and their reign long-lived is another non-coincidence in my book.

Even though the below

Even though the below comments don't have much to do with your original article but related to it I would be interested in your views.

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to islam/chritianity/judaism.

Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

GENESIS 16:16
And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
GENESIS 21:5
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING

THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14-21
BUT IT IS A DESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void.

I have shown the passage of Genesis 21 to my two elder children of good reading ages now and without influencing them asked them what mental picture they got about the age of Ishmael in that passage and they thought he was about 5 years old. I have also tried the same thing with my work colleagues some of whom are qualified with PhD’s and have the ENGLISH language as their mother tongue and they also said they thought Ishmael was 5 years or younger because some of them stated by themselves that there was no verbal interaction between mother and child. i.e. If Ishmael is not of talking age then he must be less than a year old.

GENESIS:21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the child.” And as she sat over against him, the child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14-21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS IN A TWIST.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:

http://www.al-sunnah.com/muhammad_in_the_bible.htm (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)
http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_BQS/default.htm (Quran and Science)
http://www.harunyahya.com/
http://www.barnabas.net/
http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm
http://www.islamicity.com/
http://www.islamonline.net/english/index.shtml

HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????

Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.

I agree with Brian Doss.

I agree with Brian Doss. The larger a role that religion plays in determining policy in your society, the worse things get.

Spoonie, funny you mention

Spoonie, funny you mention Syriana. Remember the progressive prince, played by Alexander Siddig from Deep Space Nine? Because he accepted China's higher bid for "his" country's oil, the US targeted him for destruction. Not that I want to use a work of fiction to portray the US's subversion of progress worlwide, but perhaps that kind of thing has more to do with the backward culture of much of the middle east (unlike Indonesia and Malaysia, somewhat more modern places), as opposed to the philosophy or whatever of the masses. And remember that playing the anti-American card can rally a great deal of support, often with a large amount of legitimacy.
Women like Nawal el-Saadawi of Egypt have been both anti-fundamentalist and anti-US for years, straddling the tense fence (ha) between being portrayed as pro-reactionary and pro-imperialist. Godspeed to her and her ilk...

As opposed to Dr Hook he

As opposed to Dr Hook he claims he is being misquoted and a victim...no kidding.