Islam is the Solution
Posted: 4 Sha'ban 1422, 21 October 2001
The term "Third World" was coined in 1952, in the wake of the Second World
War, to refer to the ex-colonies that were not part of the two newly emerged geopolitical
blocs of associated interests. The "Third" then meant the third way.
But, the world order setup by the "First World" in the post-colonial period
was even more exploitative than the one that immediately preceded it. It engineered a net
transfer of wealth, at an increasing rate, from the poor countries to the rich, making the
former poorer and the latter richer. While in 1820 the estimates of disparity of wealth
between the richest and the poorest countries in the world were about 3:1, by 1950 the
ratio had changed to 35:1, and by 1992 it had reached 72:1. Today it is even higher.
Ironically the exploits have earned the exploiters a 'respectability' and the exploited a
disdain. The term "Third World" has come to signify a rank, as in third class.
Then there are armies of "experts" who have been convincing everyone that the
real problem of the exploited countries is that they are too "traditional" and
their salvation lies in aping the progressive ways of the West. This is the essence of the
modernization theory that seeks to move societies from the "traditional" to the
This discussion is of special value to the Muslims because all the Muslim countries
fall in the "Third World." Today there are generations of educated Muslims who
have been convinced that progress equals modernization equals westernization. For every
problem they turn to the "First World" for answers, guidance, and assistance.
They see their societies as decadent and attribute this decadence to their adherence to
traditions and religion. Most of the rulers in the Muslim world today, unfortunately, come
from this group. At the same time they claim to be Muslims and servants of Islam.
May be we can invite them to shed this hypocrisy and take an objective look at their
societies. They may find out that contrary to their thinking, whatever good is there in
any society, it comes from Islam. Whatever evils are there come from hypocrisy and
defiance of Islam.
It is generally observed that in Muslim societies today people are neither punctual nor
value time much. Their leisurely ways are in direct contrast to the world where the creed
is that time is money. Islam does not promote this materialistic notion of the value of
time which results in nobody having time for others. But it does teach the value of every
moment of our life as providing the opportunity for earning the rewards in the hereafter.
It does require us to be punctual and not to waste time. And it delivers.
In the vast Muslim world there is one enterprise that is extraordinary in its
punctuality and discipline. In the big cities or the remotest rural areas, the azan is
called five times a day and the people gather for the congregational prayers at the proper
times without fail. Neither excessive cold in the winter nights nor excruciating heat
during sizzling summer days keeps them from their sacred duty. This enterprise has not
been financed by governments or big businesses. When most people are in their warm beds in
their unheated homes, there is a muezzin in every neighborhood who never fails to wake up
and remind everyone, "Prayer is better than sleep."
Here is a glimpse of the power of Islam. Can we imagine the situation when not just the
muezzin and a small congregation, but the entire population becomes responsive to its
duty? Can we imagine when their sense of responsibility goes beyond the prayers and covers
all aspects of their life?
Equally fascinating is the unparalleled power of Islam in shunning social evils that
are consuming the world. Despite their myriad problems, the Muslim lands even today shine
as islands of virtue in a deep dark ocean of vice.
Consider Alcoholism. In the USA alone, the economic costs of Alcoholism and drug abuse
are reported to be at a quarter trillion dollars per year. The social and moral costs are
additional. But the solution evades world's most technologically advanced and organized
Actually it did try. In 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting alcohol.
This was after a century of grass roots efforts, which included thousands of societies for
prohibition and abstinence pledges in churches. They also allocated $5 million for
enforcement to turn USA into a liquor-free society. A few years later the estimate was
$300 million and growing. Organized crime started. Thirteen years later Prohibition was
repealed. The "Noble Experiment" had failed miserably.
In contrast, Islam banned alcohol 14 centuries ago among people whose love for alcohol
was second to none. In three simple steps, spanning only a few years, alcohol was banished
from the Muslim world. Today, despite small areas of infraction, a map of the dry world
coincides with the map of the Muslim world. Islam has declared alcohol to be
Ummul-Khabaith (the root of all evil) and no power on earth can change that designation.
We recently saw a small example of the same miracle with respect to drugs. One command
by the Taliban Ameer achieved what hundreds of experts and millions of dollars could not.
In the areas under Taliban rule today the cultivation of opium has stopped. (It continues
in areas under the control of the western sponsored Northern Alliance, but that is another
Where else but in a Muslim country (Saudi Arabia) one can find jewelry stores without
armed guards, closed doors, and elaborate security systems? One of the major crimes
against humanity and morality committed by the "First World" has been the
exploitation of women in the form of prostitution. Whether it is legal or illegal, whether
there are marked red light areas or not, it flourishes everywhere the "First
World" has its way. In addition, every area visited by their armies has left behind
these centers of filth. Again, the notable exception is the Muslim world.
This world was a dark place, having forgotten or distorted previous prophets'
teachings, before Prophet Muhammad brought the light. He
brought back the message of Tauheed, universal brotherhood, compassion, mercy, equality,
justice, God consciousness, and morality. As Muslims turned away from Islam, the darkness
started to increase again, dividing it into first, second, and third worlds. There is lot
of arrogance and ignorance in these ranks. But, Islam again illuminates the way. The
solution is there, if only we look in the right direction. Islam is the solution.