By Khalid Baig
February 17, 201708
THE term “Third World” was coined in 1952, in the wake of the World War II, to refer to the ex-colonies that were not part of the two newly emerged geopolitical blocs of associated interests. But, the world order set-up by the “First World” in the post-colonial period was even more exploitative than the one that immediately preceded it. 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 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.
Today there are generations of educated Muslims who have been convinced that progress equals modernisation equals westernisation. 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 value of every moment of our life. It does require us to be punctual and not to waste time. And it delivers.
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 US 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 society.
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 US 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-Khabais (the root of all evil) and no power on earth can change that designation.
This world was a dark place, having forgotten or distorted previous prophets’ teachings, before the Holy Prophet (PBUH) 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.