By Arshad Mahmood
February 10, 2012
Muslims are not ostensibly against science and development, yet many a times they do not accept science on religious basis. They also link every scientific achievement and technological advancement with the blessing of Allah
Islam is an old religion which originated more than 1400 years ago while other divine religions are older. Almost all religions, to some extent, exercised a political role initially, but as the human society’s character changed from tribalistic to feudalistic to modern industrial, vast opportunities for scientific and industrial research emerged. And with human development, all religions lost their political role. Today, with the exception of Islam, no other religion claims its role as a political entity. The human history bears witness to the fact that like every other thing, religions took birth and then died while every religion claimed to be the harbinger of eternal and absolute truth.
Every religion with its characteristic set of beliefs maintained a political role and empires were built thereon. Wars were fought in the name of religions which were aimed at gaining control of other nations. However, many differences exist between Islam and other religions. Other religions were not basically political whereas Islam is primarily a political religion. This is the only religion which formally labels believers of other religions as heretics .On the other hand, in today’s civilized world, the followers of other religions simply consider Muslims as belonging to a different religion and do not consider them a cause of instigation. It is only Islam which considers itself righteous and all other religions false.
Soon after the birth of Islam, and in the name of Islam, aggression was launched against followers of other religions. Islamic history tells us that at a time when even the adherents of Islam had not properly understood it, holy wars and ghazawat were initiated and everywhere armed gangs were dispatched. Even the main preoccupation of early Islam was of a political and jingoistic character: either embrace Islam or pay jazia or be prepared for war. Consequently, till to date the subconscious of orthodox Muslims carries the belief that all other religions are false and lowly and will eventually be wiped of the face of the earth and every human being will ultimately embrace Islam or has to be converted to Islam.
The major damage this trend has inflicted upon the Muslims is that they are unable to accept plurality and hence negate coexistence with the followers of other religions. In almost all Muslim countries children are taught to hate non-Muslims, as such indoctrination is part of the Holy Scripture and the early history of Islam is rampant with examples of holy personalities’ combat and victories against them. Second, Islam is the only religion which prescribes death for the apostates. Even a person disagreeing with the fundamental text is to be killed. This attitude is also incompatible with today’s modern world. Hence, the main orientation in Islam is not choice-based but force-based.
In view of modernity, the Muslims are not ostensibly against science and development, yet many a times they do not accept science on religious basis. For instance they do not whole-heartedly accept the theory of evolution. They also link every scientific achievement and technological advancement with the blessing of Allah rather than human endeavor. In Islam man gets no credit but everything is to be ascribed to Allah. An extremely vague concept in Islam claims that all science is present in the holy Quran and Europeans derived everything out of it. This concept undermines the very basis of human and scientific development over a period of centuries. It is further stated that Europeans even acquired good morals from Islam, whereas the fact remains that the Muslim world at present, is more or less, almost devoid of all desirable attitudes both scientific and moral.
Islam also does not fit in the modern world as it propounds that it is a complete code of life. In other words it offers guidelines on all ethical, social, economic, political and cultural issues which implies that Muslims cannot take any considered stand, individually or collectively, in view of a particular time and space. And then the right to interpret goes to the Mullah. Although we do find a vague concept of Ijtihad (innovation) in Islam but it has never been effectively employed. Any scholar who ever attempted to interpret Islam with a modern outlook was declared a heretic and his teachings had no impact on the common man. No concept of an enlightened Islam was ever accepted and all such movements were defeated.
The Muslims accepted science and technology to the extent it brings comfort and luxury in their lives yet have not been able to accept the basic philosophy of science and its related constructs. That is the main reason why an educated and an uneducated Muslim, both have almost the same world view. To Muslims, science means consumer goods and not the underlying philosophy of its construction. The Muslim mind fails to understand that scientific development brings with it a new system of moral values, a new culture and psyche and a new world view. The fundamental tragedy of today’s Muslim is that he is more anxious about Islam than himself. In every discourse, he brings in Islam and saves it, while himself becomes a causality. That is the reason that followers of all other religions, be it Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism have the capacity to adapt to the demands of the modern world and the potential to progress while Muslims are stuck at saving their religion.
The Muslims of the world are also very much interested in weapons of mass destruction. A large part of the budget of the Muslim countries is depleted in acquiring or building lethal weapons. Those at the helm of affairs have little interest in improving the life standards of the masses. Atom bomb is Muslims’ most favorite weapon which demonstrates how much the Muslims of the world are interested in world peace, development and human welfare.
The Muslims do not need a non-Muslim enemy to fight with. Even a Muslim country can fight on with another Muslim country for 10 long years and rendering millions as martyrs while the leadership shows absolutely no regret. Pakistani leadership for that matter is more interested in hostility towards India and the Kashmir issue rather than the development of the country and welfare of its own people.
Some three decades back the Muslims of the world were out to destroy the atheistic communism and today they find the enemy in the developed Judeo-Christian world. Almost all Muslim countries are rapidly moving towards Islamic fundamentalism and extremism while signs of a modern secular state are fast disappearing.
This state of affairs is a serious threat and a cause of concern not only for Muslim intelligentsia but also the international think tanks.
Arshad Mahmood is a columnist, freelance writer and a social activist.