N. P Upadhyaya,: The experienced and the most knowledgeable Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has set the ball rolling. Where the rolling ball collides will be premature to tell.
Yet the debate has already begun. The message Dr. Mahathir has preferred to air by being in the friendly country Turkey’s soil July 26 last month if handled and led well by competent leaders with conscience then his idea (which still is in its embryonic form) may restore the lost glory of the Muslim civilization that it was for centuries across the world, but on the contrary if the said idea is led by an incompetent and less knowledgeable Muslim leader(s) then it is almost sure to bring in catastrophe in the world with the painful beginning of what the all-time respected and honored political scientist Samuel P Huntington said of the likely advent of “Clash of Civilization”.
To recall, Samuel Phillips Huntington was an American political scientist, adviser and an academic of the Himalayan order.
Huntington spent more than half a century at Harvard University, where he was director of Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. He authored the book “The Third Wave of Democracy”.
The third wave of democratization described the global trend that had seen more than 60 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa undergo some form of democratic transformations beginning the early 1990s.
However, the trend that saw the wave of democratization has faded to a greater extent.
Classic case could be Nepal’s Democracy now being run by top class capitalist communists.
If and when Clash of Civilization begins as stated by Professor Huntington then the globe may become an uneasy place to live in for todays’ human beings including those also who now prefer to forge wider unity for the restoration of their lost glory.
However, let’s not discuss the absurd for the time being. The intent for the unity is entirely different here.
Dr. Mahathir during his a four days official visit to Turkey all of a sudden mooted the idea (though not a new one) of what could be called as the “Muslim Renaissance”.
According to the Wikipedia (courtesy the Google) the Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 14th century. This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun Ul Rashid (786 to 809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad where scholars from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the world’s classical knowledge into Arabic. This period is traditionally said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the siege of Baghdad in 1258 AD. A few contemporary scholars place the end of the Islamic Golden Age as late as the end of 15th to 16th centuries.
If it is this Muslim glory Dr. Mahathir prefers to restore then he would be the best person to tell the world, at least the Muslim realm that these were his schemes and technique(s) to get back to the same prestige of the Islamic world or else, in the existing global politics where political alignment and realignments occur every other minutes, Dr. Mahathir is sure to fail in his pious propositions.
Interestingly, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan too endorses the school of thought subscribed by Dr. Mahathir. Understandably, who would say no to Unity?
And this the host President Erdogen did while addressing a joint news conference July 26.
The senior world leader Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad said the cooperation between the two countries will help to relieve the Muslim Ummah from being subjugated.
In fact, the use of the word subjugation by Dr. Mahathir must have some meaning and substance.
But what remains yet unanswered because he has yet to spell its literal underlying meaning. It would have been better had the Malaysian Prime Minister talked at length on what he meant by the word subjugation and if so then by whom or which countries?
He however, did not clarify the word “subjugation” and thus left it to be understood by observers what suited to their own preferred versions.
Nepali observers yet wish to opine Dr. Mahathir’s use of the term subjugation could have been directed towards some powerful countries who prefer to take the Muslims and their countries in a somewhat distorted manner which Dr. Mahathir perhaps prefers to dismiss these outdated notions by forging what he calls a “comprehensive” unity among the Muslim countries scattered in different continents of the globe. Mahathir though dismisses but the fact is that the suppression remains intact.
President Erdogen said that “unity among the Islamic world is necessary”.
And here is the biggest surprise of it all.
Dr. Mahathir preferred to begin with this unity among the Muslim countries by including the name of Pakistan whose representation was absent while Mahathir was proposing for such a Muslim unity and President Erdogen was endorsing the Malaysian Premier’s proposition.
Why only the three countries?
This is baffling in that how the whim of two countries could, for example, Turkey and Malaysia, without the approval of the third country that is Pakistan could include the name of a country which is absent while declaring such a unity? This is absurd. But yet it did happen and the absent country Pakistan in this case, duly approved it in a beaming mood as if everything was pre-set and that even in absentia, Pakistan appreciated her inclusion in the three country alliance that is, as per Prime Minister Mahathir would work for what is called a broader unity among the Muslim countries.
The Pakistani Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on July 27 welcomed the emphasis laid by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia for forging a broader unity. Qureshi was then in Islamabad.
Minister Qureshi in absentia had lauded the unity what has been coined as the “Muslim renaissance” by Prime Minister Mahathir and President Erdogen. He was all praise for this tri-lateral alliance.
Minister Qureshi says that “he was privileged to be part of the Ministerial meeting of the three countries on the sidelines of OIC’s Makkah Summit” that was held in Saudi Arabia in the recent months.
This does mean that Pakistan’s assurance was already there for the two countries, Turkey and Malaysia, for such a declaration which is what has happened and come to true.
“If you look at the past, Turkey was the savior of the Muslim Ummah in those days, but for reasons that few are able to understand we now have no Muslim country to stand up and protect us, but that doesn’t mean that this should be forever,” said a somewhat pained Mahathir Mohamad July 26, last month in Ankara.
His hopes are still kicking and alive. But his pain is visible.
Though the inner structure of this (would be) Muslim unity is not known but yet what PM Mahathir perhaps wants is “rebuilding and restoring the strength of Islamic civilization and also desires the Muslim countries to remain united and henceforth work closely being together”.
However, what is not known is whether this “Muslim renaissance” campaign shall include other Muslim countries and expand its scope and reach so that the voices of the Muslim countries will be heard by the powerful countries or not remains yet undisclosed.
The timing of this announcement is intriguing in that the OIC is in itself a big conglomerate of Muslim countries already in existence and yet Turkey and Malaysia think of forging unity (?) among the Muslim countries afresh and that too beginning with only three countries that includes Pakistan?
Is it that Turkey and Malaysia were not that happy with the functioning of the Organization of Islamic Countries?
Has the OIC become so incompetent and redundant that the two matured Muslim leaders felt the need to work for greater unity among the countries which are already in the OIC?
If not then what more Mahathir and President Erdogen desire from what they have declared just in Ankara?
Look what Prime Minister Mahathir has to say for the most desired unity and to attain what purpose? He says, (sic), “Today, we cannot claim to be a great civilization,” he said. “We are all oppressed and many of us are very backwards to the point of even not being able to set up the government of our own countries.” Muslim countries, he said, should address their dependence on other countries.
Is it that Dr. Mahathir has felt the continued pain of the Muslim community across the world more so in India (and China?) after the Prime Minister Modi’s election victory and the Hindutva fanaticism that has gripped the entire Indian Union? Or he is pained at the manner the Muslims have been demoralized across the globe by powerful countries? Is it that the Malaysian Prime Minister wants to revive the lost Muslim glory (of the Mughals also) which at some point of time remained as a dominant world power or at least in this part of the world?
And more so who is the oppressor as per Dr. Mahathir? So the Muslim countries first should locate and recognize the oppressor first and then take initiatives at forming broader unity as desired.
If not the OIC, then what? One of Dr Mahathir’s closest strategists and thinkers, Rais Husin, has proposed an Alliance of Muslim Nations, which he believes would have the potential to reshape the world order, claims Solto Byrnes in the Erasmus Forum dated 29 July last month.
Mr. Byrnes is a commentator and consultant in Kuala Lumpur and a corresponding fellow of the Erasmus Forum.
“The Islamic world needs a renaissance,” said Huseyin Bagci, an expert in International relations at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara.
The International relations expert further said that “and Prime Minister Mahathir made a right point that these countries (Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia) at least start new projects which make Muslim world compatible and competitive in Islamic sciences, technology, defense, etc.,” Bagci said.
Scholar Bagci agreed saying the three countries have common values in democracy, human rights and free press.
He noted that Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan stand out from the Arab world.
It is here that the scholar prefers to separate the Muslims living in Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan with the Muslims living in the Arab world.
Moreover, a free press and the prevalence of a democratic system in the Muslim countries may also distance few countries from the others where free press and democratic system were absent.
These two points too may bring differences among the Muslim countries who are rigid to some extent and thus no “unity” as desired by Malaysia and Turkey.
part from these short comings mentioned above, there could be more other reasons for Dr. Mahathir’s proposition for a unity to take roots, however, the notion for having unity amongst the countries practicing the same religion mustn’t be discouraged. It is a welcome move provided the goals and the objectives are sacrosanct. Or else, the powerful countries shall prefer to play and finally break the unity.
Having said that, yet it is hard to guess why for is the urgency of such a Muslim renaissance and that too so abruptly? To achieve what? Aimed against which power? Is it China or India whose Muslim population are in trouble at the moment? India being our next door neighbor, we in Nepal understand that the Indian Muslims, in minority, are suffering the worst and that the Hindu terror Machine led by Prime Minister Modi is hell bent on humiliating or even lynching the Muslims in India.
Needless to say, the Muslim countries sharply differ with each other and that is why they are weak comparatively speaking.
In addition, some are rich and others are literally very poor.
The Ankara scholar, according to Anadolu Agency website dated 26 July, says that Arab world is different than the Muslims of Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan. Both are Muslim countries though.
This in itself could be the beginning of the possible rupture of the yet to be formed unity among the Muslim nations.
Is this rich-poor gulf weakening the Muslim countries? Or the division created by the Shia and the Sunni sects inside the Muslim world itself has made them weaker in essence?
The level of ties of the some Muslim countries with the USA could also make a difference in going together unitedly. For example, Saudi Arabia is comfortable with the USA then Iran is not.
Now the triple Talaq verdict by the Supreme Court of India too in some way or the other may impact in the lives of the Muslim population in some countries. For some, the Indian example could be desirable and adorable one and for others it may be not. It is again this differing opinions on Tripple Talaq among the Muslim countries which shall distance some countries with the other.
The Indian Muslims were themselves divided by this Talaq verdict in India. Debates have just begun.
And the Kashmir issue is being deliberately ignored by some “Muslim” countries fearing that raising Kashmir atrocities committed by India over these seven decades shall damage their bilateral ties with India.
It is here Pakistan falls flat. So how Pakistan should behave with those Muslim countries who have left Pakistan to fight the war on Muslim population alone with India? Should Pakistan fight with those countries? Certainly not. However, all Pakistan can do is to bring in support from these countries. And what about Turkey and Malaysia? Have these countries taken a factual stand that is there on the continued plight of the Kashmir population? It is time Turkey and Malaysia should speak in clear terms. (The OIC meet this time took note of Kashmir issue some months back).
And it is these differences primarily that shall be cashed in upon by those, let’s say some powerful countries or better say the Oppressors as Dr. Mahathir says, who do not wish that the Muslim countries unite for multiple reasons.
The problems of Rohingyas could also be one reason that keeps some Muslim countries at a distance with others.
So a host of issues and matters of concerns will have impact on the unity to what Mahathir has proposed or say envisioned.
As regards the Uighurs Muslims in China, we don’t have much knowledge about them and thus it would be inappropriate to delve on a topic where we in fact possess least knowledge.
As regards Uighur Muslims, opinions among Muslim countries too may differ for some known and even unknown reasons which definitely are of political in nature. China friendly countries may even ignore the plight of the Chinese Muslims.
However, what we have come to understand very freshly that in a matter of days that in the Indian occupied Kashmir some sort of bombshell is about to explode which might deteriorate the security situation in and around the troubled valley.
Ajit Doval has already entered into the Kashmir Valley with thousands and thousands of military men which may trigger fight in between the two known rivals, India and Pakistan, demanding President Trump’s immediate mediation.
The taming of the Kashmiri civilians must have already begun and they were Muslims.
For the Road: Broader unity must be forged for the larger interest of the people, however, such a unity must not be directed against any other existing civilizations.
One civilization can’t flourish at the cost of other equally important civilization. Care should be taken that existing tolerance between differing civilizations must not get disturbed. We wish Dr. Mahathir a grand success in his “unity mission”. He has pinned high hopes in a nuclear and democratic Pakistan, it is distinctly visible. Now it is time Pakistan should act to fulfill Dr. Mahathir’s desire as a gift. If his gestures brings in unity among the Muslim Countries then why not? That’s all.