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A VISION OF GLOBALIZATION

 

By Dr. Malik S. Khan

Secretary-General, World Council of Muslim Communities

United Nations Representative, World Muslim Congress

Email:  motamar@hotmail.com

 

My subject is globalization and the need for Muslims to apply the Quranic principles and Islamic law to safely and morally avail themselves of its benefits, while learning to recognize and combat its abuses and dangers.

In general, globalization means to carry something on a worldwide scale.  As such this may, in essence, inter alia, be a campaign, movement, activity, ideology, culture, civilization, or creed.  While each of these categories substantially tends to be all-embracing, qualitatively it may be:  exploitative/abusive, dominating/hegemonic, philosophical/ideological, altruistic/utilitarian, or spiritual/religious. Working within these spheres, appropriate courses of action would be necessary for desired results.

Exploitative/abusive

The present system of globalization as proffered by the West in any of its multifaceted connotations (e.g., colonialism, capitalism, socialism, modernism, liberalism, Christianity) is by far regarded as exploitative and abusive.

Within this context, culturally, globalization means spreading the Western lifestyle and technology under the high-sounding slogans of “freedom, equality, and prosperity.”  This mode of life is based on submission to materialism, sensualism, and lust, which have brought all kinds of social evils into society.

The danger is that rich and powerful Western societies may dictate their way to their poor and weak counterparts.  For example, contraceptives can be abused.  Once freed from the fear of unwanted pregnancy, people may engage in immoral sexual behavior outside marriage.  A society where this is an accepted norm may start distributing these devices to morally firm and religious pious communities, where sexual relations are strictly confined to marriage, thereby upsetting the latter’s socio-cultural milieu.  In other words, the Western behavior would actually create problems for those following the traditional religious and moral systems.

In the Third World (including the Muslim world), the image of the elite is transformed radically in the Age of Globalization.  In the colonial era the indigenous intelligentsia played a leading role in both political and cultural independence as they reflected the anguish and suffering of their people.  The new intelligentsia, on the other hand, lack this anxiety to achieve social justice and tend to be preoccupied with business and investment, even though it results in profit to a few with a high socio-economic cost to many.  Along with the benefits of Western scientific and technological education, the Third World student, ominously, has also absorbed a neocolonialist business outlook that accepts the sinisterly powerful role of multinational corporations, which casts lingering shadows over the socio-cultural landscape of transitional societies.

On the economic front, traditional societies that once were nearly self-sufficient have become mortgaged to wealthy nations to satisfy their greed for imported goods.  Free market economics still results in raw materials being sold dirt cheap, whereas refined and manufactured goods are sold at the price of gold.  Globalization of technology is fine if it is shared with equal opportunity, but attaching strings has made a new form of colonization through industry, finance, and technology by managers, entrepreneurs, and owners.  Besides, the spread of technology dictates the Western interest to expand their market and benefit from the less developed countries.

Under the IMF, the abuse of currency fixing by the rich nations has forced the borrowing nations to devalue their currencies several times.  If such abuses are left unchecked, monopolies and oligopolies will spell the end of small businesses.  We have already seen the start of such tendencies with such developments as the replacement of independent restaurants with fast-food franchises and the near-demise of the American family farm.

The multinationals’ gradual penetration into the Third World economies, far from eliminating poverty and alleviating the misery of the urban and rural poor, has led to the intertwined phenomena of an increase in the number of impoverished employed people, and concentration of wealth in the hands of the political elite.  Corporate globalization continues on many fronts through institutions, trade agreements, governance, and corporate action.  Global corporations persist in consolidating their power over governments and plundering natural resources.  Through corporate mergers and technological advances, an ever-smaller number of gigantic corporations is controlling global economic activity with devastating effects upon the environment, human rights, public health, livelihood, and democracy.  Meanwhile, recent changes in the United Nations raise grave doubts about its ability to sere as a bastion of economic development along with its other responsibilities.  Whereas reform of the United Nations is necessary to provide checks and balances on global corporations and to provide alternative economic models for international development, its weakness has encouraged the dominance of global business interests, while seriously undermining the interests of the global poor.

Dominating/Hegemonic

Another characteristic of the present globalization is hegemonization, which means the paradoxical concentration of power in a particular country or civilization.  Traditionally, the phenomenon manifested itself largely in the forms of imperialism and colonialism, but also through other modes of ascendancy (e.g., protection, guarantee, capitulation, dependence, trusteeship, unequal treaties, and coercive arrangements).  In the recent past, countries such as Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy imposed their hegemony through political process, commercial concessions, and military operations that subjugated nations as colonies and individuals as slaves.  With their intricate administrative system, they controlled all aspects of their subjects’ lives.  Today, hegemony and neo-colonialism go hand in hand.  By way of destabilization of governments, engineering of coups d’état, installing of puppet regimes, and fomenting regional tensions, among other means, they influence and/or manipulate foreign affairs in their favor.  As such, so far all the pundits of globalization have not solved the conflicts of Palestine, Bosnia, Kashmir, Chechnya, Ireland, El Salvador, East Timor and other global hot spots.  Rather, everyone seems to be powerless and busy with private battles.  None of them is looking for a grand process.

On the military side, their direct intervention, indirect support, prolonged occupation, strategic assistance, defensive alliances, containment pacts, military exercises, armament supplies, defensive provisions, and power demonstrations have been some of the measures to ensure their authority.   Today the superpowers seek to keep their presence on all continents with bases established around the globe as a means of imposing their way.

But the most horrific aspect of today’s globalization has been the magnitude of monstrous lethality of modern weaponry, which has the power to destroy the Earth many times over.  Several countries have globalized their military might and military arsenal of mass destruction.  This globalization has made associations, such as the atomic bomb clubs, which, starting with the Christian bomb, now include the Communist bomb, the Hindu bomb, the Jewish bomb, the Buddhist bomb, and the Muslim bomb.  Once one country has an atomic device, threatened states are forced to follow suit in self-defense, thereby proliferating the ill across the entire globe and endangering humanity at large.

Philosophical/Ideological

Then, there are philosophical and ideological aspects of globalization, which are aimed at influencing the psyche and thought processes of the people as well as introducing procedural modalities and institutional bases of the adherents.

Philosophically, the advocates of falsity have shredded the integrity of humankind by generating deceptive promises and myths (e.g., superiority of the white race, white man’s burden), coining illusory phraseologies and metaphors (e.g., civilized people, savage animals), advancing divisive terminologies and orismologies (e.g., First World, Third World), devising discretionary suggestions and indications (e.g., advanced nations, backward nations, developed nations, undeveloped nations, developing nations), and promoting misleading inferences and implications (e.g., use of semantic to conceal facts, systematization of misinformation to raise favored imagery).

This version of globalization stresses the preponderance of a self-styled group in human affairs.  With no moral or spiritual foundation, based on secular postulations, it is ambitious to spread its dogmas worldwide.  It also looks for a process of non-religious society, which has abuses on a mass scale:  child abuse, women abuse, elderly abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, divorce, irresponsible sexual behavior, and all other kinds of abuse arising from immoral behavior based on selfish and unethical inclinations.  Cloning now has the potential to create further problems for the human family.  Procreation will cease to be seen as a sacred and miraculous process, and a callously results-oriented attitude toward pregnancy will reduce the pregnant woman to the status of a breeding machine. 

Ideologically, going further to another extreme, they fabricate their own deities.  In the zeal of worshiping their tin gods, disoriented by their blind faiths, they do not hesitate even to raise accusations against the sanctity of the All-Creator, His Messengers, and His Scriptures.  They ignore their own professed teachings, while hoisting stones on others, and not shrinking from blasphemous indulgences against the pious personalities and sacred relics.  In their blind passion, they do not shy away even from destruction and killing.  In the past the Christian conquistadores forced their religion and culture on the natives of Latin America by slaughtering the males, using the females for breeding purposes, and using torture to suppress native religious rites.  In the present day the method is more subtle:  the missionaries lure the natives to schools, food, healthcare, entertainment, etc., and then indoctrinate them into their religious practices.

Nay, reversion to slander, defamation, sacrilege, blasphemy, and outright violence has been showing its poisonous fangs for the last few years.  This rapidly developing phenomenon has serous implications for the survival of human civilization.

 

 

Altruistic/Utilitarian

Yet, the altruistic and utilitarian thinking has not given up hope.  Proponents of this category advocate that globalization should work for the advantage of more cooperative and less exploitative activities.  Globalization ought to result in standardization in such matters as appliances, capital goods, construction materials, electricity, stock markets, technology, textbooks, medicine, chemicals, engineering, refining, ecological preservation, and environmental safeguards. It should address such issues as settlement of international conflicts, eradication of poverty, remedy for AIDS, cure for crop-destroying diseases, and mass welfare.  It also calls for the banishment of famine, nuclear warfare, biological warfare, ethnic cleansing, and other destructive activities.

As solutions have to be found in altruistic and utilitarian terms, realism and functionalism are their leitmotif, and practicality and pragmatism are their modus operandi.

Spiritual/Religious

The defenders of the faith, within the spiritual and religious paradigm, insist that the future of humanity is very grim unless and until it corrects its destructive course under the Divine Guidance.  According to the Christian Scriptures, it was predicted that eventually there will be Jesus’ Second Coming, bringing one religion and peace in the world as the Kingdom of God.  Everyone will be worshiping only one God, the same God that the Muslims call Allah Subhanahu wa Ta`ala (S.W.T.) and live under His protection.

Muslims also believe that “unless and until” man follows the Divine dictates, he is destined to damnation, which ought to be consciously avoided.  They also attest that the actual and the truest process of “interdependence” and “globalization” was spiritual in nature and started with the first message from the Almighty for the worship of “one and only one” God.  As such, the succession of prophets (peace be upon them), from Adam through the Old and New Testament prophets and culminating with Muhammad, all taught the same basic message.  The final revelation, the Holy Quran, is God’s injunction and guidance for all times and all peoples.  The first thing, then, which must come to the mind of a Muslim from the epithet “globalization” is his responsibility to convey the message of Islam to the entire humanity across the globe.  The Sacred Word proclaims: “Indeed, Islam is the only right way of life in the sight of Allah” (Surah Al-e-Imran, ayah 19).  A sincere and responsible person will play his part in transmitting this code to every human being on the face of the Earth.  Allah (S.W.T.), addressing the Prophet, declares in the Holy Quran, “(O Muhammad), say, ‘O Mankind, I am a Messenger to all of you from Allah, to Whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth.  There is not deity but He” (Surah Al-A`raf, ayah 158).  Allah (S.W.T.) also annunciates, “And (O Prophet), We have sent you to the entire mankind as a bearer of good news and a warner, but most people do not know it” (Surah Saba, ayah 28).

Allah (S.W.T.) further asseverates, “Highly blessed is He, Who has sent down Al-Furqan (the Criterion) to His servant so that it may be a warner to all mankind: - He to Whom belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth” (Surah Al-Furqan, ayah 1).  Thus, Allah (S.W.T.) has clearly mentioned that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), is the prophet for all humans, and the Holy Quran is the Book for all mankind.

Allah (S.W.T.) has warned all humans in the Holy Quran, “And whoever adopts any other than this way of submission (Islam), that way shall not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers” (Surah Al-e-Imran, ayah 85).

Based on submission to the Will of the Almighty, All-Knowing, and All-Sustaining Allah (S.W.T.), shunning all false gods, the Islamic concept of “globalization” is the most sublime.  Supported by the celestial truth of the paramount order and supernal reason of the purest adjuration, it presents the most opulent paragon of universalism.  Preaching the noblest precepts of human conduct, it proffers the most peaceful and just society, free from exploitation and discrimination.  Ensuring the enjoyment of bounties of this life and promising those of the Hereafter, in charting the path of salvation, it is a blessing for all mankind.  Harboring ill-will toward none, cherishing goodwill for all, it is the altruistic system par excellence.

Along with the unity of God, it also advocates the oneness of humanity, as expressed in universal brotherhood.  With its highest Divinely ordained values of rights and obligations (e.g., love, compassion, kindness, consideration, respect, trust, honesty, truthfulness, piety, tolerance, coexistence, peace, security, justice, development, progress, loyalty, helpfulness, unity, fraternity), it aspires to establish a Godly regime of tranquility, prosperity, and serenity on the earth.  In such praxis of harmony, care, and advancement, it seeks joy and bliss for all in the two worlds.

The shining example of such a version of “globalization” is indeed the Golden Age of Islam, wherein peace and security were found under the banner of Divine sovereignty, where progress and prosperity were ensured by equitable institutions, where the due and fair were guaranteed by social justice, where individuals and groups were protected from undue encroachment, where families and formalities were sheltered as exalted norms, and where ecology and environment were preserved as sustainable entities.

As such, when Islam came into contact with other cultures along with its programs of welfare and salvation, the response to its palatability and appeal was overwhelming.  As a result, its impact was tremendous in all aspects of life, generating impulses of goodwill and beatitude everywhere.  Indeed, it was in this spell that human civilization touched its zenith, men perceived liberty in bondage with his Creator, humankind flourished with its birthrights, familial bonds were nurtured in their natural primacy, communities cared for one another, sharing was the customary mode of the people, love and happiness prevailed everywhere, knowledge and enlightenment burst forth in all disciplines, and bounties and blessings of God were spread for all.

It was, in fact, under those conducive circumstances, which prepared the grounds for the seedling and cultivation of the European Renaissance, giving rise to modern civilization.  This also formed, unfortunately, the watershed which separated the embracing torrents into two different streams, juxtaposing each other in uncalled-for confrontation.

Under the following eventualities, this schism grew as hastened by internal tensions and foreign onslaughts, resulting in the gradual decline of the religious ascendancy of the Muslims.  With the loss of Islamic dynamism, the balance of power shifted in favor of the West, as initially dominated by Christian thought and later increasingly coming under the sway of secular forces.

Muslims themselves, now under the prevailing Western powers with different ideology and culture, under various guises and/or arrangement, went in deep and long slumber.  However, against all odds, the flame of revivalism kept flickering side by side the independence movements.  A series of ardent sons of Islam (e.g., Jamaluddin Afghani, Hassan Al-Banna, Mohammed Iqbal, and Maulana Maududi) brought back the dynamic spirit to Islamic thought in reference to the Holy Scripture and the Sunnah to solve contemporary problems.  In other words, they Islamized the human society for their era and for future generations, engendering, at the same time, the assiduity for pan-Islamism.

Finally, having arrived at the juncture of independence and interdependence, Muslims are struggling to throw off the vestiges of foreign domination and assume their great and rightful stature in the world on their own Islamic terms.

Recognition having this been given to the sterling qualities of the Islamic system and pitiable conditions of the human race, having been perceived against the needs and necessities of the day, there is a pressing reason for Muslims to spur their effort for the achievement of the promised Shangri-La.  Within this depiction, search for such a desideratum is in order, with adoption of apropos courses of action.

Courses of Action

For the creation of the desirably conducive design, the cry for ‘globalization” presents special challenges to overcome and excellent opportunities to utilize.

Challenges:

As for challenges, Muslims are faced with a vast array of impediments in their way, when they are out on the professed mission.

Environmental Resistance

The foremost amongst these is the environmental resistance, which implies prevailing detrimental conditions in the milieu, in which an effort has to operate.  The dominant feature of the contemporary human society is secularism, where religion plays only a secondary role, and that too with differing hues.  Politico-military, financio-economic, socio-cultural, and scientifico-technological reins rest in the hands of Western nations, who typically abuse their power, often in deliberate selfishness.  Perceptively as well as practically, this creates the greatest hurdle for incompatible ideas and practices to break through the wall of the prevailing offensiveness.

External Opposition

Not only this, but also certain secular forces are openly against spiritual norms in general and Islamic standards in particular.  Outright desecrating accusations, blasphemous activities, sacrilegious utterances, profane outbursts, slanderous abuses, defaming campaigns and physical attack have become commonplace.  These have been generating waves of tensions, hatred, and misunderstanding within the folds of human society, rupturing its very fabric.  It has swallowed millions of lives and injured many more, bringing misery to the living, and wreaking havoc upon the earth.  If human civilization is to survive and the planet is to remain habitable, these tendencies have to be effectively curbed and their trends reversed, while damages must be restituted, so far as humanly possible.

Internal Degeneration

Then, there have been factors of internal degeneration within Muslim society itself.  The gulf of centuries-old politico-religious rift, instead of being narrowed, has been chronically widened over time, seeping the `ummah’s creative energies.  Sectarianism, born and nurtured in the bosom of ignorance and bigotry, is incessantly on the rise.  The prolonged sway of colonialism not only disturbed indigenous norms, but also left the societies in political disarray and spiritual disillusionment.  Modern Western thought, culture, and ways of life have made deep inroads into the psyche of younger Muslim generations, who are forced to appropriate the West’s materialistic and sensual attitudes.  Among these, the Western education has had drastic effects in Muslim countries.  The progressive privatization, elitization, Westernization, and Americanization of education have been significant in modifying – even reversing – the thought processes of many Muslims.

Concerted efforts would therefore be necessary to bring Muslims themselves on a common platform of their own, if anything significant at all is to be achieved.

Opportunities

But, not to be disheartened, there luckily are many opportunities for Muslims to have their constructive part in human affairs. 

Divine Injunctions

At the top of these are the Divine Injunctions, in which Almighty Allah (S.W.T.) proclaimed, inter alia, Muslims as the best `ummah, enjoining them to adopt Godly ways in their lives, holding fast the rope of pious unity among their folds, and being capable of ordering others to be virtuous.  

كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَلَوۡ ءَامَنَ أَهۡلُ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ لَكَانَ خَيۡرً۬ا لَّهُم‌ۚ مِّنۡهُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَأَڪۡثَرُهُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ (١١٠)

(Surah 3, Al-e-Imran, ayah 110)

وَٱعۡتَصِمُواْ بِحَبۡلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعً۬ا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُواْ‌ۚ وَٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذۡ كُنتُمۡ أَعۡدَآءً۬ فَأَلَّفَ بَيۡنَ قُلُوبِكُمۡ فَأَصۡبَحۡتُم بِنِعۡمَتِهِۦۤ إِخۡوَٲنً۬ا وَكُنتُمۡ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفۡرَةٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنۡہَا‌ۗ كَذَٲلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَہۡتَدُونَ (١٠٣)

(Surah 3, Al-e-Imran, ayah 103)

Muslims should, therefore, first of all recognize their own dignified worth and that of their noble mission of Da`wah in the eyes of the Lord, by becoming a united body in piety and by transmitting the teachings of Islam near and far. According, they should work for mutual understanding, social reform, dispensation of justice, pious living as role models, Islamization of education, dissemination of Islamic thought, and engaging in interfaith dialogue as a means of Da`wah.

The call is out for humanity to share the vast and diverse knowledge and wisdom available through all means of communication and in particular the Internet highway.  Everybody is playing games with globalization to gain from it.  Muslim, too, can put this unique opportunity to their advantage by conveying the correct, accurate, and original message revealed to mankind through the Holy Prophet as annunciated in the Holy Quran.  As people gain access to freely contemplate the truth, it will have its own appeal to attract them.

Worldly Activities

But, they need not be left behind in temporal matters, as rightfully pursued.  Actually, if they have to guide the nations in the path of righteousness, they ought to engage actively and proficiently in world affairs.  By entering into the mainstream of human exertions, they must excel in all the pertinent disciplines (e.g., arts, humanities, social sciences, physical sciences) and professions (e.g., administration, business, commerce, diplomacy, education, engineering, law, medicine, technology). Taking the leadership role and interdisciplinary interaction at the highest levels, they must produce a cadre of specialists in every relevant field, in the sense that their services become indispensable.  Likewise, viable institutions and workable procedures ought to be developed to generate/energize, preserve/sustain, and promote/advance human/material and organizational/functional resources.

While migration of skill and expertise to foreign countries may have some short-term benefits (e.g., employment, remittances), with the rider of “brain-drain” attached thereto, it has little role to play in the long-term goals of nation-building.

But, irrespective of some frustrating phenomena, tangible breakthroughs have been made in most of the fields.  Yet, continuing and sustained efforts shall be essential to achieve world-class status therein.