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THE 21ST CENTURY AND ISLAM

 

By Dr. Malik S. Khan

A Publication of Motamar at the United Nations by

the International Islamic Council for Da`wa and Relief

 

Preparing for the future is nothing new to Islam.  Islamic Hijra con­ferences were conducted throughout history by Muslim scholars, scien­tists, and intellectuals.  The concept of "dynamization" itself is Islamization of technology in a controlled environment based on ethical and moral principles.  One must say these principals are essential to govern oneself in the universe.  The ideal for the Century 21 Studies is for the Muslims to put together study groups in every country of the earth to develop programs.  Muslims have to bring their world to a new course or Islamic world order to be ready for the requirements of the 21st Century.  They have to find the ways to improve their 1400‑years‑old technologies and learn from historical experience what went wrong and how to improve it to do an efficient and better job to improve the indigenous system and bring it within world requirements, rather than taking a new course which no one knows where it will end and how expensive it will be.  Our setting the proper course will save our world from a collision course with disaster.  Islamic ideology and philosophy have made a major contribution to Western civilization.  Islam has a great contribution to the industrialized and advanced world of today.  Islam is a full, complete code of life. 


The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (“Earth Summit”) at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, where scholars, technocrats, and leaders represented their countries on environment and ecology, has brought together tons of literary material for the world to digest.  The technology is being marketed from one nation to the other under the umbrella name of loans that a rich nation will sell.  This technology will create new jobs in the underdeveloped countries.


The arms race between the arms producing nations has slowed down and, consequently, creation of a new era or new battlefield for the rich countries to market their guns and base their economies to produce armed goods.  The public of every nation is sick and tired of the arms race, where 65% of their Gross National Product goes to military might.  Very few of these nations have used these weapons on their enemies, and many of them have made their own citizenry sacrifice to afford this might.  The loan aid package of selling technology will pay back 80% to the lender for services.  Ten percent of it will end up in a safe haven, and the remaining 10% may land in the project.  The idea of a loan aid package, however, is great if used for development in sanitation, agriculture, housing, electrification, health and other services the loan is for.  These projects must put the country on a self‑supporting and independent basis.  Now, when the second Earth Summit meets in South Africa, we must measure how much how much has been achieved worldwide for the environment, for development, and for all related factors.  The United Nations is committed to solving worldwide problems so we can disarm.


Frustration and exploitation will always breed in the poor nations.  Real democracy will always be suppressed by armed fists to keep the people silent.  The rich nations will sell guns in exchange for natural resources of the poor.  The nation will be still in debt for years to come.  In the past the corrupt leadership has forced the nations to support or to provide funds for the interest of the rich by mortgaging the country's resources.  This exploitation also diverted the attention of the poor nation for expansion to the next‑door country, where it did not succeed, and ended up destroying its own nation.  Sixty‑five percent of the Gross National Product of the underdeveloped countries was dumped into war and warlike activity.  If this money had been put into exploring the natural resources, and the wise creation and use of  bridges, dams, electricity, etc., the world would not have seen famine.  During independence the occupiers left behind disputes between the neighboring nations.  As a result, the developing nations took refuge in defense and militarization, and mankind has produced far more weaponry than needed to destroy this world several times over.  The solution would be to solve conflicts in a way that both sides would benefit.


Now in order to remove these problems, we must take into consideration population growth, distribution, urbanization, and migration of professionals and the technically skilled to advanced countries.  The poor countries experience a “brain drain” of intellectuals, scholars, white‑collar workers, technical skilled labor, doctors, engineers, and top professionals to advanced countries where they are lured with better salaries and better standards of living.  The poor country spent its foreign exchange and other re­sources on the making of these scholars.  It costs in the developed world $70,000 to produce a doctor, engineer, lawyer, scientist, or techno­crat.  The mere offer of a job at a good salary has made a vacuum in the environment of the underdeveloped countries.  The immigrant has lost his emotional and spiritual communal values and has created a new disaster in his life and today does not understand where he belongs.  As the poor nation moves toward self-sufficiency and more well-paying professional positions get created, the well-educated citizen will be more inclined to stay in his native land.


The drain by mass emigration of the above specialists has left the country behind in chaos.  The drain of foreign exchange, technolo­gy, and skilled labor has left the underdeveloped countries unable to cope with lack of sanitation and hygiene, disease, and other environmental hazards, which have resulted in a poor quality of life.  The recycling and reuse of materials is to be encouraged as a low-cost start for the poor country to manage its waste.


The underdeveloped countries were given education of enforcing policies based on the advanced world policy, which encouraged and guarded the interest of the advanced nations.  The medical and engi­neering college seats were granted to the people who were unable to establish medical clinics, hospitals, engineering concerns, and indus­tries. After qualifying, these qualified people took refuge in the rich countries and brought over their entire families.  Restrictive foreign‑exchange laws in the Third World countries resulted in their transferring their funds by illegal means.  Higher education must be offered to the selected people who can open clinics, hospitals, and industries.  These countries would have been much more advanced than they are today if they had adopted this policy.  Today their money is taken by someone else.  In the developed world, college and university education is only affordable to those who have means to open business.  All the millionaires and billionaires around the world don't have scholarly education, but merely they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  Only those who are abused by alcohol, gambling, or drugs have become bankrupt.  For example, the water also runs in the vein form under the ground.  If a proper boring point is injected on the vein, the water will start gushing.  The same way, if the needle is injected to the vein in a human body, the blood starts gushing.  The economic development, capital and the debt burden ratio, the trade imbalance, the human development, natural environment, measuring the earth's carrying capacity, all these abovementioned ratios must be considered for making sound environmental, ecological decisions for policy to be enforced for a fast‑developing nation.  We need to develop safe drinking water, solid waste disposal, laws to combat environmental hazards, child labor laws, education for all, human rights and other goals in view of UN resolutions and developed technology to combat the problems so all humanity can have an environment free of illegal drugs, unacceptable hazards, crime, and epidemic diseases.  A poor country can set aside seats in its medical schools for students who sign an agreement to open health facilities, in its law schools for students who agree to set up free or low-cost advocacy for the poor, etc.


Acid rain, the non‑clean air, the ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect and climate changes, land salinization, global food production, people outstripping resources, food distribution, forests, wastes, quality of life, biodiversity, health effects, peace and security, resources pressure and global security ‑ all these variables must be considered by the government to enforce sound environmental programs.  The abovementioned must be taken into consideration to develop master plans.  Each century will be planned via four 25‑year master plans, with five‑year phases in each plan.  To achieve the best peaceful, secure, healthy environment and ecology for mankind, the 21st Century Studies can be geared and shared globally as one humankind under the principle of "your success is my success and my success is your suc­cess." 


Twenty‑First Century Studies must also study demographic trends, population projections, ecological processes, settlement patterns, agriculture, food productivity, productivity loss, natural areas, forestry, air, water, fisheries, population growth and economy, energy, population growth and quality of life, common security, development of global economical security, and environmental security.  Study groups must be put together to develop a beneficial program.  This very beneficial study group, which will develop programs geared and applicable to the very nation in its situation, will determine:  What is the indigenous system lacking?  How can it be improved?  What kind of technology can it implement?  What level of technology can it accommodate?  What kind of technology is hazardous to its progress?  What will create new jobs?


 The expensive foreign technology, putting the country in debt, may create chaos and unemployment.  The use of nylon tents by nomads and gypsies, versus tents made of goat hair, which is abundantly available, is an example of the misapplication of technology.  The tent produced from the goat hair can fight heat, storm, cold weather, snow, and every problem, and it stood for centuries with the poor man.  The nylon tent with aluminum rods will be too expensive and replaces the nomad's self‑reliance on available resources with dependence on outside resources, and makes him a beggar.  So the idea is to improve the indigenous system.  The correction or improvement of existing technology should be emphasized over the importation of foreign technology totally dependent on outside resources.  The technology of better life, sanitary conditions, and hygienic ways and means of producing food will enhance the quality of life and will save the abandoned quantity of food and produce sustainable life.  Tax incentives and other incentives may be offered to those who will develop low-cost housing projects.


 You can go with soil stabilization and many other solutions by which you can solve the problem of furnishing low‑cost housing.  Due to high‑density population, lack of sanitary conditions, and environ­mental hazards, many children die in their infancy.  Many things can be done; there is no doubt about it.  But at the same time, we should study what is needed.  The indigenous housing should be improved rather than making the country reliant on imported materials.


The master plan, after careful studies of population distribu­tion, urbanization, the ultimate world population size, population growth, the pattern rate, etc., will enable us to make strong manage­ment decisions worldwide.  In the 21st century the international migrations will be going worldwide and will be opening the world markets as they seek safe havens.  The cream of the crop, the white‑collar workers, will emigrate and leave the underdeveloped countries poorer and poorer.  The migrating person from the underdeveloped country brings himself to the developed world where the international foreign exchange thieves swindle from the workers money and deliver it to the migrating person.  The migrating person leaves his poor nation’s money to compensate as local currency to the developed world worker who wants to remit the money to his parents or relatives in the poor country.  The poor country’s foreign exchange is stolen by so‑called international foreign exchange thieves, who also launder illegal money and deliver it to persons migrating to the developed world.  In this way they are transferring the money ownership simultaneously in both countries.  Both the developed world and the underdeveloped countries suffer.  This income tax is evaded and foreign exchange laws flouted.  Immigration abuse also exacerbates the debt burden on the underdeveloped countries.  The debt burden on their projects is going to remain and will continuously grow.  We have to do something serious in this matter.  The developed countries talk about the trade imbalance.  The dynamics of the New World Order requires a mutual understanding to be in harmony and peace and prosperity.  That can be accomplished by treating each and every situation with equality and justice.  If the country of origin of the natural resource refines it and develops it to its final products, the whole world will become developed and there will be no more devaluing the currency and asking for more loans.  Foreign exchange incentives can be offered to enhance the proper income tax revenue to be achieved.


We talk about the forests burning.  Well, in a poor country when the resources are all eliminated, the poor people who don't have any other means are dependent on Mother Nature's firewood, so of course they are going to cut the trees.  The forests could be saved if the poor could be provided with cheap alternative energy.  Accidental fires, of course, are also a hazard to the forests.  Measures such as fire lanes must be provided both to minimize the chances of a forest fire and to contain one should it occur.


Waste of natural resources not only increases their cost but creates environmental hazards due to their improper disposal.  Tires, for example, often end up floating all over the waterways, abandoned lands, parks, and woods, or are illegally burned, resulting in stink­ing billows of black smoke.  As tires are taxed, the resulting reve­nues should be transferred to the local governments to buy back the tires for their recycling.  Recycling of other materials, too, can be encouraged by paying the consumer to turn them in to the proper facil­ity.  For instance, tires can be recycled into shoe soles and containers.   Incentives and tax holidays as well as duty-free importation of equipment can be offered to achieve the goals.


Under the topic of biodiversity, it is true that many species face extinction.  Biodiversity is the natural process of the world which has provided thousands and thousands of species which can be very beneficial for mankind due to their medicinal value, being the sources of drugs which can save the world from major and as yet untreatable diseases such as cancer and AIDS.  We have to stop the destruction of animal and plant life. The UN is committed to wildlife preservation, and we have to work as a team.  Nothing can be done unless and until this team goes worldwide and provides and shares with all.  If the rich world has to believe that it is the only one to be entertained and decorated with exotic animal skins, then slavery has not left the world.  Economic slavery still exists in which the poor have to poach their animals, their own resources, in order to decorate their rich master to receive a few scraps from his table.  Ecotourism and the captive breeding of endangered and threatened native species will help to preserve biodiversity.


All over the world industrial waste lands into the canals, riv­ers, aquifers, and oceans, contaminating drinking water, seafood, and produce.  Water made unsafe by toxic chemicals and by harmful microor­ganisms such as amoeba has stolen the quality of life on earth.  Some industrial waste has resulted in the birth of anencephalic children.  By implementing all over the world standards such as those developed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), proper filtration and methods can be used to prevent hazardous waste from entering our sustaining resources.  Such environmental protection programs should be introduced globally.


Fishable waterways, forests, and other resources which provide sustainable food to humanity must be protected.  Any future development of resources must take into consideration all consequences of such development and not merely the narrow concept of the bottom line to the developing company.  Future historians will remember this generation as the plastic generation, which created huge dumps of non‑degrading waste.  If we continue with this wasteful process, future generations will be faced with the uneconomical task of mining today's dumps to recover nonrenewable resources.  So it is very important that the world get the kind of environmental security and safe and sound technology to be developed by everybody.  One society cannot just lift its standard of life and ecology at the expense of another society.  They must be equally elevated, or political and economic instability will continue.


Many countries have not fully exploited their agricultural poten­tial.  Full exploitation of agricultural resources will bring down food prices and increase prosperity by leaving workers with more discretionary income.  Agricultural production is hindered by some market leaders, who influence and pay farmers not to produce the product in abundance so the prices in the market economy may not fall.  By not producing, the farmers lose that year's production, which could feed the starving people of the world.  The farmer has to be given incentives to produce, regardless of price fixing, because it is becoming more and more expensive for a farmer to stay in business and pay for his equipment, seed, water, fertilizer and labor.  He should be encouraged by tax‑free income.  Providing more and richer farmers in the world will increase better sustainable life for humanity.  The Almighty has provided land and rain; let us not waste our resources.  All are responsible to produce food for humanity.  It is our moral obligation.


War has been known as a waste.  The result of war was the release of chemicals, gases, and military hazardous wastes into the ocean, air, and earth.  The two most recent Middle Eastern wars are good examples of the abovementioned environmental degradation.  In other wars, human beings have suffered great losses at the hands of the enemies of humanity.  We need an understanding and cooperation among leaders, religionists, and governments of the world to attack this crucial problem, not only to establish peace on earth, but also quality, sustainable life for years to come.  The UN is committed to achieving world peace through dialogue.  Negotiations are necessary to solve global conflicts.