Turkey and Secularism: Myth or Reality?

By Lee J Walker

The nation of Turkey is often praised for being a secular role model for other Islamic societies. It is claimed that the land of Turkey is a beacon of hope and that democracy and secularism can exist within a mainly Muslim nation state. But is this based on reality?

If we concentrate on the founding father of modern day Turkey, Ataturk, then it is clear that he himself supported the destruction of Christianity via the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Christian genocide of 1915. Turkish nationalism was the potent force behind modern day Turkey and secularism is tainted by its anti-Christian nature, and also by its anti-Kurdish nature. Turkey was founded on Turkish nationalism and secularism and it did not protect the Christians of or give them equal rights.

Despite this the myth of modernity and secularism remains and Western nations stick to this mantra. Yes, Ataturk faced many difficulties and from a Turkish point of view he was very astute because he preserved a Turkish state when it was threatened by others. Yet in order to do this he crushed millions of Christians via massacres, starvation, and by destroying countless numbers of Christian villages and communities.

Ataturk did implement many reforms in order to modernize Turkey and he did lay the foundation for a secular state. In this sense he crushed thoughts of a Sharia Islamic state and he gave more rights to females. But his legacy of modernity and secularism is tainted by the events of history and by overt nationalism. Therefore, we must never forget the Assyrian, Greek and Armenian genocide of 1915 and the continuing legacy of anti-Christian forces in modern day Turkey.

So if secularism means having the right to crush Christian minorities, moderate Muslim minorities like the Alevi, and ethnic minorities like the Assyrians Armenians, and Kurds, in modern day Turkey, then it is not the secularism which I support. Turkish secularism is tainted by this overt nationalism and the Sunni orthodox mindset means that religious inequality is the norm.

The rights of Christians and the Alevi Muslims are not equal in today’s Turkey. In recent times many Christians have been murdered. For the more numerous Alevi Muslims, it is clear that they face huge discrimination. Secular Turkey is a myth because under the surface we find a different Turkey based on preserving the dominance of orthodox Sunni Islam.

So why do democrats and secularists praise Turkey for being a shining example and evidence that democracy and Islam can work together? Turkey favors Islam over any other religion and religious equality does not exist. On the contrary, modern day Turkey supports Sunni orthodox Islam and persecution of minorities is endemic. Given this, Islam still controls society and Christians and other minorities face harsh times.

It is apparent that many Western democrats and secularists are ignoring the reality of Turkey. Turkey is tainted by Sunni Islamic thought, which are based on mass discrimination. If Turkey is secular and moderate, what does this say about the rest of the Islamic world and equality?


Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Corrsepondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in international relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, He earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies in Nottingham Trent University. He also studied business at London Institute.
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Holy Islam: Holy Illiteracy, Holy Poverty, Holy Backwardness

In Islam, pure illiteracy is divine. The uneducated prophet of Islam called himself “a guardian of the illiterates sent by Allah” (Bukhari, 3:34:335). Another hadith (Sunaan Ibn Majah V:4290) reveals that Allah loves illiterate people and hates educated people and he had promised the first entry to Paradise to the illiterate Muslims and the last entry to the educated Muslims. The reason was simple. Muhammad wanted to keep his followers away from education because he knew that his newly established religion could not survive if criticism is allowed. As Toland (cited Gunny, 1996; p. 95) wrote, “… because he [Muhammad] clearly saw that the spirit of inquiry would not favour him. This is how Islam maintained itself”. Qur’an (5:101, 5:102) very strictly prohibits criticism. Diderot (1975, p. 230) expressed the same reason of Muhammad’s concern to keep his followers in darkness of ignorance, because reason is the greatest enemy of Islam. He wrote “since he [Muhammad] could not read or write, and so this had encouraged Muslims to hate and have contempt for knowledge, which in turn secured the survival of Islam”.

Allah not only loves illiteracy but poverty also. As Imam Ghazali, one of the greatest Muslim scholars of all time, had pointed out; prayer, a big family and poverty will ensure Paradise. To promote further admiration of poverty among the Muslims, Ghazali wrote that Allah and His Prophet praised one who remains satisfied with poverty. He even goes to the extent to exhort Muslims to condemn wealth but praise poverty because it is better than wealth (cited Kasem, 2006).

This is how illiteracy and poverty are glorified in Islam as Allah’s will. Illiteracy and poverty often go hand-in-hand and followed by backwardness. This is how Muslims achieve all three together. Non-Muslims will never be able to catch up the Muslims in this field. But Muhammad never wanted to remain in poverty. He was so greedy that in spite of his flourishing slave trade and plunder, he wanted to grasp the property of other Muslims also. As per Sunaan Abu Dawud, 18:2895, Muhammad was the inheritor of those who had no heir.

Destruction of Alexandria’s famous library is one example where Muslims had shown their disgust for education and knowledge. This royal library was one of the greatest of all the libraries during those days and comprised perhaps as many as six hundred thousand manuscripts, as most of the historians estimate – the whole corpus of knowledge accumulated by ancient scientists, philosophers, historians and poets including unique works of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Hippocrates and Euclid – just a few of the geniuses to mention amongst several others. The library was open to any scholar from anywhere in the world. During the early months of A. D. 642, Amrou, the general leading the armies of Umar surrounded Alexandria, the capital of Egypt. On the orders of Caliph Umar, the entire collection of books stored at the library was removed and used as fuel to heat water for the city’s four thousand public baths. The loss of the library was a particularly grievous blow because the works of so many Roman scholars, literary geniuses, and historians were destroyed. Umar justified his heinous action by saying, “If these writing of the Greeks agree with the Koran, they are useless and need not be preserved. If they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed” (Trifkovic, 2002, p. 196). Historians recorded that it took about six months to burn down all the manuscripts.

Many present day Muslims delight in debunking this library burning incident as an anti-Islamic slander. How many of these Muslims know that Umar’s twelfth century successors (Trifkovic, 2002, p. 196) often took great pride to refer this incident?

There was a similar incident in India as well. One of the oldest Universities of the world was Nalanda Mahavidyalaya (University / learning centre). It is not an exaggeration at all that, during those days, Nalanda was the equivalent of today’s Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Berkeley and Stanford, all rolled into one. At its peak, Nalanda used to house over ten thousand students and two thousand teachers. Students from as far as Arabia, China, Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Persia, Turkey and Sri Lanka used to enroll at Nalanda (Oak, 1996, p. 101). All Buddhist subjects and also all ‘Darshanas’ (Hindu systems of Philosophy), phoentics, grammar, nyaya/ rhetoric, languages, medicine, astronomy, chemistry and fine arts apart from various other subjects were covered in Nalanda. But it’s all gone now by the hands of Islamic invaders in A.D 1193 (97?). Bhaktiyar Khilji, the Turkish Muslim invader, took care to inquire whether there was a Qu’ran in the library before he burnt it and sacked the university complex (did his ideological descendents worried about their Qu’ran before flying planes into WTC ?). The brutal act killing all students and teachers engaged in academic studies is claimed to bring great glory to Islam. Islam destroyed in months, what Hindus and Buddhists built for several centuries. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas is just a small minor event in the history in comparison to Nalanda massacre.

As usual, the present day Muslims often deny the destruction of Nalanda in Muslim hands, but how many of them know that Persian historian Minhaz had recorded the Nalanda burning incident in his book, Tabaquat-i-Nasiri, by gathering information from several eye-witnesses. Minhaz recorded (cited Oak, 1996, p. 102),

“Most of the inhabitants of the place were ‘Brahmanas’ (Hindu priests) with shaven heads. They were put to death. Large numbers of books were found there, and when the Mahammadans saw them, they called for some person to explain the contents. But all of the men were killed. It was discovered that the whole fort and city was a place for study, in the Hindi language the word Bihar (i.e. Vihara) means a college.”

In the destruction of Nalanda, the same historian, Minhaz (cited Dutt, 1988) recorded that several thousands of monks were burned alive and yet more thousands beheaded, and the burning of the library continued for several months. Many were forcibly converted to Islam. For Buddhism, in India, this incident marked the beginning of end (Kashyap, 1996). Several historians (cited Dutta et al., 1996. p. 29-30) concluded that Muslim rule was solely responsible for the present poverty of India and for destroying a flourishing a Hindu economy. Medieval India, until the Islamic invasion was a very rich culture, one of the six or seven most advanced civilizations of all times (Trifkovic, 2002, p. 110).

Muslims often take childlike pride on the golden age of Islam, which was actually a myth. As Spencer (2005, p. 91) reported, there is no historical proof to support the idea that Islam inspired a culture which outstripped others. Tisdall (1984, p. 201) wrote, “No great civilization, no scientist of note, no renowned school of philosophy, has ever arisen on purely Mohammedan ground”. He believed that even several Muslim scholars had accepted this fact. Islam never encouraged scientific knowledge. The only knowledge it accepts is Qur’anic knowledge. Diderot stated (cited Gunny, 1996, p. 168) that during Caliph Al-Mamun, people were heard shouting for his death because he had fostered science at the expense of the `holy ignorance’ of the faithful believers. Akbar, the Mughal emperor of India was an illiterate and surprisingly, it was not a shame for him but a pride. This stupid Muslim emperor, in his own eyes, had one qualification to be a prophet. “The prophets were all illiterates”, he used to point out frequently and sincerely believed that, in order to honor their prophet, it is the essential duty for every faithful Muslim to keep one of their sons illiterate. (Eraly, 1997, p. 909). With so much glorification of illiteracy and dislike for science, there is little doubt that, Islam’s golden age is far from reality. It is infidel’s education, science, technology and endurance, based on which the Human civilization had spread everywhere including Islamic world itself; on which the Muslim community has no contribution. Trifkovic (2002, p. 196) wrote, “Whatever flourished, it was not by reason of Islam, it was in spite of Islam.” There is no doubt about it.

Even today, the situation is not much changed. Mindless glorification of illiteracy and stupidity is continued shamelessly as true Islamic traditions. One of the burning examples is Madrassah education, for study of pure Islamic ethics, which in today’s world is ‘pure ignorance’. In many orthodox Madrassahs, it is still taught that earth is flat (Das, 2006a). This is the height of Qur’anic stupidity. Earth is flat, because, Qur’an says so.

Legacy of Islamic stupidity reached its peak when Ibn Baz, a noted Islamic scholar from Saudi Arabia wrote a book (published by Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia) on 1974, claiming that, earth is motionless and sun revolves around the earth. He confidently challenged the age-old belief of earth’s rotation and quoted, “If the earth is rotating as they [Infidels]claim, the countries, the mountains, the trees, the rivers, and the oceans will have no bottom and the people will see the eastern countries move to the west and the western countries move to the east.” During 1993, the same Islamic intellectual again gave another verdict that “earth is flat”. The stupidity did not end there. Ibn Baz threatened to his fellow Muslims, “Anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished” (Das, 2006b). This scholar never read any book except of Islamic faith and since Qur’an confirms that earth is flat, therefore Ibn Baz was sure that earth is flat.

Islamic stupidity reached its zenith once again when a scholar, Dr. Izzat Attya who is the head of the department of Hadith in Al-Azhar, (world’s most prestigious Islamic University), issued a fatwa (religious opinion), which declared that, it is legitimate for a working Muslim woman to breast-feed her male colleague to avoid the sin of ‘khulwa’ (staying with a stranger in one room). Similar fatwas had been issued in the past by many Sheikhs in many Middle-Eastern countries, but this is the first time it came from a high level academic of Al-Azhar (Salih, 2007).

Al-Azhar, which is supposed to be the world’s most prestigious Islamic University, has no shortage of Qur’anic talents and their research topics often fascinate others. We all know that Muslims who entered paradise would enjoy eternal erections and the company of virgins and ‘pearl-like’ young boys. But the Al-Azhar faculty had objected on the issue of ‘eternal erection of male sexual organ’ and after much debate / research etc, came to the conclusion that, men in paradise would have erections, but merely protracted, not perpetual (Miller, 1997. p. 26-27). Some of them also doubted the possibility of pederasty (anal intercourse between man and a boy) in paradise, while many agreed.

So, this is the faculty level of the Al-Azhar and University of Medina. If this is not stupidity then what is stupidity? Are ‘flat earth’, ‘motionless earth’ and ‘sun revolves around earth’ theories have got any meaning when modern scientific discoveries are fascinating the common citizen and the scholar alike in the present era ? Are ‘eternal erection’ and ‘breast feeding a man’ the only concerns, which trouble the Muslims at this scientific era when the civilized world is busy with the conquest of space, genetic engineering and wonders of the computer? How much stupidity is enough?

It is the duty and responsibility of the universities to introduce new knowledge of values. A university stands for Humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for progress, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of the truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards even higher objectives. If the temple of learning itself becomes a home of mindless stupidity, how then the Muslim society will prosper and every individual Muslim grow in stature?

Education is directly related to the economy of any society; higher the education, better the economic growth. But since, anything except Qur’anic knowledge is superfluous; common Muslims live in poverty. It is not surprising at all that a prominent person like Ayatollah Khomeini once wisely said (cited Fara et. al, 1996, p. 69) “Economics is a preoccupation of donkeys”. Bisset (cited Trifkovic, 2002. p. 5) argues that there is something wrong in Muslim world and raised his doubt, “With all their oil wealth, why are there no Muslim countries among the top thirty of the world’s richest nations? Why is it that, two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Muslim countries? ” As Sina (2001) said, “The greatest gift of Islam to its followers is poverty.” The GDP in all Arab countries combined stood at $ 531.2 billion in 1999 which is less than that of a single European country (Spain – $595.5 billion). According to the World Bank, in 2000 the average annual income in the Muslim countries from Morocco to Bangladesh was only half the world average (Lewis, 2003, p. 99, 100). But the irony is that common Muslims do not blame themselves for their pitiable condition. All they do is to put the charge on the civilized nations. “Afghans suffer poverty because of America’s disproportionate wealth” – this is what Madrassah teachers say in Afghanistan (Elder, n.d) and low academic level of the Palestinians is due to Israeli aggression (Al-Samman, 2001).

Dr. Kenneth David, a well-known economist, presented World Bank Survey of 1980, on the educational and economic status of religious societies of the world in his book named “The Cultural Environment of International Business”. UNDP in 1996 also presented an exhaustive status report of UN Member countries. These important documents are highly revealing since they compare living conditions of all the religious societies i.e. Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, tribal religions and Muslims as well as non-religious communist society. Few disturbing facts (cited Farooqi, 2005) are as follows,

  • Christian society is the most advanced society of the world with regard to education, health and economic wealth whereas Muslim society is the most backward on these counts.
  • Literacy of Christian world in 1980 was on an average 90% and about 15 countries had a literacy of 100%. Whereas, average literacy in the Muslim countries was less than 40% and none had 100% literacy. More or less the same situation continued afterwards and in 2001 UNDP reported an average of 60 % literacy in Islamic countries and between 95 to 100% in the Western nations of Christians.
  • Among the literates of the Christian world, hardly 2% of the population did not complete school education whereas 50% of the Muslims never attended modern schools. In the Christian society literacy implies education of at least primary level whereas in Muslim society a person who could read and write is considered to be literate. If the criterion of the Christian world is taken into account then hardly 10% population of the Muslim countries can claim to be literate.
  • The importance of education in the Christian countries can be judged by the fact that around 40% get higher education including specialization in various disciplines of science. This is less than 2% in Muslim countries. Even the standard of higher education of this 2% is lower in Muslim countries when compared with the Christian world. Hence, many educated Muslims get specialized knowledge of science, engineering and medicine in the Christian West.
  • Scientific achievement of the Muslim society cannot be considered to be of any consequence. Out of the total of 2,60,000 articles published every year on scientific research, hardly 2500 i.e. about 1% are published in Muslim countries.
  • Total number of Science Ph.D.’s produced by about 450 Universities of Muslim Countries every year is less than 500, whereas in UK alone this number is 3000.
  • Total strength of Engineers and Scientist in Muslim world (1.30 billion) is less than the scientists and engineers working in France alone (population 60 million).
  • Hardly 16% of Muslim population is involved in industrial production, whereas for Christians this figure is 60%.

As per another statistics (cited Mahmood, 2006),

  • Amongst every one million citizens, the number of scientists is 4000 in USA, 5000 in Japan and only 230 in Muslim world. The number of research assistants in western world is 1000 for every one million people and in Muslim world this number is only 50.
  • Total number of universities in USA is 5758 and in India 8407, whereas it is only miserly 500 altogether for all 57 Muslim nations of the world. Out of all the topmost universities of the glove, not a single one is from any of the Muslim nation.
  • In Western world 98% people complete their primary education and 40% goes to universities, whereas in Muslim world only 50% people completes primary education and 2% goes to universities.
  • In UK, 2000 books are published for every one million people, whereas in Egypt, the number is only 20.
  • Number of Doctorates in India alone is more than the total number of Doctorates in entire Muslim world.

Educational level of the common Arabs is too low. As of 1982, Arab world produced 40 books per million habitants which is far below the world average 162 titles per million (Eickelman & Piscatori, 1997, p. 40). Another report (cited Lewis, 2003, p. 99) reveals; the Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth of the number that Greeks translates. As per United Nations’ Arab Human Development Report (cited Gattuso, 2005), half of Arab women are illiterate. In total, 60% of Arab Muslims are illiterate. Almost half of the universities concentrate on teaching Islamic education and Islamic science. Fifteen percent of the Arab workforce is unemployed. Only 1% of the Arab population has a personal computer, and only 0.5 % use the Internet.

The Census of India, 2001 (cited Goswami & Malik, 2006. p. 34-40) gave a detailed educational data across religious groups of India. The report reveals a fearful gap between the educational levels of the Muslims and non-Muslims. The original report is too large to produce here. Few salient points are as follows,

Muslim population is far less educationally accomplished than their non-Muslim counterparts in every state of India and in all levels of education. Urban Muslim women are far worse off educationally than their male counterparts.

  • All India literacy levels of Muslim man (55%), non-Muslim Man (64.5%); Muslim woman (40.6%) and non-Muslim woman (45.9%).
  • All India literacy levels of urban Muslim man (64.2%), urban non-Muslim man (77.3%), urban Muslim woman (52.8%), and urban non-Muslim women (65.5%)
  • 44% fewer Muslim students complete senior school compared to non-Muslim.
  • Only one in 101 Muslim women is a graduate versus one out of 37 non-Muslim women.
  • 31 million more Muslims to be educated by 2011 to match today’s literacy level of the non-Muslims.
  • Many more Muslims drop out of high schools than all other religious communities.
  • The average income of Muslim families is much lower than that of the non-Muslims. Over 60% of Muslims live in slums and poorer areas.
  • There are hardly any social workers, NGOs and activists from Muslim background compared to non-Muslims.

Throughout nineteenth century, attempts were made to analyze the causes of Muslim backwardness in India. One of the reasons is that a vast number of Muslims were apathetic to any education except Qu’ran. Also, their complete lack of interest in English education is another factor. When the Hindus and Christians recognized the advantages of learning English under British rule; the Muslims sat apart wrapped into the memory of their traditions and held back by the conservatism of Islam (Ahmed, 1981. p. 133). Rev. Long (1868, p. 62) argued that Muslim community did not have the same aptitude as the Hindus for acquiring a knowledge in English. Even today, as Census of India, 2001 had pointed out, too many Muslim households still believe that religious education at Madrassah is a substitute for high school and college learning. Still many Indian Muslims prefer learning Arabic, Persian and Urdu more than English and western education. Rural Indian Muslims often send their children to village Madrassahs, where average students, after years of study, fail to write a letter or keep accounts correctly (Ahmed, 1981. p. 139). Therefore many Muslims prefer to send their children to Hindu learning centers though they do not like it. Often Madrassah students after wastage of several years, join a Hindu or Christian school to learn something ‘useful’. The Indian Muslim’s work ethics is also utter disappointing, as Terry (cited Eraly, 1977, p 692) wrote, “… for the Mahometans…. There are many of them idle, and know better to eat than work”.

The Indian Government’s special effort aimed at removing the educational disparity between the Muslims and the Hindus initiated in 1870-71 and lasted through several decades. Amongst measures of first category was to introduce science in the Islamic schools and to bring those schools under Department of Education of India. But Government was strongly opposed by the Mullahs and Maulvis, who were dead against Western education. They interpreted education in terms of ‘Din-i-Ilm’, ie, religious education and considered any education other than instruction in the literature and principles of Islam is irrelevant and heretical. One Author went so far as to suggest that when people forsake ‘Din-i-Ilm’ for worldly education it should be regarded as a sure sign of ‘Kiamat’, ie, the Day of Judgment (Sattar, 1877, p. 26). Many Mullahs advice the parents not to send their children to the educational institutions because ‘English education was sure to interfere with their religion’. The Mullahs and Madrassah teachers had their own reasons to oppose any innovations in educations that might cost him his position in society as well as his sources of income (Ahmad, 1981, p. 141). In this situation, as Ahmad (1981, p. 140) lamented, it is for sure that Muslim masses have very little hope of balancing the educational statistics at par with the Hindus in the near future.

Presently about 36% of Indian Muslims live in cities, but their economic condition is so poor that most of them are slum-dwellers. Even a famous Muslim minister, Dr. Rafic Zakaria said, “Indian Muslims had remained alienated from the Hindus, whose goodwill was essential for their economic uplift and educational advancement”. Zakaria further lamented that Indian Muslims are misguided by their religious leaders and they are in pathetic condition because they had alienated themselves from Hindu society and Hindu culture. (Brahmachari, 2000, p. 190).

Dr. M. I. H. Farooqi , Gen. Secretary, Urdu Scientific Society,(Scientist and Deputy Director, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India) lamented,

“Learning and inquiry was no more the motto of the Muslims with the result that today they occupy the lowest position in the ladder of the world. They are educationally backward, scientifically marginal, politically insignificant and economically poor. This is the present status of the entire Ummah amongst the comity of nations”. (Farooqi, 2005)

The situation is so alarming that, well known Islamic fundamentalist of India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, once said while addressing Muslims at a Seminar (cited Farooqi, 2005), “For God’s sake, get up now and see how much the sun has risen and how far your co-travelers (non-Muslims) have gone ahead of you”.

Muslims often take childlike pleasure saying that Jews are descendents of monkeys and pigs. However, reality is something else. A statistical comparison (summarized from Nelson & Chowdhury, 1997 and Britannica book of the year 1998) between Israel and several other Muslim nations on different aspects is as follows.

  • Female literacy rate: Israel (83%), Bangladesh (21.8%), Sudan (4%), Egypt (29 %), Turkey (43%), Morocco (22%), Pakistan (24.4%), Afghanistan (15%).
  • Male literacy rate: Israel (93%), Bangladesh (36.1%), Sudan (25%), Egypt (57%), Turkey (77%), Morocco (49%), Pakistan (50%), Afghanistan (47.2%).
  • Birth rate per one thousand population: Israel (23), Bangladesh (32), Sudan (45), Egypt (36); Turkey (28), Morocco (31), Pakistan (36.4), Afghanistan (43), Algeria (28.5), Libya (40), Iran (33.7), Iraq (34.1), Syria (40).
  • Maternal mortality rate (per one hundred thousand live births): Israel (5), Bangladesh (600), Sudan (660), Egypt (80), Turkey (210), Morocco (300).
  • Infant mortality rate (per one thousand live births): Israel (14), Bangladesh (114), Sudan (107), Egypt (88), Turkey (74), Morocco (58), Pakistan (75), Afghanistan (146.7), Algeria (48.7), Libya (56), Iran (52.7), Iraq (91.9), Syria (29.6).
  • Mortality rate for children under five (per one thousand live births): Israel (16), Bangladesh (180), Sudan (181), Egypt (131); Turkey (93), Morocco (76).
  • Life expectancy (female /male): Israel (77 / 73.6), Bangladesh (55.4 / 56.4), Sudan (51/ 48.6), Egypt (59.5 / 56.8), Turkey (65.2 / 62.5), Morocco (62.5 / 59.1), Pakistan (65 / 63), Afghanistan (45.2 / 46.4), Algeria (69.5 / 67.2), Libya (67.5 / 63.9), Iran, (68.7 / 66.1), Iraq (60.4/ 57.3), Syria (71.3/ 68.4) .
  • Gross national product per capita (in US$): Israel (10300), Bangladesh (180), Sudan (300), Egypt (610), Turkey (1080), Morocco (960).
  • Average household size: Israel (3.6), Bangladesh (5.3), Sudan (5.1), Egypt (5.2), Turkey (4.7), Morocco (4.2).

Undoubtedly, the mighty nation Israel is far ahead of the neighboring Islamic countries. Jews community is small, but they are highly educated, productive, rich and peaceful. Muslims will do much better if they sit at the feet of Jews Masters and Maestros and learn from them instead of taking instruction from Qur’an. Muslim-Jews educational differences are more prominent if we compare the number of Noble-Laureates amongst them. From a pool of 1.4 billion Muslims which are 20% of the world’s population (2 out of every 10 people) there are only six winners (Including Nobel “Peace Prize” to Yasser Arafat, who was a ‘terrorist). And from a pool of 12 million Jews which are 0.2% of the World’s Population (2 out of every 1,000 people) there are 165 Jews listed (Jewish Magazine, 2006).

Even those Muslims who live and work in the west also lag behind their non-Muslim neighbors. Let’s take the example of United Kingdom. As per the United Kingdom census of 2001 (cited Gattuso, 2005), Muslims make up 2.8%, Hindus 1%, Sikhs 0.6 %, Buddhists and Jews both make up 0.5% of the UK population, but sadly,

  • 31% of Muslims of working age have no qualifications, the highest of any religious group.
  • 82% of Sikhs followed by 78% of Jews own their own home in the UK. Only 52% of Muslims own their own home, the lowest of any religious group.
  • 14% of Muslims are unemployed the highest of any religious group, compared to 8% of Sikhs and 6% of Hindus.

The above statistics are horrifying and certainly a bitter taste for Muslims because they are scared to face the truth. Almost the entire Muslim world is affected by poverty, backardness and tyranny. Today Muslims should remove the religious blindness from their eyes while there is still time and must realize that Man, society and values cannot be understood in separately. Poverty, backwardness and illiteracy are all interrelated. Education, ideals and practices are rooted in society, which reflects the central tendencies, features and forms of that society.

Societies need such educational system, which should teach the higher values of life as well as skill needed for employment. As Unnithan (cited Loomb & Madan, 1987, p. 88) said, “The task is to provide competent men and women, trained in several arts, science and professions who will also be cultivated individuals imbued with a sense of social purpose.” Higher education is deeply involved in technological advance. Today education becomes a way of investing in human capital across many levels or skills. It is the ‘brain workers’ that are the economic need of societies in advanced industrialization, governmental as well as industrial leaders.

After WW-II, a rapid expansion of education services occurred throughout the world, including the developing countries, which is the actual way out of social and individual poverty (World Bank, 1974 & 1980; Linn, 1983, p. 195). As a result, today for a number of developing countries, education absorbed more than a quarter of all public expenditures. World Bank (1974; p. 28) understands that, many low-income countries are, “approaching the limits of their financial capability without having achieved even a minimum education for the majority of their populations.” Finally it also became clear that, although some sections of populations made considerable progress in educational achievements, large segments were little affected by the educational efforts.

World Bank (1974, 1980) strongly suggests that education should be placed in the overall context of development objectives, and strategies, as one of many policy instruments, is in the increasing realization that the education system itself needs to be restructured to attain the goals of improved efficiency and equity in development. It is high time, Muslims should listen what World Bank is saying instead of what Qur’an is saying. An Islamic society cannot see educational and economic growth as long as it is guided by the Sha’ria Law. Today Muslims must realize that their own existence and destiny are inalienably related to the existence and destiny of other human beings around them. When Muslims are endowed with this awareness, responsibility and vision; then the future that will loom large before them is the future of his country or perhaps humanity. With this the Islamic society will see an economic growth. With a strong national economy, poverty of the masses can be eradicated. What is required is a mass awakening.

There is a silver lining in every cloud. Muslims are slowly waking up with the fact that Islam is the cause of the decadence of the Muslim world. Probably this is the reason so many Muslims are leaving Islam everywhere. More and more Muslims are coming up with the facts and openly criticizing Islam. Slowly media is also gaining courage to call a spade a spade. In South Africa, the divine downfall is already noticeable (author’s first-hand experience). Ex-Muslim movement had started and gathering momentum in almost all the western nations. Doubts are raised by the young population from the native land of Islam, Saudi Arabia. If the maxim “morning shows the day” is correct, then the end of the darkness is not far away.

And yes, on that day of enlightenment, this article will lose all its importance and become irrelevant.


References:

Books, Journals, Official documents

  1. Ahmed, Rafiuddin (1981); The Bengal Muslims 1871 – 1906: A quest for identity. Oxford University Press. Delhi. India

  2. (Bhikkhu) Kashyap, J (1996) Origin and Expansion of Buddhism, in, ‘The Path of the Buddha’. Edited by Kenneth W. Morgan; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, India.

  3. Brahmachari, Radheshyam (1999); Islami Dharmattva – ebar ghare ferar pala (Original in Bengali language). Save India Mission. Kolkata. India

  4. Diderot D. (1975) Oeuvres Completes; Vol. VIII, Paris.

  5. Dutt, Sukumar (1988) Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India, Part V, Chapter 3. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, India.

  6. Dutta, Madhusree; Agnes, Flavia; Adarkar, Neera (1996); The nation, the state and Indian identity. Samya publications. Calcutta. India.

  7. Eickelman, Dale F. and Piscatori, James (1997); Muslim politics. Oxford India Press. Delhi, India.

  8. Encyclopedia Britannica, Britannia book of the year, 1998.

  9. Eraly, Abraham (1997); The last spring – the lives and times of the great Mughals. Viking Penguin India.

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Sexual Harassment in Egypt (Hijab won’t stop it)

Almost half of Egyptian women are sexually harassed on a daily basis with more than half of Egyptian men admitting lewd behaviour, the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights said on Thursday.

The group polled 2,020 people — including men and foreign women — in Cairo, and the centre’s director, Nihad Abul Qomsan, said that the figures showed harassment was on the rise.

Of those surveyed, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women said they had been harassed at some point, while 46 percent of Egyptian women and 52 percent of foreign women said they were harassed daily.

Most women said they were harassed in the street or on public transport, with harassment defined as “any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature which makes women feel uneasy and gives them a feeling of insecurity.”

Abul Qomsan said that almost two-thirds of Egyptian men — 62 percent — admitted harassing women, including those wearing Islamic headscarves.

“This shows that the belief that harassment is linked to women who wear indecent clothing is false,” she said, condemning the fact that in the deeply religious country women often feel responsible despite being victims.

The centre said that last year only 12 percent of women went to the police with a harassment complaint.

In 2006, women’s rights activists angrily spoke out against what they called the authorities’ acceptance of sexual harassment against women, after a mob of men openly molested women in central Cairo.

The interior ministry said it did not receive any formal complaints and has never admitted any mass harassment occurred despite the incident being widely reported in the press and some bloggers posting footage on the Internet.

Clerics Warn Women Against Leaving Their Homes (Yemen)

A group of Yemeni clerics warned women from going outside of their homes. The order, they claim, is to protect society from “vice and sexual chaos”.

The clerics also said that political role for women contradicts Islamic values.

“We warn against opening the door for women, who will get out of their houses and mix with men,” the clerics stated in a booklet distributed during a meeting.

“Women getting out of their houses and mixing with men in places of work will lead to non-marital relations … loss of decency, adultery and illegal children,” the booklet said.

A question to these clerics would be- why is the onus on the women to give up her basic rights? A woman cannot cause a loss of decency or commit adultery without a man.  Shouldn’t they both be equally culpable?

It is this backwards thinking that does not do women any justice.

Schoolboys punished for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah

Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and ‘pray to Allah’ during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent – which included wearing Muslim headgear – was a breach of their human rights.

Alsager School

Alsager School, near Stoke, has received furious complaints from parents after two Year 7 boys were punished for refusing to kneel to Allah during a religious studies class

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: “This isn’t right, it’s taking things too far.

“I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn’t join in Muslim prayer.

“Making them pray to Allah, who isn’t who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful.

“I don’t want this to look as if I have a problem with the school because I am generally very happy with it.”

Another parent Karen Williams said: “I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don’t find it acceptable.

“I haven’t got a problem with them teaching my child other religions and a small amount of information doesn’t do any harm.

“But not only did they have to pray, the teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said ‘we are now going out to pray to Allah’.

“Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.

“Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

“They’d never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language.”

“My child has been forced to pray to Allah in a school lesson.” The grandfather of one of the pupils in the class said: “It’s absolutely disgusting, there’s no other way of putting it.

“My daughter and a lot of other mothers are furious about their children being made to kneel on the floor and pray to Islam. If they didn’t do it they were given detention.

“I am not racist, I’ve been friendly with an Indian for 30 years. I’ve also been to a Muslim wedding where it was explained to me that alcohol would not be served and I respected that.

“But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war.”

Parents said that their children were made to bend down on their knees on prayer mats which the RE teacher had got out of her cupboard and they were also told to wear Islamic headgear during the lesson on Tuesday afternoon.

Deputy headmaster Keith Plant said: “It’s difficult to know at the moment whether this was part of the curriculum or not. I am not an RE teacher, I am an English teacher.

“At the moment it is our enterprise week and many of our members of staff are away.

“The particular member of staff you need to speak to isn’t around. I think that it is a shame that so many parents have got in touch with the Press before coming to me.

“I have spoken to the teacher and she has articulately given me her version of events, but that is all I can give you at the moment.”

A statement from Cheshire County Council on behalf of the school read: “The headteacher David Black contacted this authority immediately complaints were received.

“Enquiries are being made into the circumstances as a matter of urgency and all parents will be informed accordingly.

“Educating children in the beliefs of different faith is part of the diversity curriculum on the basis that knowledge is essential to understanding.

“We accept that such teaching is to be conducted with some sense of sensitivity.”

I find this act quite disgusting. For a secular public school to force students to worship a religion whom they do not agree with is a basic breach of their right to freedom of religion. To coerce someone for fear of reprimand to pray to Allah has no place anywhere in the world. Whether the country be officially Muslim or secular.

Freedom to worship the God of your choice, or no god should never be breached. It is as simple as that. There is no possible way I can see this school justifying such an act.

I feel sorry for the children who have committed a sin in the eyes of their own religion by being forced to pray to the creation of a 7th Century War Lord and murderer.

I congratulate the parents for taking the initiative to complain about such an abhorrent act. And I agree with one claim in particular – if someone forced Muslim students to take Holy Communion and pray to the Christian Trinity how would Muslims react?

They react over a picture of a cute puppy with complaints and simple cartoons with riots and other acts of violence. I would expect much more if this was to happen.

Death Penalty for Internet ‘Crimes’

Iran’s parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet, reports said on Wednesday.

MPs on Wednesday voted to discuss as a priority the draft bill which seeks to “toughen punishment for harming mental security in society,” the ISNA news agency said.

The text lists a wide range of crimes such rape and armed robbery for which the death penalty is already applicable. The crime of apostasy (the act of leaving a religion, in this case Islam) is also already punishable by death.

However, the draft bill also includes “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy”, which is a new addition to crimes punishable by death.

Those convicted of these crimes “should be punished as “mohareb’ (enemy of God) and “corrupt on the earth’,” the text says.

Under Iranian law the standard punishments for these two crimes are “hanging, amputation of the right hand and then the left foot as well as exile.”

The bill — which is yet to be debated by lawmakers — also stipulates that the punishment handed out in these cases “cannot be commuted, suspended or changed”.

Internet is widely used in Iran despite restrictions on access and the blocking of thousands of websites with a sexual content or deemed as insulting religious sanctities and promoting political dissent.

Blogging is also very popular among cyber-savvy young Iranians, some openly discussing their private lives or criticising the system.

Human rights groups have accused Iran of making excessive use of the death penalty but Teheran insists it is an effective deterrent that is carried out only after an exhaustive judicial process.

The number of executions soared last year to 317 amid a campaign which the authorities said was aimed at improving security in society, and was sharply up on 2006 figures when Amnesty International recorded 177 executions.

All legislation in Iran has to be rubber-stamped by a conservative clerical watchdog before it is written into law. The Guardians Council vets bills to see if they are in line with the constitution and Islamic law.

Taliban abducts 140 soldiers (Pakistan)

As the Pakistan security forces continue their operation in the North-Western Frontier Province, more than 140 troops have been kidnapped by the local Taliban, sources said.

According to the sources, around 16 security personnel were kidnapped from Bara, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by Haji Mangal Bagh, chief of the Lashkar-e-Islam militant group and more than 124 personnel were kidnapped by Baitullah Mehsud’s men on Tuesday night.

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