A Truly Distinctive Involvement

Salmaan ibn Fahd al-'Awdah
The threats and promises of globalization are advancing towards us to bring about massive changes that justify the commotion and uproar that can be heard throughout the Muslim world. Globalization is not to be confused with notions of “universality” or “internationality”. It is a whole new pattern and order for economics, communications, human values, and virtually everything else. Or, better said, it is an attempt to bring such changes about.

The globalization “club” is headed by the rich and the powerful, a fact which has led many to conclude that it is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at Americanization, world domination, and cultural homogenization.

The Muslim world is trying to get into this club, but they are too weak, divided, and unfocused to do so. It is like a crippled man trying to run a marathon against Olympic runners.

Most people are looking at globalization warily, and they are justified in doing so.

Merely worrying about it is not enough. It is good for us to be aware that the changes brought on by globalization are dangerous and of crisis proportions – but at the same time we must see them as a challenge, and one that offers us numerous opportunities we can turn to our advantage.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is not about a certain artificial satellite or meeting or administrative system or law. Rather, we need to be asking ourselves is it better for us to dive into the flood, get ready to compete, and safeguard whatever of our interests that we can or should we content ourselves with sitting around apprehensively raising protests and objections and decrying how bad it all is?

Is this not an opportunity for us to develop and promote our Islamic economic system and extend the influence of interest-free banking and investment opportunities and curb the deluge of usury?

Is this not an opportunity for us to employ the media to present our distinctive Islamic message to the world? In this way can we not protect our youth and our future and keep them connected to their religious beliefs and their values?

Is this not an opportunity for us to correct our stagnating political and social circumstances – not according to the dictates of outsiders who would impose upon us their own agenda, but according to the noble considerations of Islam that seeks to truly secure our welfare?

Indeed Islam seeks to preserve our human rights in the clearest and most open manner.It seeks to improve the condition of nations to ensure their loyalty and solidarity and to strengthen the relations between Muslim countries. It demands that we set forth joint programs that will guarantee our countries and our people their fair share of participation.

We are standing before a very difficult moment in history and running away from it all is not the solution.

We must agree that it is imperative for us to get involved. Our participation must be a basic operating principle for all those who are concerned about Muslim welfare. This does not mean that every last individual has to participate. However, we must all agree in principle.

It was only after many years of objections and protestations that we were willing to recognize the importance and effectiveness of our local media. By contrast, we have made our decision to participate in satellite television in a relatively short period of time.

Are we going to need at every turn to get embroiled in heated debate about whether we are going to get involved and let ourselves get bogged down by anxieties and doubts?

We are not facing a set of options. We do not have a choice whether these things are or are not going to be. We can only decide whether or not we are going to get on board. However, the train is passing by very quickly and those who wish to do so must board it soon.

We can produce and endless number of questions and objections only to be convinced of the need to get involved when it is far too late.

Let there be some people who actually get involved in this sphere of activity. Some of us can indeed leave the task to others. However, let us at least all be agreed in principle that now is the time to get involved.

Our participation does not mean that we are surrendering or that we have to lose our own identity. What it means is the inception of an Islamic program of action that uses the tools and the means that are actually being employed in the world around us. Our religion teaches us to correct what is going on around us in accordance with what is possible and not to declare that something is wrong and objectionable. The life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) – both in Mecca and in Madinah – testifies to this fact.

What it amounts to is an initiative to employ the resources and potentials of the Muslim world in order to safeguard its future and secure its present interest to the best of its abilities.

The media, dialogue, education, politics, elections, organizations… all of these are areas of activity that men and women can get involve in. They can choose to have no effect on these things at all by adopting a negative attitude and sitting on their hands, or they can actually help to steer the course of events by getting directly involved. Those of us who are qualified and skilled in these various fields need to rise up to action and get involved. They must do so sincerely, not in the pursuit of personal gain or fame, but out of genuine concern for Islam and the Muslims. Moreover, their view should be broad, not factional or sectarian.

This distinctive involvement, in my personal opinion, is forthcoming. This is not to be achieved through suppressing the opinions of others, but through creating an atmosphere of moderation conducive to mutual understanding and participation. The opinions of others cannot be obstinately blocked out.

When there is sincerity and honesty, Allah’s help is near. In Him alone can we place our hopes.

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