Leaving Islam



Facts on Ummah

Dr Farrukh Saleem

The writer is an Islamabad-based

freelance columnist

[email protected]

The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) has fifty-six member states plus Palestine. Ten other entities holding ‘Observer’ status are: Thailand, Turkish Muslim Community of KIBRIS, Moro National Liberation Front, Organisation of African Unity (OAU), League of Arab States (LAS), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, None-Aligned Movement (NAM), Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and the United Nations (UN).

Out of the fifty-six, Syria, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, Somalia, Maldives, Burkina-Faso, Uganda, Sudan, Gambia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritius, Lebanon, Guinea, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are categorised as ‘Authoritarian Regimes’. That is a total of twenty-two or 40 percent of the OIC (Afghanistan has long been classified as a ‘Totalitarian Regime’).

Nearly 15 percent of OIC member states are ‘Traditional Monarchies’. They are: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Brunei, Oman, Qatar and Morocco. To be certain, some nine OIC members do pass as ‘Restricted Democratic Practices’. They are: Malaysia, Jordan, Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal, Comoros, Yemen, Chad and Tajikistan.

To be certain, the following OIC members are ‘Democratic’. They are: Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Mozambique, Mali, Kyrgyz, Togo, Benin, Guyana, Djibouti, Albania and Suriname (any member state that fulfils just three objectively analysed criteria qualifies as a ‘Democracy’. The qualifiers are: multi-candidate, multi-party, competitive elections).

Conclusion: At least 70 percent of OIC members are Authoritarian Regimes, Totalitarian Regimes or Restricted Democratic Practices.

Next, we look at the issue of ‘Freedom of Citizens’ of OIC member states. Allow me to first introduce Freedom House (FH). FH is a non-partisan, non-profit, broad-based, democracy-related research think-tank. FH has offices in Warsaw, Kiev, Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Washington and New York. FH’s official mission statement is to "conduct an array of research, advocacy, education, and training initiatives that promote human rights, democracy, the rule of law and independent media."

At the heart of individual freedom lie political rights and civil liberties. Freedom House’s first year-end reviews of Freedom in the World came out in the 1950s as the ‘Balance Sheet of Freedom’. Freedom surveys haven’t stopped since. The methodology of these surveys is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with little or no culture-bound view of freedom.

The ‘Political Rights Checklist’ has three critical questions: (1) Is the head of state and/or head of government or other or other chief authority elected through free and fair elections? (2) Are the legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? (3) Are there fair electoral laws, equal campaigning opportunities, fair polling, and honest tabulation of ballots?

Then there is a ‘Civil Liberties Checklist’, a ‘Freedom of _Expression Checklist’, a ‘Rule of Law Checklist’ and a ‘Checklist on Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights’. Freedom House then assigns each country a political rights and a civil liberties rating along with a corresponding status designation of ‘Free, Partly Free, or Not Free’. To be sure, Freedom House "does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals as the result of actions by both state and nongovernmental actors".

Of the fifty-six, at least thirty OIC member states were classified as being ‘Not Free’; 53 percent of the total membership. The ‘Not Free’ countries are: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, UAE, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Sudan, Gambia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Maldives, Mauritius, Somalia, Lebanon, Guinea, Kyrgyz, Tajikistan, Chad, Yemen and Cameroon.

Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia, Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, Senegal, Niger, Mozambique, Nigeria and Togo are ‘Partially Free’. Only four OIC members were classified as ‘Free’. They are: Mali, Benin, Guyana and Suriname.

Conclusion: At least 93 percent of OIC members are either ‘Not Free’ or ‘Partially Free’.

Here are some other rather depressing facts: OIC has in it more than 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of humanity. Within the OIC are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, UAE and Kuwait that among them possess 700 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. All the 1.3 billion put together have an annual GDP of less than $1.5 trillion. There are only 290 million Americans and their annual GDP is $10.4 trillion. France is at $1.54 trillion, Germany $2 trillion, UK $1.52 trillion and Italy, long the sick man of Europe, $1.4 trillion.

Kuwait, UAE and Brunei are the only OIC members where per capita income exceeds $10,000 a year. At least fifty OIC members have per capita incomes of under $5,000 a year. Forty-five OIC members have per capita incomes of under $1,000 a year.

Of the 1.3 billion OIC Muslims more than 800 million continue to be absolutely illiterate. Of the 290 million Americans 227 are Nobel Laureates (India has 4).

Of the 1.3 billion Muslims less than 300,000 qualify as ‘scientists’. That converts to a ratio of 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The United States of America has 1.1 million scientists; Japan has 700,000.

Among them, fifty-six OIC countries have an average of ten universities each for a total of less than 600 universities for 1.3 billion people. India has 8,407 universities, the US has 5,758.

The planet’s poorest countries include Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Mozambique. At least six of the poorest of the poor are OIC members. The largest buyers of conventional weapons are Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, S Korea, China, India, Greece, Egypt, Japan, UAE, Israel, Finland, Pakistan, Kuwait and Singapore. Of the fifteen top buyers of conventional weapons six are OIC members. The US, Russia, France, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy, China, Belarus, Spain, Israel, Canada, Australia and Sweden are the largest suppliers of weapons. Not one is part of OIC.

Is the Ummah listening? We are trapped in a vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty and violence. We continue to blame non-Muslims for all our failures. Salman Rushdie is convinced that America’s ‘war on terrorism’ is all about Islam. Rushdie says what we have is a "paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, ‘infidels’ for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity.... this is presently the fastest growing version of Islam in the world." Rushdie goes to add that "if Islam is to be reconciled with modernity ... the restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticisation, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern. The only aspect of modernity interesting to the terrorists is technology, which they see as a weapon that can be turned on its makers. If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern is based, and without which Muslim countries’ freedom will remain a distant dream."






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