Facts on Ummah
Dr Farrukh Saleem
The writer is an Islamabad-based
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
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.
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
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
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