This short article is written by Riaz Hassan, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. (The article first appeared in the newsletter of the International Sociological Association Vol, 3, no, 1.) I have truncated the article. If you are interested, you can read the full article here.
I have titled this Blog post "Surat Terbuka Kepada YAB Perdana Menteri - Pilihan Tajuk Kedua". I hope the Prime Minister reads this post. The original title for this Blog, my Pilihan Pertama, is at the bottom of this page. First here is the truncated article :
- Why does the Muslim world suffer from deficits of freedom, development and knowledge?
- Today, any observer would have little difficulty assembling volumes of data from the United Nations and World Bank Development Reports to demonstrate the acute development and freedom deficits in the Muslim world.
- The culprits identified by social scientists include Islamic theology and culture, Arab-specific culture and institutions, the subservient status of women.
- Perhaps the most contested debates on the causes of economic backwardness and democratic deficit in the Muslim world center on whether Islam is the main cause of these twin deficits.
- Turkish-American economist Timur Kuran (2011) marshals impressive empirical evidence to show that what slowed the economic development in the Middle East (were) laws covering business partnerships and inheritance practices.
- Islamic partnership, could be ended by one party at will and even successful ventures were terminated on the death of a partner. As a result most businesses remained small and short-lived.
- Most durable and successful business partnerships in the Muslim world were operated by local non-Muslims.
- Inheritance customs hindered business consolidation because, when a Muslim merchant died, his estate was split among surviving family members which prevented capital accumulation and stymied long-lasting capital-intensive companies.
- not a single university from 49 Muslim majority countries with a population of 1.2 billion or 17 per cent of world’s population found a place in the top 200 universities in the world.
- World Bank’s “education index” of the poorest performers in 2002, 15 are OIC countries
- In many Muslim societies there is another, growing obstacle. They are coming under increasing pressure from religious fundamentalist movements to impose epistemologies compatible with their versions of Islamic doctrines that are generally hostile to critical rational thought. This is stifling the development of conditions conducive to the development and growth of vibrant universities.
- A robust civil society is a prerequisite for the development of countries based not on the tyranny of strongly held convictions and beliefs but on a social order based on doubt and compromise. Science and technology prosper only under conditions that privilege the rule of reason and nature.
- In the knowledge economy of the third industrial revolution, the creation of wealth will rely primarily on “brain industries.” The OIC countries produce hardly any patents and are among the lowest exporters of high-tech products. These scientific, technological and intellectual conditions are going to have far-reaching socioeconomic repercussions. The intellectual stagnation of Muslim countries threatens to imprison a significant proportion of humanity in permanent servitude.
I recall saying to myself that the other American students on campus did not have the luxury of praying on the malam dua puluh tujuh to get their grades improved in the coming year. The Americans did it the old fashioned way - they hit their books and studied hard. And the Japanese, Germans, Koreans and Chinese all had no choice in the matter either. They could not go to the mosque and pray to have their grades improved. They just studied harder.
But this is not the real problem with the Muslims. The real problem with the Muslims is that if you go home and ask your Muslim father, mother, grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt, sister, brother, friend, ustaz etc how can praying on the nite of the malam dua puluh tujuh improve your grades, they will possibly scold you for asking such questions. They will warn you against asking such questions. They will shut you up. This is the problem with the Muslims.
This is what the last three paragraphs of the article above are saying. And I agree. The Muslims are not free to think. They cannot question. All over the Islamic world those who raise questions about religion are thrown in jail. All over the Islamic world those who speak freely about religion are thrown in jail.
Questioning 'long held' grandfather stories is frowned upon. You cannot even think about questioning these beliefs.
Folks, would you all like some proof for this? OK here is the proof.
- How many of you believe in qiyamul ail (standing up and praying at two or three a.m. in the morning?)
- How many of you believe that doing a qiyamul ail can change your fate - for example improve your kids exam grades?
i. real or a falsehood
ii. it works or it is a waste of time
iii. is part of Islam or not
We are not discussing anything yet.
We are just pondering the idea of debating it.
We are just thinking about having a discussion about the subject.
We are just wondering out loud if we should question some of our beliefs.
That is all. Will you agree or disagree to have an open and free discussion?
The evidence (more proof) indicates otherwise. The former mufti of Perlis was charged in the religious court for preaching without a 'tauliyah'. The guy was a former Mufti of Perlis. This is mind control. To preach you need a license from the 'orthodox crowd'. If you dont sing the same tunes as them, you will not get a tauliah. You will get thrown in jail.
The jabatan agama fellows raided a bookshop and charged a Muslim staff (who just happened to be on duty on that day) in the religious court because the bookshop was selling a book which would be banned AFTER they raided that book shop.
A book written by the Sisters in Islam was banned by the religious crowd for some vague reasons. Kassim Ahmad's book was banned to prevent Muslims from starting to use their brains too much. So there is a constant mind control going on. The Muslims just cannot think.
Religious discussion in Malaysia (at all levels - including at the so called highest intellectual levels) has to become moronic. Why do I say this?
Because all the religious intellectuals have to toe the line of the Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaah sect. You step out of line and you can get thrown into jail. You cannot have an academic discourse when the penalty for saying the wrong thing is getting thrown in prison.
If there are flaws or faults in the belief system they will never get rectified. Why? Because you are not allowed to question the faith. You can get thrown in jail. This is backward thinking of the highest degree. This is worse than the Stone Age. There is no evidence that there was any such thing during the life of the Prophet.
This is a major weakness of the Muslims. And when you support this type of restrictions on freedom of thought in religion, it will automatically suppress your entire criical thinking facilities.
You will become a person who may believe in magical horses flying through the air. You will become a person who is willing to throw someone else in jail if they do not believe in your magical horses flying through the air. Worse you may become a person who will scold or punish your seven year old son, daughter, child or student if they question how can horses have wings and fly through the air.
You stifle the thinking process. You will yell at your child "Dont question this. You must just accept it."
Do you think your children will grow up to be Bill Gates? Or Steve Jobs? Or Jamshedji Tata? I dont think so.
What should we do in Malaysia?
We must revoke or annul all those religious enactments (at Federal and State level) which can fine and jail Muslims for :
i. expressing any views about Islam
ii. for preaching without a surat tauliah (In other words abolish the surat tauliah)
iii. professing a belief other than the orthodox Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaah
Revoke all of them completely.
And the people who are given the power and the authority to keep the rest of the Muslims down in the dumps are the same lowly educated, madrassah educated, sekolah pondok educated, unhygienic, kahwin banyak bini type goons who do not know anything about anything.
Can you imagine that - whether you are a successful businessman, an engineer, doctor, lawyer, a university graduate from the UK, USA, USM, UKM or UM you are still under the feet of these unhygienic and poorly educated people. Can you see why the Muslims are doomed?
Before I forget, here is my Pilihan Pertama, the original title I had in mind for this Blog post. It is 'Kenapa Kita Bodoh'.