‘Islam is not responsible for Muslim failures’
KARACHI: Former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, in his keynote address at a conference in Karachi, said that the root cause of backwardness among the Muslim Ummah was deviation from the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
“Islam is not responsible for our failures and misfortunes, it is because we have deviated from its true teachings,’’ he said.
Therefore, he said, it was imperative for Muslims to acquire knowledge and hone their skills to build their capacity to defend the Ummah and Islam, serve suffering humanity and ensure the rule of justice to enable Muslims to effectively face global challenges.
“This will also help develop our countries, defend our territory, people and dedicate our lives to the service of Islam and the Ummah,” he said. “Muslims should practice tolerance by eschewing differences in order to become united and strong again.” His address was delivered at the International Conference on “Muslim Ummah in the Modern World Challenges and Opportunities” organized by Shura Hamdard Pakistan.
He felt the task was difficult and would obviously take time, but it would be enough if only a few Islamic countries tried to practice and implement the fundamental teachings of Islam. “There is only one challenge facing the Ummah - admitting truth that we have strayed from the teachings of our religion. It is our fault, not Islam’s, and it is for us to correct,” he said.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad maintained that differences in interpretations could not be so severe that Muslims began to accuse each other of not being Muslims. “If we accept accusations against others for not being Muslims, then there will be no Muslim left in the entire world,” he said.
The former Malaysia premier recalled that early Muslims learned not just their religion, but other fields of knowledge, without questioning where they came from. “And they became pioneers of medicine, science, astronomy, navigation, mathematics and through knowledge, built great Islamic civilizations, superior to other civilizations, including that of the Europeans at that time,” he said. He said Muslims of great Islamic civilization built cannons, siege machines, catapults, warships and superior steel blades to defend themselves and instill fear in the enemy.
“But later came new interpretations of Islam, according to which only knowledge of religion could give merit in the afterlife and earn a place in heaven,” he said.
According to him, there was no priesthood or hierarchy of priests in Islam. In Islam form of government was not important but emphasis should be put on competent administrators.
In his message to the conference, President Pervez Musharraf urged the Ummah to adopt the concept of “Enlightened Moderation” and a multi-pronged strategy to overcome challenges. “Muslims should also compel and urge the West to improve its concept and image of Islam and its followers,” the president said in his message read out by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad. “We must also restructure the Organization of Islamic Conference so that it plays a better role for the betterment of the Ummah.”
Mazhar Ali Khan Arif, Sadia Rashid, president Hamdard Foundation Pakistan, and Major General (r) Ghulam Umar also spoke at the inaugural session of the three-day conference being attended by scholars, intellectuals and diplomats from home and abroad.