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Why Is The Islamic World So Behind The West?

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Salam az man!

 

I know I'm not the first Muslim to have these thoughts but in this thread I'd like to explore in depth the 

reasons why the Islamic world as a whole, whether Sunni, Shia or Wahabi,  Sufi or non-Sufi, is so

far the Western or developed countries of the world by almost every possible measure of success.

When did this rot set in if you consider that at one time the Muslim world were world-leaders in almost every

measure of success -- albeit many centuries ago now! So what and when did it all go wrong?

 

Please don't let this become a thread about sectarianism, Sunni vs. Shia etc. unless you feel it is really relevant to the topic!

 

Also can we please avoid the typically bland Muslim answers to this question, "We're not good Muslims anymore -- when

we become good Muslims again Allah will grant us victory!"

 

I do think that the fact we've been divided internally for so long is one reason for our lack of success. Isn't it interesting that

the most developed Muslim countries with the highest quality of life such as Turkey and Malaysia are also the most secular?

 

Some say it was, in the Sunni world at least, when we closed the doors of ijtihad in the 12th century. Others go back further and say

that it was with the rejection of rationalism and the Mutazilites that this problem first started...

 

Also is it a coincidence that almost all of the famous "Muslim" scientists we are so proud of such as Ibn Sina, al Farabi, Ibn Rushd, mathematicians like Khayyam, etc. were considered heretics in their own time by most of the orthodox?

 

I think all this is related.

 

 

These are just some areas of possible discussion.

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Hello, I believe the Islamic countries are behind the west because of their culture and tradition. Also like Abu 3anter stated, its also wars and colonialism. The west seems to always never mind its business, for example look how U.S and Israel seem so eager to help the rebels. They only want do this for self- gain..Do you  think they care about a bunch of hooligans that kill their own people? Do you think their blind enough to not see what the rebels really do? No the only reason they want to invade them is for self-gain and superiority. They also don't want any countries surrounding Israel to be more advanced, because that would lead Israel to be invaded.

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Abu 3antaar has highlighted the main points.. They also have communcation and listening issues but the main issue is, they wait for the west to tell them, look your unfair goverment needs to goo. They never attempt to listen to the people, they never move from there sits. They like to do what best for them.

....Oppressers...

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Salam az man!

 

I know I'm not the first Muslim to have these thoughts but in this thread I'd like to explore in depth the 

reasons why the Islamic world as a whole, whether Sunni, Shia or Wahabi,  Sufi or non-Sufi, is so

far the Western or developed countries of the world by almost every possible measure of success.

When did this rot set in if you consider that at one time the Muslim world were world-leaders in almost every

.

 

You are looking for causes to problems in Muslim societies.  Looking for causes to problems is a great way to find solutions! You are an advanced Muslim. Why? because most Muslims ignore problems and choose to live with problems. That is one of the causes!

 

Western Societies do not adapt to problems. They seek out problems and fix them. They find solutions to problems! Western society is a problem solving culture!

 

Muslim societies are the opposite! Muslim societies are problem creating cultures! Sunnis, Shias, Wahabis, Sufis create common problems: Poverty, sickness, diseases, violence, rape, murder, unemployment, the list goes on and on. By ignoring problems, the problems become bigger! For example, there are photos on the Internet of thirsty Muslim children drinking sewer water in streets and get sick with diseases. Why is this happening? Muslims living in those cities ignored the problem and live with the problem of children drinking filthy sewer water! That problem is growing because their children get sick with diseases! Those Muslims are creating problems! It is a problem creating culture!

 

What does the Holy Quran say about problems? When Muslims go to Mosques, Universities, and religious meetings to learn about Islam, do their leaders speak frequently about solving problems? Yes or No? If the answer is NO, it is one of the causes! If the answer is NO, it means Mullahs, Marjahs, Mujtahid, Ulema, etc. are part of the problem!

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great empire rise and fall, what once were great civilizations fall, and power shifts. But you would be a fool if you think that a civilizations stays powerful forever, history has proven that to be false.

 

But If you want a specific answer, Islamic civilization fell behind when it stopped putting importance on sciences and failed to innovate.The last powerful empire, the Ottomans did too little too late.

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I think the Arab empire made it to the top due to some factors that are comparable with modern day advanced world:

1-capitalism: Arabs plus the Islamic laws of trade made it possible for nations that were ruled by kings to abandon the feudalism to some extent. Modern day Islsmic countries re adopted the old system.

2- multiculturalism : despite the causes that lead to that in old Islamic civilization, the many cultures interacting with each other created a fertile intellectual environment, the same cannot be said about modern day Muslim countries.

3- colonization

4- Turks involvement: the Turks involvement seems to be weakening factor.

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Western Societies do not adapt to problems. They seek out problems and fix them. They find solutions to problems! Western society is a problem solving culture!

 

Im not sure thats true regarding social problems. I can i dentify several growing social problems in the UK that the government is/will ignore until it gets to a crisis/tipping point when there will be a backlash. This is not a healthy approach.

 

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Western Societies do not adapt to problems. They seek out problems and fix them. They find solutions to problems! Western society is a problem solving culture

(salam)

I don't think governments seek out problems to fix except in a small number of cases such as national security where they themselves are under threat. Calling western society a problem solving one seems far fetched when there are plenty of problems in the West.

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(salam)

I don't think governments seek out problems to fix except in a small number of cases such as national security where they themselves are under threat. Calling western society a problem solving one seems far fetched when there are plenty of problems in the West.

 

Most western societies are relatively much better at addressing in house issues, such as health care and education etc.  As far as national security is concerned, they have actually made western societies and borders far less safer through their aggressive foreign policy. 

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  Because we failed to secularise. western Europe did their offspring Australia America Canada etc then the nations they conquered Japan south Korea Hong Kong Taiwan etc.  While eastern Europe and the Muslim world and Africa remained in their saint kneeling grave licking ceremonies and African witchdoctor ceremonies. While the west opens their doors to all humanity white black Asian Buddhist atheist Muslim Jew we still judge people by whether yr Sunni or shia or arab or ajam or which tribe yr from. If the west are ahead then they deserve to be Allah is all wise he gives power to the better civilisations.

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Salam az man!

 

I know I'm not the first Muslim to have these thoughts but in this thread I'd like to explore in depth the 

reasons why the Islamic world as a whole, whether Sunni, Shia or Wahabi,  Sufi or non-Sufi, is so

far the Western or developed countries of the world by almost every possible measure of success.

When did this rot set in if you consider that at one time the Muslim world were world-leaders in almost every

measure of success -- albeit many centuries ago now! So what and when did it all go wrong?

 

Please don't let this become a thread about sectarianism, Sunni vs. Shia etc. unless you feel it is really relevant to the topic!

 

Also can we please avoid the typically bland Muslim answers to this question, "We're not good Muslims anymore -- when

we become good Muslims again Allah will grant us victory!"

 

I do think that the fact we've been divided internally for so long is one reason for our lack of success. Isn't it interesting that

the most developed Muslim countries with the highest quality of life such as Turkey and Malaysia are also the most secular?

 

Some say it was, in the Sunni world at least, when we closed the doors of ijtihad in the 12th century. Others go back further and say

that it was with the rejection of rationalism and the Mutazilites that this problem first started...

 

Also is it a coincidence that almost all of the famous "Muslim" scientists we are so proud of such as Ibn Sina, al Farabi, Ibn Rushd, mathematicians like Khayyam, etc. were considered heretics in their own time by most of the orthodox?

 

I think all this is related.

 

 

These are just some areas of possible discussion.

 

the islamic world is beyond east and west. at the same time islam is always victorious, even if it exists in one poor person in this life, living in a cave somewhere.

 

what we must understand is the narrations that say how one day islam will exist only in name, while a small group of people will struggle in the way of Allah. 

 

at the same time the islam and holy quran teaches us not to care if non-believers are given more than us in this world, and that all that matters is the next life. we can ask ourselves the question of why the islamic world lost its connection to true islam, which can be blamed on the majority of people who eneded up selling their souls. 

 

 

they ended up trading comfort and rotten alliances, while using the islam identity to justify their corruption. i think most muslims are aware of this today, when its more obvious than ever. well, i believe the most obvious was when self-proclaimed muslims decapitated imam hussain & family, and took rest as prisoners.

 

anyway, here are couple of verses from the quran that relate in sha Allah

 

 

Do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to categories of them, and do not grieve over them. And lower your wing to the believers 15:88

 

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,"When is the help of Allah ?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near. 2:214

 

So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are believers. 3:139

 

 

islam has never in the history of mankind been given the victory of Allah which is promised in the quran, as well as other heavenly religions.

 

so, for anybody who is wanting to see the victory of Islam on earth, over the koffar, mushriqs and munafiqs, should pray and do duas really hard to be among the chosen ones to witness the rising of baqyat Allah. even if we don't survive to that day in our current bodies, just by us connecting spiritually to this, will bring us peace in our hearts, nurtured by resonance to that hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

 

(wasalam)

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Allah has given the chance to others because Muslims were terrible when we had the chance, we can look at the Umayyads, Ottomans, Safavids, Qajaris, Mugals, Mamluks, etc. etc.

 

Every group was given a chance to rule. I'd say the group from the Muslims that did a half-decent job was the Buwayids. But that's my opinion.

 

Before the 20th century the Jews were given the chance to rule twice and twice they messed up. I believe we won't fair much different if we have power again. An interesting story comes to mind about Jews in Russia at the time of Napoleon. The Jews supported Napoleon conquering Russia because they perceived him to be much more lenient in-terms of religious freedom in contrast to the Tzar of the time. Some Rabbis were against the Jews being given any such emancipation even at the cost of living under the oppressive Tzar because as one Rabbi claimed that they would become haughty and materialistic once again as they had in times gone by. There is a lesson in this for us.

 

Never the less I wish only freedom for all my Muslim brethren, whether we deserve it is the question. If we are give the power again, chances are like Israelis are doing to Palestinians; we as the mustad'afeen (oppressed) will become the oppressors.

 

Was-Salaam

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The blind leading the blind. 

 

Some of us are cowards, some of us are selfish, some of us are lazy, too many factors to count.

 

But imperialism, propaganda, wars etc. are the backbone of it all.

(salam)

Yet, a lot of stuff I hear sounds to me like "cry babies". To this I can add cronyism, and as an Egyptian friend of mine once explained, "everyone (among the Arabs) thinks he is the one that has the right to show-off" (paraphrase).

 

I can add, unless it is state sponsored, no one thinks on an industrial scale.

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I think the Arab empire made it to the top due to some factors that are comparable with modern day advanced world:

1-capitalism: Arabs plus the Islamic laws of trade made it possible for nations that were ruled by kings to abandon the feudalism to some extent. Modern day Islsmic countries re adopted the old system.

2- multiculturalism : despite the causes that lead to that in old Islamic civilization, the many cultures interacting with each other created a fertile intellectual environment, the same cannot be said about modern day Muslim countries.

3- colonization

4- Turks involvement: the Turks involvement seems to be weakening factor.

The Turks had had largely  dominated the Islamic world since 1000 A.D, from the Seljuks, although at times power sometimes  shifted to  Ayyubid Kurds and Mamluks from the caucusus. Anyways, you are horribly ignorant of history if you think Turks "weakened" Islamic civilization. The Ottomans formed the longest lasting empire and during its height stretched from Hungary to Algeria, and until the nineteenth century threatened to overrun Europe. If anything, The Arab rebels had ruined their own lands when they allowed their countries to be cut up into pieces, the Turks in contrast were able to maintain complete independence of  their country and drive away the Europeans. 

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The Turks had had largely  dominated the Islamic world since 1000 A.D, from the Seljuks, although at times power sometimes  shifted to  Ayyubid Kurds and Mamluks from the caucusus. Anyways, you are horribly ignorant of history if you think Turks "weakened" Islamic civilization. The Ottomans formed the longest lasting empire and during its height stretched from Hungary to Algeria, and until the nineteenth century threatened to overrun Europe. If anything, The Arab rebels had ruined their own lands when they allowed their countries to be cut up into pieces, the Turks in contrast were able to maintain complete independence of  their country and drive away the Europeans. 

explain how the Islamic world was in its best shape during the Ottoman rule? I am speaking about cultural contribution to humanity. The Islamic world during Ottoman empire era was ruled by strict administration that did not allow any local administration from taking part in the ruling. It was very centric. This strict administration plus the bloody taxes on people despite their poverty had weakened the rest of Islamic world from forming their own local government or making their own local economy.

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(salam)

 

Another point: Once the Evilgelical West got control over the Muslims, one of the first things they did was to put in puppets who destroyed the education systems.

Example, at the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, only 10% of women could read.

Now, Iran has 90% literacy I think it is.

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I do think that the fact we've been divided internally for so long is one reason for our lack of success. Isn't it interesting that

the most developed Muslim countries with the highest quality of life such as Turkey and Malaysia are also the most secular?

 

Some say it was, in the Sunni world at least, when we closed the doors of ijtihad in the 12th century. Others go back further and say

that it was with the rejection of rationalism and the Mutazilites that this problem first started...

 

Also is it a coincidence that almost all of the famous "Muslim" scientists we are so proud of such as Ibn Sina, al Farabi, Ibn Rushd, mathematicians like Khayyam, etc. were considered heretics in their own time by most of the orthodox?

 

I think all this is related.

 

 

These are just some areas of possible discussion.

 

I blame, apart from uncontrollable factors which impede the growth of society, the orthodox mullah for the backwardness found in many Muslim societies. By shutting out reformists and scientists, they wanted to maintain their influence and sway over the Muslim community. Muslim societies were constantly fed with the "Islam is in danger" rhetoric, and the thinkers were forced (read :heretics) to shoulder the blame for it. 

 When the Muslims lost tangible power, the game became even more easier. Now the losses were blamed on a lack of faith and the unislamic practises that had made their way into the society. Nevermind the worldly factors, success in the secular world now depended on the frequency of worship of the Muslims. 

 In South Asia, Shah Waliullah, Haji Shariatullah etc led campaigns to purge Islam of evil practises, because apparently they had brought about the fall of the Muslim empire. The Arabs Sunnis found the same approach in Ibn Wahhab. Their puritanical approach formed the basis of Wahhabism/deobandism.

  Their style of politics, based on exploitation of the name of Islam, has hindered the growth of critical thinking in Muslim communities. 

  Scholars of worldly sciences and proponents of scientific education were shunned and denounced by the mullahs and men like Sir Syed were labelled heretics. 

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Some interesting replies especially by Brained, JawsofDeth, ImamAliwabas, and all other brothers who

contributed. I do reject the blame on colonialism because you have to then ask yourself -- why did

we become so weak to allow ourselves to become colonised all over?

 

I don't think any one group of Muslims is to blame but what we have in common--already seeiing it

on here in this thread is a 'blame the other' syndrome.

 

What was it that made us go from world-leaders in science and technology to the level where all our lands were

colonised by tiny islands like England? They were going through the industrial revolution and renaissance whilst

we were still arguing over whether to pray with our hands folded or empty etc.! 

 

And this idea of 'this duniya has been given to the kuffar and we have been given jannah!' (though true in one sense)

is a big cop-out because we don't say that when WE were powerful in this world! It is hypocritical for us to fall back on this

argument!)

 

If this world hadn't been important at all Islam would never have left Makkah or the Arabian peninsula and conquered much of the world! The Prophet and the Sahaba, Ahle Bayt, etc. would just have lived as ascetics and spent all their time

praying. Though they were often ascetic at times they lived in this world too!

 

There must have been some point in Islamic history when fresh thinking stopped and copying the great

men of the past became the whole point. So instead of originality we have people just believing in XYZ because a famous

scholar of the past had held that view. It goes on to this day. The ulema are still learning the same philosophy and astronomy, for example, as in the middle ages whilst both subjects have moved on so much! I once had a discussion with a learned mawlana who told me about the four elements that all the world is made up of -- air, fire, wind and water and that it is impossible to go to the moon because it in the first heaven...

 

These mullahs -- who are blameless in the sense that a person can only know what he has been taught!--hold massive sway over large percentages of the public and hence instead of looking inward we look outward for our current situation.

 

(Imho ulema's role is to help the people with their day to day religious and spiritual matters which are individual but in our countries they have controlled too much of the political and social development too whether directly or indirectly since people are terrified of being labelled 'kafir' or heretic!

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If this world hadn't been important at all Islam would never have left Makkah or the Arabian peninsula and conquered much of the world! The Prophet and the Sahaba, Ahle Bayt, etc. would just have lived as ascetics and spent all their time

praying. Though they were often ascetic at times they lived in this world too!

 

Hold on a second, for the record the holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Imaams of the AhlulBayt (AS) weren't conquerors and/ or colonialists. Wars were fought in defence. The 3 Khulafah were responsible for expanding the Islamic state to the point of "empire," using this precedent- every other dynasty expanded the original Islamic state. I believe the kind of near-utopian state that the holy Prophet (PBUH) founded, if maintained by design by the purest leaders at the helm- would have grown organically. Like every migrant population that moved to America because it was the "land of opportunity" and "land of milk and honey," the Islamic state would have grown because of it's power to influence hearts and minds. The real land of peace.

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Taxes and a Discouraged Middle Class

 

War and military expansion had been a primary source of wealth for Islamic society, and when that stopped in the 1500s rulers demanded more in taxes and seized the properties of merchants and entrepreneurs. As a consequence, less wealth was invested in the economy. Some manufacturing continued, such as cotton weaving and the production of raw silk, but in the Ottoman Empire money to invest in the growth of manufacturing was diminished.

The sultan's government had been selling the job of tax collecting, and the buyer of this position collected enough in taxes to satisfy the income wants of the authorities and himself. The tax collector decided how much to tax. The poor who scratched a living from the soil had little to tax, but anyone who could afford to invest in a new enterprise became an obvious target for tax collection and bribery by officials.

The government raised money also by the sale offices to the highest bidder, in part so the sultan and an elite could continue to live in the luxury to which they were accustomed. Rather than people being selected for administrative offices based on merit – training, competence and talent – government offices were going to people who had money. And promotion by merit had been replaced by nepotism and favoritism. Corruption had spread to the provinces where an official would buy his office and then squeeze more taxes from the populace to reimburse himself. And corruption reached judicial officials, whose decisions were at times for sale. In the 1600s the Ottoman historian, Haji Khalifa (1608-1657), saw Ottoman society resting on four pillars: the mullahs (Islamic clerics) the army, the merchants and the farmers, and he saw Ottoman society as sick because of corruption, high taxation and oppression of the masses. There were rebellions by the oppressed, but the rebellions were always crushed.

The economy of the Ottoman Empire was hurt also by an unfavorable balance of trade. Wealthy Muslims were purchasing goods from Christendom, but little was being exported and the supply of gold was diminishing. As manufactured goods flowed into the Ottoman Empire, local handicraft industries suffered. Manufacturing remained largely a peasant operation – home industry. Foot-operated treadle reels, hand-operated looms and silk-twisting machines were to be used in the Ottoman Empire into the 1800s. And, for the Ottoman Empire, economic weakness produced military weakness.

 

http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h21-ot3.htm

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I came across an answer to a question similar to this by 'chance' today by Seyyed Hossein Nasr which I think is the

most beautiful and profound and balanced:

 

 

ALI: Muslims look at the world right now, specifically the Muslim “ummah”[community], and they see instability, suffering, authoritarian regimes, oppression and so forth. So, many Muslims ask what will all this fasting, this dhikr [remembrance and invocation of God], this tazkiyat al nafs [spiritualexercises in purification], and all this Sufi practice help? How do all these spiritual Sufi practices help the Muslims suffering in Palestine,Chechnya or Iraq? People say this is like Muslims who live in a bubble and put their heads in the sand, but in order to help people one must be more political. So, what’s your take on that?

NASR: It’s total nonsense. There are many, many answers to this question. The main answer is that the Islamic world is suffering not only because of external oppression but also because of the loss of its own dignity, of its own heritage, of its own practice of Islam, of its weakening of its own ethics, and many things which are internal to Islam not just external. Now, Sufism has always had the function of purifying Islamic ethics and that fasting and tazkiyais like lighting a lamp. What does a lamp do? The lamp is like a horse that is running but stays put. But by virtue of being a lamp it illuminates the space around it. Therefore, the practice of purifying one’s soul, of living virtuously,has tremendous impacts upon the ethics of the surrounding society.

The Islamic world is not only suffering from the American occupation of Palestine and Iraq, it’s also suffering from the unbelievable corruption in Afghanistan by Afghans themselves and also in Iraq – I’m just giving these 2 examples of countries which are under direct occupation; I do not mean at all to negate the terrible events that led to this or what’s going on with the foreign occupation there. But I’m saying that it is not the only problem and Sufis have always been those that have tried to purify the ethics of Islam and society. And they don’t have their hands cut off from the external action at all. For example, the bazaar in which the Sufis were very strong always dominated economic life in Islamic world. They could give a much more sane and Islamic form of activity when the economic life of Islam moved out of the bazaar to new parts of Islamic cities with modernized Muslims, who took it in another light and it became very, very antiIslamic, and much against many of the most profound practices of Islamic societies. 
There is no way through out Islamic society for Islam as a society, as a civilization, to revive itself without this inner spiritual vitality that came to it. And also militarily, the great movements of resistance against colonial powers in the 18th and 19th century were almost all from Sufis: Imam Shamil in Caucasia, Amir Abd al Qadir in Algeria, The Barelvi family in the modern province of India, today which is Pakistan, and you can go down the line. What is tragic today is that there is a number of Muslims who think that all the solutions are to be found simply by external actions. They don’t have to do anything within themselves. This is a deeply Western idea – modern, Western idea, where you try to improve the world without improving yourself. And this is what the Muslims who talk about others putting their heads in the sand and that “We are doing jihad and we are political” and so forth, they are emulating a very important mistake of modernism.

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Wars, imperialism, colonialism and oil.

Yes, you're right, Muslims are not to blame in anyway (sarcasm). We see what they are doing in places like Iraq and Syria, these people are barbaric, that is why they are so far behind the west.

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