In this week’s article, I continue to focus on our Muslim values and draw attention to the negative issues that are keeping Muslim societies behind. I strongly believe that it is the duty of every Muslim today to speak out against our shortcomings and to address the erosion of our values and call for a return to our Islamic ideology which focuses primarily on good behavior and honesty. In a British newspaper last week, I saw the headline: “Ireland leads the world in Islamic values as Muslim states lag”. Reading further, I discovered that this was based on a study of 208 countries and territories by a leading academic at George Washington University. The study revealed that the teaching of the Qur’an is better represented in Western societies than in Islamic countries.
The author concludes that Islamic countries have failed to embrace the values of their own faith in politics, business, law and society and Ireland was the country that best embodied the Islamic values of opportunity and justice. Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Britain ranked among the top 10.The first Muslim-majority nation was Malaysia which was ranked at 33, while the only other in the top 50 was Kuwait at 48. This study was very scientific and focused on the index of Economic Islamic city or how closely the policies and achievements of a country reflect Islamic economic teachings. We have to admit that the absence of these values has resulted in our economic backwardness. Among features taken into consideration were social rules, corruption, bureaucracy, human rights, freedom of expression, and justice. There was also a study of the economic opportunities offered where Ireland leads the group. Sadly, many of these values are nonexistent in our daily behavior. Dr. Ali Salim a senior member of the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland was not surprised at Ireland being named the best country for “adhering to the Qur’an”. He said that in the Qur’an, Muslims are commanded to work for prosperity, and Dublin is one of the biggest economic centers for Islamic investment. When I discussed the report with a few friends, they all agreed that, unfortunately, Muslim countries do badly on these types of lists, because many Muslim societies do not follow the rules of the Qur’an; they talk about them, but do not practice them.
We need to remind the faithful that Islam is not merely about prayers and fasting. It is much more than that; it is a way of life that focuses on the overall development and well-being of the human being. It is about manners, culture and honest dealings. It is very unfortunate that these occupy a very small part of our existence. Go to any European country and step into a government office, be it an economic department, an immigration office or a court, and you will be well met and treated decently. I went to get a birth certificate for my daughter in London as she had lost the original one. I sat opposite a smiling employee with only one arm, who got up and checked the files and within minutes provided me with a new one. Humanity exists in such employees; they are punctual, honest and eager to serve. They embody the true Islamic spirit. Muslims need to be reminded that being a good Muslim does not mean performing the rituals and neglecting to follow Islam’s pristine principles and values in their daily work and in their behavior toward others. To be a practicing Muslim does not mean having to wear a short “thobe” or to grow a beard! Islam is about compassion, empathy, feeling for the unprivileged and working to raise them out of poverty. It’s about honesty, transparency and justice. Many Muslims today overlook these salient features. Indeed Ireland and other European countries are far ahead in the list because they apply Islamic values in politics, business, law and all areas of human conduct.