Wednesday, August 29, 2012
After World War I the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate, a unified Islamic institution across the globe, left a vacuum. In September 1969, following an arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, foundations were laid of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now called Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) in Rabat, Morocco. The charter of the OIC, which now has 57 member-states, aimed to preserve Islamic social and economic values. But since then the OIC has achieved very little.
This institution represents 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe. Unfortunately, since 1969, it has only convened 11 times for regular summits and three times for extraordinary ones. This reflects so poorly on the member-countries’ commitment. It is clear evidence that what is contained in the charter is merely lip service by the founding leaders of the OIC.
The progress of the institution over the span of decades is miserable. There is no sense of direction or unity in the institution. The issues of poverty, hunger, deprivation, and economic and social injustices are screaming for attention. At the last OIC summit its heads of state again enjoyed the finest gourmet over two days, while there are millions out there in the Islamic world who are dying of hunger. Did they pass the succession to their family members in order to rule their states for decades? Was monarchy ever endorsed or propagated by Islam? Did our religion ever propose divisions in matters of faith or creation of sects? So how is it that the OIC is doing the exact opposite of what the Islamic faith actually dictates to Muslims?
There is so much that needs to be done. But there is no pooling of economic resources. Education standards are pitifully low. Common defence strategies are in the doldrums. Sectarian divides are being fuelled within the member states. The leaders of Islamic countries talk about unification but when it comes to non-locals entering their respective countries they make it extremely difficult for them to do so. The OIC region is a treasure which has immense potential. It can remove the darkness which has descended upon the Muslim world, but only if its leadership is ready to take some action.
Its true potential was realised in the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in February 1973 when the OIC summit was hosted in Lahore. He used this forum to give Bangladesh recognition after we lost East Pakistan. The fact that the OIC summit was held in Lahore was quite a remarkable feat on Bhutto’s part. After that event, we have only been hearing the deep snores of the organisation representing the Muslim Ummah. The last summit was yet another opportunity for the chanting of empty slogans and publication of more shoddy documents, without the leaders having the intention to resolve the issues confronting Muslims. Resultantly, no practical steps were taken. Instead of pursuing a common agenda for the larger good, the leaders pursued their personal agendas. The acrimony between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues because Saudi Arabia endorsed the actions of the superpower. Such differences result in clashes and acrimony within the institution, as if there aren’t enough quarrels already. Tehran accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of providing arms to the rebels against Assad.
Coming to the tangible outcomes of this gathering, there was none because the summit produced zero achievement. The OIC needs a leadership which is forward-looking and has a strong sense of urgency to forge economic links between Muslim countries. The leaders of the OIC need to learn about unification from the European Union. After years of civil war the European nations realised that there wasn’t any point in continuing with this defeatist and destructive approach. Finally, after the Second World War, the European countries decided to pool the potential of their heavy industries to avert possibilities of wars. It was the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 which led to the EU’s enlargement. European countries which were formerly communist decided to join the EU. Consequently there was greater interdependence in Europe because a larger group of countries became intertwined. There was free flow of immigrants which resulted in mass migration between member countries. Though there was burden on some countries, the idea behind it was use of the production strengths of each country’s workforce so that maximum output could be achieved.
Interdependence of trade between states eliminates chances of war and that is what the OIC needs to emulate. An economic union has to precede a political union for real harmony to prevail. The OIC must attempt at making labour migration smooth and easy. People should be allowed to travel visa-free within the member countries. Migration controls should be exercised only to ensure that the burden of migration is not borne by one country alone. The OIC needs to adopt a single currency, just like the EU. There was an attempt to establish the Islamic dinar as the exchange value, but the idea fizzled out.
This sleeping giant has to wake up from its slumber.
Sumber: The News International