Report from China: What Keeps the Muslim World Back?
Because the Chinese direct their energy toward the future, and rarely focus on past grievances, their approach possibly offers more hope for a better life, in which their people's standard of living increases, and China -- from their point of view -- takes what they regard as its rightful place on the world stage.
The Chinese, at behind-the-scenes conferences and discussions during the past few months, kept saying they were perplexed about the Muslim world's – particularly the Arab world's – inability to deal with the modern world. The Chinese and the Muslims, they repeated, had suffered the same humiliation and occupation by foreigners over the past two hundred years, but the Chinese and Muslim reactions to these experiences seem so completely different.
"We also suffered," the Chinese said, "but now we control our destiny, and are doing everything we can to learn from these foreigners so that we can benefit from the modern world and ensure that we do not suffer this humiliation again. We Chinese 'look to the future.'"
The Muslims, on the other hand, the Chinese stated, seem to have a different approach: Instead of looking to the future, they "are mired in the past," more concerned about taking revenge against those foreigners whom they believe had humiliated and oppressed them.
It was because of this focus on the past, these Chinese intellectuals and leaders stated, that Arabs and Muslims were therefore unable to build societies which could participate in the modern world. "Revenge and victimhood," these Chinese argued, could permanently cause "the Arabs and Muslim world" to "remain behind the West and Asia."
These Chinese, many of whom had spent considerable time in the Muslim world and had gone to the trouble of becoming fluent in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, asked why our Muslim friends are "obsessed" (their word) with portraying themselves as victims. Victimhood, they said, gets people nowhere; what was necessary was to remember the past but put it behind you so that you could deal with contemporary problems.
The Chinese are practical: although they harbor deep resentment to what other cultures -- specifically the Japanese -- have done to them, they say that if they indulge in self-pity, they will never be able to improve their lot in this world.
The Islamic culture, however -- and Middle Eastern culture in general -- is acutely concerned with righting perceived wrongs. The Shari'a, in fact, sees the role of the ruler as one who "commands good and eradicates evil" -- meaning it is more important to "correct" past wrongs than to think about how to improve one's situation. First one must correct the evil, and only then may one concentrate on how to have a better life. Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad have focused much of their time and money fighting their enemies rather than building their societies. The Americans, before they invaded Iraq, tried to negotiate with Saddam to find a way to stop him from developing weapons of mass destruction and intimidating his neighbors, but Saddam would not compromise. To do so, from his point of view, would have shamed him, a condition to be avoided at all costs. Bashar al-Assad now seems committed to doing the same. Fighting evil, in their eyes, is a never-ending battle: they cannot – nor can, for that matter, the Palestinians -- put their past perceived wrongs behind them. They therefore cannot turn their attention to any future. Middle Eastern leaders might want to eliminate Israel, or hire engineers to build buildings, but anything more elaborate requires importing foreigners – mostly Westerners or Asians for building airports, highways, or whatever.
The Chinese perspective, to quote the former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew, is that, despite "everything we do for our Muslims, they continue to remain at the bottom of society" -- poor, backward and uneducated. ( Bernard Lewis, Notes on a Century…, pp. 245-246).
Could it be, however, that the Chinese suffering from a similar problem, guaranteeing that they too could have difficulties competing with the Western world when it comes to innovation?
In Chinese culture, one cannot question elders or people in position of authority about how and why they have come to a conclusion. In the West, we are encouraged to respect knowledge and position, but we are also encouraged to ask people how they have reached their conclusions. The Chinese are encouraged not to do so -- both indirectly, by teaching their children from an early age blindly to accept authority.
Here, the Chinese and the Muslims share the same view – so that neither culture enables the abilities of its people that could help to invent new products. The Chinese and some non-oil producing Muslim countries can copy Western inventions; the oil-rich countries import from the West whatever they need.
Because the Chinese direct their energy towards the future, and rarely focus on past grievances, their approach possibly offers more hope for a better life, in which their people's standard of living increases, and China – from their point of view – takes what they regard as its rightful place on the world stage.
Reader comments on this item
|Asians [62 words]||Rolf||Nov 5, 2013 05:57|
|Islam and the rest of the world [54 words]||Jeff||Sep 13, 2013 15:42|
|↔ Military 'aid' to the 'incompatible' nations [79 words]||anObserver||Sep 13, 2014 03:15|
|China's and the Chinese's view on Islam and the Middle East [217 words]||Jacques Huynen||Mar 24, 2013 15:29|
|The inability to learn [23 words]||Ethan P.||Mar 21, 2013 08:11|
|Obsessed with "the other," Islam cannot adapt. [106 words]||Steven Buckley||Mar 21, 2013 05:35|
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
"A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey." — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."