By Shahinda Syed
Out of the estimated population of seven billion people, there are 1.6 billion Muslims living in the entire world. It is claimed that by 2020 Muslim population will increase up to 2.5 billion. A huge chunk of African and Asian continent is home to Muslims. Many parts of Europe and Americas are filled with immigrant Muslim population; alone UK has 5 million Muslims, which is more than the entire population of Switzerland.
These facts about Muslim population are noted here to illuminate the prospect of the dominance that Muslims can have over the world in terms of science and technology, education, economy and prosperity. Looking at the number of Muslims world over, one is tempted to believe that Muslims maybe superior in terms of science and technology, arts and literature and medicine and in every other progressive field. Alas, rather Muslims have fallen behind in every sphere. Every year the best people in their specific fields are nominated and bestowed with coveted awards and accolades, surprisingly very less percentile of Muslims even make it to the nominations.
However, Muslims have a treasure to boast about, indeed rightfully, but that is of past. Nobel Prize is one of the most coveted and cherished prizes in the fields of science, medicine, economics and literature. Out of 1.6 billion Muslims only ten Muslims have succeeded in getting this prize. Literature has only two Muslim Nobel prize laureates, Orhan Pamuk and Nagoub Mahfouz, science has two and peace has six laureates, late Yasser Arafat and an outspoken young lady Tawakal Karman being a part of that. Another Noble Prize was added to this collection with Malala Yousafzai’s victory. The youngest ever Noble laureate, unfortunately she too had to face criticism from most quarters.
What is it that is holding today’s Muslim back in spite of having so many opportunities? Islam as a religion can never be held responsible for regression as many critics and bashers of Islam religiously aim to do. Instead it was during the expansion of Islamic empire that many inventions and discoveries came forth. It was during the second caliph Omer ibn al Khattab (RA) that the records of state officials and military personnel were kept. He was the first to keep a police force to discipline people during disorders and enforce peace in land. Moreover, many Muslim women were appointed as officials.
It is believed that colonialism has had great impact on progress of Muslim countries. During colonialism most of the Muslim nations were dominated by European nations, for instance Egypt, once a great and oldest civilisation, was subjugated by Britain. These countries were bereft of their natural resources, religion and culture was disrupted, and economy was scandalised. It’s been less than hundred years since these countries became independent. Therefore Muslim countries also with other colonised nations were grappling with the internal disturbances created by colonisers and made recovery and survival priority rather than indulgence in science and technology. Even during the colonisation of Indian sub-continent great Muslim poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal and great writer and academician Sir Sayeed Ahmad Khan were contributing enormously towards Muslim society. So can colonisation be wholly and blatantly held accountable for Muslims’ falling behind?
Why are Muslims left behind then? Is it war and devastation in their homelands? Is it every day dosage of Islamophobia that a Muslim has to face covertly or overtly, or is religious extremism? Are Muslims lazy and complacent to think of progress and contributing anything meaningful? Such questions are often raised, answers are demanded, though no answer seems to satisfy your raison d’être and intellect. Or maybe the answer lies in Muslim youth. Maybe!
—The author is a student of BA English (Hons) at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. Feedback: email@example.com