Review of a book: “ 21st Century Challenges For the Global Muslim Community”

Review of a book: “ 21st Century Challenges For the Global Muslim Community”

A book titled “ 21st Century Challenges For the Global Muslim Community” was published in 2008 in Dhaka by a non-profit body, called, Renaissance Foundation for Human Resource Management (RFHRM), House no 28/A, Road 18, Sector 7, Uttara, Dhaka,1230 (Tel:891- 6256)

The book is edited by Ahmed Farid, a former Ambassador and Secretary to the Government as well as a former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka-based Manarat International University and Professor Dr. Niaz Ahmed Khan of Department of Development Studies, Dhaka University.

It is a hard-cover book with 195 pages with a photo of a minar of the mosque in the front cover. It is published by K.M. Mahmudur Rahman, a business magnate on ship-building industry and a Director of the RFHRM.

Former PM Dr. Mathathir Mohammad in 2003 at the Islamic Summit in Kula Lumpur said: “ Some believe that poverty is Islamic, sufferings and being oppressed are Islamic. Some preach that the world is not for us. Ours are the joys of heaven in the afterlife. All we have to do is to perform certain rituals, wear certain garments, and put up certain appearance.”

In 2002, Pakistan’s former President General Pervez Musharraf expressed critical comments on Muslim Ummah when he stated that “it was the poorest, most illiterate, the most unenlightened, the most deprived and weakest of all the human race.

Although the Muslim World may control 60% of the world’s known oil reserves, they pay little attention to educational and scientific development. Greece, a backwater of Europe publishes more books annually than those in the entire 22 Arab countries.

Given the above context, the book is very timely since 12 writers–academics, former civil servants and retired Ambassadors of Bangladesh–have contributed to the existing malaise of the Islamic world and how to get out of this sorry state of affairs when Islam has been high jacked by extremists who have provided not only a bad image of the essence of Islam but also departed from the fundamental teachings of Islam.

Islam means peace and complete submission to Allah. Traditions say that our Prophet expressed himself thus: “God is Peace, Peace is from Him and Peace is to Him”. (Ibn Kathir).

Furthermore a tradition in Sahih al Bukhari is related by a companion, Ammar ibn Yasir “ There are three actions, the performance of which is equal to possessing the whole faith. These are doing justice, doing one’s utmost for the peace and well-being of the people of the world and spending on others in spite of a lack of means.”

Professor Muin ud Din Ahmad Khan, a former founder Vice-Chancellor of Southern University, wrote a scholarly article on the concept of knowledge in the Holy Qur’an. Professor Jamal Nazrul Islam, a former Cambridge University teacher and currently chair of the department of Mathematical Physics of Chittagong University spelt out his views on Science, Technology, Society and the Crisis of Modern Civilisation.

Professor Emajuddin Ahmed, a former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University underscored in his article knowledge as a vehicle for regeneration of Muslim Ummah. He emphasized that the Muslim world has to change through the touchstone of knowledge quoting from the holy Qu’ran which says: “ Allah do not change the condition of a people unless they first change what is in themselves.”

Other noted academics, such as Professor A.K.M. Yakub Ali, Professor ANM Wahidur Rahman, Professor M. Abdul Haq, Professor Niaz Ahmed Khan, Professor Abdun Noor and Professor Mir Masoom Ali of (Ball State University of USA) contributed to the book analyzing the essence of Islam for its regeneration to bring peace and stability in the conflict-torn world.

Former Secretaries of the Government of Bangladesh Dr. Sheikh Maqsood Ali and Ahmed Farid together with former Ambassador, author and political commentator Barrister Harun ur Rashid lent their names to the book by writing thought-provoking articles to stress the need to take recourse to re-sustaining, reviving and rejuvenating Muslim Ummah through the highway of knowledge.

All the contributors have felt the need for critical self-examination of the Muslim leaders as to why Muslim world has been lagging behind the Judeo-Christian world in scientific and technological knowledge and for exploring remedial measures to match the successes achieved by the Judeo-Christinan world.

Finally, the writers believe the Muslim world is passing through an uncertain situation as to its direction at the 21st century. The strength of the debate between extremists and tolerant adherents of Islam is likely to determine the future of the Muslim world..

The book will be a useful tool for teachers, students and general readers who are interested in the study of Muslim society and masses across the world of 1.6 billion of Muslim people.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

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