(function() { (function(){function b(g){this.t={};this.tick=function(h,m,f){var n=void 0!=f?f:(new Date).getTime();this.t[h]=[n,m];if(void 0==f)try{window.console.timeStamp("CSI/"+h)}catch(q){}};this.getStartTickTime=function(){return this.t.start[0]};this.tick("start",null,g)}var a;if(window.performance)var e=(a=window.performance.timing)&&a.responseStart;var p=0=c&&(window.jstiming.srt=e-c)}if(a){var d=window.jstiming.load; 0=c&&(d.tick("_wtsrt",void 0,c),d.tick("wtsrt_","_wtsrt",e),d.tick("tbsd_","wtsrt_"))}try{a=null,window.chrome&&window.chrome.csi&&(a=Math.floor(window.chrome.csi().pageT),d&&0=b&&window.jstiming.load.tick("aft")};var k=!1;function l(){k||(k=!0,window.jstiming.load.tick("firstScrollTime"))}window.addEventListener?window.addEventListener("scroll",l,!1):window.attachEvent("onscroll",l); })();

M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Muslim In The Era Of Globalization


Muslims In The Era Of Globalization

M. Bakri Musa (www.bakrimusa.blogspot.com)

Presented At The Muslim Students Association, Stanford University, February 14, 2003

[Slightly updated]

First of Five Parts

Throughout the world and at all times there have been differences in the cultural and socioeconomic development of societies. Today the West enjoys unprecedented wealth, freedom, and material wellbeing while much of the rest of the world, including the bulk of the Muslim ummah, is mired in abject poverty, with little dignity and even much less freedom. This has not always been the case. There was a time when the Islamic world was the beacon of civilization while what we know today as the West was still in the Dark Ages.

            These differences are observed not only between but also within societies. In Malaysia, these socioeconomic cleavages also parallel racial lines, making for a potentially volatile mix.  These inequities are the result of man, and not the will of God. The important corollary to that is these factors can be altered. If I believe that everything is predestined – the will of God – then we might as well end the discussion. No further enquiry is warranted or necessary.

The various theories to explain the fate of human societies revolve around three main themes:  biology, geography, and culture. The first two are immutable; there is nothing that can be done to a society’s biological or geographical attributes. Culture on the other hand can and does change.

The popularity of the various theories varies with time and the dominant society of the time. In the heyday of imperialism, biology took center stage. The Europeans then believed that they were divinely ordained to rule over the rest of the world.  Thus the “white man’s burden” mentality. Perversely, the Mahathirs and Lee Kuan Yews of today are still favoring this theory.

Later, with the discovery of valuable natural resources and the importance of strategic locations on trade routes, geography was destiny. The current favorite is culture, that is, there is something in the value system of a society that predisposes it to develop or conversely, impedes its progress.

All these factors are of course related, but for the purpose of discussion I will address them separately. What can poor nations do today so they too can be counted among the developed? My discussion centers primarily on Malaysia, but my arguments could also extend to the wider Muslim world.

As we cannot alter biology or geography, discussions on both topics would be merely academic. Besides, the stark differences between the North and South Koreans would disabuse one from emphasizing biology. As for geography, the success of landlocked Switzerland and the backwardness of such-richly endowed countries like Brunei and Saudi Arabia are ready examples of geography’s limitations. This is not to dismiss geography, rather to put it in proper perspective. Singapore leaders brag ad nauseam on how they have achieved much despite less-than-favorable geography. This claim is at best disingenuous. That island state is blessed with a deep, natural harbor and being strategically located on an important maritime trade route. As real estate people tell us, location is everything.

Which brings me to the third element – culture.


Next:  Second of Five Parts:  Culture As A Major Determinant


Post a Comment

<< Home