In the midst of the reformation taking place in the Arab world, I can’t help but feel that the true essence of Muslim people is being grossly misrepresented. The protests, for the most part, have been secular in nature and the message of liberty has spread relatively organically through the region. However, as liberalism tries it’s best to leap forward in the East, the Western world continues to assign leaders like Gadaffi and Mubarak the tag of “Muslim radical leader” and the media persists with reports on the rise of an “Islamic awakening”.
Now, perhaps I am missing something, but what about Gadaffi is Islamic? The reactions of the Libyan people are a result of years of political and social injustices and not a consequence of the Arab masses having a religious epiphany. Islam is a representation of a person’s faith, spirituality and personal way of life (with emphasis on the word “personal”), it cannot be affiliated to every action a person takes.
My contention, as ridiculous as it sounds, is that we have forgotten that Muslim people in the Arab world are normal. With the inundation of negativity, we have forgotten that Muslims can be and predominantly are people who laugh, people who play sport, people who like music and most importantly they are people who appreciate the simple joys of life.
Libya has one of the highest literacy rates (roughly 82%) in North Africa and has hundreds of higher educational institutes. Egypt has a GDP of approx. 496 billion (PPP), generated by investments in tourism, agriculture and energy, making it one of the most diversified economies in the Arab world. In all of these regions there are successful doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and artists, but far too often their initial classification is “Muslim”.
Over the years, the humility of Muslim women has been described as oppressed, the simplicity of the population has been translated into lack of choice and their resistance to the west has been looked upon as backward.
The media cannot comprehend the fact that westernization does not equate to modernization. The challenge of the Arab world is to find a way to integrate modern development with their existing cultures. The solution to their political troubles does not revolve around adopting Western paradigms. What the Muslim people need is the world’s help not the prejudicial pity of those unwilling to accept their way of life.