ISLAM NEWSROOM - "Problems of the 'ISLAMIC' World" (??)
-- by Khalid Omar (a self-styled "Pakistaneologist")
The fact that, some people think there is such an entity as the "Islamic World" and use it as an intellectual excuse to not actually think about real people in real places, and rather build a straw-man to make proclamations about, or in this case a whole straw world populated with straw people.
How exactly does a muslim in Qatar, with an income of over half a million dollars a year, have anything in common with a muslim in India making about 2000 dollars a year? Or the Aga Khan in his palace in France?
The biggest problem of a Palestinian living in the Gaza strip doesn't have much to do with Islam, it has to do with racism, jobs, electricity, medicine and human rights. The biggest problem a citizen of the UAE faces is how to upgrade from a mere mercedes to a ferrari.
Think of yourself in the situation of the people or person you are thinking about and try to imagine what their problems are by thinking about what problems you would have in that situation. This is harder than it sounds - you can't just straightaway imagine yourself there - you will have to read, watch, talk and reason about that place to understand the forces affecting life there.
For example, if you want to find out about poor muslims in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, a good start is to read Katherine Boo's book on slum life in Mumbai: Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
Most things people would view as problems of the "Islamic World" are simply problems which humans face everywhere, depending on the situation prevalent in that somewhere.
It seems that there are only a few kinds of people who think in terms of the "Islamic World":
1. Racists, bigots and other such idiots who use it to view those different from them as the "other". Racists like Niall Ferguson are a good example of this, who use the term "Islamic World" to hatemonger and encourage wars, and to make western leaders feel good about about launching wars in countries like Iraq.
2. Nutcases like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who like their fellow Christian, Jewish and other nutcases think in terms of 'worlds' defined by some meaningless phrase like "purity" in the "Islamic/Christian/Jewish World" and want to bring forth the day of judgement, whether by killing those different from them, retaking back some piece of God's very own promised land, or blowing up discos, bars and even a few skyscrapers.
3. The intellectually lazy and uncurious, or people who have the luxury to not know anything about the world around them, i.e most citiziens of the OECD. Many of them come up with vast generalizations of billions of people by putting together the two bits of knowledge and the 18 bits of superstitious lore they have on them.
4. Those who watch Fox News. Though often that is an intersection of the above.
When you are thinking big thoughts about the world, and find yourself in the company of people like the various Lashkars and neocon warmongers, you probably need to stop yourself, and ask - If I am using the same reasoning process as the Lashkar, and I accept that this reasoning is flawed when the LEJ does it, might not my very own reasoning be a bit flawed?
How do bigots and racists view other parts of the world, or other peoples? As one big undifferentiated whole, which they can deal with in one fell swoop by labeling them something small and mean, so they can look down from their pedestal at them and pontificate.
You don't have to fall for that. These days it's so easy to find out more about the world and get some perspective.