As I have noted before IMO the most devastating (influential) critiques usually come from dissenters who have experienced the entire elephant (as opposed to just a trunk or a tail). An example being the “Gulag Archipelago.” The only possible response (the offended party) at that point would be that the whistleblower is an enemy agent (also ban the books).
But sometimes the devastating critiques come from the champions, the boosters, the privileged ones at the top of the pyramid. It is not only interesting to know what the various problem points are, but also why they are such a problem to begin with.
Some of these critiques are straightforward. Here we have President Musharraf commenting on the state of the Ummah in 2002 in an address to a conference of science and tech attended by ministers of muslim countries.
“The Muslim Ummah, or the Islamic world, he said was presently living in darkness.” “Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most un-enlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race,” he told the delegates.
But what is truly remarkable are the critiques which are comprehensive in nature and make an attempt to point the fingers at the right places (according to the author). Some of the finger pointing is familiar for most colonized people, they blame the colonizers for their plight. Thus Hinduta-vadis would blame Christians and Muslims for their plight. But some of the finger-pointing is indeed special and deserves greater attention.
Here is Mahathir Mohammed speaking at the OIC in February 2012.
10. But not only are our Governments divided, the Muslim ummah is also divided, and divided again and again. Over the last 1400 years the interpreters of Islam, the learned ones,the ulamas have interpreted and reinterpreted the single Islamic religion brought by Prophet Muhammad S.A.W, so differently that now we have a thousand religions which are often so much at odds with one another that we often fight and kill each other.
25. We are enjoined by our religion to prepare for the defence of the ummah. Unfortunately we stress not defence but the weapons of the time of the Prophet. Those weapons and horses cannot help to defend us any more. We need guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and warships for our defence. But because we discouraged the learning of science and mathematics etc. as giving no merit for the akhirat, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defence. We have to buy our weapons from our detractors and enemies. This is what comes from the superficial interpretation of the Quran, stressing not the substance of the Prophet’s sunnah and the Quran’s injunctions but rather the form, the manner and the means used in the 1st Century of the Hijrah. And it is the same with the other teachings of Islam. We are more concerned with the forms rather than the substance of the words of Allah and adhering only to the literal interpretation of the traditions of the Prophet.
26. We may want to recreate the first century of the Hijrah, the way of life in those times, in order to practise what we think to be the true Islamic way of life. But we will not be allowed to do so.Our detractors and enemies will take advantage of the resulting backwardness and weakness in order to dominate us. Islam is not just for the 7th Century A.D. Islam is for all times. And times have changed. Whether we like it or not we have to change, not by changing our religion but by applying its teachings in the context of a world that is radically different from that of the first century of the Hijrah. Islam is not wrong but the interpretations by our scholars, who are not prophets even though they may be very learned can be wrong. We have a need to go back to the fundamental teachings of Islam to find out whether we are indeed believing in and practising the Islam that the Prophet preached. It cannot be that we are all practising the correct and true Islam when our beliefs are so different from one another.
28. None of our countries are truly independent. We are under pressure to conform to our oppressors’ wishes about how we should behave, how we should govern our lands, how we should think even.
29. Today if they want to raid our country, kill our people, destroy our villages and towns, there is nothing substantial that we can do. Is it Islam which has caused all these? Or is it that we have failed to do our duty according to our religion?
40. We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something. Remember that the Prophet did not have many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars and the Muhajirins and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam.
51. The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.
To summarize: what are the problems facing the Ummah? None really worth mentioning in a 4000 word article, except that we are (our army is) weak and divided. Lack of scientific advancement is mainly a problem reflected in the lack of latest weapons (which our army buys from the enemy). If even 1/3rd of Ummah joined hands world domination will be possible (truly egalitarian thought that one). Finally, the fault lies not in Islam but the way the preachers have taught us (actually the real fault lies with Jews who control the world and dictate what we even think).
If this is indeed how the mind of a forward thinking leader of the Ummah works then the world should not fear any great advancements in the state-of-the-ummah that Musharraf was talking about. Devastating critique indeed.