Discussion Group

Building Self Confidence

Thematically Organized Collection of writings on Islamic Worldview

12 Feb 2013: Development: Myths and Truths  -- this provides and Islam Centered view of Economic Devlopment while simultaneously debunking the Eurocentric view. 

A useful article on the poisonous effects of colonization is available here.
One of the main obstacles to progress in Islamic world is a deep seated inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West.  This is natural in light the of numerous defeats we have suffered on numerous fronts. However, it is made much more serious by the Eurocentric version of history that we have learned and absorbed. The Eurocentric history paints a picture of the world where Europe and Europeans are the only civilized and intelligent people, and the rest of the world consists of savages and barbarians. An antidote is to look at realistic histories which provide more balanced views. As a simple example of Eurocentric history, European accounts of their rise to power and global domination describe this in the framework of the "White Man's Burden" -- that is the Europeans colonized the globe in order to provide the benefits of their superior science, education and technology, as well as advanced governance and democracy, to the rest of the world. The reality is that colonization was driven entirely by a search for wealth, to be taken by loot and plunder without any regard for natives or moral concerns. Increasing wealth has also come with a visible decline in morality, which is a sign of regress, rather than progress.

An additional issue is that the world view generated by a European education differs radically from one that Islam teaches us.  The paradigm shift required to understand Islam is not easy to achieve. A paradigm consists of a cluster of inter-related ideas which fit with each other to provide a coherent picture of the world. Within the western paradigm, any single idea from the Islamic view appears wrong, since it contradicts many held beliefs. One has to suspend belief in the entire cluster of existing beliefs, and take in and absorb the whole cluster of Islamic ideas in order to grasp the Islamic worldview; it cannot be done by taking one idea at a time. This is a hard job for many, many reasons. Some of the key ideas needed to acquire an alternative world view are sketched in some newspaper articles that I have written. More detailed treatments are given in the writings listed below:

An Islamic Worldview: An Essential Component of an Islamic Education,” Lahore Journal of Policy Studies Vol. 1 No. 1, p95-106, June 2007. 

Corruption Indexes prove that we are more corrupt than the west?

Examples of Inferiority Complex:

Some Bright Lights of Islamic History.

The idea that all useful knowledge is scientific knowledge, and the science is purely an invention of the west, is both completely wrong, and very harmful to Muslim youth. Countering this myth requires providing right types of information on several fronts. Some relevant articles are listed below:

Science and Islam, Jim Al-Khalili - BBC Documentary [3 hours]

An article in the December 2013 issue of History Today -- authored by Frederick Starr, research professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced Studies at Johns Hopkins University -- shows that Abu Raihan Al-Biruni (d. 1048) had predicted the existence of one or more land inhabited masses in the enormous space between the eastern and western shores of Afro-Eurasia. He arrived at this conclusion based on systematic measurements of the earth's circumference (accurate to within 10 miles) and the length of the Eurasian landmass (which he estimated spanned only two-fifths of the earth's circumference). 

No: this does not mean that a Muslim had discovered America before Columbus. This was perhaps a greater achievement of the human intellect. He used the most extensive knowledge of geography, logic, mathematics and reasoning to argue that three-fifths of the earth between Europe and China could not be all watery. 

Some of the work on which Al-Biruni based his speculation was carried out at Lahore and Nandana (a few miles from Islamabad), both in Pakistan. Al-Biruni died in 1048 and is buried in Ghazni. Mahmud and his son Masud were his patrons.

I send this not because this gives Muslim boasting rights, but as a reminder of how far we have strayed from our ancestors when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. 

This article was published in this magazine -- History Today. You may not access it without a subscription. 

OPPORTUNITY for Islamic Economics
The Quran and Hadeeth provide us with deep insights about human behavior and suitable goals for human endeavor. In many areas, these insights are not available not only in mainstream economic literature but also in alternatives that have emerged recently. Building on these insights provides Muslim economists with an opportunity to create a new field of knowledge which provides a radical alternative to conventional views. Below I have listed starting points for research in numerous areas where Islamic views conflict with conventional ones and provide a solid basis to initiate new lines of thought and action.

1. Islamic Views of Knowledge