In his October 13, 2022 column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, liberal journalist Ahmad Al-Sarraf listed a long list of problems from which the Islamic countries suffer, including the absence of democracy and justice and of respect for human rights and minority rights, lack of freedom of religion, as well as corruption and dishonesty, and high birth rates despite rampant poverty, unemployment and low living standards. He stated that Muslim countries send their young people to study abroad, and use the inventions of other countries, yet curse the inventors and the products of those countries based on a false sense of moral superiority. Furthermore, he said, wherever Muslims live their situation is always the worst, yet they continue to call themselves the best nation on earth.
Ahmad Al-Sarraf (image: arabtimesonline.com)
The following are translated excerpts from Al-Sarraf's column:
"The great thinker Taha Hussein [an Egyptian writer and intellectual, d. 1973] is credited with saying that 'a nation that fights poverty with prayer, ignorance with religious studies, backwardness with fatwas, corruption with mosque sermons, social disunity with sectarianism and takfir [accusations of heresy] and unemployment by [encouraging] marriage and childbirth is a dead nation, and the dead must be buried to preserve their honor.' The nation of poverty has children without thought or planning. It brings more and more victims and wretches into the world, and everyone arms himself with the saying '[babies] bring their own livelihood.' But I see only vagrancy and unemployment, hunger and homelessness, [people] naked and barefoot, droves of released prisoners and millions of [prisoners still] in jail. Therefore, it is not hard to understand why the nation of 1.5. billion [Muslims] fails in almost every area.
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"We have… ancient, well-rooted universities like Al-Zaytouna [in Tunis], Al-Azhar [in Cairo], the Shi'ite religious seminaries in Al-Najaf, Qom and Karbala, and dozens of similar religious institutions, in addition to thousands of religious schools in which hundreds of thousands of teachers teach Islamic culture to billions of students every year. In addition, there are billions of hours of religious programs on radio and television, as well as mosque sermons, and lessons of [religious] preaching and guidance. Yet despite all this, there are no successful Islamic states – except for a few cases [that are different] for well-known reasons – and no democratic Islamic countries, with two or three exceptions. Most of the [Islamic] countries lack a fair judiciary and human rights, but are known for having countless prisons and for degrading human dignity.
"Of all the countries in the world, only we, all of us, refused to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without reservations. Moreover, none of our countries are known as havens for asylum seekers… Not a single one of our countries has abolished the death penalty, grants minorities all their rights or gives them freedom of religion. Nor do we have any international influence, except when the world is experiencing an oil crisis.
"Conversely, we are the countries most tolerant of lies, which we fondly call 'human nature,' and even the man selling watermelons [in the market] is willing to swear that his watermelons are red, when they are not. Moreover, no Islamic country manufactures its own food, clothes and medicines, and there is no real [Islamic] nuclear state, except for Pakistan, which experiences anxiety and is a source of anxiety for the world. Most of the foreign students in non-Muslim countries come from Muslim countries, yet they curse their teachers' countries. Moreover, the Muslim states are all sectarian, racist and bigoted, and none of their peoples live calmly and happily… All of them use the inventions of other countries yet curse their inventors and their products, based on a false sense of 'moral superiority.' This is despite the fact that [the Muslim countries] have plenty of child labor and corruption, and lack mechanisms of [public] health insurance and social security. They pride themselves on the fact that their people do not eat pork, even though they know that hundreds of the products they use and consume contain plenty [of pork].
"When you wake up at dawn you hear the muezzin calling from dozens of mosques around you, and think you are in a city characterized by virtue – yet you cannot buy a pound of meat without being cheated!
"Finally, we are the only nation in which the situation of minorities, which are non-Muslim, is better than the situation of the [Muslim] majority, whereas the situation of Muslims living as minorities in other countries is worse than the situation of others [in those countries]!
"Some say that we are not the only ones suffering from these problems, and that is true – yet none of the other [nations] ever bragged about its ancient history and its glorious achievements or claimed to be the cradle of religion or the best nation [on earth]."
 Al-Qabas (Kuwait), October 13, 2022.