They came, they spoke the lines put into their mouths, and they left. All of them, in their tailormade suits and uniforms, speaking a babble of empty words, without sound and fury, meaning nothing. More worthless than the pieces of paper on which they had been written by scribes in service. The words uttered at Putrajaya this week were recorded and simultaneously translated into three languages and they would go into the annals of history of infamy as testimonies of shame and humiliation.
The rhetoric is, of course, not new; only some of those who gathered at this new dream capital of Dr. M were new to the game. But there were many who have made OIC a career, and they spoke with the black humor of the one who knows the joke inside out. Their most crisp refrain was: “O, I see.” Anytime someone said something that needed a thoughtless response, they would say, “O I see.” And repeated ad nauseam, this phrase became the most apt symbol of a gathering that has become a laughing matter for the rest of the world, for everyone knows that these summits of the heads of states accomplish nothing but generate documents that gather dust on some old shelves, until they are dusted for the next summit to regurgitate the old material first written in the heydays of the oil-boom for the hired kings and military generals, by dreamy intellectuals who dreamt of building a new Ummah from the ashes of history but whose dreams splintered and fell in the hands of big game-planers sitting in the Western capitals.
In a wide-open field yearning for some meaningful input, it was men around a Pakistani general who first introduced numbers into speeches written in dusty old offices with the help of soon-to-be discarded typewriters. It was the clerks and section officers of Pakistan’s ministry of science and technology who provided numbers to their bosses who were told that numbers impress even the most unconvinced. So, they called for the GDP figures of the entire Ummah, which could not be computed because the hired potentates have kept no records of the billions they have been plundering. But never mind the actual numbers; one can always cook the soup with broth and stir in some fury by adding emphatic phrases (“the Muslim Ummah should” and the “Ummah must”) addressed to no one in particular and meaning nothing at all.
So, the recipe was invented. Henceforth, speeches could be written on the fly, using this magic recipe: Add a few sentences like “The GDP of the entire Ummah is roughly $1.4 trillion, while that of Japan alone is 4.5 trillion.” Then stir in some refrains for dramatic effect: “The Ummah is standing at a historic moment,” and lo and behold, the great game is on. First invented 37 years ago, this recipe has been working and the Ummah is still standing at the same historic moment as it was in 1969, when the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) was manufactured, following the arson which destroyed part of the old wooden roof and the 800-year-old pulpit brought to the sacred mosque by Salahuddin Ayubi after he defeated the Crusaders and liberated al-Quds. Summit after summit, we are told that this is a moment we can either seize and take charge of our destiny, or let others define our destiny. Indeed, we have been standing at a historical monument of regurgitated verbosity.
But times have changed since that old generation of tired old men and dreamy intellectuals ushered us into these meaningless refrains. New challenges have arisen and hence new themes must continuously be invented. The greatest of these themes is, of course, the new Islam that has been invented in the White House and that needs to be poured down the throat of 1.3 billion voiceless, unrepresented men, women and children who now comprise our Ummah. Thus, this year’s gathering at Putrajaya saw the unfurling of this new brand of Islam, an “Enlightened Moderate” Islam that “would bridge the gap between the Islam and the West.”
Among all the potentates who had gathered in Malaysia this year, it was left to the military dictator from Pakistan to elaborate this new vision of Islam that is based on a vague ideology of “Enlightened Moderation” rather than the twin sources that have so far remained the foundation of Islam: the Qurʾān and the Sunnah. But what does “Enlightened Moderation” mean? And what does it mean to bridge the gap between Islam and the West? After all, Islam is a religion, with a definite set of beliefs, one of the most important among which is the belief in the Hereafter, and the West is a geographical entity. How does one bridge the gap between a geographical entity and a faith?
But never mind details. No one is interested in such details. All one needs to win one’s bread and, for some, a glass of the forbidden drink, is to use every single platform to reiterate the falsehood of this new brand of Islam that calls for rejection of “militancy” and that reduces Jihad, one of the key concepts of the Qurʾān, to a fight against “poverty and illiteracy.” So the General spoke his lines, the potentates clapped, the journalists lauded, and the clocks kept on ticking.
That the proponents of this new brand of Islam have nothing to do with the teachings of the glorious Qurʾān and the practices of the noble Prophet of Islam can be easily inferred from their lives, policies, ideas, and, most of all, from their manifest alliance with those who are bent upon imposing their own worldview on the rest of the world through violent aggression, occupation, and oppression. One does not need to look further than the laurels heaped on these kings, generals, and self-appointed presidents by the likes of Rumsfeld and Armitage to attest to their unholy alliance. But for the skeptics, let it be pointed out that OIC came into existence in the wake of Zionist aggression and the desecration of the first Qiblah of Islam, the noble sanctuary which Allah Himself has blessed, and for the last 37 years it has done nothing to liberate that sanctified land from the ever-expanding Zionist state. Nothing, that is, in concrete terms.
It is also to be noted that, in clear contradistinction to the propagators of this new brand of moderate Islam, there is no category of moderate Muslims in the Qurʾān . The Qurʾān only mentions three categories of people: the believers, the unbelievers, and the hypocrites. Further, it says, “O you who believe, do not take the disbelievers as your allies in preference to the believers; do you want to place before God a manifest proof of your guilt?” (4:144). And if this were not enough of a proof for the hypocrisy of these propagators of a made-in-America Islam, then one should open the Noble Book of Allah and read what the revealer of Islam has said about the killing of Muslims by the Muslims and pay heed to what awaits them before they send their troops to Iraq.
If there was anything new and unique in this year’s OIC gathering, it was the appearance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was supposed to remain on the sidelines but who made his way into the main session to assure us that Islam and terrorism are not linked; of course, that was the only thing left for us to discover in our religion because Putin is the ultimate authority on Islam. Never mind that, in return, the so-called representatives of the Muslim world willingly forgot about the terrible plight of their Chechnyan brethren in faith who face atrocities at a genocidal scale, atrocities that cannot be ignored by even secular organizations such as the Human Rights Commission.
So, the wheel turns and they plot and Allah plots, and indeed, Allah’s plot is the best, and in Him we trust.
Published in The News International, Pakistan, October 24, 2003