RECENT DEFEAT OF COMMUNISM AND ITS MEANING FOR MUSLIMSby
Dr. Ahmad Shafaat (1990)
As everybody knows, for the most part the present world is run by three systems:
capitalist /socialist democratic secularism,
totalitarianism, atheistic communism, and
In the last decade the first of these three systems has won big victories against the other two. All communist countries, which are already secularist, are facing strong pressures from within to move in the direction of western-style democratic capitalism or socialism or have already started to move in that direction.
Dictatorships have always faced pressures to move towards democracy, in the past decade at least three countries previously ruled by dictatorship--Argentina Philippines and Pakistan--have moved towards democracy, although the move is somewhat shaky and in Pakistan it may not completely be in the direction of secularist democracy.
It seems fairly certain that capitalist socialist democratic secularism will continue to make big gains for some time to come. By the end of this century it is likely to conquer most of the communist part of the world and in this way rule the entire northern part of the globe. The regimes in the southern part will also continue to come, one by one, under democracy, mostly secularist and capitalist/socialist democracy. Before the end of the first quarter of the next century, this system may well prevail over almost the entire world, including greater part of the Muslim world.
But never can there be any system, ideology or group in power without there being an opposition to it. Consequently, democratic capitalist/socialist secularism, even in its global victory and domination will face opposition. In the past it has faced strong opposition from communism. This opposition will continue, although in a different and much weakened form. The communist parties in the eastern bloc countries will continue to exist even after loosing power and will continue to exert opposition to capitalist democracy in various ways. It is possible even that communist parties in some western capitalist countries will grow stronger, as the wall between east and west is now breaking down, the influence usually travels in both direction, although influence in one direction may be greater than in the other. Democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism has also been opposed by groups within Christianity and this opposition can increase under certain circumstances such as a revival of traditional religious sentiments or a big deterioration in socio-economic conditions. But in the future neither Christianity nor communism can pose a real challenge to democracy, capitalist/socialist secularism; they will never be able to replace it at the global level.
The challenge to democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism can only come from ISLAM which contains the best of all the systems and has the potential to give to man both spiritual peace and material prosperity.
The world in the next few decades can be compared to a country in which one party is in power with opposition provided by a number of parties, one of which constitutes the main opposition. In the coming decades, the democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism will rule the world. Islam will provide the main opposition while communists, some Christians and other religious and ideological groups will serve as relatively minor "opposition parties".
And just as the main opposition party in a country sooner or later does usually come in power, so also Islam will sooner or later dislocate democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism from its global power and assume the leadership of the world. This in any case is something that Muslims believe, since the Qur'an says:
"He (i.e. God) it is who has sent His messenger (Muhammad) with the guidance and the religion of truth in order that He may cause it to prevail over all (false) religion" (9:33)
But before this victory comes, Muslims have to suffer through some hard times. The recent collapse or weakening of communist power in eastern block countries poses for Muslims both a danger and an opportunity.
The large number of Muslims in the communist world will be able to assert their Muslim identity with greater strength, if they choose to do so. This is the opportunity. The hazard is that it will now be easier for a powerful nation to attack a Muslim country.
The victory of Islam will in any case not be a military victory. The global and lasting victories are rarely military victories. Even the victory of democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism which we are presently witnessing is not a military one (although military build-up in the USA during the Reagan era may seem to do something with it ). Democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism is winning over totalitarian communism because it is the sounder of the two systems and therefore more beneficial for mankind. Similarly Islam will win over democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism because it is sounder and more beneficial for humanity.
"That which is of benefit to mankind abides on earth" (Qur'an 13:17).
If the global victory of Islam will not be a military one, what will be the instrument of that victory? The answer is, da'wah. Muslims will gradually learn what is the message of Islam and how to communicate it to the modern man and to win his heart and mind.
The establishment of Islamic states will be an important part of da'wah, since only through such states can it be demonstrated that Islam can lead man to the creation of better societies than can other systems.
Over the past few centuries Muslims have been very unsure of their role in the world. The time has come for us to abandon all hesitation and confidently assume once again our role in world affairs as leaders defined by God Almighty Himself:
"You (O Muslims) are the best community (Ummah) raised for mankind in that you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and you have faith in God..." (Qur'an 3:110).
First published in Al-Ummah, Montreal, Canada in 1990. Copyright © Dr. Ahmad Shafaat. The article may be reproduced for Da'wah purpose with proper references.