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Sunday December 05, 2021

The void

July 15, 2021

The void I want to talk about is the global ideological void, which is assuming serious proportions. This is why the world seems adrift, searching for a new justification to exist. To be sure, this is not the only void, but is the cause of all the other smaller voids that follow: a political void, the systemic void, the education void, the cultural void, the spiritual void and, above all, the health void.

For the first time since World War II, we have entered a phase of ideological vacuum. Totalitarian Soviet communism having failed with the Soviet Union, colonialism and hegemony failing with the US scuttle from Afghanistan, its defeat in Iraq and frankly the whole of the Middle East, its bootless surge for military bases here there and everywhere and in the absence of any replacement, this void is opening up. I have not called it a chasm because I find void a much more powerful word because in a void there is hardly anything except for growling, shrieking and the gnashing of teeth.

There was an ideology which was at one time thriving and successful; it was then halted by rulers and clerics whose nexus ruined it. I am talking of the Islamic ideology. It has not failed. It has assumed various interpretations, two of which are being tried in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The original ideology has yet to be tried with its very different political system which I talked about in one of my last two or three articles, a different economic model, a different legal system and so forth. Sectarian-based ideologies have produced nothing from the point of view of empowering humanity.

It was exactly the same with what came to be known as capitalism. About 600 years ago, the overhang of the clergyman in the West was in fact a yoke. The time to rebel against it had come and when it was replaced with the concept of secularism, things started improving. Then we saw the industrial revolution, the education revolution and gradual progress in so many fields that it eventually led to an emancipation of sorts. So to cut a long story short, a modern-day Western ‘democratic’ liberalism gradually emerged, which today is a tired old ideology because it led to many things, the most harmful being this ‘freedom of expression’ excuse to reveal other people, their religious figures and their religions just as they did with communism. It led to violence and death and has had its free-for-all day and will soon be brought under restraint and common sense. Let’s see what happens.

Capitalism, first started by Adam Smith in his famous ‘Wealth of Nations', has morphed and taken multiple forms with stock exchanges and bourses, trade unions and their power, governments and their regulations and basically, a continuing battle between restraint and freedom. Frankly, freedom there has come to mean freedom to exploit, freedom to revile and freedom to steal. This ideological void has caused powerful Western nations to go by the name of ‘liberal’ to support many dictators in the Third World and not raise a single voice against the organized systemic exploitation of the poor countries known as the ‘South.’ It is one of the biggest crimes against humanity for it puts the majority of the world into want, poverty and open to blackmail. They use this blackmail to force Third World nations to do things that go against their grain.

So there is a global economic void with more being created. These voids are being filled with a new weapon called cyber attacks with which even a superpower can be brought to its knees as we saw recently with the stoppage of the colonial pipeline (odd name) until they paid ransom. Right now, those defending their frontiers have no answer to cyber attacks, which are even more potent than nuclear weapons.

It is worth thinking about how China successfully adjusted its ideology with the fall of the Soviet Union and created a new ideology of Communist Capitalism with Chinese characteristics. It worked beautifully, unleashed people’s native potential and has resulted in China being the number two country in the world. The father of this new ideology was Deng Xiaoping. Russia could not forge a new communist based ideology and has since descended into totalitarianism.

As to the Christian World, they took secularism too seriously so it is now a void of people who are increasingly seeking a spiritual home in these troubled times. Probably this is why you are finding the greatest number of conversions to Islam than any other religion.

I feel that the new ideology when it comes could eventually come from Islam but that will be a long time to go. It has to be a leader from the Third World or the Muslim World who gets the ball rolling in such a way that other people join in so that it can become a universal ideology. I think very few people are clear about what Islamic ideology ought to be in practice. I certainly am not which you can see from the confusion in this article. But let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best before it gets too late.

Ages ago, a Chinese emperor wrote a poem praising Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). That Emperor was Hongwu and it was a hundred-word eulogy. It is one of the most unique examples of the importance and the spread of Islam during the medieval ages. Emperor Hongwu was the founder of the Ming Dynasty in China and ruled from 1368-98. He rose to power after leading the force that ended the long standing Mongol led Yuan Dynasty that ruled China from 1279-1368. He claimed the ancient Yuan capital then known as Khanbaliq as his new capital. Today Khanbaliq is in Beijing. In English, the poem translates as:

"Since the creation of the universe

God had already appointed his great faith-preaching man,

From the West he was born,

And received the holy scripture

And book made of 30 parts

To guide all creations,

Master of all rulers,

Leader of the holy ones,

With support from the Heavens,

To protect his nation,

With five daily prayers,

Silently hoping for peace,

His heart directed towards Allah,

Giving power to the poor,

Saving them from calamity,

Seeing through the Unseen,

Pulling the souls and the spirits away from all wrongdoings,

Mercy to the world,

Traversing to the ancient,

Majestic path vanquished away all evil,

His religion Pure and True,

Muhammad,

The Noble High One."

I’ll have more to say on this subject in later articles.

The writer is a veteran journalist, political analyst and author.

Email: humayun.gauhar786@gmail.com