Muslim world

Muslim-majority countries, states, districts, or towns

The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the unified Islamic community (Ummah), consisting of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam.

Quotes edit

  • Let’s turn to a favorite area for the enthusiasts of the culture hypothesis: the Middle East. Middle Eastern countries are primarily Islamic, and the non–oil producers among them are very poor, as we have already noted. Oil producers are richer, but this windfall of wealth has done little to create diversified modern economies in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Don’t these facts show convincingly that religion matters? Though plausible, this argument is not right, either. Yes, countries such as Syria and Egypt are poor, and their populations are primarily Muslim. But these countries also systemically differ in other ways that are far more important for prosperity. For one, they were all provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which heavily, and adversely, shaped the way they developed. After Ottoman rule collapsed, the Middle East was absorbed into the English and French colonial empires, which, again, stunted their possibilities. After independence, they followed much of the former colonial world by developing hierarchical, authoritarian political regimes with few of the political and economic institutions that, we will argue, are crucial for generating economic success. This development path was forged largely by the history of Ottoman and European rule. The relationship between the Islamic religion and poverty in the Middle East is largely spurious.
    • Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (2012)
  • I think there is a massive gulf in the understanding and knowledge between Muslims and non-Muslims — I mean particularly the West and the Islamic world. What we are talking about in reality is a strong minority of people committed to their own particular interpretation of Islam, who seek to impose it on others. I do not believe that the totality of the Islamic world recognizes the Taliban interpretation of the faith as being representative of its own view. There is no unanimity in Islam with regard to this interpretation. Generally you will see as much diversity in the Islam as you do in the Christian world today. But the West does not really understand the pluralism of the Islamic world.
  • If we judge from Islamic history, there is much to encourage us. For century after century, the Arabs, the Persians, the Turks and many other Islamic societies achieved powerful leadership roles in the world — not only politically and economically but also intellectually... The fundamental reason for the pre-eminence of Islamic civilizations lay neither in accidents of history nor in acts of war, but rather in their ability to discover new knowledge, to make it their own, and to build constructively upon it. They became the Knowledge Societies of their time.
    • Aga Khan IV‎‎, in an address to the 2006 Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan (2 December 2006).
  • If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilization owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure, which stems, I think, from the straight-jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history.
  • “What happened to us?” The question haunts us in the Arab and Muslim world. We repeat it like a mantra. You will hear it from Iran to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and in my own country of Lebanon. For us, the past is a different country, one that is not mired in the horrors of sectarian killings; a more vibrant place, without the crushing intolerance of religious zealots and seemingly endless, amorphous wars. Though the past had coups and wars too, they were contained in time and space, and the future still held much promise. “What happened to us?” The question may not occur to those too young to remember a different world, or whose parents did not tell them of a youth spent reciting poetry in Peshawar, debating Marxism late into the night in the bars of Beirut, or riding bicycles to picnic on the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad. The question may also surprise those in the West who assume that the extremism and the bloodletting of today were always the norm.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2016)
  • Islam has been one of the main targets in the Chinese government’s campaign against the Uyghurs, and Islamophobia is being tacitly encouraged by Communist party authorities. Students, peaceful academics and even ordinary people for the simple reason for being Muslims are being jailed, with a massive high-tech surveillance state that monitors and judges every movement, subjecting the widely marginalised Uyghur people to a brutal siege. Internment camps have been set up with up to a million prisoners being indoctrinated and ‘re-educated’, leading to empty neighbourhoods, with major mosques in the major cities of Kashgar and Urumqi standing deserted. Prisoners in the camps are also being compelled to renounce God and embrace the Chinese Communist Party doctrines and prayers, religious education, and the fasting in the month of Ramadan being increasingly restricted or banned. Those who disobey are reportedly subject to torture such as solitary confinement, deprivation of food, water and sleep, and even waterboarding. The reason that so many are being held is because most are arrested for no discernible reason, other than to curb religious practice and erase Uyghur culture.
  • Between Muhammad’s death and the collapse of the Umayyad caliphate in 750, Arab armies appeared everywhere from central Asia, through the Middle East and north Africa, throughout the Visigothic Iberian Peninsula, and even into southern France. They imposed Islamic governments and introduced new ways of living, trading, learning, thinking, building, and praying. The capital of the vast caliphate they established would be Damascus itself, crowned with its Great Mosque—one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture anywhere in the world. In Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock was built on top of the site of the old Jewish Second Temple—and its gleaming dome became an iconic landmark on that city’s famous skyline. Elsewhere, great new cities like Cairo, Kairouan (Tunisia), and Baghdad grew out of Arab military garrison towns, while other settlements like Merv (Turkmenistan), Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Lisbon, and Córdoba were renewed as major mercantile and trading cities. The caliphate established by the Arab conquests was more than just a new political federation. It was specifically and explicitly a faith empire—more so than the Roman Empire had ever been, even after Constantine’s conversion and Justinian’s reforms; even after a promulgation late in Heraclius’s reign that all Jews in Byzantium were to be forcibly converted to Christianity. Within this caliphate, an old languageArabic—and a new religion—Islam—were central to the identity of the conquerors and, as time went on, became ever more central to the lives of the conquered. The creation of a global dar al-Islam (abode, or house of Islam) in the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. would have profound consequences for the rest of the Middle Ages, and indeed for the world today. With the exception of Spain and Portugal (and, later, Sicily), almost every major territory that was captured by early medieval Islamic armies retained, and still retains today, an Islamic identity and culture. The spirit of scientific invention and intellectual inquiry that thrived in some of the larger and more cosmopolitan Islamic cities would come to play a key role in the Renaissance of the later Middle Ages.
    • Dan Jones, Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (2021).
  • Even the first of the European sailors to visit China in the early sixteenth century, although impressed by its size, population, and riches, might have observed that this was a country which had turned in on itself. That remark certainly could not then have been made of the Ottoman Empire, which was then in the middle stages of its expansion and, being nearer home, was correspondingly much more threatening to Christendom. Viewed from the larger historical and geographical perspective, in fact, it would be fair to claim that it was the Muslim states which formed the most rapidly expanding forces in world affairs during the sixteenth century. Not only were the Ottoman Turks pushing westward, but the Safavid dynasty in Persia was also enjoying a resurgence of power, prosperity, and high culture, especially in the reigns of Ismail I (1500–1524) and Abbas I (1587– 1629); a chain of strong Muslim khanates still controlled the ancient Silk Road via Kashgar and Turfan to China, not unlike the chain of West African Islamic states such as Bornu, Sokoto, and Timbuktu; the Hindu Empire in Java was overthrown by Muslim forces early in the sixteenth century; and the king of Kabul, Babur, entering India by the conqueror’s route from the northwest, established the Mogul Empire in 1526. Although this hold on India was shaky at first, it was successfully consolidated by Babur’s grandson Akbar (1556–1605), who carved out a northern Indian empire stretching from Baluchistan in the west to Bengal in the east. Throughout the seventeenth century, Akbar’s successors pushed farther south against the Hindu Marathas, just at the same time as the Dutch, British, and French were entering the Indian peninsula from the sea, and of course in a much less substantial form. To these secular signs of Muslim growth one must add the vast increase in numbers of the faithful in Africa and the Indies, against which the proselytization by Christian missions paled in comparison.
    • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 (1988)
  • The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding moral achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue; for, although the record of history would seem on the whole to show that race consciousness has been the exception and not the rule in the constant interbreeding of the human species, it is a fatality of the present situation that this consciousness is felt -and felt strongly- by the very peoples which, in the competition of the last four centuries between several Western powers, have won at least for the moment the lion’s share of the inheritance of the Earth.
  • This year’s slogan was “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi” (my body, my choice), and yet not only such simple, plain words fell deaf upon many ears,..Something as basic and benign as consent, and the right of anyone over their own body, was labelled and hailed in many quarters as a “western agenda” to unravel the fabrics of our Islamic society...The cries for equal treatment of women, protection against harassment, protection against rape, protection against any form or face of force, economic and physical security, religious freedom were drowned under criticism of people whose only skin in the game were their patriarchal beliefs which felt vulnerable....The episode unveiled the misogynist face of the society, where a female is discriminated against on the basis of her gender. Her body is everyone’s property except hers. Stigmatized, she is a reduced identity fit only for procreation, preservation of culture and continuity of social norms. The family honor rests in her “chaddar and char dewari”(veil and four walls of a house).

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