ISESCO Director General lecturing at Baku State University on: ISESCO’s Contribution to Shaping the Future of the Muslim World
The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, today at the Baku State University, Republic of Azerbaijan, delivered a lecture on the theme “ISESCO’s Contribution to Shaping the Future of the Muslim World” in the presence of the University’s Rector, faculty, an elite of figures from the realm of academia, science and culture and students.
In the beginning of his lecture, Dr Altwaijri gave an overview of the world’s reality. He said: “today’s world is experiencing a critical stage which will usher into a new historical era where humanity will be facing tough challenges that will be difficult to cope with and to eventually overcome. On top of such challenges whose precursors are already bearing on modern societies is the anticipation of the future in a bid to lay the ground for a brighter era to emerge. This is a very complex process called “shaping the future” in futurological literature”.
He also said that those challenges and all associated difficulties originated in the disrupted balance of values, principles and the international law system, which had resulted in an atmosphere of uncertainty in international politics. He added that when such uncertainty permeated into the spheres of law and politics, it gave rise to multifaceted crises whose severity threatens the stability of societies and undermines world peace.
In addition, ISESCO Director General emphasized that working towards the educational, scientific, cultural and communicational development of the Muslim world as part of the pursuit of those goals required concerted efforts, tapping of the the full existing potentials and provision of the necessary resources. “To this end, ISESCO is heading forward with a crucially important strategic objective consisting in ensuring a better future for the Muslim world, which faces a multitude of political, economic, developmental and security challenges”, he added.
Also, ISESCO Director General indicated that the challenges faced by the Islamic world were compounded by others that were no lesser in gravity, such as the prevalence of sectarian conflicts, doctrinal fanaticism and religious strife tearing Muslims apart and that sectarian clashes that were no longer discreet or undeclared were on the increase, gravely jeopardizing the spiritual and cultural unity of the Muslim Ummah and constituting a hard core of tension and mistrust within Muslim societies. “This danger is besieging us all and we have time and again drawn attention to it and appealed to the wise of the Muslim Ummah to confront it with the necessary seriousness, sincerity and sense of responsibility”, Dr Altwaijri pointed out.
In the same vein, Dr Altwaijri explained how the conflicts and wars tearing to shreds the unity of the Muslim world and undermining its entity were mostly the fruit of a sectarian frenzy whose protagonist were planning to lay claim to the Muslim world from east to west and such schemes were doomed to failure.
Furthermore, ISESCO Director General said that the instability, wars, conflicts and chaos prevailing in many parts of the Muslim world were giving license to foreign powers to interfere in the internal affairs of some Muslim countries, and provide a gateway for their invasion of Muslim societies, controlling national policies and breaking the ranks of national unity in unstable countries in pursuit of their own interests. This, he stated, had placed the Muslim world in the position of a target in many plots that wreak havoc with its stability and jeopardize security and general economic and social conditions of Muslim populations, ultimately propelling the Muslim world back into regression or stalling its march towards the future.
By the same token, Dr Altwaijri said that the first step in building the desired future of the Muslim world was to eradicate illiteracy in all its forms, functional illiteracy, digital illiteracy and information illiteracy. He added that this also entailed developing and improving the quality of education by adopting modern and world class educational systems, starting with the training of teachers who believe in the vision of change, capable of leading the drive for change, mastering information technologies, resourceful, seasoned professionals who are capable of interacting with students and colleagues, knowledgeable about modern sciences and the culture of their societies and imperatively improving the financial standing of these teachers.
Dr Altwaijri said that this first step also required “modernizing curricula and renovating the schooling system, and by reforming and modernizing university education in terms of the knowledge, organizational and technological structures, taking into consideration the global context. This is referred to as the quadrilogy of educational development and aims to develop the university and promote its mission and role in supporting global sustainable development, support and develop scientific research, and encourage innovation and creativity in sciences and technology”.
Moreover, he said that the first step towards building the future of the Islamic world also required fighting corruption in general, be it political corruption, administrative corruption, or judiciary, and by reinforcing economic complementarity among countries of the Muslim world, expanding intra-Islamic trade, the exchange of professional technical, financial and administrative expertise, and spreading the culture of work, productive, scientific and critical thinking in all spheres, and competitiveness in productivity and creativity. Such, as he elaborated, was the path to integrate the information society which represents the gateway to comprehensive growth, economic prosperity, scientific advancement, creativity and innovation in all fields, in such a way as to enable the Muslim world to be active player in the development of knowledge.
By the same token, Dr Altwaijri stated that the Muslim world could not achieve stability and sally forth on the path of progress without first fighting the sectarian ideologies, doctrinal and ethnic radicalism, and conflicts raging on between Muslims. “In fact, when sectarian thought and doctrinal and ethnic fanaticism spread their tentacles and prevail, they carry within them the seeds of self-destruction and result in a general weakening of the Muslim entity, paralyze the movement of the Muslim world and prevent it from rising, advancing or progressing. To a large extent, all of this hinges upon the implementation of the OIC Charter on conflict resolution and on reinforcing Islamic solidarity in the face of foreign covetousness and designs”, he further said.
He showed how the tumultuous crises gripping the Muslim world today as a result of escalating conflicts and multiple disputes could not always be attributed to external factors and that most of that was in fact the fruit of internal oppression and the tyrannical mentality and abuse of an authority that should have been a national authority. However, he indicated, that did not obviate the fact that foreign hands played a role in one way or the other, in triggering fratricidal conflicts and wars between Muslims.
In the same context, ISESCO Director General cited the many hotspots that span the entire surface area of the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria and many others. More importantly, he mentioned the occupation of parts of the Muslim world such as Palestine where the occupying Israeli entity continues to persecute the Palestinian people; in addition to the Azerbaijani province of Nagorno-Karabakh being under a heinous Armenian occupation which defies all relevant international laws. In addition, he cited as examples the Spanish-occupied Moroccan cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the Malwiyya Islands; as well as East Turkestan in China known today as Xingiang Uyghur, and the terrible ordeals experienced by Muslims in Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Angola and Central Africa, who are subjected to persecution and genocide and deprived of their rights as citizens living in their one and only homeland.
“There are three clues to changing the conditions of the Muslim world through a wise Islamic approach, and using this approach as a starting point to draw an outline of the future. In addition to modernizing educational systems, developing the educational process and supporting scientific research in all the fields of knowledge, they also involve modernizing public lifestyles in general. Indeed, educational systems cannot be developed, nor can scientific research be boosted and encouraged and given a topmost priority status if general conditions in the Muslim and Arab countries remain as they are, in the grip of poverty, instability and vacillation between political and economic experiences and policies that have proven their inefficiency and pointlessness. Profound reforms are needed to restore the dignity of human free will, spread trust, revive hopes, diffuse the fires of anger and anxiety, disperse the clouds of fear and suspicion and banish any hesitations and reluctance to partake of the general issues preoccupying society”, Dr Altwaijri summed up.
Dr Altwaijri also said that in its eighth section dedicated to human rights and good governance, the Ten-year Programme of Action to Meet the Challenges Facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st Century, adopted in 2005 in Makkah al-Mukarramah by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit, calls on Member States to: “seriously endeavor to enlarge the scope of political participation, ensure equality, civil liberties and social justice and to promote transparency and accountability, and eliminate corruption in the OIC Member States.”
The Director General then underscored that the adoption of this programme of action embodies the commitment of Islamic countries to global reform of general conditions, in philosophy, practice and policy. “It also reflects their commitment to change, renewal and modernization in order to catch up with the march of advanced nations and embark on a new Islamic civilizational cycle”, he added.
In addition, Dr Altwaijri wondered how would conditions in the Muslim world have been had the recommendations of this extraordinary Islamic summit, held eight years ago and many other recommendations, decisions and strategies adopted within the framework of joint Islamic action, been implemented, or at least in their first stages of implementation.
In this connection, ISESCO Director General stated that the Muslim world was squandering one opportunity after the other, and it was high time such a negative streak was brought to an end in the lives of Muslims. He added that if most Islamic countries had the strong will, determination and capacity to carry into action all the decisions and recommendations of the many Islamic conferences, particularly Islamic Summit conferences, the sessions of the OIC Foreign Ministers Council and the sector-dedicated conferences organized by ISESCO, conditions in the Muslim world would have been so much improved in many aspects. “The Muslim world has numerous abundant resources and great geographical and demographic advantages to advance at all levels, free its willpower from the foreign pressures arising from greedy neo-colonial policies, and assert its position on the international scene”, he went on saying.
Moreover, Dr Altwaijri said that these weighty challenges facing the Muslim world today and for long eras before that could not annihilate hopes or weaken the will and desire to act and that rays of hope peeked at the horizon and positive signs could be perceived by those who ponder and scrutinize the situation at hand. “The Muslim world will rise from its stumble and will, by the grace of Allah, overcome all the challenges barring its way to progress and prosperity by consolidating Islamic solidarity, reinforcing unity within the respect of diversity and multiplicity, and within the national sovereignty of each OIC Member State, face up to external designs with well coordinated if not unified policies, and with strong positions that are inspired from the OIC Charter, the UN Charter and the rules of international law”, he maintained.
The Director General also stated that the evolution of the development notion has resulted in a nobler concept in content, broader in scope and deeper in significance. He added that this is known today as global sustainable development and is the most recent international concept adopted by the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. “Many international conferences were held in the last two decades to address global sustainable development, ISESCO taking part in some of these as the Islamic entity specialized in the development of education, sciences, culture and communication in the Muslim world”, he pointed out.
However, the Director General expressed his regret that due to the lack of a firm international resolve, only little has been done to implement these commitments made by the international community to support global sustainable development efforts around the world. He maintained that in terms of depth and political, economic, social and civilizational dimensions, these commitments are correlated and crosscut in one way or the other the fields of action of ISESCO.” Through them, ISESCO endeavors to develop Muslim societies, achieve a global educational, scientific and cultural sustainable development whose fruits would be reaped by the Muslim world in its battle to overcome the millennium challenges”, he went on.
Dr Altwaijri also highlighted that ISESCO was a key role-player in the international endeavors to create an international partnership for development of which the Muslim world would be an integral part with its diverse resources and tremendous capabilities. He added that ISESCO participated in the implementation of the Ten-year Programme of Action to Meet the Challenges Facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st Century within the scope of its fields of expertise and the limits of its resources, which makes the Organization involved at many levels in shaping the future of the Muslim world.
In this regard, Dr Altwaijri stated that ISESCO’s different points of focus, which are broken down into programmes and activities implemented within the framework of a good planning process and carefully considered projects and from a clear vision and a profound sense of responsibility, reflected the support that ISESCO extends to development efforts undertaken in the Muslim world to bring about a firmly-grounded renaissance of the Islamic Ummah.
“And as the magnitude of the task exceeds by far ISESCO’s capacities, and since the buildup of problems hindering the Islamic march of development is growing in the midst of the instability prevailing in most Muslim countries, the role of ISESCO is to contribute with practical reflection, realistic theorizing, future planning and general guidance through its successive action plans”, ISESCO Director General maintained. He added that through this process, ISESCO rose to the status of a prestigious house of expertise open onto far horizons in all aspects related to education, sciences, culture, communication, environment and childhood. He also said that the Organization shared its comprehensive and sagacious expertise with Islamic countries to build their capacities and improve the performance levels of national policies in these fields.
Dr Altwaijri also stated that based on the famous postulate of modern scientific practices, which considers the strategic planning of the future of the Muslim world as a solid pillar the action aimed at developing societies and individuals, ISESCO has placed the strategic planning for the development of the Muslim world among its priorities. “To this end, ISESCO has developed seventeen (17) strategies which, combined together, represent a global development strategy in its fields of action”, he further explained.
In addition, the Director General underlined that ISESCO is an integral part of the joint Islamic action system operating under the aegis of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the advancement of the Muslim world. “It is committed to assisting Member States in devising their national policies in the fields falling within its scope of action, implementing and developing these policies and guaranteeing their quality at all levels”, he added.
Furthermore, Dr Altwaijri stressed that ISESCO considered the Muslim world’s development to meet the millennium challenges as a civilizational mission and a collective responsibility that no party could shoulder without the support and participation of other parties dedicated to joint Islamic action. “It also considers that the major challenges, with emphasis on the attribute ‘major’, facing our Ummah in its present and future call for joining hands at all levels, mobilizing the Islamic societies’ dynamic powers to face these challenges with the necessary degree of wisdom, courage and strong Islamic solidarity”, he went on.
The Director General concluded that future of the Muslim Ummah was being created in the lecturing halls of universities and think-tanks, taking shape in innovative minds, edified by the determination of people who are accountable before Allah (SWT) then before their own conscience and their communities. “The future is also created on the arenas of constructive action, fruitful production and tireless dynamism, within a framework of good governance, social justice and respect for human rights that Islam guaranteed for all mankind, in an atmosphere of concord, tolerance and coexistence, and based on Islamic solidarity, the ultimate aim being to promote world peace”, he added.