5 Reasons to Praise the West

Do not adjust your screen or your glasses – you read it right. This article is by a Muslim praising the West. Much like the title image of a smiling Shakeel Ahmed Butt (referred to online as “Muslim Rage Boy”), I’m trying to show that we can break the stereotype.

One of the more pernicious symptoms of depression is losing the ability to recognise good in others. The gloom that is cast over the Muslim world at the present time demonstrates this perfectly. We are sore at “the West” and blame them (with some justification) for many of the ills that plague us.

A neutral observer would be forgiven for thinking that practising politically aware Muslims have only one default setting with regards to the West – hatred. This isn’t the case so I thought I would highlight 5 examples where the West has advanced human civilization in ways that Muslims can and do appreciate.

5.  Air travel

One of the miracles mentioned in the Quran was when the Queen of Sheba was transported to the court of Sulaiman (A) within the blink of an eye. Although we’re not quite there yet, thanks to the wonder of airplanes, you can pray Fajr in London and Zuhr in Makkah on the same day.

The advent of air travel has brought about profound changes not just in the way we travel, but also in our diet, clothing, education and work. It has made the world a smaller, and in many ways, a better place.

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4. Antibiotics

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In the not-so-distant past, there were many infections and diseases that were automatic death sentences for whoever got them. Thanks to the development of antibiotics, we’re able to take a few pills and get on with our day without skipping a beat.

The story of how antibiotics were developed and then mass-produced is one of the finest moments of the last 100 years. Even today, the many advances in modern medicine, as impressive as they are, still don’t compare to harnessing the power of a humble spore and the untold Millions who benefited from it.

3. The Internet

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There are very few inventions that have completely altered the course of human history like the wheel or electricity. The internet is one of those inventions. The accumulated wisdom (and nonsense) of the world is literally at our fingertips.

Some might point out the massive amount of harm that the internet can do. Like all advances, the internet can be used for evil as well as good. What it is used for is more a reflection of the user than that of the medium.

2. Space programme

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“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” With those words, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. Although the space race started off as a propaganda-military exercise, it has evolved and managed to give us some of the most breathtaking moments in the history of the human race. Muslim astronomers mapped the stars and were the masters of astronomy for centuries, but it was the West who built on this knowledge and actually went there. To open up the heavens to the reach of humanity and our minds to the wonders of space travel is an achievement that we should all be grateful for.

 

1. The rule of law

We like to say Islam is a religion of peace, when we should be saying that Islam is a religion of justice. It is the justice of Islam that appealed to the conquered nations in our golden years, not the force of arms. Yet, justice is a commodity that would be hard to find in the Muslim world at present. Bribery, corruption and nepotism are the norm. The routine injustice stifles creativity, it destroys self-worth and it leads to a warped attitude that is both shameful and degenerate. Then we come to the “immoral” West and we find that the rule of law exists. That we are all equal before it. We vote with our feet.

Bribery-Bad-SideOf course, there are notable exceptions where the law has been broken or bent beyond all recognition by rich/ powerful people and corporations with access to the best lawyers. However, these are the exception and not the rule.

I know the West has much to be ashamed of and that these few points don’t make up for the holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, Hiroshima and many more tragedies.

I also know that many of these things have their basis in extending the militaristic and colonial reach of the West.

I even know that much of the advances are built upon the foundations laid by others – not least of which were by the Muslim world.

But despite all the tragedies and shameful episodes, they have managed to do some amazing things to advance the cause of humanity. We should not allow the former obscure the latter. InshaAllah one day the Muslim world will be reunited upon Islam and able to contribute once more to human civilisation. Till then, the sunnah of Allah will remain true – He will not change the situation of a people till they change themselves.

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14 responses to “5 Reasons to Praise the West”

  1. Slim60 says:

    If the west recognises the contribution of the great muslim civilisation that led the foundation for their advance and the muslim world start recognising and be grateful to what the west has achieved by building on our laid foundation, the east and west will start to agree to agree and stop agreeing to disagree.
    Every time I drive my car I am grateful to the western brain who invented it. Same goes for using my mobile phone and my satnav. I think the mobile phone and satnav should be added to your list.
    I do blame the west however for some hypocrisy and double standards. The rule of law is promoted by western countries only for internal use. In African countries for example, the west is responsible for putting in place those dictators that are the opposite of the rule of law. They help them to oppress their people in order to take their natural resources and create poverty and the ills that go with it like illegal emigration, child exploitation, ..etc.
    The western civilisation is so selfish. It is responsible for the near eradication of the native Americans and now for trying to substitute one nation with another one in Palestine. Look what happened in Egypt when a democratically elected government won the elections. The fact that it was a muslim party, they helped the cout against it. They preach democracy, but they don’t want it in the muslim world. I could write a book about the double standards of the west.

    • jemimallah says:

      “the west” does recognize the muslim contribution to the knowledge base of humanity. it’s recognized in pretty much every history of science and every history of philosophy “the west” has ever published

    • jemimallah says:

      pretty strange how god’s universal code for all humanity for all time was left for about 1300 years to languish in monolingual obscurity, of interest only to orientalist academics, its outer boundaries ironically fixed in the second half of that period by the technological backwardness of its own societies, before suddenly a bunch of ignorant infidels invented airplanes and the internet, allowing that message to finally be carried without restrictions worldwide. just a wee bit strange

  2. Abu Abdillah says:

    The picture used as the background for this article speaks volumes about my experience as a convert: a Middle Easterner (yes, some extend the term to include the Indian subcontinent) is representative of all things Islamic and a white person all things western.

    • Interesting. I think that’s “Muslim Rage Boy” on the right though – perhaps the author was trying to give an example of the stereotype.

      Jazakallah Khairan for sharing your experience.

    • WAJiD says:

      Walaikum asalaam,

      I can assure you that I did not intend any kind of racial point by choosing that picture. In fact, it was chosen (as i explained in the article) because it showed the person known as “Muslim Rage Boy” on the internet in a way he is not normally seen… in a friendly light.

      I feel sad that your experience as a convert has been one where caucasians are cast in negative light. However, I would urge you not to overplay, generalise or project this view on to others. I can assure you that the vast majority of Muslims (despite your experience) do not stereotype according to skin colour.

      • Abu Abdillah says:

        I apologize if my comment seemed accusatory, I was more making an observation of the picture and what it represented to me than assuming it was chosen to make an deliberate point.

  3. snoozer says:

    Muslims living in the West will go to any lengths to justify their stay here despite the current day Western world being against everything Islam stands for. The situation for those born here and converts is totally different, this is basically their home. The immigrant Muslims are a different bunch though, they have voluntarily come to these lands. Don’t give me that lame spiel about Muslim countries not being Islamic either. It degrades Islam, that the people who follow Islam for generation upon generation are producing socities worse then the kafirs. There is nothing Islamic about the US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, etc.

  4. Muna says:

    Sorry to disagree with you Snoozer but my experience is that I am more able to practice my Islam in the UK than in many Muslim countries. That’s pretty good justification. Muslim countries that don’t follow Islam are more hypocritical to me than the west. for example, at least over here treating people differentlybecause of the colour of their skin is actually frowned upon rather than the standard. Absolutely no one is saying the West is ideal and perfect, but it’s also not 100% bad

    • Hyde says:

      America is the best place to be a Muslim.

    • fiqhonomics says:

      I agree with Muna 100%. I especially enjoy it when niqab activists proudly proclaim how it’s their choice: yes, because you’re living in a Western country! for the ladies in Afghanistan, Saudi, Yemen: not so much. Similarly, compare the rates of female literacy. Don’t Muslims get it?: illiterate mothers yield illiterate sons, too (even when the daughters are destined for a life in the kitchen). Two other things the West does better: animal rights and environmental awareness. There is a lot to Christo-Judaeo (Western) CULTURE that is more Islamic than what is the case in Muslim countries. After all, the monotheistic roots are there. When this is combined with the correct aqeedah: True Islamic Civilization

    • Husam says:

      Interesting list but I would say the West ought to praised most for its enlightened values (equality, freedom of speach, etc.) Sure, it’s not perfect and there’s work still to be done, but in no other place can a person be themselves and develop their potential, I think it’s for this reason so many flock from the Islamic world to western countries whereas few seek life in a country more in line with Shariah. To me this speeks volumes.

  5. snoozer says:

    The US and UK (and other nations) kill Muslims on a daily basis, that they give a few perceived rights blots out the big picture. The Muslims, especially those who immigrated to said countries are helping in the oppression and killing of these Muslims, because last time I checked Muslims had the right to vote. I’ve herd the lie excuse about Muslim countries not being very Islamic a million times, all this excuse does is disparage Islam. To think the religion hasn’t influenced the people after 1000+ years in some cases.

    About the Jude o – Christian argument, I guess gay mariage, alcohol, drugs, porn, cursing prophets and God is Judeo-Christian.

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