Envisioning the Futures of Muslim Societies

When it comes to envisioning the future, we can discover many literatures that explores the facet such as the Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramu, Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku, Mind Set: Reset Your Thinking and See the Future by John Naisbitt, Future Shock, Third Wave and Revolutionary Wealth by Alvin Toffler, the Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria, the Future of Asian by Parag Khanna and Asia 2038: Ten Disruptions that Change Everything by Sohail Inayatullah and Lu Na. Nevertheless, most of these books are not related to envisioning the future of Muslim Societies.

There is relatively scarce literature on the future of Muslim Societies. Fuller (2003) in the Future of Political Islam asserts that religion has come to play a central role in politics, and the outcome of the struggle between extremists and liberals Muslims will determine the future of political Islam. Esposito (2013) on the other hand, provided another dimension of the future of Muslim Societies. He introduced a new generation of Muslim thinkers who preach toleration and pluralism and advocate women’s rights. The future of Islam will be much influenced by this new breed of scholars and thinkers.

Abul Hasan Ali al-Nadwi is one of the Muslim scholars who analysed the state of Muslim Societies and lamented the lack of the proper intellectual planning for envisioning the future (Abul Hasan, 2003). Nevertheless, the analysis was not justified by relevant data and evidence. Sardar, Serra, & Jordan (2019) in Muslim Societies in Postnormal Times: Foresights for Trends, Emerging Issues, and Scenarios offer an interesting evaluation on the future of Muslim Societies in Postnormal Times. They provided a detailed analysis of contemporary trends, thus identifying and exploring emerging issues. What is more important is that this book can be considered as a guide for the Muslims to navigate their preferred future. (Sardar, Serra, & Jordan 2019).

Covid-19 proves that the human element is a key pillar in dealing with the crisis and a prerequisite to create the preferred transformative future. Flam (2020) in his article Post-Virus Reopening is More About Ethics than Science concludes that ethics is the key determinant and pillar of fighting non-scientific and technological pandemics. Bellazzi, & Boyneburgk (2020). also highlight the same and emphasized the importance of exercising virtue ethics to deal with the practical concerns of life during the pandemic. The notion of bringing back ethics, virtues, and values to the mainstream is actually in line with UNESCO’s declaration of the four pillars of education namely learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.

The main question here is what is the form of society that can lead to progressive and dynamic Muslim communities? This triggers the call for all Muslim especially intellectuals and activists to create a new narrative of Muslim Societies. In this regard, the author intends to promote and rejuvenate the idea of Madani Society or Mujtama al-Madani as the ideal form of Muslim Societies in the post-pandemic world. Madani Society refers to a balanced and civilised society founded on moral and ethical values that are inclusive and universal. The discourse on Madani Society is relatively not new but was popular and well-received by the intellectual community in the 1990s. Anwar Ibrahim promoted the idea in the 1990s and considered it as a community that guarantees the balance between individual freedom and community stability (Ibrahim, 1996).

The preferred scenario of Muslim Societies can be achieved through the framework of Madani Society that promotes moral values, ethics, peace, and justice including equality before the law without discrimination. Madani Society challenges the narrative of Islamic state whereby it stresses the civility of the Muslim Societies which is democratic in nature. Tariq Ramadan in his book Islam and Arab Awakening also advocates the notion of replacing the concept of Islamic State with an idea of a Civil State guided by universal and inclusive ethics (Ramadan, 2012). The nature of Civil State corresponds with a spiritual, social, political, and economic dynamic and finally able to create a balanced and harmonious society namely Madani Society.

In the context of post pandemic world, the problems and crises of the Muslim world can only be overcome through ethical systems, human attitude and spiritual strength and not just technology. A society that adopts a value-based system where its community possess a good attitude and is not individualistic, will succeed. However, a society that continues to glorify the market system filled with people that are individualistic, selfish, and lack spiritual strength and ethic, will fail and meet with problems and even crisis. This opens up space for us where the human values, virtues, and ethics raised by Islam itself are now proven to be the main pillars of human survival, and not the reliance on scientific and technological advances. As Islam is a system of thought and action based on these normative ethics, values, and virtues, the futures of Muslim Societies will also be dependent on the extent of how we can internalize and embrace all these qualities.

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