In recent years, globalization has become one of the most widely discussed subjects in the Islamic world, just as it has generally everywhere. Writings which discuss the subject of globalization concentrate on the positive and negative effects of this unstoppable phenomenon, and stress how Muslims should consider it.
Globalization can be studied from many points of view, particularly scientific, technological, communications, religious, and cultural ones, because globalization encapsulates all of these. There are very different aspects to globalization, such as the mutual influences of different cultures and languages, the growing power of some as they eliminate others, the gradual disappearance of all countries’ cultural identities, and its undesirable economic effectsé But the subject we shall be stressing in this article is globalization’s importance from the point of view of technology and communications.
With technological progress and the development of means of communication, the world has grown smaller, and the time factor in transport and communication has all but disappeared. Thanks to present-day satellite technology, Internet wireless communication, and television and radio, distances of thousands of miles between different countries are no longer of any importance. A single message can travel around the world in a matter of seconds.
This is a most positive development from the point of view of Islamic countries. The spread of thoughts and ideas in particular has gained enormous speed. It has now become a great deal easier to explain Islamic morality, for Muslims to communicate with one another, to enable a current event to reach all Islamic societies, and for a reaction or request to be expressed by large social groups. Muslim societies which used to live separated from one another, and out of contact, even in the same country, can now all act together, carry out studies with each other, and make their mark on important developments in the interests of Islam. For these reasons, this great speed conferred by superior technology is a great blessing for the faithful, and this blessing can be used in a much more powerful manner in order to spread Islamic morality.
This speed that communications allows has made it easier to announce the beauty, peace, tolerance, love and compassion of Islamic morality. A dialogue established in the framework of tolerance with different cultures and different religions will allow very many people to come to know Islam. Western societies today have prejudices against Islam, stemming entirely from ignorance or misinformation. The way to do away with these prejudices is to explain Islamic morality to everybody, by all possible means, in a correct, wise, and clear style. Such communication will clearly be the means for a spiritual rapprochement, and the abolition of misunderstandings.
It is also a fact that the new communications technologies, with the Internet at their head, are bringing Islamic societies from all over the world together. Developments such as this in recent years have played a major role in the Islamic awakening. Today, websites on the Internet bring involved people together from all corners of the world, and a great exchange of information is taking place.
Another advantage conferred by a technology such as the Internet is the formation of an environment in which people who hold all kinds of different ideas and views can express themselves freely. At last, many Muslim societies are able to overcome censorship and freely reveal the difficulties, pressure, and oppression they are suffering. Muslim minorities, living in countries that previously people never knew existed, and whose names they had never even heard, can now make their voices heard to the whole world in just a few minutes. Pictures and images of oppression of all kinds can now easily be set before the people of the world, from the death of a child in Palestine, to the bombing of a town in Chechnya.
As we have emphasized above, this unstoppable process of globalization also raises a number of question marks. At the head of the list is the negative effect it will have on the youth of increasingly decadent Western society. Today, the subject people concentrate on most in the face of globalization is this degeneracy and decadence that may arise. However, it is possible to avoid this danger with proper education. It is impossible for young people brought up with Islamic morality, who fear Allah, and possess conscience and pure faith, to undergo such degeneration, or to be affected by the negative aspects of Western culture. The Islamic morality and strong characters they possess will prevent such undesirable effects, and in fact, their superior virtues will actually enable them to act as examples to degenerate Western society.
In fact, we can see reflections of this even now. A huge return to religion is being experienced in Western societies, which are today far from having any moral and spiritual values and have lost their own religious identities. Concepts such as the tolerance, compassion, self-sacrifice, love, affection, and uprightness that Islamic morality brings with it will beyond all doubt have a great influence on non-Muslim societies, and will be a means by which Islamic morality can spread over the entire world.
Globalization heralds an age when different cultures and beliefs in the world can meet, engage in dialogue, and evaluate each other, recognizing no obstacles or frontiers. Hesitation over this can only be the reflex of cultures and beliefs which have no confidence in themselves. Whereas Islam is the last true religion sent down to man by God, and calls everybody to the true path. For this reason, far from hesitating over globalization, Muslims must see it as an opportunity for the truths of Islam to be spread all over the world, and for people to be freed from the limits of narrow-mindedness, errors, and prejudices, and come to understand Islam. And to make use of this opportunity, Muslims must demonstrate a culture that will show the truths of Islam to the entire world, and make people hunger for it. The Muslim world, with its ideas, morality, knowledge, art, and aesthetics, must be an example to the world.
In order to carry out this great duty, Muslims must wage a cultural offensive all over the world. We must not forget that in order to succeed, the first thing that must be done is to live a genuinely Islamic life, turn towards God who has honored us with Islam, and cling tightly to His book, as He has ordered us in the holy verse ‘Hold fast to the book.’ [Surah Maryam: 12]
Harun Yahya is a prominent Turkish intellectual.
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