The main problems of the NGOs of the Islamic World and their solutions

The common references we take for our norms are the most obvious evidences that our hearts should beat together. Everybody now has the means of immediately getting information about anything happening in our world, which has become like a small city. Invisible things are decreasing rapidly in this visible universe. While this situation is fortunate for humankind in one respect, a disaster in another.

It is fortunate because auspicious and good deeds, events, messages and ideas become general and spread quickly all over the world. It is a disaster because our personal world, which we cannot improve in any way and the wretchedness of which makes us worry greatly, is under the threat of rapidly spreading contagious moral diseases. The smaller the world gets, the more our problems grow, and thus, the journey of humanity through this worldly life becomes increasingly more difficult.

Within this conjuncture, the Islamic World should not only perform and be involved in exemplary works and activities, but also present appropriate solutions to any kind of trouble and need of the whole humanity invoking its best means and merits. The people holding celestial prescriptions, which could be remedies to material and spiritual illnesses, ought to realize and appreciate what they have, and make efforts to build a system of healthy examples at both personal and social scale.

Time puts many duties and responsibilities on Muslims. We cannot abstain from the obligation that has been granted us as a divine bestowal. Those who believe in the Quran should have many realities to share with all the humanity, which is suffering from spiritual crisis, and economic, political, and social confusions. They should herald these realities to the world conscious through a strong voice of words and actions.

Human rights violations, all kinds of freedom and security problems, unjust income distribution causing  world hunger and poverty, anarchy of immorality, identity crisis, and many other problems alike, forbids humanity even the ephemeral worldly happiness as a prompt punishment for having forgotten its purpose of creation.

However, every human being also suffers from the sorrows of others:
•    Merciless destructions, unbelievable cruelties, and oppressions, spread apparently all over the world but mostly affect the Islamic World. We unfortunately do nothing but simply watching with sorrow.
•    Thousands of innocent people are scattered and ruined because of a single enemy.
•    The depressive despair of the defeated further blinds the right way.
•    The fearsome anxiety of the victors and their ghastly pangs of conscience arising from their failure to maintain supremacy and to repair the destruction they have caused enhance their brutality.

All these show evidently with all its ugliness to conscientious people how deceptive and cruel are those who are trying to sell their fantasies of civilization.

Those who believe in and abide by the Light of Muhammad, peace be upon him, who has become the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, and the ruler of spirits, should have many solutions to offer for the settlement of these issues, shouldn’t they?

The world is living through its end of times while being dominated by every kind of mischief, and thus needs more light than ever. So right at this point, it is high time that the zealous and diligent members of the Islamic World and their voluntary foundations, which orientate individuals and societies, established an elevated universal vision promptly and took to that end effective, serious, stable and global steps during. Time also necessitates the fulfillment of such a global mission.

Despite all these alarming facts, the present administrational structures persist in maintaining their local form, abstain from account-giving and facing the real-world dynamics because of their incapacity to do any job properly and transparently, and  strictly rule rejecting any kind of participation of the others. Such an administration concealed behind the depths of bigotry and prejudice cannot even embrace their own branches of the same culture with slightly different colors, leave alone the whole humanity!

Such ruling bodies intolerant of differences sacrifice their principal aims and ideals for the sake of simple and personal interests, become vulnerable to artificial manipulations, and fail to be effective due to being uncoordinated.

Those who are ignorant of their rooted culture and noble roots inevitably lack any successful experience since they do not act in accordance with any consistent principle and thus cannot develop the necessary self-trust to turn their ideas and aims into actions. It is an empty dream to expect of such people to produce remedial solutions and take useful steps for the future of the Islamic World.

In this regard, the residents of this region that has been subject to political, economic, socio-cultural oppression and degeneration policies along with the instabilities for the past hundred years should awaken the potential in their hearts to have their place in the caravan of civilizations and develop the conscience that they have a service they owe to the humanity.

There is only one way to attain this goal. In addition to the consolidation of the structures and the functions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are the engine power of the societies, civil initiatives should be equipped with the consciousness and the ability to implement an institutionalized, well-planned, and effective coordination. They should have positive pressures on the international and the domestic decision making mechanisms, and intervene effectively and immediately in any kind of decision that could go against their own norms.

It is evident that obtaining the desired result is relatively difficult, and requires many diligent helpers, and immense sacrifices and zealous efforts. As the sun does not rise before many stars disappear, we cannot expect the rise of the bright sun, which will enlighten and warm up the horizons of the crescent geography before making such sacrifices.

Now let us get immediately out of the vortex of the question, “How did we fall into this situation,” which we have asked ourselves a thousand times, and search for the roots of the changes that we need through acting from the question “How should we our present situation?”

Let us take up our issues by the world-precious values that we inherited from our glorious traditions, eliminate our prejudices in a courageous manner, and discover again our power that could change the color of the world if Allah wills.

MAIN REASONS FOR THE TROUBLES WE ARE IN

The most important issue of today’s Islamic World is that unity and fraternity, which compose the essence of Islam, are not at the desired level, and Islamic unity has not been able to be established. While some one and a half billion hearts should beat together for the same goal, and the people of more than fifty countries should act together to cope with the same problems by the same determination, the case is unfortunately to the contrary, as oppressive powers wish.
While the Holy Quran orders us, “And hold fast all together to the rope of Allah, and do not get divided!” and calls out from the pre-eternity, “Do not fall into disputes! Lest fear penetrates inside you and your wind (the power that makes you strong) diminishes,” we unfortunately observe that neither the hearts beat coherently nor the Islamic countries share common ambitions.

This institutional characteristic spreads to the individuals, or the unity cannot be realized by “the whole” since “the parts” do not have such kind of consciousness. Our vital weakness at both macro and micro levels is that we are far from sharing a spirit of unity and solidarity. It is indispensable that we work hard by all our endeavors and efforts, in all fields and at all levels in order to change this situation, which hurts the consciences.

Settlement of our global problems, increase in the number of NGOs that initiate and synchronize the dynamics of the society, their healthy functioning and becoming productive bodies, all depend on the change of this absurd situation.
This change is only possible by affecting and penetrating the essence. Otherwise, we cannot obtain a permanent, sound health and peace through temporary and superficial remedies. How can the members of a civilization, in the essence and the spirit of which lie innumerable merits such as unity, solidarity, altruism, and benevolence fall into such a situation?
We have to find out the real causes and their solutions of this situation altogether. In pursuit of this, we would like to share some titles to light the way.

We should not let the despair revive and dominate us

Despair, which is the enemy of any kind of perfection, success, and development, has dragged the Islamic World into a dark nightmare, and thus Muslims have lost their passion for establishing a future in accordance with their glorious past because of this unhealed disease.

Therefore, every wise and conscientious person has to accurately study and revive the Divine order, which has the meaning of “Despair not of the Mercy of Allah!” We must awaken this consciousness again and root it among us.

We should let truthfulness dominate our social and political life

In the era of the life-time of the great Prophet (pbuh), the distance between truthfulness and lying was as apart and distant from one another as belief is from unbelief, and even Hell is from Paradise. However, after that time, this distance has gradually diminished to such an extent that they have become shoulder to shoulder. As the same shop has begun to sell the noble truth and ugly falsehood side by side, social morality became corrupted. The propaganda of politics made lying widespread. Awesome ugliness of lying became concealed, and the bright beauty of truthfulness has disappeared.
However, truthfulness is the basis of Islam, as well as the essence of the elevated merits. As the same mouth utters the truth and the lie, and as the precious things are sold together with the bad ones at the same price, public service and politics in particular became a dangerous game of words.

In this environment wherein lying is easily resorted to, people cannot trust their leaders and the leaders cannot fully depend on the people. Unfortunately, Machiavelli can easily find many students in the Islamic world. Which success can we expect from a people who have lack of self-trust and who thinks that they are always betrayed?

Enmities should end

The number of people buried into the grave of the last century by the two world wars, tyrant leaders and regimes, and the terrorizing anarchists, is in fact much more than the total number of the victims murdered and massacred since the creation of humankind.

In the midst of the hassle of this Last Era, we have lost our feelings of affection as well as many of our other merits. However, the most worthy of affection is the affection itself, and the most worthy of enmity is the enmity itself. The Muslim nations are the nations of affection. Because of this fact, the tradition of non-profit foundations and civil aid institutions has been the gifts of Muslims to the world.

The motor force of the civil initiative is indeed this affection. For centuries, the global stability and prosperity has been sustained by the sincere love and affection exercised to please Allah alone, not by the love of petroleum which is concealed behind the huge regional projects based on single-sided benefits.

The responsibility of a believer towards another believer is to respect the senior, show mercy to the younger, and to show affection to and share the successes and troubles of the equal. Is the love not the essence of the characteristic referred to by the verse “All believers are brothers”? Unless such affection existed, would those limitless tear-bringing self-sacrifices be possible throughout the scenes of history? Are the NGOs not founded in the spirit of such affection?

High virtues like faith in One Creator and submission to All-Mighty Allah are the real merits deserving of affection and therefore they weigh as the Mountain of Uhud. Faults shown as excuses for enmity weigh only as much as little stones. As how mindless it is to deem those little stones heavier than the Mount of Uhud, it is as much heartless to envy another Muslim.

We have turned towards the west with an unreturned love, thus the sun of Islam began to set. However, our geography was receiving its light from the sun of Islam, and our crescent was rising. We were deceived; we erred. We wasted the love outside, the envy inside. Should we not stand up from such miserable state we had fallen in?

The Islamic world should embrace its counterparts with affection as one of its values that is rising again. It should defend against the power circles trying to agitate the Islamic world.

If our NGOs are disturbed by the regulations decided upon without our consent by international centers like UN and EU and enforced upon us, and if their goal is to cry out their love-loaded messages to the free world through the chairs of the UN, then they must establish the essential internal mechanisms, and utilize the international instruments by getting accredited by the international bodies.

Our slogan to the entire world is this: “We are the agents of love; we have no time for envy!”

The rope that tie the muslims together and the ignorance!

As many west-induced currents within the Islamic world, by the growth of negative nationalism among Muslims, many different ethnic groups became enemies of each other. The most important reason for such separatist movements to find ground among Muslims was the deterioration of the moral and luminous ties between the believers, and the lack of appreciation of the common values. Establishing the unity is only possible by removing this ignorance. In fact, our internal and external enemies took great advantage of this error of ours. They attempted every intrigue to keep the Islamic communities apart by dividing them with artificial borders and measures.

The most harmed by these intrigues are the Arabs and Turks, and recently the Kurds. Those disturbed by the unity and fraternity of Muslims wished to extinguish the affection that was unshaken for a thousand years among the true faithful brothers by many tricks and lies. They could not bear their relentless efforts to deserve the least compliment of the great Prophet sent as a mercy to the worlds and as the source of pride for all humanity.

They attempted every plot they could device to prevent the unity of the heroic Caucasian people who are Islam’s brave sons, of the Muslims of Turkistan, and of the Southern Asian Muslims who are Islam’s diligent sons.  They corrupted the Muslims using Satan’s declared strategy: “In that case I will sit in the middle of the straight paths to let them astray.  So I will get near them from their front, their back, their right and their left, and let it be an oath that You will not find most of them as thanks-givers!”

Yet the basis and the spirit of the nationality of the Muslim communities is Islam.  We are the guardians of a sacred castle on whose towers waving the flag of the writ “All believers are but brothers!”  With this understanding, all Muslim countries can become as if one country.  Why should we not have a Muslim country in the UN that has constant right to veto?  Why should we not play a determining role while world policies are being decided upon?  Deeming as impossible the revival of the brotherhood consciousness that will transform over fifty countries into one country and over one and half billion hearts into one heart is to deny the history we have lived.

If we want to do something in this sense, we have to raise our voice with powerful civil organizations.  We have to know each other, unite our efforts, and realize our power.  Hence, this meeting is so important, and that is why we are so excited.

The ages of the ignorance of the landlord, the obstinacy of the mister, the grudge of the sir, the revenge of the pasha, the imitation of the ‘His Excellencies’, and the chattering of the monsieur should end.  Muslims must bind with each other by the illuminating Quranic bonds, which are like undefeatable forces. They have to proclaim a mobility to present their spiritually rich heritage to the humanity.

We must act fairly when criticizing each other, not by grudge.  We must get out of the dream of curing the illnesses gnawing the communities by applying imported formulas blindly; instead, we must stick to the fresh truths of Islam and seek the ways of embracing Muslim nations of over one and a half billion by ignoring the worthless internal enmities.

Civil organizations against the oppression and despotism spreading like a contagious disease!

Oppression is a barrier to all perfection. Despotism is a barrier to anything beautiful.  Any despotic version –whether it is of a political power, or a class, or a committee, or a society, or a community– is the most dangerous enemy of any social progress, peace, and prosperity. The academic, religious, and ideological oppressions are the biggest barriers to scientific and cultural progresses.

Unfortunately, oppression is dominant in most Islamic countries. Yet, the oppression is a dangerous sickness that blunts the skills, diminishes the sincerity, incapacitates the people, and drowns the hearts into fear.

Oppression is the feature of weak governments lacking legal grounds. Eliminating the legality crises requires questioning the oppressive regimes by putting the best lancet on the wound. Illegally privileged governing classes do not have the right to waste the rich spiritual and material resources and the acquired experience of the Islamic countries by their selfish and arbitrary practices.  They cannot prevent the awakening of the high skills and superior characters. The members of such a rich culture, which gave the world civilization lessons in the past and opened the channels of free thinking to discover true humanity, cannot and should not fall down into a state wherein they import values and beg those nations whom they once helped.

NGOs must break these dark chains starting out with themselves.  They must adjust their structure to welcome participation and transparency, every idea and suggestion.  The diverse oppressions strangling the Muslim nations like a nightmare are the most important reasons that made Islamic countries fall behind spiritually and materially and fall into disputes. Such tyranny must be torn into peaces, and all legal freedoms like the freedom of expression, freedom of media, and freedom of organizing, must be established immediately on all social levels.  This job must be our most vital responsibility.

Islam accepts the lawful freedoms as a fundamental principle, but rejects all kinds of tyranny. It is unthinkable that the individuals of such a civilization that is built upon the belief that “He who becomes a servant to Allah cannot be servant to others” can digest any oppression.

The approach of Islamic civilization on this matter is different from the freedom concept of human-made systems, particularly liberal or neo-liberal movements, which limited the freedom concept to some uncontrollable, animal-like behavior spoiling the social order and peace and eventually leading to moral anarchy. To Muslims men are free, but still they are the servants of Allah alone.

To end the oppression, which is a huge barrier to any kind of development; NGOs should effectively participate in administrative decisions, support the media in establishing freedoms, prepare a ground for educated volunteers to grow, and influence the governments.

The zealous efforts should not be diverted to personal benefits

All humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims, of this era are the people of the great Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who said all his life starting the minute he was born, and will say on the day of resurrection, “My people, my people!” The horrible disaster facing the Muslims is their saying in this world “Myself! Myself!”  and devoting all their efforts to their personal benefits.  Therefore, they all loose when their merits of benevolence and altruism diminish, and cannot cope against the disasters befalling on them.

Yet the worth of a man is as much as his zeal.  If his zeal is for his people, then he is by himself one nation.  We must keep our zeal elevated along this direction.

Every man must think about the whole humanity since his character is civilized and not wild. He cannot stay in the wilderness and continue his personal life.

One of the most ımportant principles that the non-governmental organizations in the Islamic world should establish among themselves ıs mutual deliberation

Mutual deliberation is the most important key for the unification of Islam, which will come only after the unity of the non-governmental organizations. These organizations are many in number but often not aware of each other or not coordinated, even in the same country.

The members of the voluntary foundations in different countries should first get to know each other; then, develop foundations such as the TGTV that will embrace rich differences among themselves; discuss and consult on all the political, economical, social, and cultural issues that are of interest to them; sustain such deliberations through institutionalizing them; and start a process of collaboration and integration at the highest level in all fields.

As a result, both the lack of communication among the NGO’s in Islamic countries will cease, and the extravagancy of the resources will decrease by mutual collaboration and assistance. In the end, our voice will be stronger.

The approximate meaning of the verse “… their business among themselves is through consultation” orders us to consult each other as a principle.

Humankind’s accumulated expertise in science and technology came only as a result of the conjunction of ideas through the -intentional or unintentional- mutual deliberation among different eras and nations. Just in the same way, one of the biggest reasons for the largest continent Asia’s falling behind is the lack of such deliberation.

The talisman that will brighten the future of this continent, which is mostly covered by the Islamic countries, is the council. Mutual deliberation is a must for the world of Islam of almost one and a half billon population to be able to throw away the unnecessary burdens over her shoulders, to cure her illnesses, and to gain adequate strength and power after eliminating her weaknesses and disparities.

This mutual deliberation partially invoked by the regional treaties and by organizations like the Islamic Conference Organization is a promising step in principle but not adequate at all.

If a group of fanatics had not attempted to kidnap the Aqsa mosque in the August of 1969, the Islamic Conference Organization, which nowadays gives us at least some hope towards a unified Islam, would not have been established. However, we should feel this need of unity in the depths of our spirits. Indeed, such needs have been the driving forces behind civilizations, are they not?

The Islamic Conference Organization (ICO), which is the second largest organization in the world after the UN, has been founded upon the principles of mutual assistance among member nations, collaboration in the areas of political, economical, social, and cultural areas, and striving for the welfare and peace of all Muslims. We hope that, God willing, the ICO and other similar organizations to be established in the future will become more functional with the progress accomplished in the last 2004-Istanbul meeting of the foreign affairs ministers.

And we hope that NGO’s will attain the necessary legal, economical and structural capability that will enable them to built effective relationships on the national and international arena, especially with the UN and the ICO. In order to reach such an objective they have to institutionalize, develop a universal vision, and equip themselves with strong and professional personnel and adequate finance. Their number should increase, and they should reach some kind of unity among themselves through an effective and sustained consultation.

We have all witnessed many times that even the oppressive and cruel powers, which trespassed all limits, had to stop or slow down when they faced civil initiatives backed by the world conjuncture that is very sensitive to the reflexes shown in the name of civil liberties and organizations.

In today’s world, people use persuasive conveyance of their ideas as their most effective weapon to make others accept their views and to enforce upon others their own judgments, and use propaganda as their most powerful instrument to break resistance.

Even the strongest armies face difficulties in this information age unless they are supported by false propaganda and advertisement for which they spend all their means. In this context, we should be very careful towards marginal bodies functioning under the umbrella of an NGO carrying an ill intent and trying to sell snail in Muslim’s market.

We know that while two strong men are trying to beat each other, a weak child can beat both of them. When two mountains balance each other on a pair of scales, a small stone can break the balance and play with them, bringing one up and the other down. Thus, we should not forget that in today’s world each stone weighs in its own capacity and we should not underestimate any effort to achieve our goals.

It is said that even Pharaoh’s consultation with his deputies gave way to hundreds of magicians and thousands of people to attain faith in the end of the contest accordingly carried out. In comparison, what would be the result of deliberations done for the sake of Allah? Would not All-Watching Allah bestow His mercy upon such deliberation?

We should not regard mutual deliberation as a means to dictate our personal views, and every one should uphold its outcome even if it is against our personal views. Such deliberation helps attaining sincerity, perfection, and alliance, and thus attracts Allah’s mercy.

Our history is full of examples where individuals each alone having little power attained miraculous powers when they were allied with sincerity. Serious conformity such as brotherhood, unity in purpose and responsibility, division of duties, and coordination can only be achieved by a strong deliberation.

In a real and sincere alliance that is established according to the above criteria, each and every person, organization, and country, can see with the eyes of and hear with the ears of the other brothers, the other sister societies, and the other sister countries.

Just in the same way, each and every one of ten people who come together shoulder to shoulder in a real alliance gain spiritual value and power so that they can see with twenty eyes, think with ten minds, hear with twenty ears, and work with twenty hands.

History puts the honorable task upon all Islamic countries and all NGOs which are already or will be established in these countries that they should regard their differences as their wealth, and earn an extraordinary strength and might by establishing a real alliance in purpose and in principle through mutual deliberation.

Continuous channels for institutional communication and cooperation at all levels between NGOs should be prepared for the establishment of mutual deliberation serving the aforementioned purposes. Meetings, events, publications, and research studies that will enhance mutual deliberation should be supported. A union should be devised as soon as possible that is capable of promptly taking decisions and immediately implementing them, and influencing political decision-taking mechanisms.

EDUCATING VOLUNTEERS

The world of Islam has been waiting for the staff of volunteers that will sprinkle happiness to its depressed heart. The following holy saying belongs to the Prophet of our magnificent civilization:

“The most pleasing of mankind to Allah are those who are the most beneficial to mankind. The most pleasing of the acts to Allah is giving happiness to the hearts of Muslims, taking away a trouble of them, paying off a debt of them, or quenching their hunger. Walking together with a brother of mine for his need is more pleasing to me than isolating myself for a month to pray in this Medina mosque.”

Is this holy saying not a glad tiding and a holy invitation for those volunteers who are the most valuable assets in every volunteer organization?

A volunteer is a person who serves people possibly under the umbrella of a NGO or a nonprofit foundation using his career, experiences, abilities, and his limited resources for free, because of his high conscious responsibility towards people. He invests all of his effort for the sake of his nation without expecting any benefits for himself.

The changing world conditions have made the volunteer person the most valuable asset because it is very difficult to find people who will genuinely and sincerely spend their energy and time for the solution of mankind’s problems by remaining free of increasingly many and complex daily affairs. However, NGO’s and volunteer foundations have to be able to find new volunteers who can bring new opportunities and broaden the organization’s operational spectrum and vision, beyond what the organization’s founders can bear.

Right at this point, volunteering, finding more volunteers, rightly managing and motivating the existing ones, educating them to qualify to be a member of the leading team of the organization so that they can produce professional outcomes with an amateur spirit, and helping them learn at least one of the most spoken languages of the world are some of the most important and immediate aims of volunteer organizations.

The Islamic world has many great advantages at this point because the religion of Islam orders and encourages volunteer activities and gives us the understanding that none of the sacrifices we make goes without any return. However, the fuel that will burn the engine of enthusiasm, which in turn will transform this idea into actions, is the strong faith. The most important reason why today’s Muslims remaining so silent to this order and encouragement of Islam is due to the materialist and positivist movements that are fed by the sickness of disbelief which has been devastating the whole world in the past several decades.

Today, Islamic societies are increasingly becoming more worldly and more secularized, departing from faith in Allah and in the hereafter, and are therefore rapidly loosing their merits like self-sacrifice, people-oriented zeal, altruism, magnanimity, benevolence, and solidarity. We should regain our precious merits and faith, which are our inherent characteristics.

The transformation in NGOs we have been longing for to happen should start from the inner circles of our hearts and expand outwards. NGOs should first invest on the individuals who are the corner stones of themselves as well as of the society. To this end, they should establish adequate information and documentation centers.

With a vision tied to its roots and history, these organizations should embrace the new coming volunteers who are open to brainstorming and who are the locomotives and the catalysts of the organization. The attempts of change and betterment regarding this mainframe should not be let go fruitless.

We should not forget that we are always in need of such platforms as this meeting among the NGOs of the Islamic countries in order to exchange information.

CONCLUSION

Today’s societies are giving emergency SOS signals stronger than ever. It is time to shake off and awaken for the members of a culture that have been able to bring convincing and acceptable solutions to the most difficult questions of mankind that have been deemed unsolvable and unanswerable and that have made the minds busy throughout the history.

We all are the inheritors of the Islamic civilization that carried in the depths of hearts a spiritual conscious that gave meaning to the universe and all creatures, saved humankind from aimlessness and uselessness, and assigned them an elevated important role. We all are the children of the Islamic culture that has lived and made others live through magnificent progresses in the pages of history. Therefore, it is unthinkable that we stay indifferent to humankind’s problems.

The volunteer foundations that are the guides of Islamic societies should assume this sacred responsibility put on every believing man and woman by the Mercy of Allah. They should be reorganized or renewed according to the new requirements conditions of the time. Thus, they should carry out the warm and bright message of our inherited knowledge and civilization to whole humankind.

ALI KURT is the Deputy Secretary General and Turkey Representative of UNIW

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