Globalization — An Islamic Perspective

Globalization — An Islamic Perspective
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

In this talk Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri discusses the impact of globalization on society and offers counsel for Muslims to navigate this global phenomenon which has made the world a smaller place with the advancements in communications technology.

Initially, Shaykh Fadhlalla describes a world driven by corruption, corporate greed, and hegemony of financial institutions. Muslims are exposed to the dangers and control of these factors, but have not offered alternatives in their own lands.

The culprit, according to Shaykh Fadhlalla, is the democracy.

Democratic governments have allowed multinational corporations promising ease excessive control over society, leading to impoverishment of the inner or spiritual state. While material impoverishment is less likely, as democratic countries cater to the basic needs of their citizens, the inner poverty remains unaddressed.

The remedy, the Shaykh states, is Islam, with its gift of iman (faith and trust) to replenish the heart, or, spirit.

Iman is security; security in the knowledge that Allah is the Creator, Allah is the beginning and Allah is the end; and thus, Muslims have trust in Allah as the giver of energy in all His creation.

Allah says in the Quran: ‘I have created the Jinn and humanity to worship’, and the prophetic teaching is that Allah has created humanity to adore Him, which Shaykh Fadhlalla says is confirmation of the purpose of creation.

Once basic human needs of food, shelter and care for one’s family have been satisfied, “the only purpose you have [in life]” is the pursue the “ultimate purpose” which is to know Allah.

Shaykh Fadhlalla goes on to cite different examples of turmoil from around the world and how it impacts humanity.

One such example is that of Cuba, which has survived and, at times ,thrived in spite of the US multi-decade, economic embargo. The irony, described by Shaykh Fadhlalla, is that Americans travel to Cuba to obtain world class healthcare - in the tiny nation of Cuba - which comes at great cost in the United States due to the exploitation of big corporations. Such corporations have also exacted a toll on the environment with practices that led to the development of mad-cow disease, which caused death to humans and animals alike.

Turning to globalization, Shaykh Fadhlalla assess that is neither good nor bad.

Globalization is a human-made construct and it is in everyone’s heart because we all want to conquer the world. We all want to accumulate materialistically until such time we learn that we were created to know the Creator. Humanity must rise to divinity in order to achieve the high bar of the complete human who strives combine the worldly and the spiritual aspects.

Shaykh Fadhlalla says that our purpose as Muslims to understand our own vices (or the vices of the nafs such as selfishness, meanness) and have suffered from them, we will begin to turn towards the light, the divine light that is manifested in all of us in to form of the ruh or soul.

In summary, Shaykh Fadhlalla, takes the listener of this talk on a sweeping journey through history and several countries to illustrate what humanity has wrought, to explain our very nature to ourselves, and how to master ourselves and our destinies through iman.

Key Terms: globalization; society; democracy; turmoil; material love