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Is Ummah a fantasy?

The crisis in Gaza has provided an opportunity of unity in adversity. It is high time the OIC evolved into a formidable force to reckon with. As a first thing, it should demand to the powers-that-be, to end the siege, and to open the borders of Rafah in Egypt to allow food, water and medicines to the civilians of Gaza. Then the OIC should give a clarion call to allow the hospitals in Gaza to function by restoring fuel and electricity. A ceasefire needs to be worked out expeditiously and it is time the OIC played a key role to fulfil the aspirations of the Palestinians to establish a state of their own. It is time to prove that the concept of Ummah is real and not a fantasy.

By Syed Sultan Mohiddin
Shekhar Gupta, a senior journalist wrote an article “Nation bigger than 200-crore Ummah. Muslims don’t get it and that makes them powerless”. Its publication almost coincided with the Joint summit of the OIC and Arab League hosted by Saudi Arabia recently. Anyone can figure out the contents of his write-up just by reading the title.

According to him, despite possessing significant strength in number and resources, the 57 Muslim nations which constitute about 25 percent of the global population and which contribute 23 percent of the world’s GDP, the deep-rooted contradictions within the Muslim world have reduced their stature to a spent force!

He posed a few pertinent questions: Is there such a thing as the Islamic world? Does a faith transcend national boundaries or nationalist sentiment? If the Muslim world were a real, political, pan-national entity, which adds up to nearly 2 billion people, or one-fourth of the world’s population today, how come it fails to stand up to the influence of the Jews who account for only 16 million, or 0.2 percent in the globe? He concludes that the concept of Ummah is fantasy!

True to Shekhar Gupta’s averments, the Joint summit of the OIC and Arab League displayed disharmony over how to respond to the chaotic situation in Gaza. The coming together of 57 Muslim states on a common platform provided a wonderful opportunity to speak with one voice, which they missed. Even in the face of the ethnic cleansing unfolding in the Gaza Strip and when almost all the hospitals were being virtually shut there due to shortage of fuel and electricity, the Muslim leaders failed to arrive at a strong conclusion other than fiery speeches. Gossips also spread in the media that there was a debate on punitive steps against Israel but certain nations refused to sever ties with the Zionist state.

The final resolution of the Summit has rejected Israeli claims that it is acting in “self-defense” and it also demanded the UN Security Council to adopt “a decisive and binding resolution” to halt Israel’s aggression. It called for reforms in the UN Security Council. It also dismissed any future political resolution to the conflict that would keep Gaza separate from Israeli-occupied West Bank. However, the million-dollar question is, whether all these ‘demands’ would see the light of the day? Especially, at a time when the United States is hell-bent on siding with Israel and it has even vetoed the resolution in the United Nations to allow humanitarian aid to the civilians in Gaza? The emotional speech of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres – “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children” did not melt the heart of Joe Biden, let alone Benjamin Netanyahu. In such a scenario, will the tone and tenor of the Muslim leaders wield any effect on the U.S and Western nations?

There is no denying the fact that internal differences do exist among the 57 Muslim nations. The crisis in Gaza has provided an opportunity of unity in adversity. It is high time the OIC evolved into a formidable force to reckon with. As a first thing, it should demand to the powers-that-be, to end the siege, and to open the borders of Rafah in Egypt to allow food, water and medicines to the civilians of Gaza. Then the OIC should give a clarion call to allow the hospitals in Gaza to function by restoring fuel and electricity. A ceasefire needs to be worked out expeditiously and it is time the OIC played a key role to fulfil the aspirations of the Palestinians to establish a state of their own. It is time to prove that the concept of Ummah is real and not a fantasy.

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