By Dr. Anis Ansari
The jasmine revolution, started with the sacrifice by one individual in Tunisia, has spread to most of the Arab World. Tunisia and Egypt have achieved their freedom from the tyranny of their dictators. The flame of revolution is now enveloping Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. In these countries peopleâ€™s yearning for freedom can be seen in their resolve to confront even the most brutal dictator. They are sacrificing countless lives to achieve this goal.
The question is, why are there so many dictators in the Arab World? Is Islam compatible with democracy? Examining history will provide us with the answer to these questions. What European called Dark Ages was the Golden Era of Islam from 700-1800. The Muslims produced the largest number of scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers and discoveries. The name of people like Al-Khawarizmi (Algebra), Al-Baruni (Mathematics and Astrology), Ibn-Sina or Avveros (Medicine) are well known to the west. Baghdad was the seat of modern scientific learning with the best libraries in the world. In fact translation of these books in Europe was partly responsible for the European Renaissance. The invasion and ravaging of Baghdad in 1258 by Genghis Khan drove Arabs back by at least 100 years.
Loss in World War I weakened the Ottoman Empire which had banded together the Islamic world and was the seat of the caliphate. This weakened state allowed Britain, Spanish, French and Dutch to colonize areas of North Africa, Middle East and Asia. After World War II, these countries lost their grip on power there, leading to independence of these countries. Unfortunately the liberators of this land slowly became dictators of their own people.
Rising persecution, high unemployment, poverty, corruption, increasing young population and increasing frustration with political leadership have lead to the Jasmin revolution. This people power has shaken up the leaders who are powerhouses in their own land.
Islam promotes democracy. Decision and election are done with mutual consultation. Leadership is based on quality not lineage. Unfortunately this kind of example is hard to find unless we go all the way to Malaysia or Indonesia.
People want freedom to choose their own destiny. They are tired of false promises, corruption, poverty and endless rulers without any democratic election.
They want elections to choose leaders who will serve their needs and try to solve societies problem not serve their own need and desire. People are paying dearly this freedom in many countries. The harder the victory the more people will realize that freedom is a priceless commodityâ€”they canâ€™t let it go.
Anis Ansari, M.D.