MALAYSIA has done well in bringing the leaders of Muslim nations of the world to Kuala Lumpur to find ways to return the Islamic civilisation to the glory days when it ruled the world. Ambitious? Yes, very much so.
When nations drift as a result of rifts, compassionate others must coax and cajole them back to the fold. But smoothening the folds of national pride isn’t an easy thing to do. Understandably, Malaysia will look back to this Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 with pride for setting in motion a process of “healing”. If bringing the more than 50 national leaders together was difficult, to keep them together will be trickier.
For this to happen, the debates, dialogues, decisions and declarations must be turned into actions.
What issues afflict this divided world? Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who closed the four-day summit, offered three in his royal address: prosperity, planet and people. Like the wider world, the Muslim countries have a prosperity problem.
The latter make up a quarter of the world’s population but contribute only five per cent to the world’s gross domestic product. The Muslims, too, have the one per cent problem. Distribution of wealth could be better. As for the planet, there appears to be a disconnect between man and the Earth. A better stewardship of the Earth will surely help.
As for the people, as highlighted by Sultan Nazrin, the stateless can do with our help. The world has 26 million refugees, of whom 10 million are from Muslim-majority nations. Bombs and bullets have made them stateless. We quote: “Millions, including children, women and the elderly, face shocking abuse, suffering and deprivation.” And a royal question needs answering by the KL Summit: “How can we use the progress that we continue to make in the areas of development and national sovereignty to help the desperately needy beyond our own borders, to give homes to the homeless, and voices to the voiceless?” Muslim nations aren’t doing enough, he opines. We agree. There are more than 50 Muslim countries in the world, but only a familiar few are hosting them. Magnanimity has seen better days.
Heartbreaking stories there were aplenty. Consider three shared by Sultan Nazrin. First, a Syrian pang: we will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to go to Europe when Makkah and Muslim lands were closer to them. Second, another Syrian sorrow comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Abyssinian Christian King Negus, who famously sheltered Muslim refugees during their first Hijrah migration in the time of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). And finally a heartbreaking image of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish origin who drowned as he and his family attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea as refugees were fleeing to Europe. Did we abandon them? Regrettably, the answer has to be a “yes”. We may have left them stateless in a crowded world, when all they needed were “homes and hope”.