Islam is the second largest religion of the world and most of the 57 members of the Islamic countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) are abounding with natural resources such as oil, which is the lifeblood of modern economy. Yet, the Muslims are passing through hard times all over the globe. They are persecuted, humiliated and looked upon as terrorists and extremists. The factors behind this sorry state of affairs lie within the Ummah itself. The Muslims should be like one body but today they are divided in different into ethnic, linguistic and sectarian groups, eating into the very heart of Islamic solidarity.

There can be no two opinions that education is the key to success and progress. Here too, the Islamic world portrays a gloomy picture. Average literacy rate in all the 57 Islamic countries put together is around 40 %, whereas average literacy rate in the west is nearly 100%. There are around 500 universities in the entire Islamic world whereas in USA alone there are more than 5000 universities. There is no single Islamic country with a 100% literacy rate.

We had a great history with figure like Jabir bin Hayyan, Ibn-e-Sina (Avicena), Ibne-al-Haitham, Al-Razi, Ibn-e-Khaldun, who are still shining. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, our priorities have changed from knowledge and research to ease and luxury and now as the world is touching new horizons in science and technology while we languish behind. Our leaders are mostly corrupt, irresponsible and heir first priority is to stay in power and accumulate personal wealth. The OIC was established to provide leadership and common platform to the Muslims but it has been a huge disappointment. It has failed to live up to the expectations or to address the challenges faced by the Muslims today.

The need is to wake up and to educate our masses, to shun all extremism and to forge unity among our ranks. The world will respect us when we learn to respect ourselves, because God does not change the condition of any people until they themselves have the will and desire to change.

REHMAT ULLAH BETTANI,

D I Khan, March 19.