Instead of breaking into a litany of noble intents and declarations, which is a customary way of starting such a speech, we have deliberately chosen to go straight to facts and figures which bring into sharp relief the true dilemmas and challenges facing us. Our sole objective here is to set in motion a train of thought that helps us identify the root-causes of our malaise. We in the Muslim world need to look inwards, get into a mode of self-analysis, identify our strengths and weaknesses and chart a clear and well-defined course of action. First of all, we should be very clear about the kind of world that we live in today. The world of today is radically and profoundly different from the world of yesterday. We are living in an age of globalisation where no nation can afford to live in isolation. We have, therefore, to begin our quest for economic revival by identifying the challenges and opportunities that the current global environment presents.
The new world order is characterized by economic integration, technological advancement, predominance of knowledge economy, and diffusion of democratic ideas. Broadly speaking, this process has brought about three fundamental changes. Firstly, a new governance paradigm is emerging whereby the private sector is leading the process of economic growth and governments are assuming the role of policy-maker, facilitator, regulator and enabler. Secondly, supra- national institutions are laying the rules of the game and nation-states. are called upon to operate within that framework. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, buoyant expansion of global trade and capital flows as well as freer exchange of ideas and technology across the world provide vast opportunities for growth but at the same time pose serious challenges in terms of achieving better governance, higher efficiency and greater competitiveness.
This is the kind of global environment in which we in the Muslim world have to position ourselves in our pursuit of economic resurgence. The sooner we adjust to the ground realities of the new global order, the brighter our prospects of success would be. The way forward in this highly competitive and inter-dependent world is through improved governance and reform within individual Muslim states on the one hand and by exploring new avenues of mutual cooperation based on commonality of interest on the other. The second biggest challenge facing the Muslim world is on account of insecurity emanating from disunity and dissentions within our own ranks. Such conflicts and disputes are not only sapping our energies and resources but also undermining our prospects of meaningful cooperation. Within Muslim countries, vertical divisions by way of social inequities are nursing a sense of deprivation, while horizontal cleavages along ethnic, tribal and linguistic lines are a source of unrest. There is a need for unity within and amongst ourselves in order to move forward and harness our economic potential.
The growing divide between the Muslim world and the West, wrongly projected by some as a clash of civilizations, is another important challenge facing us. Public opinion in the western world is gripped by misperceptions about our faith. Meanwhile, Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and Kashmir continue to face insecurity, death and destruction. Such is the nature and magnitude of the challenges facing the Muslim world in recent times. The most important response required of us at this critical juncture is to project the true spirit of the Islamic faith and to remove the cobwebs of prejudice and misperceptions which hang around it. Islam as a way of life enshrines the values of moderation, tolerance, justice and interfaith harmony.
In conclusion, the Muslim world is faced with serious and multiple challenges. A lot of progress has been made in many areas but a lot more needs to be done. It requires clarity of thought, will to change, and determined and concerted action by all of us individually and collectively. It is a difficult and arduous journey. It is a constant and unrelenting struggle. The Muslim world, with its rich resources, vibrant energies and unflagging determination, will overcome these challenges and open new avenues of progress and prosperity not only for Muslims but for entire humanity. Islam promises universal peace, progress and prosperity and so should our endeavours aim at and contribute to make a better world for all mankind.