Absence of democracy is behind the lack of Arab inventiveness and the Arabs' attempts to excel other civilizations have been a failure, renowned Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al Qaradawi has said.
Qaradawi was delivering a lecture on Perspectives of Islam on Arab Society at Qatar University on Monday. Among the audience were 12 American boot-campers from the American University at Cairo.
When Arabs feel they have caught up with other civilizations, the others excel them, he said. "When we fly airplanes, they already have created rockets".
In his lecture, Qaradawi mainly addressed the problems facing Arab societies.
"I am against American politics, but I am not against the American society. We can benefit from the American society's educational systems, technologies, organization and more", he remarked.
At the same time, he said, "We need to moderate our own lives for ourselves and not have someone moderate it for us, we are free to think for ourselves."
Arabs are backward, as certain people label them, he said, and noted with amusement how the Arab countries are categorized as "developing" countries.
Qaradawi urged Arab societies to promote agriculture, noting that this was something Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) had encouraged Muslims to do. He said there was enough land in Sudan which, if cultivated properly, could feed the entire ummah (Muslim society).
"This is an ummah not sufficient in agriculture," he said. Islam was not the reason for this problem, he added. "Religion is not what held us back, but it is the misunderstanding of our religion."
Pointing out that Arabs import more than they export, he stressed on the importance of learning technologies from scratch and mastering them.
In this context he said the Arabs should pool their efforts instead of adopting an individual approach.
"Success will occur when we are able to work together, because mass production and mass corporations are in great competition for smaller businesses. We have to unit into one strong unit, so that we complement one another," he said.
Turning to the status of women, Qaradawi said women must study and become great leaders, teachers and scientists.
"We support and promote equality of opportunity for males and females. In Qatar, there is equality between men and women, especially in terms of benefits and pay, they are the same in the employment sector and equality is evident; it does not discriminate by gender".
"We are not missing anything, except for, well, power. The ummah needs to improve and it needs to set goals and know what the tools are; identify them to accomplish those goals," he said.
"The ones that are free are the ones that excel in their work," he said.
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