Rising Muslim Middle Class Vital in Combating Religious Extremism,
says Vali Nasr in New CFR Book
September 15, 2009
"The Middle East is a place of struggling and thriving economies, where new classes and business elites are elbowing their way higher in the power structures of many countries, changing religious, social and political life along the way," writes Vali Nasr, former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. It is time to look past Islamic "fundamentalism's hard-hitting rhetoric and the venom spewed by extremists" because change is coming to the Middle East through an upwardly-mobile middle class of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals and consumers, he asserts in his new book, Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World. Nasr reveals that it is this rising business class, and the thriving world of Islamic finance (banking and financial services compatible with sharia regulations) that are the emerging centers of power in the Middle East; they are instrumental to tipping the scales of power away from Islamic extremism, he argues.
Currently senior adviser to Richard C. Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nasr explains that the blending of Islamic values and economic vitality is an "important development in the Muslim world that should shape [the United States'] approach to building better relations with the region." He demonstrates that these devoutly Islamic, yet highly modern Muslims, of the "critical middle" (particularly in Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey) constitute the middle class the region has desperately needed. They are building a whole new "Muslim world economy"¯as demonstrated in the rapid growth of capitalist Dubai. Their distinctive blend of Islam and capitalism is crucial to bringing lasting reform to the region, says Nasr.
If the global values of "peace, security, democracy, freedom and human rights, moderation, and religious tolerance," have not yet taken hold in Muslim lands, concludes Nasr, it is not because of the "fundamental nature of Islam," but because the "commercial class that must spearhead the process of propagating [those values] is still too small." Helping this "critical middle" grow and come to "dominate their societies is the best way of making sure those global values will take deep root as Muslim values, paving the way to democracy."
Advance Praise for Forces of Fortune:
"A brilliant guide to the complex landscape of the Middle East...about the good news made not by governments but people. The rise of trade, capitalism, and merchant life is the most important trend at work there, one that could counter the pernicious force of religious extremism."
¯Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
"Vali Nasr's important new book helps us understand the positive power of commerce in the Muslim world. He shows how growing economies and a new business class will be more important than extremist ideologies in determining how the Middle East interacts with the world. This is a wonderful combination of historical analysis and insightful reporting."
¯Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Kissinger: A Biography
"Vali Nasr has spent a lifetime thinking, debating, and writing about some of the most complicated and difficult issues to broaden our understanding of the Islamic world, and once again he challenges old thinking and unexplored questions by zeroing in on the growth and potential of the Islamic middle class to transform an entire region and change attitudes. Vali understands the region's past, present, and future and masterfully articulates his argument through comprehensive research and vivid reporting¯a must read for policymakers seeking a better understanding of the correlation between economic status and extremism."
¯John F. Kerry, U.S. Senator, D-MA
"Vali Nasr's new paradigm about the rise of a new Muslim middle class will be embraced by a broad spectrum of experts: because it is a startling truth hiding in plain sight that Nasr brilliantly reveals and elaborates."
¯Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts and Imperial Grunts
"Forces of Fortune is an enormous contribution to the policy quandary over how to deal with the many faces of the Islamic world, from aspiring democrats to violent extremists. With his unique credentials and bold insights, Vali Nasr has written a landmark work at a pivotal time. It's a rich and exciting read."
¯Robin Wright, author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East
"Take American chips away from the endlessly hypocritical and fruitless diplomatic games and rhetoric, our weakest hand, and put the chips on our strength -- helping Middle Eastern and Muslim countries with economic growth. That's the way to ultimately defeat the terrorists, build the middle classes, loosen ties to Arab autocrats, and develop democracies. That's Vali Nasr's brilliant message. It's the only way to rescue U.S. foreign policy from disasters."
¯Leslie H. Gelb, former president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, author of Power Rules
To order, visit: www.cfr.org/forces_of_fortune
Vali Nasr is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University and a former adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a senior fellow of The Dubai Initiative run by Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is a senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nasr is also the author of the bestselling book The Shia Revival.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.
Voice of Moderate Muslims
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
Moderate Islam Speaker
August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916
Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.