x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Islam faces challenges, writes former Indian envoy to the UAE

Talmiz Ahmed - a former Indian ambassador to the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia this week launched his book on the challenges of the Arab Spring, discussing the need to encourage political participation.

Talmiz Ahmed, the former Indian ambassador, said he had faith rulers were giving their people opportunities and would set the pace of change according to the requirements of each country. Delores Johnson / The National
Talmiz Ahmed, the former Indian ambassador, said he had faith rulers were giving their people opportunities and would set the pace of change according to the requirements of each country. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // The Arab world wants broader participation in a political system that offers opportunities for freedom of discourse and debate, a former India ambassador to the UAE says in a new book.

Former Indian ambassador to the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, Talmiz Ahmed, launched his book on the challenges of the Arab Spring this week at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

In The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions after the Arab Spring, Mr Ahmed talks about the continuing political issues in the Arab world and their likely repercussions.

“Islam now faces very serious challenges, like the nature of state, the place of sharia in legislation, the status of women and minorities and the nature of rights you give to your people,” Mr Ahmed said.

These are extraordinary challenges that come with a large degree of sensitivity, said Mr Ahmed, who regularly writes and lectures on political Islam, the politics of West Asia and energy security.

The former envoy said Indonesia is the first Muslim-majority country with a working democracy.

“It’s just the first step,” Mr Ahmed said.

“What we need is a true political system where you have free discourse, free debate and you are able to come up with an idea that conforms with the cultural ethos to which you belong.”

Mr Ahmed said he had faith in local and regional leadership.

“I believe that rulers are very enlightened and very aware of the aspirations of their people and giving them numerous opportunities, and they are capable of setting the pace of direction of change that will be conform with their own interest,” Mr Ahmed said.

He also said the pace of change will be dependent upon each nation’s political climate.

“The lesson I got from the major movements in world affairs is the inevitability of change and movements towards accommodation of people’s aspirations and giving them a role in the political order,” he said.

“But I think the future is right for this region as we live in this part of the beautiful world,” said Mr Ahmed, who spent three decades in the region as a diplomat.

The book’s focus is the Arab Spring and the West Asia-North Africa region. It also highlights the threats of Al Qaeda and its associated organisations.

Mr Ahmed has published two other books: Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates (2005) and Children of Abraham at War: The Clash of Messianic Militarisms (2010).

The launch was attended by the current Indian ambassador, TP Seetharam.

anwar@thenational.ae