Ismail Serageldin


There is a Tide

 21/10/1995 | 28th AAUG Annual Conference, Washington, D.C

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for giving me the occasion to say these few words. I will not use my time to deliver reams of statistics and technical discussions. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the World, must undertake a profound renaissance in the status of Muslim societies around the world. It must play a role in leading the renaissance of the Muslim World as we approach the third millennium of our common era. There is no substitute for such a renaissance… we must rally around a vision for the future not to be left behind as the powers of the world from the newly rising east to the established west compete for supremacy. Let us look at our conditions, let us recognize the needs for change… let us recognize the rising tide all around us…

For there is a tide out there ...

There is a tide ...

There is a tide of humanity,

a population growing and multiplying

in the remotest corners of this vast Muslim world,

Millions of young people demanding a right to a decent life,

a life without fear or despair,

a chance to break free of the misery of poverty...

That tide, that unstoppable tide of human ambition will not be denied...

And if it is, then it will be a tide of anger, of hate, of violence, that will engulf all before it and consume us all in its fiery embrace of rejected present and a foregone tomorrow.


There is a tide ..

A tide of suffering,

Of children malnourished, stunted, deprived,

haunt our television screens and our dreams..

In Somalia, in Sudan, ... Our brothers and sisters, our children, fellow human beings ..

Left to their fate...

While a new class of rich consumers discuss the prices of everything and the value of nothing...

There is a tide of pollution

from our cities and our factories

that destroys our rivers,

from the industrial waste in the Nile

to the human waste in the slums...

...A tide of destructive chemicals in the food we eat and

in the air we breathe...

There is a tide of ignorance and greed

that ravages the trees and destroys our heritage...

A tide of intolerance and obscurantism,

That wants to stop the march of time and freeze our minds

That teaches hatred and fear

But also...

There is a tide of new awareness...

There is a tide of

understanding of our interdependence,

not just among economies,

but among all people and even all living things...

A tide of awareness that the rights of all women and minorities and the weak and the poor are indivisible from our own...

There is a tide of awareness that the past practices of governance and the new specter of intolerance and bigotry cannot be accepted, for they will surely bring misery and wretchedness on our selves and our children..

There is a tide of awareness that we cannot let the world move into the dawn of a new tomorrow while we remain debating the glories of our yesterdays...

There is a tide of new technologies,

that can help us to grapple with the complex realities of our lives..

There is a tide of new possibilities...

We have the knowledge, the science, the expertise,

to be part of the scientific revolution that is accompanying the new millennium...

Knowledge that can cure disease and double harvests,

bring water to the deserts and create humane cities, where equity and justice can prevail.

There is a tide of possibilities that the genius of the Muslim people can unleash..

But that genius can only be unlocked by freedom and thrives on liberty, unbounded inquiry and tolerance.

Yes, there is a tide..

There is a vista of possibilities

where the scope of our achievements is bounded only by our imagination and constrained only by our determination to succeed.

Yes...there is a tide in the affairs of Men

which taken at the flood leads on to fortune ...

Fortune, not just in terms of more economic growth,

although that, too, can be accommodated...

Fortune, not in terms of accumulation of dollars in national or foreign bank accounts..

but fortune in terms of true well‑being.

Fortune in terms of quality of life.

Fortune in terms of the satisfaction of doing what is good.

Fortune in terms of a better understanding of ourselves and our neighbors.

Fortune in terms of leaving for our children,

and our children's children,

a better world.

Yes ...

There is a tide that leads on to fortune.

Omitted, all the voyage of their lives

is bound in shallows and in miseries ...

If we fail in bringing about this change in the way the Muslim people think about themselves and the world...

If we fail to persuade our colleagues in governments, the media, the universities, the streets of our cities and the fields of our countryside...

If we fail to convince the populations of the Muslim world,

If we fail to go beyond the exhortation to do good...

Then the poor among our nations will indeed suffer, the world will indeed be poorer and future generations will indeed suffer.

Then our future will indeed be bound in shallows and in miseries ..

On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures

The sea is indeed full, it is full of threats, and full of promise.

We have the opportunity not just to navigate this sea, but in fact to show the way towards a more responsible relationship with each other and with the world, to show how development can be indeed equitable and sustainable.

This is the vision of a new future for the Muslim World...

A true Renaissance...

A vision that is people‑centered and gender‑conscious. That seeks equity for all and empowerment of the weak and the vulnerable everywhere ‑ so that they may be the producers of their own welfare and bounty, not the recipients of charity or aid.

A vision that places short‑term actions within the long‑term framework.

A vision that is environmentally sustainable, that will leave the future generations as much if not more than what we found ourselves, that will husband the resources of this fragile planet just as we learn to use its bounty.

A vision where a people’s greatness is measured by the quality of the lives of their poorest citizens not by the size of their armies or the scale of their buildings..

A vision of a people, secure in their knowledge of themselves, and their openness to the “Other” in a free commerce of ideas and of knowledge...

Yes! We have the opportunity to change the way the Muslim people relate to each other and to the world around them.

We cannot afford to let this opportunity escape us ‑ either by commission or omission.

We must convince ourselves and convince the world at large

It can be done, it must be done, it will be done.

For there is a tide out there...

There is a tide in the Affairs of Men...

Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.

Omitted, all the voyage of their lives

is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat

and we must take the current when it serves

or lose our ventures.

Thank you.

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