As 2023 begins, it is an opportune time to look back at the past year, which has given the Muslim world many fulfilling events, especially in politics, sports, and climate change. Let’s take a moment to reminisce about five prominent events in the Muslim world in 2022.
Türkiye’s mediation in the Ukraine war
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the global economy, leading to the deepest global recession since World War II. In 2021, while economies were on the road to recovery, the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, which began in the first quarter of 2022, put the world economy in jeopardy once again. The world is on the brink of stagflation owing to inflation and low growth across the world. Still, we do not know when this tough war will end. Amidst this uncertain time, the mediating role of Türkiye to find a common ground between Ukraine and Russia has been appreciated by world leaders.
Turkish peace efforts paid off with some notable results, such as the landmark grain deal and the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine. Thus, Türkiye has demonstrated its position as a subject and not an object of events, and emerged as one of the world’s most important peace actors.
Indonesia and the G-20 Summit
The Group of 20 (G-20) leaders summit is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and a focal point for systemic global issues that require not only economic policy coordination but also strategic vision and political action. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country by population, hosted the G-20 leaders summit in 2022 when the Russia-Ukraine war divided the G-20. Through the summit, the G-20 leaders reiterated their commitment to uphold international law and cooperate in safeguarding peace and stability.
This time, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping sat down for talks on the sidelines of the G-20, highlighting the need for dialogue as a means of easing geopolitical tensions. The two, holding their first in-person talks since Biden became president, met in Bali ahead of the summit that was set to be fraught with tension over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the first Asian leader, Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo not only visited Ukraine and Russia in June 2022 ahead of the G-20 summit but also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend the G-20. World leaders hailed it as an attempt to find a balance between increasingly divided political blocs.
Global health architecture, the digital transformation of the global economy, and the energy transition were the focus of the 2022 G-20 summit in Indonesia’s Bali. Indonesia has been hailed as representing the voices of developing nations and emerging economies outside the G-20.
Egypt and COP27
Egypt hosted the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), the biggest in-person gathering on climate change since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in November 2022. The COP27 summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian city on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, will be remembered as the Climate Implementation Summit (CIS) aimed at turning objectives into action. Although progress on the implementation program to rapidly reduce emissions has been limited, an agreement on a “loss and damage” fund aiming to help the most climate-vulnerable countries cope with the devastating impacts of global warming was a landmark achievement of the COP27 summit.
To deliver on the commitments made, COP27 emphasized scaling up the political will, and technical and financial support to drive the much-needed transformation toward net zero and climate-resilient pathways. The faith-based engagement was appreciated at COP27 as faiths can advance ethical and moral motivations to shift climate actions at all levels, including scaling up community-level climate finance and climate adaptation.
The Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf also released a book titled “Protecting the Environment Between Legislative and Human Responsibility” to shed light on how Shariah, or Islamic law, pays special attention to protecting the environment because anything that helps achieve the interests of the country and its people is at the core of Islam.
Anwar as Malaysian PM
After decades of struggle for the rule of law, globally respected and trusted popular Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was been appointed as the 10th premier of the nation following one of the most dramatic elections in Malaysia’s history. Many political scientists hailed Anwar’s rise as Malaysia’s best chance to reinvigorate the economy and reclaim the international spotlight.
The 75-year-old, who is well-read on Islam, economics, and international affairs, is highly regarded by the international community. A columnist at Arab News has termed Anwar’s rise as good news not only for Malaysia but for the Muslim world. In the 1990s, Anwar, as a competent finance minister and deputy prime minister, led Malaysia’s economy with significant growth and optimism
As a socially conscious Muslim, from the 1970s, he spearheaded an Islamic revival movement in Malaysia, called Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia). His party had social concerns and cares for the poor with a clear Islamic vision. Anwar favors social progress within the nation-state. Both the Islamic community and the wider world have praised his vision for Malaysia.
Qatar World Cup
Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup for the very first time as an Arab Muslim country and set a leading example to the world by preserving its values, traditions, culture, and Arab-Islamic identity while being open and welcoming to visitors from around the world. More than 1.4 million visited Qatar during the World Cup to witness the greatest show on earth. Since being awarded hosting rights in 2010, Qatar spent more than $200 billion on developing and improving infrastructure, including building seven new football stadiums, roads, highways, and bridges to easily connect the entire country. By successfully hosting the World Cup, Qatar has responded well to criticism from mainstream Western media over the past few years.
The bright side is that the 2022 FIFA World Cup united leaders of the region. For example, the world saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi shaking hands, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman wrapping a Qatari flag around himself and instructing the Saudi government to support Qatar’s World Cup hosting efforts. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also thanked Qatar for supporting the Palestinian cause through the World Cup. Qatar has promoted Islamic identity through the World Cup, such as banning alcohol at World Cup stadiums, preaching the messages of the Prophet Muhammad on the streets of Qatar, and reciting verses from the Quran in the opening ceremony that called for unity among nations while preserving diversity. Qatar has exemplified support for environmental protection and recycled 80% of waste from FIFA World Cup stadiums.
In the 2022 World Cup, six Muslim countries – Qatar, Tunisia, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran – qualified and put up some spectacular performances. Morocco, the Atlas Lions, reached the last four of the tournaments, the first African and Arab teams to do so. Saudi Arabia, the Green Falcons, shocked Argentina, the champion of the tournament, with a 2-1 victory. Tunisia also exited the World Cup with their heads held high by beating France, the runners-up of the tournament.
All in all, the year 2022 was a remarkable year largely remembered as the year of the revival of the Muslim fraternity and cooperation. As the Western world faces a global economic crisis caused by war-led high inflation and low growth, the hosting of such mega events throughout the year by Muslim countries raises hopes for a better year ahead. We hope that 2023 will be another year of cooperation among the Muslim world, learning from the strength of cooperation they have already shown in the past year.