Muhammad Al-Fayyad Timehin, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana
Last month, Johannesburg was host to arguably one of the most memorable and talked-about BRICS summits. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa, and it was initiated in 2009 by the aforementioned countries with the goal of charting a new world economic order based on justice and equity.
The BRICS countries have expressed their desire to envision a new world order in which nations can freely trade using their own currencies without the need for USAID or any other currency. (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-66609633)
However, BRICS is primarily understood as an organisation that rivals the G7 countries, which are predominantly dominated by European states and the United States of America, on the world stage.
The highlight of the summit was the inclusion of six new countries into the coalition. This marks their first expansion in 13 years and includes Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Argentina. (www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/8/24/saudi-arabia-iran-to-join-brics-as-grouping-admits-six-new-members)
Dozens of nations in the global south have expressed their interest in joining the bloc as they seek a path to development in a world rife with injustice against them. Despite calls for a reform of the international financial institutions that do not reflect the current economic situation, there has been no significant change in the system. Clearly, the way forward involves an overhaul of the current financial institutions. According to the founders of BRICS, the organisation is also willing to mitigate the problems that countries in the global south face in the world today.
Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa has reiterated the same message that rich countries should help less privileged countries, as that is the panacea for global peace and the way to bridge the economic divide.
In 2016, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa delivered an address at York University in Toronto in which he stated:
“Leading on from this, the same principle of fulfilling trusts and oaths is something that the major powers and international institutions such as the United Nations must always prioritise. Weaker nations are often forced to rely on the support of more powerful and richer countries, and so the latter should seek to fulfil the trust that those less economically developed nations place in them. They should try to sincerely help them stand upon their own two feet and realise that it is in the world’s interest for weaker nations to develop and prosper.” (www.reviewofreligions.org/12839/justice-in-an-unjust-world-2/)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at the summit, said: “Today’s global governance structures reﬂect yesterday’s world,” he added, “For multilateral institutions to remain truly universal, they must reform to reﬂect today’s power and economic realities.” (www.reuters.com/world/brics-poised-invite-new-members-join-bloc-sources-2023-08-24/)
For a long time, BRICS has expressed its ambition to create a more inclusive and egalitarian monetary system, which would be a more viable option for third-world countries in their quest for development.
“BRICS countries can collectively shape global dynamics, and acting together, they have the potential to drive significant changes in the world economy and international relations”, said South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address to the South African people before the three-day summit. (www.thepresidency.gov.za/speeches/address-president-cyril-ramaphosa-south-africa%27s-foreign-policy)
“BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous,” Cyril Ramaphosa added at the summit. (https://www.reuters.com/world/brics-poised-invite-new-members-join-bloc-sources-2023-08-24/)
In 2014, with $50 billion (around €46 billion) in seed money, the BRICS nations launched the New Development Bank as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In addition, they created a liquidity mechanism called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to support members struggling with payments.
Islam has encouraged Muslims to help debtors reimburse their loans or even forgive them if they are unable to pay.
It was narrated that Hazrat Uthmanra heard the Holy Prophetsa say:
“A person who gave more time to a debtor who was in difficulty or waived a debt for one who had a lot of debts, Allah will shade them with His shade on the Day when there will be no shade but His.” (Musnad Ahmad, Musnad Uthman ibn Affan, Hadith 532)
In his recent address delivered at the 2023 Germany Jalsa, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said that contrary to the above standards, in today’s age, people act with deceit and falsehood and create disorder in terms of loans. Huzooraa added that this was the care the early Muslims paid in terms of helping those in debt; however, Huzooraa added, that it is the responsibility of the one in debt to pay off their loans. (www.alhakam.org/concluding-address-jalsa-germany-2023/)
Many critics have pointed out that divisions within the bloc itself might affect the decision-making process, and this was indeed the case, as the member countries seem to have distinct reasons for expansion, and they also prefer different candidates.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, in his address to the city of Glasgow reception on 7 March 2009, said: “Peace depends on justice, and economic progress depends on peace.” (www.alislam.org/articles/peace-depends-on-justice-and-economic-progress-depends-on-peace/)
It remains to be seen if the group will live up to their goals, but there is optimism, especially in the global south, that there will be a significant transformation in international economic relations. However, real change will only occur when these countries work collectively towards it. They must put their selfish interests aside and work for the good of the world.
The Holy Prophetsa taught Muslims to love for our brothers what we love for ourselves. This is the way society can flourish. To bring about positive change in the economic sector, a system founded on principles of equity and justice is needed. The summit will only be a success if all the parties are prepared to set aside their selfish interests and work together to pave the way for a better future.
During the 2021 annual peace symposium of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa succinctly pointed out to the high-profile attendees that peace can only be in the world if world leaders champion the path of justice and shun selfishness:
“In addition, the rhetoric of certain powerful world leaders has become increasingly nationalistic and belligerent, they have pledged to put the rights of their own citizens above all others. I do not dispute the fact that it is the responsibility of governments and leaders to look after their own people and to protect their interests. Certainly, as long as the leaders act with justice, and do not infringe upon the rights of others, attempts to better the lives of their citizens is a great virtue. However, policies that are based upon selfishness, greed, and a readiness to forfeit the rights of others are wrong and a means of sowing discord and division in the world”. (www.reviewofreligions.org/13931/leaving-a-legacy-for-future-generations-2/)