In the geopolitical arena, where realpolitik and vested interests tend to trump principles, very few states have the courage to speak up for the wretched of the earth. And when someone does speak up there are consequences, ranging from angry rebuttals from the side usually guilty of abuses, to excommunication and severance of links. In the case of the recent communal violence in Delhi, very few major Muslim states have condemned the Indian state for standing by as the rabid Sangh Parivar mobs went about targeting the Indian capital`s Muslims. This country has condemned the BJP-led government for its silence and complicity in the violence; Iran and Turkey have also raised their voices. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a tweet condemned the `senseless thuggery` and `organised violence against Indian Muslims`. Expectedly, the Indians have reacted with wounded pride, summoning the Iranian envoy in New Delhi and lecturing him about interference in India`s `internal affairs`. Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also slammed the `massacres of Muslims by ... Hindus`.

While these voices are welcome, the collective voice of Muslims that the OIC is supposed to represent is largely ineffectual. Perhaps this is because some of the major Muslim states particularly the petrodollar-fuelled sheikhdoms that hold sway over the OIC prefer silence over taking a stand on matters of principle. Whether it is the recent violence in Delhi, India`s brutal campaign in occupied Kashmir, the horrific violence the Rohingya have been subjected to in Myanmar, or the never-ending nightmare of the Palestinians, the collective `Muslim voice` is conspicuous by its absence. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this, aside from the fear of losing trade and security ties with those that `matter`, is the fact that the Muslim world is itself a house divided.

Nowhere is this internal rift more evident than the battlefields of Yemen and Syria. In Yemen, there is no end in sight to the deadly campaign launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region and the West against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Though levels of violence are down, the stalemate continues in what the UN has termed the world`s biggest humanitarian disaster currently. In Syria, a troubling new confrontation is brewing between the government in Damascus and Turkey, which backs rebels opposed to Bashar al Assad`s regime. Fighting for control of Idlib one of the rebels`last major bastions has amplified the human catastrophe, and deadly skirmishes between Syrian and Turkish troops may well spiral into a wider regional conflagration. Clearly, statesmanship and vision are required from the Muslim world to sort out internal rifts, and speak up for Muslim communities persecuted in non-Muslim states.

A recent effort in Kuala Lumpur was scuttled by some Muslim `brothers` as they felt their leadership of the ummah was at stake. In such circumstances, how will the Muslim voice be heard?