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Islam Today

Written by: by Sayyid Abul Ala Al-Mawdudi :: (View All Articles by: Sayyid Abul Ala Al-Mawdudi)


This thought-provoking thesis by Abul A'la Maudoodi although very brief, speaks volumes. This is an example of the writer's supreme command over his powers of expression. He has squeezed full fourteen centuries of a people's religious, social political, martial and cultural history into about half a score of pages, covering all the phases of its rise and grandeur, stagnation and degeneration, .and the struggle for freedom and survival, with a running commentary of the forces that have been acting and reacting, the currents and cross-currents, foreign impediments and internal set-backs, and the future hopes and promises, of a nation that is spread over nearly one half of the globe.

The pages that follow give a very penetrating analysis of events and trends, thoughts and behavior, successes and failures, of the Ummah. The assessment of the factors responsible for a peoples' achievements and their decadence requires a rare discerning power, highly balanced approach, and a very high order of intellectual honesty and courage. And Maudoodi has a pen par excellence to do justice to the subject.

This brief recital encompasses everything that was worth taking notice of, and traces down all the forces that have been responsible for our decline, and enumerates future possibilities of our rise and the necessary conditions that assure the ultimate success. Never before our past, present and future was studied and analyzed in such a scientific manner. Never before the malady was pin-pointed so strikingly. This illuminating appraisal of our situation sends a ray of hope for all those who wish and endeavor for the revival of Islam. It is a beacon that glitters the way ands opens vast vistas for the future.

Abul A'la delivered this lecture in Karachi on December 10, 1963 under the auspices of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba before a gathering of intellectuals and students. The intellectual atmosphere on that memorable winter evening and Maududi's deep measured tones solving the riddles of history, thinning out the cobwebs of people's mind on this subject, and pointing out a clear road that leads to our avowed destination shall ever be cherished with fond remembrances. Everybody was engrossed in the theme. It stirred the souls of the audience, and such a rapt attention was seldom witnessed. When the speech was over it seemed it ended too early ! Everybody looked philosophical, pensive and in deep thoughts--detached and elevated, floating far above the clouds. It is difficult to forget those moments ! And in order to perpetuate the spiritual bliss experienced that evening we have endeavored to preserve the ideas of the: greatest Muslim thinker of our times in print.

We hope the message of the Islamic revolutionary wilt ever go on providing solace and warmth and stamina for the Millat, and will help steer forth its course in the light of the wisdom provided in these pages.

The future of the whole world of Islam will depend upon the attitude that the Muslims ultimately adopt towards Islam. If, unfortunately, the present hypocritical attitudes and anti-Islamic policies persist, I am afraid that the newly liberated Muslim nations will not be able to preserve their freedom for a long time, sooner or later, they must relapse into slavery and into a state even worse than their present condition.



The Nature of the Problem


I propose to share with you some of my own reflections on `Islam today'. Before proceeding to deal with the subject under discussion I should like to touch upon its significance and scope, define the matters that properly relate to it and indicate those which lie beyond its purview.

In its English connotation, that is in the sense in which the phrase is understood in the West, 'Islam Today' would mean practically the same thing as the Muslims of today. Most people in the West generally treat Islam and Muslims as synonymous and mutually interchangeable terms, often saying 'Islam' where they ought to say `Muslims', and vice versa. We must, therefore, be clear in our minds at the very outset that `Islam today' does not signify the present condition of the Muslims. Nor, indeed, could it mean Islam of the present age, for Islam is an eternal reality that does not change with the passage of time, and cannot therefore, be different in any age from what it was or will be at any other period of time. The fundamental truths upon which Islam is based are timeless and eternal. For instance, the fact that this Universe has Ore Creator and Master, with no one to share His Authority, was as true a billion years ago as it is today, and it will remain equally true a billion years hence. Similarly, it is an eternal and immutable truth that the only duty of every creature of God in this Universe is to worship and obey Him. Passage of time can have no effect on this cardinal truth. Reality is not relative to time or space : it is eternal and unalterable. As such, past and present and future, yesterday and today and tomorrow, are irrelevant concepts in relation to Islam-the embodiment of Divine truth.

We are, therefore, left with two possible meanings of the topic for the present discussion.

One : How are the Muslims behaving vis-à­¶is Islam today ? What is the attitude of the present-day Muslims towards Islam ? To what extent are their lives determined or influenced by Islam ?

Two : Is it possible for the present-day world to adopt and practice Islam ? If so, how ? Or, perhaps, a more radical interpretation of the subject for discussion would be : Is Islam practicable today?

It is in terms of these two questions respectively that I shall discuss the subject.

In dealing with the former question-that is, the attitude of the present-day Muslims towards Islam, their treatment of the Faith, and its influence on their lives-we must first glance at the past history of Islam. Our present condition has resulted from our state in the past, and our future will similarly emerge from our present and be influenced by it. Therefore, in order to study and analyze the present attitude of the Muslims towards Islam, we must know their attitude towards it in the past. We can thus trace the historical reasons for our present attitude and behavior, and also determine our possible attitude towards it in the future.

A historical survey from this point of view would show that the Muslims have passed through three major historical phases and that they are now living in the fourth phase.


The First Phase : The Ideal Period


In the first phase of our history, a single individual was chosen by God and appointed to reconstruct the life of mankind on the basis of faith in the unity of Godhead, belief in the life hereafter, and obedience to the teachings of the prophets. For thirteen long years that individual preached this message in Mecca, and he was more than a preacher: he was an embodiment of the type of individual that Islam sought to produce. By his behavior and conduct, his deeds and words, his treatment of others and' his attitude towards men, he showed what kind of character and moral excellence Islam sought to promote and how a believer in Islam should conduct himself in the rough and tumble of life. The Prophet of Islam was a perfect embodiment of the principles that he preached and the precepts that he enjoined.

The Prophet's message and his personal example noon began to influence people, and within a few years he was joined by a large number of persons. All these converts to Islam accepted the Prophet's teaching earnestly after having fully comprehended its meaning and significance; not one of them responded to his call without understanding it in all its ramifications. And since they had adopted Islam through conscious understanding, all of them molded their lives on the pattern enjoined by the Prophet. The life of each one of the converts to Islam in Mecca during the first thirteen years underwent the transformation and revolution that Islam seeks to bring about in the lives of all men. Not only this. They also actively struggled against all the forces, internal as well as external, that stood against the revolution. In the process they readily made the greatest conceivable sacrifices for the cause and happily suffered all imaginable hardships, for they treasured the new values of life above everything else and were not prepared to abandon them at any cost. What is more striking, they did not content themselves with their personal adoption of the Islamic creed and all that it stood for : they were also determined to. establish the Islamic way of life and ensure its supremacy in the world. And they staked their liven to ensure that they would never again be governed by any other way of life.

Within thirteen years the Prophet was able to gather around him a small but devoted group of courageous and selfless people; and then he migrated along with these people to Medina, where he set up in the first instance a small city-state. The area of that state did not exceed that of a small township of the present day, its population was merely six to seven thousand. But soon this tiny state became a challenge to the whole of Arabia. Its founder and chief-the Prophet of Islam-began to establish a new social order which was the very antithesis of the pre-Islamic social system of the Arabs. And within a few years he succeeded in setting up a model Islamic society and state. The social order was a perfect manifestation of the Islamic ideals of human civilization and culture, of morality and private ethics, of social justice and economic equity, of brotherhood and fraternity, of solidarity and cohesion. The teachings of Islam no longer remained mere theoretical expressions, they became a living reality in individual and social life. Now one could see with the eyes under one's brows what type of man Islam wants to produce and what type of society and economy it wants to establish and what blessings all this brings to human life.

Within eight brief years, this small State, covering a few square miles and embracing a few thousand souls came to dominate the whole of the Arabian peninsula extending over more than a million square miles. And it was not merely a political change : it brought about a total and radical transformation of the life of the community in all its aspects. Their view of life, their values, their morals, their mode of living, all underwent a revolutionary change. Both the spirit and form of their civilization and culture underwent a radical transformation which eventually changed the course of human history. The community as well as its individual members adopted a new mode of thinking, a new kind of conduct and behavior and a new aim and mission of life which they had never known during the several thousand years of their previous history. For centuries before the advent of Islam the Arabs had been split into countless political groups and factions, and their political life had been ,plagued by confusion; mutual hostility of tribal chieftains and blood wars. Islam made a clean sweep of this bloody confusion and established a unified and orderly political system. This was no mean achievement in itself; but Islam accomplished something much more difficult is bringing about an intellectual, moral and cultural revolution. It is indeed a pity that a biased historiography has misrepresented this great change as the outcome of a aeries of wars and expeditions, and many Western orientalists have all along been shouting from the housetops that Islam was spread by the sword. The truth is that the total number of persona killed on both sides in the wars fought during the days of the Prophet did not exceed one thousand and two hundred. Anyone with a grain of sense should find it easy to see that such a great revolution could not possibly have been wrought by the sword.


The Real Cause of Success


In fact the real reason for the success of that great and unique revolution was very different from what detractors of Islam have made it out to be. During the earlier years when the Prophet preached Islam in Mecca, only a small number of people could comprehend its meaning and significance. It was understood and appreciated only by those who were gifted with rare powers of intellect and comprehension, who could rise above the deep-rooted prejudices of the days of ignorance, who could recognize and accept the truth, who could follow it in practice and who possessed the moral courage to stake their lives for the sake of the ideals they had adopted. Later, with the Prophet's migration to Madinah,' the situation changed radically. With the help of a small group of devoted followers gifted with these qualities and imbued with this spirit, the Prophet succeeded in establishing an Islamic social order in Madinah. As the head of a free Islamic state be began to introduce and implement the entire Islamic scheme of reconstruction and reform and thus provided a concrete and striking manifestation of the moral, social and political ideals of the new Faith. People could now see for themselves the peace and order, the virtue and righteousness, the honesty and integrity, the equity and justice, the fraternity and equality, that an Islamic society could establish. They could see how it could resolve economic difficulties and problems and purify and ennoble the lives of men. No one, except those who refused to see, could shut his eyes to these glaring realities, which stood in such sharp contrast to the dismal state of affairs before the advent of Islam, when the hand of each was against all and society was reeking with all manner of corruption and immorality. Even those who had at one time pitted themselves against the Prophet and staked their lives in a bid to crush the new faith in the cradle began to see the light. Such stalwarts as Khalid bin Walid, Akrimah bin Abu Jehl and Amr bin Aas were converted to the new religion. Even people like Abu Sufyan and cannibalistic Hind ultimately recognized that Islam, which had brought about such radical and revolutionary changes, in Arab society, was the true religion. The Islamic social order that the Prophet had established was an irrefutable evidence of the inherent soundness of faith and doctrines upon which it was founded.

Thanks to this great revolution the Prophet succeeded in creating the new community with a new code of public morality and a new pattern of individual character. Their collective life was governed entirely by the principles and precepts of Islam. Their beliefs and thoughts were purely Islamic. Their religion was not vitiated by the worship of any deity other than Allah. Their individual and collective morality had been purged of the evils of the days of ignorance and caste in the mould of Islamic ethics. The civilization and culture of that society were perfectly in accord with the spirit of Islam, and the State was governed exclusively by the laws of Islam. The life of the community was completely devoted to the cause of Islam and every one of its members was prepared to die for the sake of his faith, for the ideals he now lived by. The community pledged to bear the standard of God and uphold His cause in the world. This became the collective ideal of the community. And it was generally believed that the very purpose of the establishment of the Islamic State was to enforce the principles of Islam in the territories under its sway and to strive to spread the Faith to other parts of the world. The propagation of Islam was the mission of the new community. The State it had succeeded in setting up was a living embodiment of the principles and ideals of Islam and was also the standard bearer of the Faith in the world.

The formation of the first Muslim community and the establishment of the first Islamic state were followed, during the period of the right-guided Caliphate, by a phenomenal expansion of Islam which may well be described as an explosion. Within the span of a few years the tide of Islamic expansion had overwhelmed a vast part of the globe extending from Turkistan and Afghanistan to Northern Africa. This wonderful phenomenon is bound to set any intelligent student of history thinking about its causes. It should be easy to see that it could not be attributed to physical power or material superiority. The people of Arabia were not endowed with any extraordinary physical or material strength, and their land lacked even ordinary natural resources. Indeed, with the exception of the recently discovered oil, Arabia is still miserably poor in resources. Its population, does not exceed ten million even now; during the rightly guided Caliphate it must have been merely a fraction of what it is today. The causes of the phenomenon must therefore be sought in factors other than material. It is obvious that the power that led Islam to triumph was the character and conduct of its votaries as reflected in the behavior of each one of them in peace and war, in the administration of conquered lands and in the treatment of the vanquished enemies. It lay in their unflinching faith and spot-

less character. When power was tempered with justice, authority imbued with virtue, and leadership crowned with morality, a new historic force was released -a force that conquered not merely lands but hearts and souls. This is how the miracle was accomplished.

The subjects of the Iranian and Roman Empires, which Islam over-ran and vanquished, could not ,have shut their eyes to the radical difference between the character and conduct of their old and new rulers. Under the old regime, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams the governors and other dignitaries of state living and moving about like ordinary mortals, always accessible even to the humblest of men, ever ready to hear the grievances of those in distress. When under the Islamic regime they saw such rulers, all, except those blinded by rank prejudice, were compelled to recognize the moral superiority of the new rulers and of their religion.

Like the governors and other administrators, the conquering armies of Islam showed exemplary behavior. As they would pass through a conquered city, thousands of women, attractively made up, would line up on the balconies to see

the soldiers' march past; and not one of them would raise his eyes to catch a glimpse of beauty on exhibition. Indeed, a whole army would sometimes march through a city with-

out becoming aware of the inviting presence of pretty women on the balconies. This was something that the peoples of these lands had never seen or heard : what they had seen and heard was that no woman's honor was safe at the hands of a conquering army. In the circumstances, it was but natural that the battalions of the new conquerors should win the hearts of the vanquished peoples.

Scrupulous regard for the honor of women was but one of the many unique features of the character and conduct of the new conquerors; strict honesty in financial and other dealings with the conquered was another. For instance, whenever, a Muslim army was forced by enemy pressure to withdraw from any part of a conquered territory, it would refund all the taxes collected from the people to meet the cost of administration, because it was no longer in a position to discharge the responsibilities of administration and of protecting their lives and properties. This was again a complete departure from the precedent set by the earlier conquerors and rulers, who, far from refunding collected levies, would rob and plunder as much as they could before evacuating an occupied territory. The peoples of those lands could not have expected any conqueror to be honest in political dealings or administrative matters; what they actually experienced now was saintly character and exemplary conduct in every aspect of life. It was virtue incarnate, and they couldn't but be overwhelmed by it.

This, then was the real power and strength which enabled the earlier Muslims to conquer a large part of the world. There is no doubt that they achieved much more through their excellent character and exemplary conduct than they did by the force of arms. Each one of them had embraced and adopted Islam on the basis of a full understanding and appreciation of the creed, and had molded his character and personality in harmony with the spirit of the Faith. Therefore, in all aspects of their lives and in all spheres of their conduct, they acted faithfully in accordance with the tenets and injunctions of Islam; no temptation could make them flinch or swerve from their path, no oppression could force them to budge an inch from their stand, nor could any power, however great and terror-striking, stand in their way. The people whom they conquered and ruled were not their political slaves but their admirers and their followers. They embraced the conquerors' religion, accepted their culture and even adopted their language. And down to the present day these conquered peoples regard their Muslim conquerors as their heroes and exemplars; on the other hand they are not willing to identify themselves with their non-Muslim fellow countrymen or ancestors. Could such a radical and total change in the lives and thoughts of men have possibly been brought about by the force of arms?

That was the first phase of the history of Islam. .This is sot the occasion to discuss the details of that stage of our history.* What needs to be emphasized in the context of the present discussion is the fact that Islam achieved such spectacular success in the first phase of its history because its votaries had consciously and earnestly accepted its principles and doctrines, which were fully reflected in the life and character of individuals and the conduct of the community and because a State determined to stake its all on establishing the rule of God on earth had come into being. These were the causes that gave Islam in the very first phase 01` its history a momentum that have survived for nearly fourteen hundred years and promises to last for ever. Even today, when the Muslims are in a state of cultural degeneration almost all over the world, they 'bear the imprint of the glorious fast stage of their history. However corrupt or degenerate a Muslim may be today, he still cherishes, in his heart of hearts, the ideal of Islamic society that was established by the Prophet and maintained and consolidated by the right-guided Caliphs. He can never completely forget that ideal - which continues to illumine the world. Every Muslim is still fascinated by that ideal and desires to see it realized once again. During the many long centuries since the end of the early Caliphate, Islam has been constantly spreading, and there is no part of the world where the light of the Faith has not reached. All this expansion and progress has been in spite of the .fact that there has been no dearth amongst the Muslims of tyrannical rulers, dissolute nobles or immoral commoners. We have long since ceased. to be an ideal nation that could serve as a source of inspiration to the rest of mankind. If Islam has been spreading in the world in spite of the sorry state of the Muslims, it is because they are still enamored of Islam in its pristine purity, as it was preached and practiced by the Prophet, his first four Caliphs and his Companions. It is that Islam which people still regard as the tree Faith and which they desire to follow. Moreover, the little virtue that one still finds in the character and conduct of Muslims is a faint reflection of the great qualities that their ancestors had developed during the earlier decades of Islam. The imprint of glorious the beginning of Islam upon the life of the community has no doubt faded a great deal with the passage of time, but it has not vanished, and its influence abides. Whatever dynamism, we find today in Islam is entirely due to the great movement that Islam generated during the initial years of its historic career.

The Second Phase : Kingship and its


Cultural Consequences

Let us now proceed to discuss the second phase of our history. This phase started with a rapid expansion of Islam over a vast part of the globe. The number of conversions to Islam during the period was so large and its speed so fast that their education and training became a serious problem and a difficult task. Despite the fact that persons

of exemplary conduct existed and they were indeed the embodiment of Islamic teachings and the charm of their personality, their moral excellence and their flawless character, deeds and behavior attracted everyone who came i& -contact with them to the extent that even the Quran is witness when it declares that the call was so irresistible that whole flocks of people were swept into it. But it was not physically possible to induce in these millions of converts the same radical transformation which the earlier Muslims had gone through. Consequently, the proportion of Muslims who fully understood the principled of Islam and faithfully followed them in life began to decline. On the other hand, there was a rapid increase in the proportion of Muslims who had earnestly embraced Islam but did not fully understand it and were therefore unable to mould their lives completely in conformity with the principles and precepts of the Faith. This state of affairs eventually brought about a political upheaval which swept away the institution of caliphate and established kingship.


Causes of the Success of Kingship

Different writers and thinkers have attributed the substitution of kingship for the Caliphate to various causes. To me it seems the change was due to the fact that the number of Muslims with a full and proper understanding of the principles of Islam had declined rapidly with the passage of` time; so had the proportion of Muslims whose character and conduct were in perfect conformity with the tenets and precepts of the Faith. On the other hand, the number of Muslims who did not properly understand the principles increased so enormously that it soon became impossible to save Muslim society from the harmful effects of their ignorance, deficient understanding and moral weaknesses. Consequently, the Caliphate gave way to kingship, and this phase of our history extended over several centuries. It is. not possible for me in the course of this brief address to discuss in detail all the influences at work during that period of our history and analyze various elements and factors. involved. 1 shall confine myself to a few major consequences of the change which have continued to be reflected in the: condition of Musalmans down to the present-day. In other words our "present" bears the influence of our "past".


Disruption of Leadership

The first and the most harmful result of the establishment of kingship was that the leadership of Muslim Millat split into two sections. During the days of the Prophet and the Right-guided Caliphs the leadership of the Muslim community was centered at one place. All affairs of life-spiritual, moral, intellectual, cultural, political or philosophical were held and directed by a common authority. The political affairs of the community, the dispensation of justice, the administration of the State, the conduct of war-all were being organized and directed from a common center. And the very persons who controlled all these varied activities, were also the spiritual, moral and intellectual leaders of the community. The entire leadership of the Ummah was centered at the place. But the advent of kingship resulted in a rift in this leadership : while political control remained in the hands of the rulers, in the spiritual, moral and intellectual spheres, leadership passed to the theologians, the jurists and the Sufis. The jurists became the religious, moral and spiritual leaders and guides of the Muslims, and the kings assumed the political leadership of the community. This bifurcation of leadership was inherently pernicious and was in any event bound to have disastrous consequences for the community. What made it worse was that, political power, following the logic of its nature, sought to extend itself beyond the political sphere and to control and direct the life of the community in all the fields-religious, moral, intellectual etc. The religious scholars, the jurists and the Sufis, for their part, were not prepared to tolerate any interference in ethical or religious matters that might be repugnant to the spirit or principles of Islam and tend to corrupt the religious or moral life of the people. This conflict between the political and religious leaderships resulted in mutual estrangement and hostility, which has continued down to the present day.

Kingship no doubt brought a host of evils in its wake, but even during that period, the Muslims did much better than other nations in corresponding portions of their history. Indeed the Muslims produced a larger number of good, God-tearing kings than did any other community. But, while one must give these virtuous kings all the praise that is due to them, there is little doubt that, on the whole, the natural and necessary consequences of the system of kingship were detrimental to the interests of Islam and the Muslims. One very harmful effect of the system was that the Muslim kingdoms shirked their duties as the upholders of the cause of Islam and confined themselves, more or less, to the conquest of new lands and the realization of tribute from the conquered peoples. Their failure ultimately resulted in conditions that have caused grave and lasting harm to Muslims in a large part of the world. For instance, take this sub continent. Many of you here must have migrated to Pakistan from territories which were under the sway of Muslims for a long as eight hundred years-for instance, Delhi and the surrounding areas, East Punjab, U.P. and the Deccan. If the Muslim rulers of these territories during the middle ages had done their duty to Islam, and taken it upon themselves to spread and propagate the Faith, you would not have been forced today to abandon your hearths and homes. To the limited extent that Islam did spread during the centuries of Muslim rule in India it was due to the efforts of the theologians and the sufis. The rulers not only made no contribution towards the spread of Islam, their behavior and conduct generally tended to thwart the expansion of the creed. By their .tyrannical rule and oppressive policies, by their bullying and high handedness, by the their dissolute living and otherwise immoral conduct, most of the kings and lesser potentates tended to alienate people from Islam rather than make the Faith popular; only a few of them could boast of character and conduct that would induce non-Muslims to join the ranks of Islam. These few exceptions no doubt deserve all praise, but it is obvious that, on the whole, kingship caused grave harm to the cause of Islam.


Lack of Proper Education

The spread and expansion of Islam in these parts of the world was due almost entirely to the example and endeavors of the ulema, the sufis and other men of virtue and character. Their efforts, however, had some very obvious limitations. They could at best influence people with their deeds and words, show them the right path and exhort them to follow it. They could not possibly ensure the proper education and training of the hundreds and thousands of people who were embracing Islam. This was the business of the rulers, who had little interest in the matter. If they had only cooperated with the preachers of Islam, and made suitable arrangement for the education of those whom the preachers were drawing into the fold of Islam by their voluntary efforts, things would have shaped quite differently. As it was, the endeavors of the preachers were assisted and sustained only by the philanthropists; who set up religious trusts and established schools. Obviously, this could not be an effective substitute for government action, without which it was not possible to liberate the converts from the shackles of ignorance and superstition and develop them into true Muslims.

The harmful effects of this grave deficiency in the education of Muslims during Muslim rule in India have persisted down to this day. The bulk of the Muslims of this country are still soaked in archaic superstition and shaked by rites. and customs inherited from their pre-Islamic past. Their knowledge of Islam is poor and defective and their life is vitiated by persisting influences 'of Hinduism and Buddhism and various other influences rooted in their un-Islamic past. In other words our past still dogs our steps and vitiates our present.


Growth of Parochial Pride and Prejudice

Another evil that developed amongst the Muslims during that period was the growth of racial, tribal and national pride and prejudice. The malady had its origin as far back as the Omayyad regime and grew rapidly thereafter; later,. it continued to erupt and spread from time to time like an epidemic, and destroyed various Muslim empires in different parts of the world. It was this deadly malady that brought about the ruin of the Omayyad Empire, vitiated the life of the Arab tribes, destroyed the Omayyads in Spain and ultimately caused the annihilation of the Muslims in that land. Nearer home, it was responsible for the destruction of the Mughal Empire and of the Muslim States in Deccan. God and his Prophet had urged the Muslims to unite through their common belief in the Islamic creed, and to be brethren unto one another. Unfortunately the Muslims generally tended to forget and ignore the injunction and to relapse into racial, ethnic and regional prejudices. This prejudice, which proved the bane of the Muslims everywhere in the world, is inherent in the system of kingship. During the period of kingship in the history of Islam, the kings themselves exploited to the full the racial and other prejudices, among their people. The Omayyads, for example, were challenged and ultimately destroyed by the Abbasids, who instigated the Persians against the Arabs with a view to promoting their own interests and replacing the Omayyad Kingship with their own.

Racial and national prejudices not only played havoc with the old Muslim empires, they are still corrupting and poisoning the life of the people of Pakistan. Not long ago, the Muslims of the sub-continent united in the name of Islam and rallying around its banner, achieved a singular triumph in the establishment of Pakistan. But no sooner had the victory been achieved than the old racial and ethnic prides and prejudices began to re-emerge and reassert themselves : we again began to think in terms of race and language and region, as Pathans or Punjabis, Bengalis or Sindhis. This, if the history of Islam is any guide, is an evil portent for the nation.



Another malady that had its origin during the period of kingship, and continued to spread thereafter was the erosion of the Muslim's loyalty to Islam and the Millat and its ultimate replacement by loyalty to the self and the clan or family. Islam had originally abolished all loyalties based upon race, language or nationality, and replaced them with a single, absolute loyalty-to God, His Prophet and the Faith. It was on the basis of this supreme loyalty that Islam sought to build the character of the individual. But during the period of kingship this loyalty soon began to weaken, and since it was the foundation of public morality and private character, its weakening naturally resulted in the growth of selfishness and self-promotion. In the absence of ideals and higher loyalties, people are not willing to make any sacrifices and everyone is interested merely in feathering his own nest or promoting the interests of his family or clan. This was what happened in Muslim society during the era of kingship. It became a mercenary society in which the services of mercenary soldiers or administrators were available to anyone and material comfort assumed paramount importance in the life of the individual as well as the community. The Muslims provided mercenary soldiers on a large scale for the armies of different non-Muslim and States principalities. For instance, the Mahrattas who were among the deadliest enemies of Islam in India, had a large number-of Muslims in their armed forces. Later, Muslims joined the British forces in larger numbers and helped the invaders to conquer the land. In fact, the British did not have to bring in a large army from overseas : they could find within the country both the soldiers that they needed to conquer it and the civil servants that they needed to run the administration. None of the local mercenaries seemed to ponder for a moment whom they .were conquering the land for, or whom they were administering it for. The reason was that the Muslims had ceased to have any loyalty higher than their loyalty to themselves or their families or clans-a loyalty which must in the final analysis turn human beings into soulless and heartless mercenaries.

In course of time, this pernicious process affected the entire Muslim world, ultimately destroying all the Muslim States from the Philippines to Morocco and paying the way for the Western domination. This domination was by no means an accidental development : it was the result of deep-rooted historical causes which I cannot discuss in detail here. I have only briefly indicated the causes that were responsible for our decline during the second phase of our history and led us into the third phase-in which nearly all

the Muslim States fell victims to Western imperialism. The few that did not pass directly under the sway of the West like Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan-were reduced to a state that was practically worse than slavery.


The Third Phase : Slavery and its Aftermath


Let us now pass on to the third phase and sec the condition that we passed through during that period. We need not discuss things in detail because that phase ended barely a score of years ago and it still well remembered.

In this sub-continent as well as in other Muslim countries the alien rulers subjected the people to all kinds of oppression and inequity. They destroyed the old Muslim empires, deprived the Muslims of their rich lands, took over their religious trusts and trifled with their lives, honor and property. But far more deadly for the Muslims than any of these inequities was the destruction of the old educational system and its replacement by a new system of education based upon entirely different moral values and cultural norms. Through this new intellectual instrument they sought to alienate the future generations of Muslims from their past and ensure that they would treat themselves with contempt, feel ashamed of their own history and traditions, disdain their own culture as out of date and retrogressive, and reject their own distinctive system of life as impracticable. On the positive side, the new education sought to inculcate in the future generations of Muslims the belief that all knowledge, culture and morality belonged to the West and that the ideal conception of humanity was that of the West.

This was indeed the worst of the countless crimes that the alien masters perpetrated upon the Muslims of this land. The old system of education had enabled us to maintain our links with our past and keep ourselves acquainted with our religion; it had served to keep the community anchored to its traditions and culture. The new system of education supplanted the old and made it practically worthless from the economic point of view. All Muslims who aspired for progress and success in life abandoned the old system of education and adopted its alien substitute. This great change in the educational system had deep and far-reaching effects on the life of the community : under the force of circumstances nearly all the effective elements in society-those that were relatively well off and were also intelligent and educated, ambitious and active, and endowed with the qualities of leadership-turned to the new system of education, which tended to alienate them from, and make them disdainful of, their own religion, culture and history.


Transfer of Leadership

With the introduction of the new system of education, the alien rulers restricted the avenues of progress to those educated under that system. This was a deliberate policy aimed at forcing the Muslims to abandon their children to the new system of education and allow it to alienate them from their religion and culture. All the Western powers pursued this policy on a large scale in all the Muslim countries that passed under their sway. A natural corollary of this policy was that the more a Muslim could alienate himself from his past and detach himself from his cultural moorings, the easier would he find it to rise to the higher positions in the administration. This policy was, of course, never reduced to a regular rule nor, indeed, was it necessary to make it a part of the administrative formulary. It was just followed as a unwritten rule calculated to bring into the highest positions in society and administration, Muslims who only owed a formal allegiance to Islam and were practically non-Muslims in their character, conduct and everyday life. Consequently, within a short period, such Muslims captured all the effective positions in the administration and in social and economic life that were open to members of the Muslim community.


Movements of Liberation

The study of Western literature and history stimulated the urge for political freedom in a large section of the young men educated under the new system, and sooner or later the urge Sowed into organized movements for liberation in all the Muslim Countries. Naturally enough the leadership of this movement passed into the hands of those who had been educated under the new system, who could understand, and make themselves understand, in the language of the rulers, and knew how to deal with the ruling nation. The logic of the situation demanded this kind of leadership and left no .alternative for the community. The products of the old religious schools were not fit to lead the Muslims at that juncture; the community therefore had to accept the leadership of the new educated class.

The new leaders of the community were by no means genuinely devoted to Islam, but nearly all of them appealed to the religious sentiments and susceptibilities of the Muslims, for that was the only way to secure their allegiance and support. In every country, the new leaders appealed to the Muslims in the Faith. They proclaimed that they were fighting a war between Islam and unbelief and called upon the Muslims to join them, to devote all their energies to the: struggle and, if necessary, lay down their lives to ensure the supremacy of Islam.

This trick was played upon the Muslims in every Muslim country. The latest instance in point is Algeria. I have, studied the Algerian situation at close quarters and discussed it personally with Algerian leaders in Egypt, and I am in no. doubt that, in Algeria as elsewhere in the Muslim world,. Islam was exploited to the full in the struggle for liberation.. Algerian leaders have confessed to me that unless they told their people that they were engaged in a war between Islam and Kufr (unbelief ), not a single soul would come forward to join the struggle. In short, it was in the name of Islam that the people were called, it was in the name of Islam that they responded to the call and rallied to the banner and it was from Islam that they derived the super-human courage to go through the ordeals to which they were daily subjected during the struggle for freedom.

Similarly, when the Greeks invaded Asia Minor after the First World War, Mustafa Kemal exploited Islam to the full. He would go into the rank and file of the armed forces with the Holy Book in his hand and warn them if they did not join him in the war against the Greeks, the Qur'an. would soon be eliminated from Turkey. It was this appeal in the name of Islam that aroused the Turks and induced them to measure swords with the Greeks in spite of the shortage of arms on the Turkish side and the overwhelming support and aid of the Western Allies on the Greek side. Fighting under the banner of Islam, the Turks eventually triumphed over the much more powerful aggressors and booted them out of Turkey.

It was practically the same story in every Muslim country struggling for freedom. The leaders were, on the whole, virtually ignorant of Islam and indifferent to it. They had no will to enforce the writ of Islam in the land, or even to mould their own lives in accordance with its principles. They had grown under a new civilization and culture and their values, tastes and inclinations had changed radically. But the common Muslim people were compelled to entrust their leadership to such elements, who in turn appealed to the religious sentiments of the Muslims and exploited then as best as they could. Where ever the Muslims have won a battle of national liberation, the appeal to Islam has played a decisive role in the outcome.

The Fourth Phase : After Freedom


We now pass on to the fourth phase of our history, during which almost all the Muslim leads liberated themselves from foreign political domination.


A New Tragedy

Unfortunately, however, political power and economic control have passed in all these countries into the hands of those who have little knowledge of their religion and less pride in their cultural traditions. Indeed, most of them treat all the traditions of the Muslim nation with contempt and think that the Muslims will be unable to make any progress in life and to achieve an honorable position in the comity of nations if they adopt the Islamic way of life and stick to Islamic principles and values. To them, the only road to redemption and progress lies through wholesale adoption of Western ideas, theories and values. This is indeed their considered opinion; and it could hardly be otherwise, for, their education and training was designed to produce precisely this kind of attitude and approach. The alien rulers deliberately fostered and strengthened such elements and pitched them in key positions in all departments of life. This happened morn or less in all the Muslim countries. The wars of liberation were fought in the name of Islam, but after the people had won the hard way, through untold sufferings and sacrifices, Islam was practically thrown overboard.

The latest instance in point is that of Algeria. After its Muslim population had succeeded in liberating its homeland through super-human sacrifices and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, the leaders suddenly proclaimed that Algeria would be a secular, socialist state. Turkey, Pakistan, Tunisia and Egypt have witnessed more or less similar phenomena during the past few decades, Take Tunisia, for instance. The Muslim bulk of its population were called to battle in the name of Islam, and it was for the sake of the Faith that they challenged French rule and ultimately overthrew it through a struggle in which they had to make very heavy sacrifices. But soon after the war had been won, President Bourguiba told the Muslims that their fasting in the month of Ramadan adversely affected production. Mr. Bourguiba thus tried to undermine the faith of the Muslims of Tunisia much in the same way as the Soviet Union. The contention that fasting hampers production is obviously aimed at abolishing the institution of fasting, for nearly all the relatively young and able bodied members of a community are engaged in production, and the old and the sick are anyhow exempted from fasting.

Much to the chagrin of the groups that wield power in the Muslim lands today, the truly religious elements have survived everywhere. They know the principles and doctrines of Islam and the injunctions of God and His Prophet. They know what Islamic culture and civilization really mean. Unfortunately, however, these people lack the education and training necessary for effective governance and efficient administration in the present conditions. These elements share the sentiments and aspirations of the common Muslims, who are confident that, if voted to power they will not seek to undermine Islam, and foist an un-Islamic way of life upon them. But on the other hand the people fear that these elements will not be able to lead the nation, run the affairs of state, take care of the administration, organize the dispensation of justice, manage the finances of the country and conduct its foreign relations. And the people have good reasons for their misgivings and fears about the religious elements' abilities and capacities in these spheres.


The Real Difficulty

The average Muslim is bewildered and stands miserably divided between his inherent loyalty to Islam and lack of confidence in the practical abilities of the elements that stand for the establishment of the Islamic way of life. It is true that the bulk of the people in any Muslim land have little knowledge of their religion, that they are morally weak and their conduct and habits are generally repugnant to the principles of Islam. Nevertheless, as I have pointed out earlier, the extraordinary force of the original Islamic movement is not yet completely spent, and the spark that survives is still capable of kindling the flame of an Islamic revival. For instance, you may ask even the most corrupt and depraved Muslim whether he regards drinking, adultery, gambling or bribery as permissible or proper for a Muslim. There can be no doubt about the answers, which will clearly prove that the values of the common Muslim have not changed at all in spite of his moral decline and degeneration. These values have gone into his blood and become a part of his very being. Or, ask an average Muslim what he thinks of a dance by a semi-nude woman: he will undoubtedly refuse to agree that it is in accord with the spirit of Islamic culture. The average Muslim is no doubt ignorant; he hardly understands the Qur'an and knows practically nothing of the Hadith. Nevertheless his thoughts and beliefs still reflect in some degree the moral notions and cultural concepts that have survived down the generations in the world of Islam. In spite of his ignorance and moral degeneration, the average Muslim still tends naturally to look at things in the light of his communal traditions and to form his opinions accordingly. Almost all Muslims all over the world have some basic notions about Islam and its values, which, however vague, are essentially correct. In Pakistan as well as in Turkey, in Iran as well as in Egypt and Algeria, Muslims believe more or less in the same common Islamic values. And it is not possible to persuade any large body of Muslims, anywhere in the world that the values of the modern West have anything in common with Islamic values.

Moreover, although the average Muslim may not have any considerable knowledge of Islam, there is no doubt that ho is enamored of it. Recent developments in the world of Islam have proved it beyond a shadow of doubt that Muslims can be aroused and inspired and induced to make sacrifices only in the name of Islam; no other call can appeal to them. A Muslim can lay down his life only if he is sure that he is doing it for the sake of Allah and will be rewarded for it with a place in heaven. A Muslim who is not inspired by this belief will not be persuaded to lay down his life and will indeed be the most cowardly of men.

Unfortunately, however, political leadership and state power has, in all the Muslim countries, passed into the hands of elements who, in opposition to the manifest sentiments and aspirations of the people, seek to set national life in a direction contrary to the Islamic way of life. If conditions are otherwise favorable, they seek to achieve their objective openly under the banner of secularism-as they did in Turkey under Mustafa Kemal. Elsewhere, they continue to pay lip service to Islam and try to foist Western values and culture upon the people in the name of Islam. But fortunately, it is not possible for them to mislead the bulk of the Muslims in any country. However ignorant or degenerate a Muslim people may be, they cannot be persuaded to accept any manifestly un-Islamic belief, idea or practice as Islamic.

In Turkey and the Soviet Union, attempts to de-Islamize the Muslims were accompanied by such violence and cruelty as we in this country would find it difficult even to imagine. In Turkey, for instance, thousands of people were killed only because they were not prepared to change their headgear. Since the Western hat introduced by the new rulers was not available within the country, condemned stocks were imported from Europe. Thus this great 'reform' was introduced at the point of the bayonet, and the rulers went so far as to impose martial law to enforce the desired change. But in spite of all this oppression, we find that the average Turk is as good a Muslim today as he ever was. This has established conclusively that the Turks cannot by any means be made to abjure Islam and accept any way of life repugnant to it.


The Present Struggle


The present struggle, more or less in all Muslim countries,, is that the people are not prepared to go along with the rulers in the direction in which they are trying to take them; and the rulers are not prepared to lead the people in the direction in which they desire to move. This has resulted in a perpetual conflict in all the Muslim countries of the world. And this is `Islam Today'.

In all the Muslim countries, we witness organized attempts to de-Islamize the people. Education has been designed as to eliminate Islamic values, vitiate the morals of the new generation and alienate it from its culture and traditions. Attempts are also being made to promote amongst the masses new cultural values that are bound to corrupt their morals. Western thought and disciplines are being introduced and encouraged. All that these policies and efforts can achieve is to reduce the Muslims to a characterless people; they cannot, even at their best, succeed in persuading the Muslims to give up Islam and deliberately accept a secular state.

The miserably slow peace of progress in the Muslim countries shows how heavily they have had to pay for the perpetual conflict resulting from their rulers' attempts to foist alien values upon them. None of the Muslim countries have been able to make any remarkable progress in any sphere. Turkey, for instance, has been a free state since 1924, but can it boast of any great progress in industry or trade ? During the same period, Japan has made amazing progress in practically all fields of life and now stands amongst the moat advanced nations of the world. Obviously the reason for Turkey's failure to progress lies in the internal conflict to which she has been subjected by her secularist rulers. The people in power have striven all along to de-Islamize the people whereas the people have been keenly desirous of a return to Islam. The story has been repeated, more or less, in the other Muslim countries that have achieved freedom during recent decades. It should be clear to us that no nation can become really strong or achieve any great progress in any field if it is involved in a perpetual conflict between the conscience of the people and the policies of the rulers. Even if such a nation is compelled to tolerate its rulers, it can not be expected to give them its wholehearted cooperation; and the people's non-cooperation and resentment might become a source of danger to the state itself. A nation can develop and progress only when there is complete harmony between the conscience of the people and the policies of the government. It is only for such ideals, principles and policies as accord with their own sentiments and aspirations that a people can be expected to stake their all.

In trying to set up and maintain more or less secular system of society and government, the rulers of various Muslim countries are motivated solely by self-interest. They know fully well what the people want. They know it from more or .less direct experience that their people fought and won the battle of freedom in the name of Islam. They are also fully conscious of their people's deep and abiding association with Islam and all that it stands for. But, on the other hand, the rulers have acquired a vested interest in the perpetuation of the Western way of life. They have accepted Western culture themselves and made their children's future dependent upon the continuance of the Western way of life. Self-interest, therefore, prevents them from following the Islamic way of life. They are determined to retain power in their hands and are not prepared to adopt the Islamic way of life; therefore, they are trying to de-Islamize the people. This is the logic of their policies.

This, in short, is 'Islam today'. I shall now try to outline briefly what `Islam tomorrow' ought to be.


About the Future


The future of the whole world of Islam will depend upon the attitude that the Muslims ultimately adopt towards Islam. If, unfortunately, the present hypocritical attitudes and anti-Islamic policies persist, I am afraid that the newly liberated Muslim nations will not be able to preserve their freedom for a long time: sooner or later, they must relapse into slavery and into a state even worse than their present condition. The threatened disaster can be averted only through a faithful and total adoption of the Islamic way of life. The Muslim nations can again become a force in the world and leaders of mankind if those who rule them today come to their senses even now; if, under a genuine system of democracy, the people are allowed to choose their own rulers, and if truly Islamic systems of government, economic organization and, education are established. The Muslims command a vast part of the globe, stretching from Indonesia to Morocco and endowed with great man-power and enormous resources. If thin whole bloc unites under the banner of Islam, and earnestly adopts and rigorously follows the Islamic way of life, no power will be able stand in its way and stop its march on the road to progress.

Is Islam Practicable Today


I shall now touch upon the second question that I posed at the beginning of this discourse, namely, whether Islam can achieve supremacy in the modern world, whether the other communities of mankind can be expected to embrace Islam, and how, and whether, Islam is a practicable creed in the present age ?

We should be clear that we cannot expect the rest of mankind to offer to embrace Islam without any effort on our part. Indeed, no community ever made any such offer during any period of the history of Islam. Ever the Prophet of Islam did not receive any spontaneous response when he first called mankind to the path of Islam. Great movements that seek to revolutionize human society and the ways of men can succeed only if they have behind them a powerful personality who is determined to break the resistance of fossilized tradition and to change the shape of things and the course of the events. Take Communism, for instance. It sought to bring about radical changes to make a clean sweep of private property and bring all wealth under state control. And yet, when some powerful persons set themselves to the task and resolved to achieve the end at all cost, they succeeded. There is therefore no reason why an Islamic revolution should not be successful in the present age.

Similarly, the question whether Islam is a practicable creed in the present-day world is clearly absurd. Islam has always ban a practicable religion and will remain practicable for all times to come. The point is whether there is any nation in the world today that is prepared to adopt the Islamic way of life totally and without any reservations. As I observed earlier, the starting point of the history of Islam as a world force was the acceptance by the whole Arab nation of the social, economic, political and cultural system of Islam sad its willingness to mould individual character and communal life in harmony with the principles of the new Faith. That nation not only rallied round the banner of Islam but also resolved to carry that banner into the outside world, to dedicate itself to the cause of Islam and to die for it if necessary.

Similarly, if any community of men today adopts Islam in it: entirety, organizes its life and conduct fully in accordance with Islamic principles, and dedicates itself totally to the cause, there is no reason why the rest of mankind should not be persuaded to embrace and adopt Islam today. It is, of course, impossible to achieve anything merely though discourses and discussion and pugilistic writings, indeed, even to convince others that Islam is still practicable. But if we can establish in time and space a system of life truly embodying the ideals, principles and doctrines of Islam, all right-minded people are bound to be attracted by it and, in course of time, to accept it.

Since, by God's will, I was born in this particular nation and belong to it, it is but natural for me to wish and pray that my nation should have the proud privilege of leading an Islamic revolution in the present age, of being the first of the present day nations to adopt Islam in its totality, and to set up a model Islamic society which should serve as an example and a beacon for the rest of mankind.

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Addition Date:Added on Nov,23,04 :: Last modified Aug,19,05
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