Thanks, however, to the political and cultural domination of the West, the Islamic World, which owes its very existence to the Prophet, has now wholeheartedly adopted the creed of nationalism as if it were a proven scientific truth from which there can be no escape. Almost all the different people who go to make the family of Islam are today ardent admirers of factional prejudices, prejudices which their Religion they are doing best to revive them, including even those paganish national practices which openly amount to idolatry.. For some, pre-Islamic era of their history, which Islam emphatically condemns as paganish and steeped in Ignorance is being recalled as a thing of pride. Yet for Islam, there is nothing more detestable than. The Qur’-an declares the deliverance of Muslims from it as one of the choicest favours of God and calls upon them to be duly grateful to Him for that:
And remember Allah’s favour unto you. How ye were enemies and He made friendship between your hearts so that ye became as brothers by His grace; and (how) ye were upon the brink of an abyss of fire
Nay, but Allah doth confer a favour on you, inasmuch as He hath led you to the faith, if ye are earnest.
He it is Who sendeth down clear Revolutions unto His slave, that He may bring you forth from darkness unto light; and lo! for you, Allah is full of Pity, Merciful.
The Muslim Standpoint
Such being the case, a Muslim should be filled with repugnance and disgust at the sight of paganism— whether modern or ancient. Have you ever seen a person released from prison who does not look back at the period of his imprisonment with anguish and displeasure, or a man who having been cured of a foul disease does not shudder at the thought of his illness? Or, has there ever been a man who has not thanked God at the dawn of the day after having experienced a terrible nightmare during the night? Why, then, should it be different with paganism which is many times worse than any term in prison, an illness or a nightmare? Why should a person having been freed from it by the grace of the Almightily not tremble at the thought of it and offer earnest thanksgivings to his Maker for delivering him from a curse which contains innumerable misfortunes both in this world and the Next? Says a tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) recorded by Bukhari: “There are three things and if they are present in any one he will taste (the joys of) Faith: firstly, that God and the Prophet be dearer to him than anything else, secondly, that his love for any one (or anything) is only for the sake of God, and, thirdly, that he dreads returning to the state of paganism like being thrown into the fire.” Says God in denunciation of paganism, its rites, its customs, its practices and its heroes:
And We made them patterns that invite unto the fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped.
And We made a curse to follow them in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the hateful.
Unto Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they did follow the command of Pharaoh, and the command and Pharaoh was no right guide. He will go before his people on the Day of Resurrection and will lead them to the Fire for watering- place. Ah, hapless is the watering-place (whither they are) led. A curse is made to follow them in the world and on the Day of Resurrection. Hapless is the gift (that will be) given (them).
As a result of being over-awed by Western philosophy and its peculiar mode of approach to life many Muslims in Islamic countries have begun to recall the pre-Islamic period of their national existence with pride and pleasure. They are being drawn, intellectually and emotionally, to the customs and practices of that period as a part of their national heritage. They want to resuscitate them and to give a place of honour and privilege to those kings, leaders and other noteworthy personalities of that period in their history as if it was a golden age which Islam snatched away from them. God bless our souls! What colossal ingratitude and lack of appreciation of the worth and value of Islam and the Prophet this is! It signifies that all dislike for paganism and idolatry and the contempt for their senseless practices has disappeared and this is hard to imagine with respect to a conscientious Muslim. It will be no wonder if, because of these follies, Muslims are totally deprived of their Faith; the blessing of Islam is withdrawn from them and some heavenly curse is sent down in place of felicity. The Qur’-an has warned:
And incline not toward those who do wrong lest the fire touch you, and ye have no protecting friends against Allah, and afterward ye would not be helped.
Besides nationalism, another calamity that is bringing ruin upon the Islamic World is the blind admiration for the material things of life enjoined by its upper classes. They are ready to sacrifice all other considerations and values in the pursuit of their worldly ambitions. There is at work among them a strong tendency to prefer this material world to the Hereafter, and to avail themselves whole-heatedly of its pleasures. The appeasement of sensual appetites has become the chief object of their existence with the result that moral perversion, drinking, debauchery and other vices have freely crept into them and they have obtained, more or less a complete freedom from the moral obligations imposed by Religion or that the Islamic Shariah has been repealed. With a few exceptions, the ruling sections of Muslim countries everywhere present a picture very much like this.
This, in brief, is the moral and spiritual state of present-day Muslims. A wave of paganism is sweeping across the Muslim world and carrying away with it the glorious heritage of Islam. Never has Islam experienced a danger so powerful and so all-pervading. And the tragedy is that there are few who are willing to take stock of this dismal situation and fewer still to place all that they have at stake in order to combat it. We remember that when agnostic tendencies raised their head in Islam under the influence of Greek philosophy there sprang up a number of outstanding men who put them down with all the unique resources of their minds and hearts and with their social prestige. Similarly, when the Batiniyah and Mulahada otheists seets made their appearance, the crusaders of Islam jumped into the arena to take issue against them with both pen and speech. Thus, Islam, on account of these timely services, continued to command such a strong position intellectually and logically that it could beat off any storm that arose.
The Real Problem
The real problem before Islam now is not that of moral degeneration or slackness in matters of Prayer or other supererogatory observances or disregard of religious practices or imitation of foreigners. These are important things, no doubt, but the real and foremost issue which has worked itself up like a mighty tidal wave and is striking directly at Islam’s roots is one of belief and disbelief. This will determine whether Islam survives in the world or is cast away instead like an old garment. The battle that is being fought today in the Muslim World is between Western materialism and Islam, the last of the Messages from God. on one side there is agnosticism and on the other Divine Law. I believe this it the last struggle between Religion and irreligiousness after which the world will swing full-scale towards one side or the other.
The Jihad of today, the greatest need of the present hour, is to repulse this storm of atheism, nay, to go ahead and make a direct assault at the very heart of it. The chief task of religious renovation in modern times likes in the revival of Faith among the young and educated classes of the Ummah in the basic tenets of Islam, in its moral and spiritual scheme of things and in the Apostleship of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). There can be on better deed or worship today than to release the educated young of the intellectual and psychological confusion and frustration they are going through and to satisfy them mentally with regard to Islam. The basic characteristics of paganism that have dug themselves into their minds must be weeded out to make room for the spiritual truths of Islam.
For a full century the West has been preying on the hearts and minds of Muslims. It has played havoc with its scepticism, doubt and disbelief. Transcendental truths have been tramped underfoot by the materialistic concepts of political science and economics. We have watched all this like mere spectators, heedless of what it was leading to. We sat pretty on what our ancestors had left behind to us and did not realise that it was essential to bring it into conformity with the changing pattern of time. Furthermore, we made no effort to really understand the thought-process the West had released. We never critically examined Western philosophy and its way of life. Our time was wasted in superficial discussions and, now, after the passage of a century, the time has come when the foundations of the Faith itself are in danger and a generation has come up which has very little real trust in the spiritual values of life.
The Call of Faith
The crying need of the hour is to call Muslims back to Faith. The rallying cry of this new religious endeavour should be: “Let us re-create Faith in Islam.” But more slogan-raising will avail nothing. WE have to think of a way though which to approach the inner selves of the ruling sections of the contemporary Muslim World so that they can be brought back to Islam.
Today, Islam needs workers who are ready to dedicate their entire resources and abilities, their learning, their time their money and their energy to its cause; people who will not any heed to the attractions of worldly advancement. They must be wholly free from malice, bearing no grudge against anyone. They should serve, but take no service from others; give and not take. Their conduct, of course, should be different from that of political workers who are motivated mainly by lust for power. Sincerity should be their habit, and freedom from every kind of self-seeking vanity and prejudice their chief mark of distinction.
Furthermore, we require such academies which may produce a literature forceful and inspiring enough to bring the educated youth back to Islam in its wider sense, emancipating them from the bondage of Western ideology which they have thoughtlessly accepted mainly under the stress of the times— a literature that can lay down the foundations of Islam anew in their minds and provide healthy, whole some food for their souls. For this task, many devoted scholars are needed in every nook and corner of the Muslim World, scholars… who will not leave the intellectual front of the battle till the last shot is fired.
For my part, I want to state clearly that I have never been one of those who believe in the separation of Religion from politics or one who seeks to interpret Religion (Islam) in a way that it may fit into every pattern of life. Nor do I belong to that category of theologians, who include politics among the ‘condemned tribe of the Qur’-an’. I am second to none in my desire to see the development of proper political consciousness and learningship among Muslims everywhere. I believe that a theocratic society cannot be established without the ascendancy of Religion and this resting on a political structure based on the precepts of Islam.
The question, however, is one of precedence, of first things first, and of the exigencies of time. So far, our time and our energies have been directed towards political and agitational activities. This was done primarily on the assumption that the condition of the Ummah was sound so far as Faith was concerned. Leadership was in the hands of the Muslims themselves and the ruling classes were alive to their responsibilities towards Islam and eager to bring about its victory in the world. But now the state of affairs is just the reverse of this. The Ummah has suffered a serious degeneration both morally and spiritually without even being actually aware of it. Speaking in a general way, its educated and privileged sections have almost been weaned away from the Faith by Western ideas and they are, so to speak, openly in revolt against the basic ideology of Islam, thinking that what they have borrowed from the West represents the sine qua non of truth and progress and that unless society is reorganised in the light of material concepts there can be no hope for the future. They are pushing forward the Western way of life with all the enthusiasm of new converts, and, in the process, bringing the whole of the Muslim Ummah very close to atheism. it is a different matter that some of them want to hurry through the process while others believe in a more graduated course. The modes of their approach are also different. But so far as their destination is concerned, it is the same with all of them.
Two Divergent Groups among the Theologians
With regard to this section, our theological class— if the term be correct for there is no clerical or priestly class in Islam— is divided into two divergent groups. One of them is emphatically opposed to worldly pursuits and does not want any truck with those who do, but it is also completely unceroned with the question as to what causes and factors are responsible for producing such atheistic tendencies among the privileged Muslim classes. It abhors having any contact with them and does little by way of purging them of their erroneous beliefs. The other group associates with them to the full and seeks advantages in terms of wordily again as a result of its association. It pays no attention to their spiritual redemption. Hence, this group has no call to give or religious pride to display. it seems to have abandoned those sections to their fate and has no solicitude for correction and reformation.
There is, unfortunately, no group among our religious leaders which can devote itself to the reformation of the Muslim upper classes thinking that they are merely the victims of a disease from which recovery is not impossible— a group which may carry the message of religious reclamation to them with tolerance and wisdom and discharge among them the obligation of selfless service. As a result of this handicap, the Westernised ruling section of our society get no opportunity to come closer to Religion and to the religious atmosphere. The result is that they spend their lives in ignorance and disrupt of Faith, and the distrust is further strengthened by the conduct of that group among the ecclesiastics which comes forward as its rival in the political field or fights against it for political power with Religion as the major instrument of its action. Such religious leaders help only to make their secular counterpart more suspicious of Religion, for it is natural for man to dislike those who compete with him for a thing which he holds dear. This regardless of whether it belongs to the realm of wealth or of power and prestige or of pleasure and self-indulgence.
The cure for the ills of the Muslim World lie in our capacity to produce a band of dedicated workers who can be above all personal considerations and have no worldly aspirations for themselves. Their entire endeavours should be directed towards loosening the intellectual and psychological knots of by ruling classes of society. This can be achieved by establishing personal contact with them the bringing forth an effective religious literature for them, and by reforming them through their own piety, sanctity of character, earnestness of purpose, sincerity, selflessness and Prophet-like moral conduct.