Our Dissociation with the Past
The Muslim Ummah remained at the pinnacle of glory for over a millennium. It had stamped its existence on the surface of the earth. But it eclipsed to such a stalemate that even the urge to remain in the race got consigned to oblivion. Devoid of a zeal for worldly advancement and spiritually hollow, we have entangled ourselves in superficial and absurd paradoxes and contradictions. Indifferent to our immense ancestral heritage, we have lagged far behind, serving other nations with a welcome opportunity to feed on our forefathers’ highly nourishing and delicious inputs in the field of scientific research and intellectual advancement. We know we are starving but we do not comprehend how and why! We have failed to perceive what assets we have ruined. We are bereaved of both vision and the insight. This predicament has consequenced to humiliation, disesteem and debasement.
One major reason of our fall to dishonor and disdain, is our indifference towards scientific disciplines. It has put us among the tail-enders in the world. An in-depth inquiry of human history reveals that our ancestors disseminated thought and philosophy to the whole world and founded numerous scientific disciplines. Had our forefathers not accomplished their pioneer work in the field of empirical sciences, the contemporary scientific disciplines could never have developed into their present status. They dawned with their wisdom on the Western Nations drowned in murk and darkness of ignorance. The Western World amply fed on our illuminating heredity. And we spared everything for them witlessly.
Our Forebears’ Ingenuity and ourClumsiness
Our forebears vehemently defended the tenets and doctrines of Islam against the infidels’ onslaughts. They planned their strategy well and executed it intelligently. They paid them back in the same coins. The unbelievers used all their weapons to invalidate Islamic ideology. However, the Muslim scholars and thinkers put to use the same weapons effectively against the adversaries and frustrated their game plan. These weapons were the disciplines of learning in vogue. The strategy adopted by the Muslim intellectuals bore fruit. They employed logic and reasoning to thrash Greek perplexities and silenced the enemy through rational argumentation and thoughtful interpretations. Thus they guarded the verity and veracity of Islam.
The table, however, was turned on us. For last two centuries the stronghold of knowledge and learning held by the Muslim scholars and scientists has passed into non-Muslim hands. This has reduced our existence to mere dependents of the West in all spheres of life. For last one hundred years in general and half a century in particular, the West has launched a high power offensive against the teachings and ideology of Islam. Our ancestors were not exposed to such malice.
These offensive measures employed against our dominion – Islam, are multifaceted and multidimensional. The bottom line is lamentable and heartbreaking. The complexity gets manifold when our so-called religious scholars pursue the Western thought and endorse the materialistic and sacrilegious mentality that denies spirituality root and branch. What a paradox and what an irony of fate! Our superficial and pseudo intellectuals share the ideas of Western thinkers, regurgitate their thought and negate the very spiritualism that forms the basis of Muhammad’s (A) ‘Channel’ to Allah. A critical analysis of this situation reveals that the axis of reason and intellect has shifted from the Islamic World to the Western confines of wisdom. Whatever they mould carries heretic features. A majority of our contemporary thinkers and scholars have been swayed by Western thought. Is it not grievous and distressing?
The tragic consequence of this deplorable situation is that the distracted rather deluded Muslim scholars fail to defend against the contemporary attacks of Western scientific thought. They either become apologetic for their paucity of learning and inferiority complex or attempt to encounter the blasphemous attack equipped with timeworn Greek thought and philosophy. The output is obvious. What can they achieve with obsolete weapons? What an awareness and what a modernism! Centuries after the demise of Greeks, we teach their philosophy as part of our curriculum even today. Sequel to this intellectual inertia, the sources of our creativity have gone parched and unproductive. What counter-offensive against the Western scientific method is then possible in this scenario?
Weak Defence of a Strong Case
This is deplorable that in our era the Islamic world seems to lose its case despite having strong grounds. We have failed to plead a strong case. On the contrary, the anti-Islamic forces appear to win a very weak case due to their strong presentation and vigilant and shrewd attorneys. This situation warrants us to concentrate maximum on acquisition of modern education in the current disciplines, in addition to dissemination of Islamic thought. The modern learning merits priority also because, unlike Greek philosophy, it is consistent with the Islamic thought. The more you get grounded in it, the clearer you become on its perfection. The modern scientific evolution has verified and validated the Holy Quran and Hadith as its origin. This is an irrefutable fact that expansion of scientific research and advancement will keep validating the absoluteness and rationality of Islamic concepts and teachings. In this regard, probabilities of breakthroughs and progression are infinite and the prospects of the victory of Islamic thought are encouragingly bright.
We have to inquire into the factors responsible for the present predicament of the Islamic world. Why have we failed to triumphantly advocate our case and standpoint before the world? Why the world persistently rejects and repulses our viewpoint based on solid scientific facts?
An objective analysis of the dilemma would unfold that we, as a community, are unaware of the requisites of modern age. Majority of our Ummah is not well versed with the language that we have to employ to convince the non-Muslim world of our beliefs. We are not equipped with the weaponry that the enemies of Islam have put to use for destroying our strongholds. The enemy is engaged in adulterating the text of the Holy Qur'an and in counterassault, we are complacent with the use of merely the print media to curb the heinous attack launched through electronic media. The enemy forces have opened gunfire and we are combating with slings and arrows. They bomb us to shatter our unity and positions and we feel contented with throwing stones. Is it not heartrending? Should we close our eyes to the dazzling firepower of the enemy and hide into the caves of evasion and escape? OR shouldn’t we equip ourselves overnight with the weapons superior to those of adversaries to overpower and frustrate their malicious designs?
How to Counter the Conspiracy?
We must understand the conspiracy against the Islamic World. The science is advancing by leaps and bounds. The Westerns are rightly proud of their superior evolutionary status among the comity of nations. As they keep the poor and the deprived dependent and subdued, they also intend to see the Muslim world under their subjugating authority.
The modern scientific civilization is eating up geographical distances and the world spread over millions of miles has been reduced to Global Village. Owing to scientific progress, deserts are being transformed into meadows and fertile fields. The mineral wealth is drawn to our feet. Scientific knowledge has enabled us to bring all the natural sources under human control and consumption. This is, however, tragic to note that the Western nations are adamantly bent upon keeping the backward nations dependent and subdued. In this regard, the Muslims of the world are their well-defined target. They are striving hard to keep the Muslims deprived of the fruits of scientific progress.
On the contrary, we are not ready to realize the need of the hour. Instead of acquiring modern scientific knowledge, we still justify and take pride in learning classical knowledge. Even today the outdated Greek philosophy forms part of curricula of our higher seats of learning. What all facts science has deducted from its research work are compatible with Islamic thought and validate and verify the facts dealt with in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith literature. Under the circumstances, all intellectuals, scholars and scientists of the Muslim world are required to jointly develop some workable plan to get rid of sluggishness and adynamism; introduce remedial measures to overcome the odds and perpetuate our existence in the modern scientific age. Keeping this objective in view, they are to contrive a strategy how to remedy the present deteriorated situation.
Need for Learning Modern Logic (Ilm-e-Kalam Jadeed)
In early days of Islam when sciences had not yet taken roots, the Greek philosophy was considered to be the measure of wisdom and rationality the world over. Our forerunners, the traditionalists and the religious vanguards befittingly encountered the philosophical attacks against postulates and tenets of Islam, in terms of Greek philosophy. For that, they contrived the discipline of ‘logic’ known as ‘Ilm-e-Kalam.’
The present generation has opened eyes in the scientific age. A person even with insignificant learning, knowing little about science is at least aware of scientific method. The hard disk of his mind has been formatted in a manner that he won’t accept anything incompatible with scientific thinking. He knows that all scientific procedures produce logically correct results. In the same way, we need modern logic (Ilm-e-Kalam Jadeed) to triumphantly communicate the Islamic teachings and concepts to the scientifically formatted mind. The old method to work out a ‘mean’ term of two extremes to infer corollary has gone archaic. Today, we need to observe and undergo successive experiments to deduce inference and formulate concepts. This scientific method is believed to be the rational method to arrive at the truth.
In early centuries of Islam, in counterstrike to Greek offensive attack against Islamic ideology, our Islamic vanguards, (the Aa’immah-e-Keram), approved and promoted ‘logic’ (Ilm-e-kalam) as the offensive-defensive strategy. They frustrated this way the atheist attacks and proved that Islam was verily the true DEEN.
Today, our sincerity of purpose in spreading and defending Islam binds us to follow the footsteps of our ancestors. To consolidate their position and ensure victory against the adversaries, they used the most effective weaponry of the day, the Greek philosophy itself. We too are required to follow the same strategy i.e. using the contemporary methods of offensive- defensive operations against the adversary. We need to administer the scientific method, which our forerunners were not even exposed to, as it was a nonentity at that time. It is considered to be the touchstone of wisdom and reason. This is the ‘modern logic’, the Ilm-e-Kalam Jadeed. This device put to use would generate the desired results against the Western intellectual forces deployed to oust us from the civilized world. This is the only strategy that would guarantee our success and stability and ensure effective communication of the message of Islam to all scientific cultures in the world. This may also confirm our emancipation ultimately with our heads bowed down, souls prostrated and tears quivering in our eyes, in the foremost and loftiest court of our most beloved ‘Prophet’(A). We will receive from him alms, benevolence, compassion, mercy, intercession and deliverance from acts of trespassing, slip and oversight. He will shower upon us his bliss and bounties and we shall drink to our fill from his ever-spurting spring of love, care and kindness.
The need of the hour is to equip our coming generations with scientific knowledge and methodology. This would not only provide a solid foundation to Islam but also groom us to put the enemy on defensive through our counter offensive measures. Without that even the defense of our modest teachings of Islam is impracticable. Our scholars absorbed the Greek philosophy to frustrate the Greek faith and concepts and their onslaught against the Muslim thought. We also have to follow the same path: acquire modern scientific learning; reject the adversaries’ concepts on scientific grounds; stun their wits and mute their antagonism. This is the secret of our survival as a dauntless and triumphant Muslim Ummah.
The awful fact, however, is that we are far from our destination. Science is making rapid advancement and we are too slow to keep abreast with the modern developments. The situation is grievous and dreary. It warrants expeditious but wise and cautious planning to take most effective measures to equip our youth with the modern thought and defeat the foes on their ground. Otherwise a perpetual backwardness will bring us to a total subjugation leading to annihilation as an independent entity.
Our Pseudo Scholars and their Escape from Spiritualism of Islam
This is quite unfortunate that in such a critical moment, when antagonistic forces surround Islam, a few fanatics are busy sermonizing empirical ideals. They have shunned spiritualism and ignored the spiritual values. They reject and deny love and attachment for ‘Sunnah’ (the holy practices of the Prophet(A), refute miracles (mo’ojizat) performed by him as Signs of his Prophethood and reject his knowledge of the unseen. They totally reject love for the ‘Auliya Allah’. Nor do they accept their teachings. Instead, they promulgate a self-made concept of Islam, which may be in keeping with their materialistic reasoning but cannot be compatible with the true spirit and real teachings of Islam.
On occasions, these pseudo scholars and their Western thinkers seem to be the same class. Both have the same objectives. The non-Muslim intellectuals strive to keep the ‘Ummah’ from nourishing on the spiritual source. The Muslim pseudo intellectuals and thinkers too deny spirituality of Islam and have joined the hostile camp. Our Western rivals emphatically denounce the spiritual benevolence, and bliss of our beloved ‘Messenger’ of Islam(A). They also deny his life, now, fourteen centuries after his physical demise. Our awkwardly educated, ill-informed and strayed scholars do also disbelieve the living status of the Prophet(A). They claim to have faith in the Holy Qur’an but, paradoxically, reject the unimaginable eminence, spiritual glory and effulgence of the Holy Prophet(A) – who is the embodiment, divine recipient and awardee of the Holy Qur’an.
This is an undeniable fact that the religious scholars assigned to teach Islam in religious institutions have lost their communication with the majority of the people. They are an isolated entity. The communities and the milieu that need exhortation and merit goading and teaching are out of their reach and intellectual influence. These pseudo scholars are unfit for the war of wits that is on in the East and West and in the Arab and non-Arab Muslim world. Those who somehow, reach the front soon learn that they are far feeble and low in face of modern learning and scientific interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. They have limited knowledge and are ill-equipped for any sort of logical reasoning and intellectual combat. Owing to lack of scientific knowledge, they fail to come up to the mark. Their superficial bookish knowledge containing narratives, debates, religious sanctions against their rivals and versified fables cannot satisfy a scientific mind. Consequently, they fail to differentiate right from wrong. What they try to prove through Qur’anic reasons as perverse innovations and infidelity, come out to be righteous, pure and virtuous. Through religious declaration, Fatwa, they label whom they wish and whenever they want, as unbeliever and atheist. This would not be inappropriate to say that all they do to promote the cause of Holy Qur’an is in fact, detrimental to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. They are miserably handicapped. Nor can one keep them from this pseudo service of Islam, snatch their pens and mute their eloquence. Our great thinker poet, Iqbal has masterly potrayed their true picture in his splendid poetic work Javed Nama:
“The religion of God is more shameful than unbelief,
Convincing New Generation to see the Real Light
The need of the hour is to impede Mullah and convince the new generation to see the real light and save them from hell fire through learning Islamic teachings in scientific and rational way. With scientific knowledge and logical conviction they will practice the tenets of Islam persistently, consistently and productively. It is, however, regrettable that our hypocritical scholars, owing to their defective reasoning on the Holy Qur'an and Hadith, are causing our youth deviate from Islamic teachings.
Consequent to their failure in defending the cause of Islam, our religious scholars generally start condemning and reproaching time and age. They need to review their inconsistent thought, irreconcilable concepts and awkward behaviour. Instead, they find it far convenient to find fault with and blame time and age and get relieved of their fundamental duties and liabilities. For this very reason, supreme leader of the universe, the Holy Prophet(A) exhorted:
Do not reproach time for Allah is (manifest through) time.
(Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad, 5:299, 311.)
This pearl of wisdom of the Holy Prophet(A) contains invaluable connotations and denotations. Rebuking age is worthless and futile; it rather worsens the situation. Whether you are dynamic or inactive, gaining or losing, time is indifferent to that. This is a permanent value subject to no change that time sanctions victory for those who do not depart from reality; they present and fight their case more effectively and scientifically and reject any compromise on principles and rules of the game.
This is a heartrending paradox that a majority of our so-called learned lot presents the Qur’anic message so awkwardly that instead of drawing closer to the postulates of Islam, our younger generation feels fed up with and strides away from Islamic concept of life. Such religious scholars (Ulama or Maulvees) are utterly counter productive. The wrong, self-willed and unauthentic interpretations of the Holy Qur’an, which is the divine source of guidance, corrupt their vision and put them on the erroneous track. The Holy Qur’an verifies:
By means of the Holy Qur’an He (Allah) causes many to stray and many He leads to the right path.
(Qur’an (al-Baqarah) 2:26.)
The Muslim youth all over the world in general and the Pakistanis in particular have set out to get equipped with scientific knowledge. They regard those Qur’anic concepts and deeds which have descended to them from their forefathers, not more than whims. The young Muslims graduating from the Western universities feel frustrated and dissatisfied with the unnatural concepts about Islamic code of life. They question their elders about the spiritual “channels” like Qadri, Sohrwardi, Chishti and others: Why should there be such channels? What is their value in terms of utility in practical life? Why should we take the mystic traditionalists, the saints –Auliya Allah, as our guides and leaders? Why shouldn’t we implore Allah’s assistance directly? And why an intermediary link or a ‘channel’ for mediation is all that necessary?
These interrogations crowd their minds and find vent in form of defiant utterances. We consider these eloquent inquiries as rudeness and arrogance. We do not attempt to convince them with logic and reason. We blame them to be trespassers and deserters of their faith. Such reprimands do restrain them for a short while, but eventually frustrate them and make them astray. Such a rebellious approach emanates from our failure to present Islamic postulates in the language of science.
An Exhorting Episode
This would not be out of place to mention an episode that occurred during one of my visits to London. One of my elderly friends called on me. He looked gloomy and deeply worried. Sympathizing, I offered my fervent cooperation and investigated the problem. He burst out and lamented: “I sent my son to a mosque for religious education. There the commentary lectures on the Holy Qur’an were delivered according to a regular program. He attended these lectures for a few days and then discontinued. On inquiry, he retorted, “I listened to the lectures on the Holy Qur’an. But to my disappointment, what all I learned was contrary to science and reason. I do not accept such mythological and unrealistic tales.” Narrating the grieving tragedy my friend mourned, “ I sent my son to Mosque to learn Islam. But contrary to what I aspired, he denied his belief, creed and even the dignity and divine status of the Holy Prophet(A)”.
I consoled my friend and invited him and his son to dinner. I intended to clear the young man on the essence of Islam and make him learn the reality. My friend however, declined saying, “But my son considers you an innovator and a polytheist”. On this, I approached his son myself, hugged him and said, “Sonny, We are your guests; courtesy demands that you accompany us for a while.” I called his father as well and enquired about all the complexities that had perverted his son’s mind. He put the questions one by one and I replied in the same order. The son felt half relieved in an hour’s time. On my departure he sought information about my stay their. “Another two three days” I replied. “Could you spare one more hour please?” he requested. I replied in affirmative saying, “Not for you alone. Bring your friends too. There will be an open session for every body.” When we ended the second session, the son embraced me, saying, “May Allah bless you, you have saved me from complete divergence”. The son is now a staunch Muslim, strictly complying with the teachings of Islam.
Most wards of immigrants in Europe, owing to their brought-up in the most modern educated societies, are exposed to similar problems. They are diverting from the righteous Islamic teachings and guidance for the sole reason that we are indifferent to and avoid modern scientific education and fail to perceive the reality. We ourselves are responsible for this situation. We can keep the young generation from this disaster, provided we appreciate the requisites of scientific age and present Islam to the young but more knowledgeable and mature mind in a manner compatible with the prerequisites of our age. We require arranging religious education for our children on scientific grounds along with formal modern education. This would bear us positive and fruitful results and our children would stick to the postulates of Islam tenaciously and perseveringly.
A Dire Need of the Hour
We are in a dismal state. It is indeed Islamic spiritualism that can rescue us from the earthly impasse we have gone into. This has become a dire need of the hour that men of vision and wisdom from amongst the ‘channels of mysticism, saints and Holy Shrines’ should come forward and make comprehensible the spiritual teachings of Islam to the scientific mind of our youth. They have to take keen interest in the education of their children, their training and brought-up on right footing. Only by producing competent heirs can they save the spiritual heritage of Islam from deterioration and disaster.
In the modern era of impiety and wickedness, only a few mystic and spiritual dynasties have been able to survive the invasion of materialistic forces. Very few of them are those who still have the stimulant value in re-animating spiritual pursuits among their followers. What is generally observed is that, to a great extent, the spiritual foundation of shrines has been demolished and superficiality and pseudo spiritualism surround the spiritual centers established by the eminent forerunners. Our great national poet Allama Iqbal perceived this bitter fact and versed this passion: ‘the shrines are devoid of mystic savour; and schools are depleted of innovation of ideas.’