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
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
“The religion of God is more shameful than unbelief,
Because the Mullah is a believer trading in unfaith;
In our eyes this dew-drop of ours is an ocean,
To his eyes our ocean is a dew-drop.
At the elegant graces of that Qur’an-vendor
I have seen the Trusty Spirit himself cry out!
His heart is a stranger to what lies beyond the sky,
For him the Archetype of the Book is but a fable;
Having no share of the wisdom of the Prophet’s religion
His heaven is dark, being without any star.
Short of vision, blind of taste, an idle gossip
His hairsplitting arguments have fragmented the Community.
Seminary and Mullah, before the secrets of the Book
Are as one blind before the light of the sun.
The infidel’s religion is the plotting and planning of Holy War;
The mullah’s religion is corruption in the way of God.”
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
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
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