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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 behaviour attracted everyone who came in 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 Muslims 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 centred 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 unIslamic 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 relapseinto 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 reemerge 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.


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