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The Fourth Phase : After Freedom

We now pass on to the fourth phase of our history, during which almost all the Muslim lands 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 pursuade 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 enamoured 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 unIslamic 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-Islamise 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 manpower 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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