10 Point Program for Islamic Revival and Dawah
8 Years after the turn of the century
By Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (r)
The events and causes of an Islamic renaissance stated earlier lead us to the conclusion that an Islamic society requires, in every age, vigilant, high-reaching, truthful and upright souls who can heal the spirit, inspire a living awareness of Allah (swt) and bring about the moral regeneration of the people even in the most trying and adverse circumstances.
[This is a] …time when Muslim[s] … are degenerating, the masses are being swept away by materialism, worldly desires. A mad race to get-rich-quick has caught the imagination of the people, it becomes all the more necessary that virtuous and spiritually conscious people should give the Message of hope to the despondent. [Da’wah today is charged with working to] strengthen Faith in Allah - His all embracing love as well as His awe-and [to aid people…to] realize the value of contentment and reliance on Allah. [The person of da’wah…] should reach others [by teaching them] to rise …above … petty interests, to disdain wealth and power and to hate attitudes [driven by concern with gain in the here and now], attitudes that stoop to sell countries and nations for petty personal gain.
The …[people of da’wah] should promote the urge for making sacrifices for the sake of Islam, of laying down one’s life in the way of Allah (swt) [by being selfless and working for the common good]. In this manner, [da’wah] can guide people groping in the darkness of hopelessness to the light of Islam’s message of hope and Divine assistance. Da’wah can cause degenerating and decaying societies to [give birth] to men [and women] who are honest and courageous, [capable] of shoulder[ing] the heaviest responsibility and [working to] solve the intricate problems facing the Muslim society [by living] Islam and [realizing] its interests. Virtuous and God-conscious persons should perform the same function in their own societies as Khwaja Hasan Basri did during the reign of the Umayyads and al Hafiz Ibn al-Jauzi, Imam Ghazzali and Shaikh Abdul Qadir performed during the time of the Abbasids. [Cultivating] the presence of …pious and righteous men and women …is a must for the Muslim society in every time and clime for they can succeed even where States and administrations fail to face the challenge of time and ultimately die and dwindle away. The absence of …righteous persons [in a society] constitutes the greatest danger for … Muslims. In …Muslim countries possessed of wealth, one finds a spiritual void, which cannot be filled by vast organizations and educational institutions nor by ambitious programs for missionary activity and other projects that work to serve the cause of Islam.
Islamic revivalist and missionary movements are nowadays active in different parts of the world. Their techniques and methods differ according to their peculiar needs and circumstances. Some of them are undoubtedly doing a service to Islam, but it seems necessary to identity certain points and lines upon which endeavors in [da’wah] …should be made so that not only the present decay in Muslim society is arrested but a vigorous and comprehensive movement for Islamic renaissance may also emerge, in the near future. In this respect, it is hoped that these hints will be useful to organisations and individuals committed to upholding the cause of Islam.
The faith of the Muslim masses, which, in any case, still exists, though in subdued form, has to be strengthened and their religious consciousness aroused to make it a living and dynamic force. The emotional attachment of the Muslims to Islam is the greatest hurdle in the way of many so-called leaders of Muslim countries to openly take the path of Kufr and apostasy or to invite their people to take that course.
Despite all the conspiracies hatched within or outside these Muslims countries to oust Islam from these lands, the existence of an Islamic consciousness in the masses, even in a weaker form, or a minority amongst them, discourages these leaders from acting on their nefarious plans. Allah forbid, if this consciousness were to perish and the Muslims were to lose their spiritual and emotional attachment to Islam, no guarantee and no promise to administer these lands as Muslims would stands in the way of these leaders to turn their countries into another Spain or Turkistan.
The masses of any country constitute its real wealth; they like a fertile land on which they can either plant a grove or construct a palatial building. They are really the raw materials from which every kind of human prototype can be molded. The masses of the Muslim countries, notwithstanding their faults and failings, have been the object of the labour of love on the part of many a Prophet and man of Allah. They still excel all other nations and religious groups in their purity of heart, sincerity of purpose, warmth of feeling, selfness and readiness to make sacrifices for a just cause.
At the same time, the Muslims have to be helped in inculcating those qualities, which entitles a people to overcome all difficulties with the help of Allah, no matter how insurmountable the hardships are. These qualities are an implicit Iman in Allah, without the least trace of shirk, and the Islamic character of the individuals which make up society as a whole. Basically, all vestiges of un-Islamic customs and usages should be for shaken and a distaste for copying others in the walk of life developed. This can, however, only be actualized by eliminating those elements of hypocrisy and duplicity which have unfortunately found a way into our society. Both of these are against the teachings of Islam and militate against the character of a truly Islamic society. Similarly, every effort has to be made to protect the Muslim society against immoral habits and evil practices, the gratification of carnal desires and the demoralizing effects of wealth and power which aforetime invited the wrath of God and caused the downfall of several peoples of the earlier Prophets. The Muslims also have to be protected against the moral depravity of the West, which has made European nations dissolute and overindulgent. Now the West wants the whole of the East, especially Muslim countries, to become intemperate and licentious like it.
However, this entire reformatory endeavor will be unrewarding unless a truly Islamic consciousness is created among the Muslims and unless they are provided with correct intellectual guidance. The need of the hour is that they learn to discriminate between friends and foe and become conscious of the problems as well as the realities of their situation. Their understanding of the problems and their deeper religious sense should be so developed that they will not be duped by interested politicians with ulterior motives nor by any slogan mongering or false promises which mislead. There should be no recurrence of the tragic events recently brought about by the machinations of foreign powers and selfish politicians who fanned the national, linguistic and cultural chauvinism of an intensely religious section of Muslims.
Spiritual realities and concepts emanating from Qur’anic expressions, the true features of Iman as well as a comprehension of Din have to be protected against all distortions and deviations. Any effort to make these sub-serviant or identify them as compatible with the ever-chanting modern political and economic concepts and systems of the West, or to interpret Islam in terms of any political philosophy, or even to treat it as a view of life on a par with other modern philosophical and political systems ought to be scrupulously avoided.
Current political philosophies and their systems of government represent a changing, developing phenomena while Islamic values and Iman is abiding they form the central point around which revolves the entire religious life of a people. These values constitute the beginning as well as the end of the moral spiritual teachings of all the earlier Prophets of God (Peace be upon him) who, from time to time, invited their people to receive these truths. Their struggles and endeavors were for reposing trust in these abiding values. Thus, everything not based on the concept of life after death, or which weakens the desire to attain pleasure of Allah (swt), or [destabilizes] the spirit of Iman and action to win the pleasure of God ought to be avoided. Every concept, approach and methodology employed for the exposition of knowledge and the cultivation promoting idolatrous thoughts and ideas of a pagan past, which are alive and thriving,22 are likely to decrease one’s aversion to shirk and its manifestations. Iqbal was correct in assertion that:
“The believer is aging but still young are the Lat and Manat”
The spiritual and emotional attachment of the Muslims to the blessed Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) has to be maintained at all costs. Efforts should be directed into making the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) dearer to every Muslim than his own self and the nearest of his kin for this is the criterion of true Faith according to the undisputed ahadith. Tender feelings of the last Prophet of God (Peace be upon him) with complete assurance in his being the most perfect and infallible teacher of humanity should be inculcated and everything that decreases love and regard for him or stands in the way of following in his footsteps should be rejected. Actually speaking, love and regard for the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) has been the only binding force that has kept the non-Arab Muslims aligned to Islam and saved them from losing their identities in their respective non-Islamic cultures and nationalities.
This point has still greater significance for Arab countries where nationalist trends [and various intellectual] movements promote [non Islamic values]…[via]…modern and contemporary Arabic literature [and thought]. [These new intellectual and literary trends] lack ardency for the Holy Prophet [and] have weakened the people’s attachment to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to such an extent that one feels the need [for an intellectual movement imbued by Islamic values to be present and working on the literary and intellectual scene. This thrust of this movement is to inject] fresh [life into] …literature [and thought] in Arabic in order to revive the dormant faith [of Arabic speaking Muslims] and to rekindle the flame of love for the Prophet in [their]… hearts. The situation obtaining in this regard in some countries has made a non-Arab poet, enamoured by the Holy Prophet, say:
“From the land of love, I bring a new contingent for the Haram (the Holy Land) is in danger from the revolt of intellect.”
The intellectual and political leadership of the Muslims is in the hands of the [Western]… educated class who also control the press and publicity media. This class has, either owing [its] education …or because of its mistaken values and judgments, erroneously lost its confidence in Islam’s capacity to solve every problem and provide guidance to humanity. The conviction that Islam is the abiding Message of Allah, that … transcends all barriers of time and space, [and its]… capacity of saving humanity, as the Ark of Noah from drowning in the sea of its own follies, has to be rekindled in the hearts of [this class].
This [class of] …elites [has] lost confidence in Islam, or its [faith had been] weakened …in Islam’s potentialities, [this] is the real cause why it so often opts for un-Islamic measures or wants to reform Islam itself [what ensues from them] amounts to an intellectual and cultural repudiation of Faith. This calamity has now assumed such alarming proportion that almost the entire world of Islam is passing through a widening chasm between the masses and their rulers, without little prospect of this gap being bridged in the near future. [A dichotomy] in … feeling and interests has given rise to an intense emotional, intellectual and cultural conflict between [the masses and their rulers] …which often erupts into …military takeovers of the [political] administration or revolts and insurrections against the ruling [party].
The curriculum and education system in Muslim countries needs fundamental change. [One that] reshap[es] …the concept and approach to education, so that it becomes compatible with the values and judgments [and aims] of Islam. The education system should never be imported from a foreign land nor can it be borrowed from a…school of thought [alien to Islam]. It can only be formulated through a deep study and correct comprehension of Islam, and its details can be worked out by Muslim scholars and educationists themselves by people who should not pay any heed to artificial distinctions of old and to new or Eastern or Western systems of education. This is, in fact, the most pressing need of the time one which cannot withstand the least delay. Unless this important task is undertaken, Muslim countries can neither regain their self-confidence nor can they think out the solutions to the problems they face. It is no exaggeration to claim that if they do not meet this imperative …Muslims will not be able to administer their own countries according to their genius, nor will their educational institutions …discharge their functions in accordance with the teachings of Islam, nor with they be able to meet the peculiar needs of their people.
It is also necessary to build up a strong and worldwide movement for study and research in Islamic Literature so as to create a rapport between the literary creations of earlier Muslim savants and the new rising generation. Only in this way can …Islamic branches of learning be revitalized and the claim of Islamic jurisprudence to be an expanding and progressive legal system be demonstrated. Based on everlasting principles, which are never antiquated, the Islamic legal system has the capacity to develop with the changing times. There is, thus, no need to take recourse to man-made laws in this presence. The step suggested here really amounts to a revivalist endeavor for Islam since it meets an urgent requirement for all Muslim countries and communities and saves them from the danger of intellectual and cultural waywardness, or rather dams the flood of Westernization which threatens to inundate the whole of Muslim world.
Islamic culture is drawn from the norms and values upheld by Islam. Its concept of purity and cleanliness: the moderate, upright and just behaviour demanded by it, the Qur’anic teaching and the way of life practiced by the Holy Prophet, (Peace be upon him). In short, the totality of the teachings of Islam, which were given practical shape by the earlier adherents of Islam are actualized in its culture. We must, therefore, take every possible step to make Islamic culture a distinguishing feature of every Muslim society.
[Restricting] faith [to] …ritual observances and rejecting the culture brought forth by Islam’s comprehensive …values in favor of an alien culture or civilization is nothing short of opening the gates to intellectual and cultural apostasy. There are, in fact, Muslim countries, which have so completely [transformed] themselves under the impact of the West that their entire public and private lives- from their homes and modes of living to their hotels and public offices- have undergone a complete change. Save for a few religious observances one can find no trace of their [Islamic] identity and sometimes is hard to believe that one is not in a Western country. The actual identity of Muslim societies is an essential factor in maintaining their rapport with the Religion they profess, the lives of individuals and …socio-cultural norms and institutions [coincide] to make a complete whole. Thus, it is necessary that Islamic culture and its way of life reassert itself in these countries.
The world of Islam needs today an intellectual leadership which can face the challenge of [contemporary life] … with courage, confidence and creative thinking and which can chart out a new way in the midst of the different norms and concepts of Western civilization-it should be a way that is neither imitative nor extremist. This new leadership has to rise above the [materialistic ethic], and shallowness of the West. It has to pay attention to intrinsic truths and treat knowledge produced in Western [culture and civilization ] simply as [a means] for recasting and remolding a new cultural pattern consistent with the values and principles of Islam. This would be a revolutionary achievement in the real sense since the Islamic world cannot attain complete independence in its absence.25
The governments of Muslim majority countries …are waging a war of attrition against their own …populations working for the death of religious life. The leaders of these countries …have come to hold the reins of government either through conspiracy or military takeover are frittering away their energies and resources aimlessly. Similarly, the rulers of certain Arab countries want to change religious precepts and the rules of the Shariah in such a manner that they become helpful in achieving their own political ends or help them cover up their own personal weaknesses, or else become instrumental in implementing programs instigated by foreign powers inimical to Islam.
It is necessary to make these leaders realize the futility of their efforts which have not only failed miserably in many a Muslim country but have also proved a hindrance in the achievement of national unity. The attention of these leaders should be invited to the ends and means, which would really help them in making their countries strong and united. Leaders of Muslim countries who have a reverential regard for Islam should, in like manner, be persuaded to create conditions favorable to the introduction of Shariah. They have to be convinced that their endeavors in this direction attract the aid and blessings of Allah (swt) for their countries and their people.
Simultaneously, an all out effort should be made to re-establish a central leadership for the entire Islamic world. The central leadership should be based on the principles of mutual consultation and cooperation in goodness and taqwa. There should be a general feeling of remorse and sorrow over the abolition of the Caliphate which was made incumbent for the Muslims and whose absence has been the main cause for the calamities suffered by them.
In so far as non-Muslim countries without Muslim minority communities are concerned, the Message of Islam should be disseminated in an effective and rational manner, keeping in view the existing conditions and the psychology of each nation to which the preaching is addressed. The present state of materialistic nihilism has created a spiritual and moral void in most of these countries, which along with the explicit failures of modern civilization, has created bright prospects for galvanizing man to the Message of the Allah and the unity of humanity preached by Islam.
In those countries where Muslims exist as a minority community, they should devise ways and means to impart religious education to their children without taking recourse to any assistance from their national governments and they should also safeguard their personal laws. Muslims in these countries ought to be ever watchful of the new rules and laws promulgated in their countries, exhibit their trustworthiness, dignity and noble-mindedness and try to fill the void of moral leadership that they are best fitted to do so. They can, in this way, not only afford a proof of their usefulness for their countries but can also become the [examples of morality] in light of the morally decadence in these societies. This is the only way to gain love and respect for themselves as well as to enhance the regard and confidence of their country-men which has been lost by the Muslims owing to peculiar historical circumstances in the recent past.
At the outset of this new century of the Islamic era, Muslims or rather the whole of the human race is looking forward to those who can satisfy the demands of Islam and meet the requirements of the present age by changing the course of history through their initiatives and courageous action. The scribe of time is holding its breath with an unrolled scroll of history in its hand so as to pay homage to and record the brilliant achievements of such leaders.
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