Preparing for the 21st Century
Develop Muslim Countries, Don't Attempt Empire
This is the second part of the speech by Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad on the Oxford Forum on the Islamic World And Global Cooperation on the topic “Preparing for the 21st century. This part of speech relates to development of Muslim countries to the level of the West in science, technology and skills while advising shunning of violence, terrorism, and bickering. Editor.
The religious advisers of the Turkish Sultans were sycophants who readily approved everything the Sultans did. Thus huge harems were maintained to satisfy the lusts of the Sultans, and the brothers of newly enthroned Sultans were all murdered in order to ensure that the Sultan would not be challenged.
While these practices were approved and even encouraged by the religious authorities, attempts at modernising the armed forces were opposed as un-Islamic. When proposals were made to change the baggy trousers for less clumsy pants and the fez replaced by peak caps, there was mutiny in the armed forces.
In the end the formerly invincible Turkish army was armed with obsolete weapons and was no match for the disciplined, professional European forces, equipped with ever more effective weapons. Beginning with the failure to capture Vienna, the Turkish Empire began to decline. The process seemed inexorable. By the end of the First World War the Turkish Empire had broken up into a multiplicity of little states all of which came under French or British overlordship. Turkey itself was almost lost to the Greeks but for Mustafa Kamal.
The Muslims who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula were initially true adherents of the teachings of Islam. They were tolerant of the people of the book, and were broadminded and willing enough to learn the skills, the sciences, mathematics and the arts of the non-Muslims, particularly those of the ancient Greeks. They did their own research and contributed greatly to the body of knowledge in many fields. They became technologically advanced as a result.
Unfortunately, with the advent of the Muslim jurists and the so-called reformists, studies other than those specifically related to religion and its practices were frowned upon and eventually proscribed. With this the Muslims regressed. True, it was the abuses and deviations from the teachings and practices of Islam, particularly by the elite, which brought about the reform movements and the ascendancy of the Muslim jurists. But what was achieved was not a return to the true teachings of Islam. The reforming fanatics and jurists simply wanted an Islam that was more rigid in the observation of certain rituals while precluding anything that they considered as un-Islamic. And so not only did they proscribe so-called non-Islamic knowledge, but they considered anything that did not seem to have originated in the Muslim past as un-Islamic as well. Thus the modernisation of the Turkish army was considered un-Islamic. They ignored the injunction in the Qur’an that the Muslims must always be prepared to defend themselves. Instead they clung to the form rather than the substance of the teaching. It was more important to relive the past than to consider the present.
The Qur’an speaks in parables, the real meaning of which must be interpreted in the context of the situation faced by the Ummah through the ages. But most interpreters insist on the literal meaning of the words in the Qur’an. And so the defence of the Ummah lost its importance to the need for ‘steeds of war’ as stated in Sura Anfal, verse 60 “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including ‘steeds of war’, to strike terror in the enemies”.
It is a fact that once upon a time there was a great Muslim empire. It is also a fact that, that empire is no more. Defeats in the fields of battle and in the conduct of diplomatic relations had not only whittled the empire down but had broken up the Empire into ineffective Muslim states which for a period of time became colonies of Western powers. The fragmentation and colonisation of the Muslim world is no doubt due to the machinations of the Europeans and their military power. It was the Europeans who manoeuvred the Arabs into fighting against the Turks for their independence.
Muslims all over the world often talk longingly of the Empire they had lost, of their past greatness, of their domination of the world. They had ruled Spain for 800 years and much of Eastern Europe for almost 400 years. They even talk of their past mastery of the sciences, mathematics and the arts, their past prowess in battles and their victories. They point to the artifacts of their past glory, the astrolabe, the armour and swords of their past commanders such as Salah el Din Al Ayubi and the great architectural tributes to their engineering and construction skills as evidence of their worldly achievements. And then they think of the reality of the present. They and their nations are backward, disunited, weak and are pawns in the political games of the Europeans. They are powerless to help Muslims when they are being slaughtered by their enemies. They see their holy Palestine divided and given to their sworn enemies, the Jews. Their initial belief that they could defeat tiny Israel proved unfounded. The Israelis defeated them again and again, aided and abetted by the Europeans.
Not only is the Empire gone but whatever little respect and honour that they had is now gone. They are openly caricatured as bumbling incompetents whose chances of recovering past greatness will forever remain pipe dreams.
And the more they think of their parlous state, the more angry they become. Frustrated, they feed on their anger, frequently getting themselves into a state of frenzy. And like most angry people they react irrationally. They resort to acts which gain them nothing at all except to intensify the hatred others had for them.
Terrorism was not invented by the Muslims. The first hijacking of aircraft was by an American. But the Muslims learnt this quickly enough as they did other terrorist acts. Soon terrorism, the invention of the non-Muslims, became synonymous with Islam and the Muslims. Far from being ashamed for giving them and their religion a bad name, the Muslim extremists went on to commit more frightening crimes. They would think nothing of killing the children of their enemies in order to strike terror in the hearts of their tormentors. But their acts have availed them nothing except the increased hatred of their enemies, who retaliated with equal ferocity. And this increased the anger of the Muslims even more, driving them into committing worse acts.
It would seem that for some extremist Muslims winning their fight or achieving their objective are not important, not relevant. It is the fight that counts. The more they create hatred for themselves, the more will they be condemned and abused, and the greater will be their hatred for their enemies. And the more determined will they be to continue the fight against their enemies.
One is again reminded of the tribal feuds of the pre-Islamic days. There was no objective, only hatred for the enemy tribe. And so they mount fights and kill for generations without seeking settlement or even victory.
For as long as the obsession with hurting the enemy prevails, for so long will the Muslims fight their enemies. There will be no peace, for peace is not the objective. The only end is the total destruction of the enemy. That this is not likely to happen is irrelevant. The important thing is that enemies must be fought against, irrespective of the result.
But is this in accord with the teachings of Islam? True in verse 190 of sura II the Muslims are urged to “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you” and in the next verse “And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out”. But immediately following this verse Muslims are told by the Qur’an (verse 192) “But if they cease, God is oft- forgiving, Most Merciful”.
And again in verse 193 “But if they cease, Let there be no hostility, except to those who practise oppression”. (And we know who practises oppression today). But despite these verse 194 says- “But fear God and know that God is with those Who restrain themselves”. It is natural for the Muslims to yearn after their past greatness, their Empire and their dominance over the rest of the world. But they must know that Imperialism is a thing of the past. Neither the Muslim Empire, nor the British Empire, nor any Empire can be resurrected.
All that we can hope to aspire to is the development of independent Muslim countries to the level of the developed countries of the world. This is not an impossible task. Muslims are not created by Allah to be inferior. Indeed the opposite seems true if past history is anything to go by. If they want to, Muslims can master all the skills and technologies now monopolised by non-Muslims. If they want to, Muslims can govern their countries well and effectively. But they must decide to do this, decide that Allah created this world for them too, and that it is their duty to show that Islam is a great religion which can bring greatness to those who profess and practise it.
The Qur’an says in verse 11 of sura XIII. “Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” Again it must be remembered that “Whatever good comes to thee is from God; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy soul”. Sura IV verse 79.
They can develop their different countries to the desired level without attempting to come together as an empire. Of course they must cooperate with each other as they are all members of the Muslim Ummah. Their loyalty to their own country should not extend to warring against other Muslim nations purely due to national ambitions. They can strengthen the OIC and help the members in distress. But that is as far as they should go. Coordination and cooperation, but no Empire. The Muslim countries — independent, strong and developed - must take their places as members of the World Community of nations. They must remain Muslims of course and they must uphold Islam. But they must be true Muslim fundamentalists - i.e. they must do what is right and reject what is wrong. The Qur’an says in sura III verse 104, “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.” Islam has always upheld what is right and just. Islam has never advocated that we should plot or support each other in doing what is wrong. And so if Muslims do what is wrong, other Muslims must condemn it. And they must condemn even if the victims are not Muslims. For the Qur’an enjoins “let not the hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice” (sura V verse 9). Sura V verse 45 stresses “If thou judge, judge in equity between them, for God loveth those who judge in equity”.
In this modern world Muslims have a real mission. They must bring back the spiritual values to a world that is fast becoming Godless and thoroughly materialistic; so arrogant that it thinks it knows all the answers to everything; a world which will develop the ultimate means of destruction and place it in the hands of irresponsible and insane individuals; a world teetering on the brink of a Man-made Apocalypse.
These people think that they know enough to play God Himself. Already they believe they can create anything that God creates. They may want to create a world according to their wishes. And they have become insufferably arrogant, accepting no one as being greater than them.
They forget that for all their brilliance they cannot answer the question “why”. They cannot answer why there is life in the world, why there is a universe, why matter acts in the way it does, why oxygen and hydrogen form water and a myriad other chemical and physical reactions.
They may know how all those things happen but never why. They are not the genius they think they are.
And because the human race is becoming more and more arrogant, religion and spiritual values are needed even more. And Islam can provide the spiritual values, to those who believe and to those who don’t. The Islam that can provide these values is fundamental Islam, the truly fundamental Islam which advocates peace, charity and caring, not the Islam which commits crimes and calls out the name of Allah to justify it.
The 21st Century is not relevant to the Muslims. It is just a period in time. But the 21st Century will see many changes and the Muslims will be a part of these changes whether they like it or not. It is better for them to face the 21st Century with their eyes wide open and with a clear vision of what they want to do and the role they wish to play. And if they chose to play a constructive role while retaining their faith, as well as their spiritual values and their true brotherhood, they would be able to contribute positively to the development of mankind, to put it on an even keel again and to prevent the self-destruct course which the human race appears to be heading for. The Muslims can be a force for human good in the 21st Century.
Concluded: The first part of the speech appeared in May 1999 issue.
Speech by Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir - I
By Noor-u-Din Qureshi
Bharitya Janata Party pleads for new proposition of cultural nationalism and common civil code for different religious groups of India. These propositions are justifiable only when they are founded on natural order of things prevailing in and around the world. These propositions cannot be acceptable to a single Indian when they are not based on natural order of things. This is because there is no such thing as “Indian Culture” except the Indian’s precious traditional heritage, Indians’ love for one another and love for their country’s unity, despite their “different religious beliefs and practices”. This type of their love is inherent in the nature of every human being in every part of the world. Islam has declared “Country’s love” as part of Muslim faith. All other religions also make their believers to have the deepest love for their countries they live in. But Islam has never favoured aggressive nationalism because they follow the Holy Prophet of Islam’s saying. “He is not of us who sides with his tribe in aggression, and he is not of us who calls others to help him in tyranny, and he is not of us who dies while assisting his tribe in injustice.”
In India, there are diverse regional cultures as based on regional languages, beliefs, customs and the like. And all members of different religious groups own and practice something of a regional culture when that does not go against their already disciplined religious practices. Thus, there is no common Indian culture except the Indian’s belief that they belong to India’s vast dimensions having greater unity in diversity and natural tendency “love for one another as Indians and love for Indian’s unity for the highest beneficial result-attainment of higher human evolutionary goals for ensuring a congenial atmosphere in which there is equitable distribution of natural wealth and its benefits in the light of true human justice.
The Indians in different regions have been exhibiting true human love for one another from ancient times to this day. It is due to wrong preaching of certain vested interests and wrong patriots that the “Ugly head” of intolerance and hatred towards others appears in some parts of India and creates communal disturbances. In this way, the wrong patriots and mischief mongers pave a smooth way to India’s disintegration. This eases the work of India’s enemies. In order to make the Indians to stand united they must be instructed to act strictly upon the golden principle of human love and respect as indicated in “Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you.”
As a matter of fact, this principle stands actualized in their daily lives by the Muslims of the world when they are made to create a strong feeling in minds for “have nots’” privations in the fasting month of Ramdhan. The affluent and other Muslims feel pangs of hunger and thirst in that month and as such they make natural attempts at helping oppressed and deserving persons in the light of Surah 4:75 of the Qur’an. “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who being weak and (oppressed) are ill treated? Men, women and children whose cry is, Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors!”. This instruction is meant for all deserving persons-Muslims and non-Muslims of the world according to their urgent needs.
It is impossible to turn unnatural into natural form. How can one give a common shape to diverse regional cultures with a view to turning them into one Indian culture? However, the Indians can be made to appropriate their human powers in true human manner enabling them to better everything right in the Indian and her people and to remove everything worst from the country and her people. None can disobey natural laws without receiving due penalty for a transgression. Sometimes that penalty is as silent as the command and at times a transgressor receives due warning before the final penalty.None can force others to change their temperaments and personal laws without their sweet will. Even the genetic engineers cannot do that unnatural trial. In view of the above mentioned facts, the Indians’ feelings and actions must be based on the mild form of altruism and love and respect towards all resident of India. Nobody should despise and maltreat a safai-wala or a shudra or an oppressed Indian for rendering his essential services to the society he lives in. He should be loved and helped in the manner the true foreign, and other missionaries do love and help down-trodden people of India. A common civil code is not possible at all in India in which different religious and other groups-the rationalists, the communists, the socialists and the like, live in peace and amity. Their doctrines and practices are entirely of different nature and sometimes most of such doctrines and practices are opposite to one another. In view of this, even the most efficient law makers of the world cannot bring about commonness in the personal laws and temperaments of the people belonging to different regions or religious and other groups. That unnatural and absurd attempt of some fascist groups can cause large scale emotional disturbances among the Indians and consequently harm the unity of India. Thus, for rendering true human services to the Indians the saner leaders of India must undertake natural methods of changing peoples wrong thinking, wrong decisions and wrong actions into true scientific ones. Imaginary doctrines can have no value in the presence of natural order of things prevailing in the universe and which are run by “Nature” under the Glorified guidance and planning of the “Absolute Reality” behind the whole creation.
A sound foundation of real cultural nationalism can be founded by making every Indian to perceive, think, feel, decide and act in true scientific way under relevant experts’ guidance, making every Indian to utilize his feelings in a true scientific manner so that he can maintain his body, mental and moral health in the best possible way, making every Indian to contribute more than his due share in the removal of environmental, moral and mental pollution from the country and her people respectively on a war footing and finally making every Indian to follow natural laws in the light of scientific forecasting-for the highest beneficial results, for himself and others in the light of true human justice.
Sometimes people like Shri Gol Walker of RSS, say that the minorities have no right to live in India. This is the height of ignorance about historical facts; the real and original residents of India are the minorities; The aborigines, who accepted Islam or Christianity as their new religion, did that novel thing for maintaining their honour and dignity which was totally denied to them because they were unjustly labelled as Shudras or backwards. They were despised and harshly maltreated for rendering essential services to the society they lived in. In fact, they have been living their lives in most degraded conditions from ancient times up to this age of science.
It was the greatest blessing for the oppressed Indians that the foreign and local Christian missionary workers came forward to change their pitiable conditions. This is obstinately disliked by the wrong patriots of India. Instead of doing true human services for bettering the fate of oppressed Indians, they directed their immature minds and actions towards inflicting atrocities on the missionaries. How unfortunate it is?
As a matter of fact, the Dalits, the tribal, Scheduled castes and other backwards together with the Muslims, the Christians, the Buddhists, the Sikhs, the Parsies and the like form 85% of India’s population. And the upper caste people who are always bent upon the mischief form only 15% of Indians total population. In view of this, the meagre population of India cannot do any harm to the major portion of India’s population provided the former stand united to fight the wrong patriots of India.
India is face to face with life and death problems environmental and moral pollution, abject poverty of 35 crores Indians and the corrupt practices especially adulteration in eatables and medicines. The opportunists try to take the people towards unscientific realms. This they do because they are engrossed in imaginary doctrines and practices. Their unnatural trials of changing natural order of created things in and around the world shall never succeed. They can no longer exploit the scientific minds of India in this scientific age.
The changing of ancient historical records without any sound reason cannot change the worst conditions of 35 crores of oppressed people and of unemployed Indians unless we do something solid to set right their pitiable conditions on a war footing.
By unnatural trials of changing true historical facts, a group of immature brains of India cannot render true service to the nation. However, they shall reveal their mental weakness as a real historical truth to the future generations. This shows that they are engrossed in imaginary doctrines and in that capacity they are trying to take the scientific brains of India to the dreamy land of “indolence and mischief”.
For ensuring real feeling of true culture (nationalism and of international brotherhood) among the Indians of different religious groups Indians must be trained to feel strongly about the privations of “have nots”. This is possible by providing them a congenial atmosphere in the manner of the fasting month of Ramadhan when the richest, the rich and moderate income group Muslims feel pangs of hunger and thirst in the day under Allah’s command.
The saner leaders of India shall do their best to constitute “Human-welfare” Committees at proper places in the best possible manner so that real local leaders of the people as committee members can have their due say and hand in the planning, completion and assessment of all welfare and development works.
All residents of different regions must be made to create and develop emotional integration among themselves under expert guidance.
The experts of commerce, trade and industries must be prevailed upon to prepare practicable schemes in respective endeavours for ensuring inter-state trade, business and industrial relations among oppressed and unemployed persons of neighbouring or other states. These pro-emotional integration among the Indians can be realized after practicable training regarding recent trends in the world cooperative movements. There must be severe punishments for fraudulent activities so as to safe-guard the image of business partners.
By Hasan Mansur
In the wake of the fall of the Vajpayee government, two key ideological issues have emerged, communalism and corruption. The Congress’ new-found love for the AIDMK, with the left in tow, is there in the open. None of these political parties except perhaps for the left can pass as secular. The Samata party with its wily George Fernandes, the Periyar legacy cast to the winds, playing Tweedledum and Tweeledee, the Telugu Dasam and the Bahujan Samaj Party, chameleon-like changing colours, Laloo and his fellow-tribesman, Mulayam wooing the upper castes as well as the Yadava and Muslims and thrown in between the ageing Young Turk Chandrasekhar and the wily and vile Subramaniamswamy make the political scene murkier than ever before. In this infamous wheeling and dealing, the democratic ethos has fallen by the way side.
The role of the Sangh Pariwar in propagating its virulent communal venom, first against the Muslims and now against the Christians, goes apace without letup. The videshi versus the swadeshi debate adequately demonstrates the RSS political outfit, the BJP’s intolerant and xenobic colours.
This rank opportunism of the political parties of the Right and Centre should not obscure the threat communalism presents to the survival of a plural, modern and democratic ethos. The secular debate is not only relevant but most crucial now. In its short stint in power, the BJP has shown its hand by subverting whatever was left of the democratic institutions in the country. All its militant posturing in the wake of the Pokharan blasts has led to its unexplained reversal on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a submission to the multi-nationals and the funding Banks on the Insurance and Patents Bills; in other words, it all began with a bang and ended with a whimper.
The so-called secular forces are undoubtedly corrupt but how come the grave charges by Admiral Bhagvat and Mohan Guruswamy have gone unanswered? The BJP dare not pursue the Bofors investigation to its logical conclusion because the trail could lead to Vajpayee himself and his linkages with the Hindujas. The BJP both in the past and the present has been no less corrupt. Its governance in Uttar Pradesh and Maharastra, its bon homie with Jayalalitha, the infamous alliance with Sukh Ram and the volte of O.P. Chautala speak of unrivalled opportunism and total lack of political principles.
Therefore any contra position of communalism and corruption is false and dangerously misleading. Corruption is undoubtedly evil and needs to be fought but it does not threaten the very survival of democracy as communalism does. The communal consciousness of the Sangh Parivar is embodied in claims like Aryans being the original inhabitants of India, Chinese and Persians as descendants of upper caste Hindu migrants or the social and religious conflict as a consequence of foreign invasions, and this is sought to be spread across the country. This is a most sinister communal project that denies a pluralist, modern and rationalist society and political order. Vested interests have raised the bogey of political instability and frequent elections. “Political stability cannot be legislated”. The assertion of the rights of the marginalised and oppressed like Dalits, Adivasis, minorities and backward classes challenge the stability of the status quo, the security of the elite and the affluent. A society in change will be wrecked by instability.
Political instability, in sofar it is a reflection of social change must be channelised to strengthen, protect and reinvigorate democratic institutions. A vigilant and committed body of social activists leading the people must wage this battle in civil society. Corruption can be combated through transparent and accountable governance.The can never compromise with communalism, in the mistaken interest of fighting corruption or ensuring political stability. The communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar with its in built theology of inequality, discrimination against women, its genocidal proclivities in respect of minorities and its false stance of swadeshi and nationalism and medieval thinking, bereft of scientific temper needs to be fought in a sustained long battle where all the exploited and marginalised like the Dalits, adivasis, minorities and other backward classes must make common cause and defeat decisively this sinister conspiracy of the Manuvadis.
By Dr. Habeeb Haris
The human sojourn on this earth has seen different material and moral stages. But seldom has man been at such a critical juncture as he is now. Chaos and confusion regarding life and purpose of life have played havoc with humanity. The disastrous imbalance between the material and moral aspect of human life has left a long trail of pain, death and destruction, threatening man with annihilation at every step of this hazardous adventure. That the maintenance of this delicate balance between the material and moral spheres of life is undoubtedly necessary for the smooth continuation of the rhythm of human life has been duly acknowledged by man down the ages as a fact has not discouraged a few so called modern liberated thinkers who are out on the savage mission to dehumanize man and rob him of the very distinction which places him above the rest of the creation. The modern age has produced atheistic thinkers who seem to be the new stage of ‘evolution’. Darwin, freud, Marx and their ilk have done a great job ! The whole world is to be turned into a factory where morality would be non-professional, rather, anti-professional. This is being presented as the triumph of ‘modern’ man. A real achievement of ‘scientific’ thought. This shameless dismantling Of human values and moral structure is being passionately pursued by western and westernised institutions and individuals. This virulent culture is being aggressively pushed down the throats of unsuspecting ‘developing’ nations. The deceptive mirage of ‘development’ and ‘modernisation’ is misleading and exploiting the masses to the hilt.
Whole nations are being pushed into the abyss of ignorance . The ‘media’ is the major enforcement arm of this satanic cultural octopus. It contaminates the mind and pollutes the soul faster than any virus and toxin. It enslaves man and eliminates humanity. It is more destructive than all nuclear bombs. This destruction and death has no precedent in human history.
Most disturbingly, the victims are unaware of their impending doom and the sick are rejoicing in their sickness. The human conscience has gone into a stage of coma. Death seems inevitable. The only ‘cure’ has been labelled as ‘poison’ by prejudiced ‘doctors’ who are injecting more disease germs into the dying human conscience. Those who can ‘cure’ the disease are branded as ‘terrorists’ so that peace eludes humanity forever and darkness reigns supreme.
In this suffocating atmosphere of hopelessness and despair, tearing through the veils of darkness and ignorance, comes the light of divine guidance : “O Man! What is it that has made you neglectful of your Lord, the merciful?” and the heavily battered human conscience, as if rising from the dead, cries out spontaneously, seeking to cling on to the only ray of hope for it’s survival and to protect itself from eternal darkness and doom. And to guide man from the darkness into light, the Merciful Lord directs: “Rush towards Allah!” Which is a call towards the Creator Himself . This is a call towards peace and progress, towards eternal bliss and salvation. This call is an appeal to the ‘human’ within man.
This is a call to re-ignite the extinguishing spark of goodness within man and make it a blazing fire of faith to cleanse this world of all evil. In this fire of emotion, of self-recognition, man is re-introduced to himself. This call is a call to re-germinate the ‘seed’ of humanity in the ‘soil’ of human conscience and raise a new world on the concept of life and the purpose of life; a world built on the firm foundation of Knowledge and faith; a world built on the mercy of the Creator and his own guidance. This call is a call to build a society which rejects all darkness of ignorance; A society which recognises itself, its freedom and its limits; a society which does not tolerate injustice and oppression, hypocrisy and bigotry; a society where the oppressors are punished and the week are protected.
This is not an utopia. It has happened 14 centuries ago and this call of “Rush Towards Allah” has the same power to transform this world into the ‘kingdom of God’, because this is a call from the All-Mighty Himself whose laws are free of limits of time and space. n
Is Islam a religion?
It is, but it is much more than a religion. It is a way of life.
Is Islam a way of life?
Yes, but not an ordinary one; it is a comprehensive way of life, a complete code of conduct for both individuals and society as a whole.
Is Islam an ideology?
Perhaps so. But it is more than just an idea; its idealism is rooted in realism and practicability.
Is Islam a movement?
May be it could be described as such. But it has permanent moorings. It does not compromise on principles, it strives to move in rhythm with space and time.
Islam is a combination of all the above; it is, in the words of the Holy Qur’an, Deen.
Islam is something live in our everyday lives, in our capacities as individuals as well as members of society, as neighbours, as nationals of a particular country and as citizens of the world.
Islam is not a philosophy but a practice. Instead of spending so much time philosophising, we Muslims should devote our days and nights to bringing ourselves in line with the teachings and expectations of Islam.
Islam expects every Muslim to do his duty by Islam - one’s duty to Allah and His creatures.
Islam simultaneously moves one towards God as well as towards man, and to keep the balance between the two is the ideal life of a Momin (believer).
Today, unfortunately, our lives are lopsided; we should create more equilibrium in our lives.
Islam did not rest content with a set of beliefs and principles, but also specifies a system embodying these principles, and this is based on an ethical code within the framework of social justice. It is an honest, moral and just system which enabled early Muslims to give a fresh and dynamic leadership to a benighted world. We have to emerge from our fossilised stupor, with the dynamic Islam the holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) gave us, we should regain that position of moral, intellectual and all-round leadership.
Islam is both universal and eternal. It is neither racial nor regional; all its principles are universal. Likewise, it is eternal in the sense that its principles hold true for all times. It keeps the road to infinite knowledge always open. It never closes the book of reason. New areas of conquest are always kept open to man; he is encouraged to proceed with more and more conquests, and makes even the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets subservient to him. It is these things which enable man to fill the position of the vicegerency of Allah on earth.
So long as the Muslims preserved this position, they remained in the vanguard of progress and were marked out as the torch-bearers of light and learning, culture and civilisation.
Our betterment lies not in going away from Islam but coming nearer to it - real and living Islam, and not the stagnant variety which we find around us, encroached upon by un-Islamic assertions of time and space.
We have to find the life-giving panacea in Islam itself, and not get lost in wandering away from it. We have to refit ourselves in the Islamic framework of faith, reason and justice. Let us raise ourselves above sectarian controversies and be guided in our own day-to-day life by the life-giving ideology of Islam, and thus enable ourselves to play in the world the role of the people of the Middle course (Ummatun Wastatun), the balance-keepers, and the peace-keepers.
But for playing that role, we will have once again to combine Iman (faith) with Aamal-i-Saleh (good deeds), the two basic rocks on which rests the edifice of Islam.
Islam raised man’s status in his own eyes. For the first time it salvaged man from the clutches of his fellow men. Islam goes a step further. According to it, Allah bestows man, His best and noblest creation, with such bounties of reason and knowledge as to enable him to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, lawful from unlawful, proper from improper, and thus so enriches his life as to enable him to send forth the great calls of Hayya Alal Falah (the call to success), both here and in the Hereafter. It is also the call towards welfare, the welfare of all men. Faith and welfare are the objects of a Muslim’s life. Thus, every Muslim is expected to make his contribution, however humble, to the common good of all. Can humanitarianism and altruism go any further?
Islam means peace, it also means surrender, surrender not to any mundane mortal, but to Allah. And the concept of God in Islam is that he is the universal creative and preservative force. God in Islam stands for the constructive forces of Harmony. And it is in surrender to this universal force of harmony that Islam seeks peace for all the world. And it is as a religion of peace and harmony that Islam offers the olive branch of good will to peoples of all faiths.
At the core of Islam is the concept of charity - in its most expansive sense and widest dimensions. The holy Qur’an commands us not say things we do not do. There must be no contradiction between our words and our deeds.
The Holy Qur’an tells us to join hands in what is good and proper, and not to join hands in what is sin, transgression and aggression. Either as individuals or as groups of society, do we follow this golden rule? If not, may we ask why?
The holy Qur’an orders us to do what is right and to forbid what is wrong. Do we follow this noble principle in our everyday life? If not why?
These injunctions constitute the heart of Islam. If we do not follow them, why blame Islam? Are we not a little too soft on ourselves? Let us go in for better self-assessment, and be prepared to check our flaws and redress our shortcomings. By doing so alone can we bring ourselves on the Sirat Al Mustaqeem (right path) for which we pray in every prayer, the path of those whom Allah has blessed.
The right path will not come to us. We will have to go to that path. Let each one of us take a forward step, with the holy Qur’an as our guide and the holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) as our leader.
Our God is one, our Prophet (Pbuh) is one, our book of guidance (the holy Qur’an) is one, and our Qibla is one.
Let us also be the one, a united and strong Ummah that dispels darkness, spreads light and sets norms for others to follow. If we could do that in the past, why cannot we do it today? -(SKH).
It was school day for the tenth standard girls of the Carmel Convent in Jayanagar, and for once the girls were out of their irksome uniforms and dressed in churidars and saris. My grand-daughter, Shama, of the above school, had just dropped in at my house before going to join in the school day celebrations, just to let me see how she looked in a sari. My heart filled with love and pride to see this first-born grandchild of mine grown into womanhood. As she stood striking postures my mind took a giant leap back to a night when one-year-old Shama, in the last stages of dehydration, was hovering between life and death in a nursing home, leaving us all in tears. Her mother sat by her side, praying, while Shama was being kept barely alive by the glucose drips overhead. At that time I had prayed to Allah with all myheart to spare this first-born grandchild of mine. And today that almost-dead one-year-old stood before me, a ravishing beauty of sixteen. What changes are wrought by time, the great magician!
My mind took another giant leap back in time to a magical moment when I was celebrating my college day in Kochi some five decades back. Five decades! How time flies! Post-World War II Kochi, was a poverty-stricken land in those days. Thanks to the war food had become scarce. Most of the lower middle-class subsisted on tapioca. I lived in a small hut with thatched roof and carried on my studies under the dim light of a kerosene lamp, for electricity had not yet made an impact in the life of Kochi. But all that has changed now. Time has changed the face of Kochi. Poverty and starvation have become things of the past. Everybody is rolling in money, thanks to the huge strides made by Kochi in fishing and cashew industries in addition to the incessant flow of Gulf money, thanks to the lakhs and lakhs of Keralites working in the Gulf countries. But my mind, however, is not at all attuned to this new-found prosperity of my home town. My heart still yearns for that poverty-stricken hut with its thatched roof where I lived as a boy. My mind still dwells on that college day we students of the Sacred Hearts College celebrated before going out into the world in search of employment. My eyes still fill with tears when I think of Mr. Verghese, the English professor, who put me on the road to proficiency in the English language. He guided me through the labyrinth of English literature, lighting up my path with lamps of Shakespeare, Dickens, Scott, Priestley, Bennet, Somerset Maugham, Wodehouse and so on. He was always happy when I scored highest in English tests and examinations. “You will go far, my boy,” he had predicted before saying good-bye to me on that college day meet. I do not know how far I have gone. But I have certainly inherited that teacher’s love for English. And here and now, with a heart full of love and gratitude, I salute you, Sir, wherever you are, for all you have done for me!