Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Islamic Movements

There are always two distinct kinds of movements. One is launched positively, on the basis of some discovery which is held to be of great benefit of mankind, whereas the other is a negative process, set in motion out of a sense of deprivation, or in order to recover something which has been lost. The Islamic movement, for its part, was certainly launched with a prior sense of having found something of inestimable value.

The wonderful sense of discovery with which the companions of the Prophet were imbued was that of having become aware of the oneness of God, Qur’an and great Islamic values in contradiction to polytheism. The realization had come to them that the life hereafter - man's entry into paradise - was the only goal worthy of man's endeavors. They learned too that a life devoid of principle was one of utter degradation and that the highest human objective should be to become a man of principle. They had been stirred to the very core of their beings by this thought. Their very souls had been moved by it, their minds enlightened by Quran Recitation, and new doors to reality opened before them. Their lives were so truly transformed by this idea that it was kind of re-birth for them. Although whatever they had gained in the process was apparently non-material - a thing of the mind - it was so great a thing for them that it took precedence over all else. This discovery gave them the strength to remain content, even when bereft of all their worldly possessions. No sacrifice was then too great for them to make.

Another benefit of their discovery was that it conferred upon them the position of da'is (preachers) through Islamic Schools, conveyors of the divine message to the entire world. Let me stress that it is important at this point to understand the essential difference between a da'i (preacher) and a national leader. The latter is one who, at the apex of the ruling party, expects to be able to command others and to make demands upon them, whereas the da'i (preacher) is always the giver. He never takes anything from other.

What the companions of the Prophet had was greater than anything else in this world. What they had discovered was a guarantee that they might stand before the world as givers, not takers. It was this characteristic which endowed them with such irresistible power, and it was not long before the greater part of the inhabited world came under their sway, for their moral superiority was undeniable.

But this, regrettably, cannot be said of present-day Muslims, who parrot the names of the Prophet's companions without their religion being in any sense a great discovery for them. Hence this desire of theirs is to appear before the world in the garb of national leader, and not as da'is (preachers). The Muslim image in the world today is that of the taker, not of the giver. And that being so, the man behind the image is utterly without value. It is his sense of loss which motivates him, and not his sense of gain. Propelled by such people, the Islamic movement is doomed to lose momentum, and it will not be long before it comes to a complete standstill unless we take measures to re-energize it. We must surely undertake individual and mass reforms, returning to the basic tenets of Islam, if we are not to be swamped by total moral inertia.