May 9, 2008, 6:51 AM
Introduction: The majority of the modern “educated” people are today faced with a religious crisis. Is religion really a face of life? It might have been one in the past, but does it still remain so in the world of today when science has changed the whole course of life, and when there is no place in it for anything save science and what scientific facts approve of? Does religion represent a genuine need of humanity? Or is it something wholly dependent upon the temperamental constitution of an individual so that one may not believe in it as there is no difference between the two states of belief and unbelief?
Talking about Islam they betray a similar state of intellectual crisis when the missionaries of Islam tell that Islam is not a mere creed, nor does it represent simply an edification of souls, or a refinement and training of human virtues but is rather a harmonious whole that also includes a just economic system, a well-balanced social organization, codes of civil, criminal as well as international law, a philosophical outlook upon life along with a system of physical instruction, all of these flowing from the same fundamental creed of Islam and its moral and spiritual temperament. When they hear all this, these “educated” people are greatly perplexed, for they supposed that Islam had exhausted all its usefulness. That is why they are surprised when they hear devout Muslims saying that Islam does not belong to a remote past, it is not obsolete or antiquated but is a living and flourishing system of life even at the present moment, as it holds within itself such elements of life as no other system known to humanity does including socialism as well as communism or any other system.
At this their surprise exceeds limits, they can no more contain themselves, so they scream at these preachers of God’s words: Do you tell us all this about the religion that approves of slavery, feudalism and capitalism-the system which holds that woman is only a half-man and imprisons her within her household; which prescribes such punishment as stoning to death, mutilation and whipping; which lets its people live on charity; which splits them up into different classes, some exploiting the other; a system which provides no security of decent living to the toiling people; and a system which is such and such, how is it possible that such a system should even hold its own today, let alone its survival in the future? Not to speak of its triumph and contending successfully, how can such a system even hold out in the ruthless ideological struggle going on at present among different modern socio-economic systems?
Before proceeding further let us, however, pause awhile and see as to whom these “educated” skeptics are? Whence does their skepticism originate? Is this attitude of mind a result of their own free thinking or are they merely parroting the words of other without even so much as understanding them?
The fact is that the skepticism exhibited by these gentlemen is not all a result of their own independent thinking, not did it originate in their own minds as such. For its true source we will have to go back a little over the history of modern times.
The Middle Ages witnessed crusades between Europe and the world of Islam. Furious battles were fought between the two after which followed a period that saw a suspension of hostilities between the two camps but their hostility towards each other never ended as is well borne out by what Lord Allenby said in clear terms on the occasion of the British occupation of Jerusalem in Word War I: “Now have the crusades come to an end!”
We must also keep in mind that during the last two centuries European imperialism remained in conflict with the Islamic Orient. The British steeped into Egypt in 1882 following Taufiq’s treachery. They hatched a plot with him for ghe military occupation of Egypt in order to thwart the popular revolution under the leadership of Orabi. Thereafter the British policy of necessary revolved around one basic aim: strengthening their hold more and more on the Islam world and safeguarding their interests from being swept away by the true Islamic spirit of the Orient. We would in this respect like to refer to what the British Prime Minister of the Victorian age, Mr. Gladstone said in the House of Commons. Holding up the Holy Quran in his hands he told the members of the House: “As long as the Egyptians have got this book with them, we will never be able to enjoy quiet or peace in that land”.
Naturally the policy pursed by the British was one of deriding Islamic Laws and principles, of exiling the sense of their sanctity from Muslims’ hearts, and of painting Islam in the blackest of colors so as to make them look down upon it and in due course of time to discard it totally. They did all this in order to tighten up their imperialistic grip on this country.
The educational policy they adopted in Egypt was such as left the students’ quite ignorance about the reality of Islam, expect that it was a religion embracing worships, prayers, praising and glorifying God, and pursuing mystic practices; that the Quran was a book read in order to invoke God’s blessing s and Islam was a theoretical invitation to pursue the noblest and most generous of moral precepts. Students were never told anything about Islam as a socio-economic system of government or as a constitution, or as a basis of internal and external policy, or as system of education, or as a way of life and a watcher over life. What they were taught instead was the doubts cast against Islam by the orient- lists and other European crusaders in order to make the Muslims forsake their religion and succumb easily to the evil machinations of imperialism.
They were taught that the only genuine social system in existence was that which Europe possessed, the only true economic system was one that was conceived by the European philosophers, the right and most appropriate from of constitutional government was what the Europeans, thanks to their various experiments, evolved. They were taught that the rights of man were first taken cognizance of by the French Revolution, that democracy was fostered and made popular by the English people, and that it was the Roman Empire that provided any basis of civilization. In short, the British depicted Europe as a rebellious but mighty giant with none to stand in its way or check its progress whereas they presented the East as a dwarfish underling with no standing of its own save that of subordination to Europe and complete dependence upon it for its social and cultural outlook
This political at last took effect. Among the Egyptians there sprang up generations who were shorn of any though of their individual or independent cultural existence. They were completely enthralled by Europe; they worshipped it most devotedly, they could neither see with their own eyes nor were they any more left capable of thinking for themselves; they would see just what the Europeans wanted them to see; and they thought what they wished them to think.
The “educated” intelligentsia of today represents as such the culminating point of what the imperialists with their political manoeuvres achieved in some countries.
These poor people know nothing about Islam but doubt. About Islam they have no information save what they received through their European masters. That is why they are seen shouting like them advocating the separation of religion from the state and of science from Islam.
But in their ignorance they pass by the fact that the religion that Europe shook off was one quite different from what the advocates of Islamic ideology call upon people to adopt; and that the particular circumstance that prevailed in Europe at the time and made it turn its back upon religion were confined to that region of the world only. Nothing of the sort ever happened in the Islamic orient, nor is there any likelihood of its ever happening there. Thus when they call upon their countrymen to discard Islam or declare that Islam should have no say in the management of social, political and economic affairs of community and life, they are merely expressing and parroting the imported thoughts of their masters…..
To be continued.