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Islamic awakening and its contemporary intellectual needs

Jan 29, 2010, 10:47 AM

If we indeed intend to have an outlook of the future of the Islamic Ummah, the outlook must be done in the light of Islamic awakening and the development of its civilization. Therefore to be able to rationally and scientifically examine the outlook as well as the various roles that can be played by religious organizations, scientific committees and religious scholars in transforming Islamic civilization, we must first know the meaning of Islamic awakening and analyze its internal as well as external factors.

Islamic awakening is a social phenomenon that means retuning, awakening, and vigilance of an Islamic Ummah. This reality should make it reach the stage of self-confidence and take pride in its religion, honor, and political, economic, and intellectual independence so as to be able to discharge its natural duties as "people's best nation".

This auspicious awakening has factors and historic roots that must be analyzed accurately.


1- Internal factors: By this we mean an Islamic Ummah enjoying civilization entities, cultural and intellectual treasures, and complementary scholarly views found in the holy religion of Islam. A religion that enjoys a lot of supremacy and superiority due to its special consideration of values, intellect, faith, religious law and morals both in this world and the hereafter. Islam has solved man’s psychological, bodily, and worldly problems such that a Muslim who lives according to Islamic teachings leads a very calm and tranquil life. By rearing the inside of man, Islam plays a very important role in guarding him against moral and behavioral diseases while aiding him acquire virtue and good attributes. It fortifies his contact with the Almighty Allah and his reliance on him as well as his social interaction thus putting before him the broad moral perspective


Further more, by reviving the spiritual aspect of man, Islam moulds him to be social which enables him to participate in the future reshaping of his society. Islam has catered for all the needs of man thus, empowering him to play his natural part as the true vicegerent of Allah on earth.

This aspect has indeed perfected man’s individual and social scope as regard to universal and legislative matters. Additionally, it has perfected his moral attributes that should mark the beginning of an Islamic awakening


2- External factors: Islamic Ummah is stuck in the mud of imported Eastern and Western material civilization and being intellectually and culturally attacked from all sides. Islam has taken the back seat in international arena because of a number of factors which have taken place aver a long period of time some of which are: the absence of an honest Islamic leader, the involvement of some Muslim leaders in petty and individual matters and the weakness of the spirit of enjoining good and forbidding evil. This is so because, these factors and deceptive slogans propagated by colonialists concerning bringing freedom and development in Muslim lands and the coincidence of the slogans with technological developments which are considered by the colonialists to be the main reason for their development has indeed double-exacerbated ignorance and blindness among Muslims concerning the reality of Islam.

This weakness, ignorance, and the mixing of civilization, culture and scientific matters have indeed put Muslims under a new culture. To the extent that, even "Muslim" writers and thinkers who have been seduced and deceived by it have analyzed things in its advantage. After a while, curtains have fallen and the deceptive faces of contemporary civilization laid bear. After years of Muslims being  engulfed in self-inflicted crises and predicaments they woke up from their deep slumber only to find out that they had already been defeated and their riches and wealth usurped and plundered by colonialists. It newly dawned to them that in reality the colonialists were after their wealth and pushing them away from their Islamic values’ culture, faith and intellect. In short they were after their humiliation and defamation. As it is clear, the present-day civilization is actually the scramble for Muslim wealth in which Muslims themselves have been the losers. This humiliating defeat has fortunately acted as an eye-opener to some Muslims who have started to look out for ways of salvation and rescue from this mess. As a result some reformist scholars and thinkers have started to fight back against this threat and the contemporary clash of civilizations.

The clash of material civilization against Islam and the need to enjoin good and forbid evil as well as the fight for the sake of Allah has resulted in the emergence of Islamic awakening. Another external factor that has contributed to the emergence of Islamic awakening has been the oppression and onslaught of modern civilizations against third world countries and its painful results to humanity. Therefore victimized nations have resolved to fight back and regain their usurped honor and retain their intellectual, political and economic unity. They want to find a substitute so as to do away with their dark and painful past of being ruled by oppressive imperialists under the guise of civilization and development. Therefore Muslim nations have decided that Islam is their best savior and correctly identified their goals. They want to revenge all the atrocities committed against Islam, demand its rights and bravely defend it. This is why we see the emergence of revolutions in Islamic lands demanding freedom, independence and revival of Islamic civilization in Muslim lands. Islamic awakening was not an instant phenomenon but a gradual movement that took shape as a result of long-sufferings and pains inflicted upon Muslim nations by oppressive foreigners who implemented non-Islamic laws against them. Weak and incompetent rulers who sow poisonous seeds of imported civilizations in Muslim societies also contributed to this sorry state.

Therefore Muslims find there to be a very  a big contradiction between Islam which wants them to lead their lives according to religious teachings on the one hand and modern civilization that wants to put barriers between them and their religious identity on the other. As a result, western civilization has failed to penetrate the inner core of Muslims that is under the influence of Muslim awakening and forced to remain at the top layers of Muslim society. Devout Muslim youth have always opposed and raised their voices in every corner of the Muslim world whenever they feel that their, religious teachings, values and eternal civilization are under threat. Sociologists, politicians, peacemakers, and thinkers had earlier predicted the emergence of this awakening. For example, Martyr Seyyid Qutb in his book al-Mustaqbal Lihadha al-Deen [1] and Hamid Rabee', a political science teacher had already predicted the awakening sixty years back. Mr. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the late Montreal University professor, authored a book under the title Modern Islam in the fifties in which he notified leaders of his country of the awakening. Additionally, Montgomery Watt, a British specialist on Middle East Affairs wrote a book in 1964 analyzing Islam in the middle ages and talked of future Islamic awakening. He said: "Islamic awakening will have a forth ideology which will rule over the world at the end of the contemporary twentieth century."

A more interesting assertion in this case comes from a Russian scholar Jovanovski who after the socialist revolution wrote a book comparing it to the French revolution concluding that the two had failed in their goals. He said the world needed another revolutions which would correct mistake made by the two revolutions in carrying ahead man’s movement toward perfection. He then posed this question; who would lead that revolution and where would it take place? He then predicted that the {third} revolution would only take place in Islamic countries. He made the prediction in 1919.


Prof. Hamid Mowlana.

For more information see AL- Taqrib Journal ...


To be continued.