Contemporary Islamic Asalah: The Only Solution

The Approach to the Solution

No one studying the Ummah will have difficulty in discerning the present backwardness of its culture, its political degradation, and its human suffering, regardless of its human and material resources and in spite of its values and principles. Such Is the very heart of the Ummah's crisis. It is inevitable that such a backward and aimless existence should be of major concern to the spirit of the Muslim Ummah which has always represented the conscience of a pioneering and constructive people. It is therefore only natural that the Ummah seeks to reform, renew, and revive itself.

In order to deal with the Ummah's structural shortcomings and to fulfill the conditions necessary for their successful treatment, we must understand the root causes of those shortcomings. In truth, the Ummah's present infirmity and backwardness have become so pronounced that its very existence is threatened by the challenge of Western civilization to its way of life, thought, and institutions. what is called for is a comprehensive and deeply analytical examination of every facet of the Ummah, for only such an analysis will allow us to trace the path which has brought, and continues to bring, the Ummah to the depths to which It has fallen.

The Ummah has been in decline for several centuries. All of it, save a few remote geographical regions, came under the sway of European imperial power. Perhaps even more painful is the fact that, even today, the Ummah continues to represent spheres of influence. The entire world vies for supremacy over its strategically valuable territory, important markets for foreign industry, raw materials, and cheap unskilled labor. And this is happening at a time when the Ummah is unable to feed itself and remains in dire need of industry as well as a scientific and technological base, technical experience, advanced institutions of technology, and all the elements of Independent power.

The reasons for the Ummah's decline go far back into history. Not all of the factors are readily apparent, for many nations at the outset of their decline enjoyed the great wealth and ease earned by their previous progress and development. This was also true of the Ummah, for, in its early stages, wealth, centers of learning, personal fortunes, and public works were abundant. Yet the signs of coming decline were clear in the ebb of the Ummah's territorial expansion, the spread of corruption, the change from an offensive to a defensive posture, and the losses that it sustained at Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cordoba, and other places.

It Is quite important, if we hope to come to an understanding of our decline, to distinguish between what caused the malady and what its symptoms and complications were. The historical spread of heretical sects and doctrines is nothing new to the Ummah. This phenomenon began with the saba'iyah, isma'iliyah, nusayriyah, Druze, and others. Today, we are beset with continuing heresy in the form of the baha'iyah, ahmadiyah, qadianiyah, and nationalists.

These movements are clearly symptomatic of maladies that took root during the early years of the Ummah, when the Muslims were challenged by the Roman and Persian empires and were compelled. in order to meet those challenges, to give a measure of civil and military power to desert Arab tribes who had only recently embraced Islam. Since their tribal mentality had not been totally transformed by the teachings of Islam, they soon began to cause great upheaval and eventually brought down the government of the third khalifah, 'Utman ibn 'Affan, when they attacked Madinah, the capital of the prophetic state. This event led to the creation of states with distinctly tribalistic and ethnic leanings, states that were essentially a mixture of Islamic and pre-Islamic teachings and heritages.

When we ponder the depths to which the Ummah has plummeted, the seriousness of the threat it faces, and the extent of the crisis from which it suffers, we begin to understand the gravity of its situation and the urgency of the efforts required to rescue it from further decline and suffering. Even though these negative developments are tangible and objective matters upon which all sincere and reasonable people can agree, there is no agreement on, or any degree of clear vision of either a solution or the means to a solution. An even worse complication is the spread of ethnocentrism, nationalism, atheism, anarchy, and permissiveness. Some of those who claim to be reformers are in fact the Ummah's enemies, for they promote these foreign ideologies by all the means at their disposal. They often claim that these ideologies are signs of a healthy society, or that they constitute starting-points for progress and reform.

What we need to determine, first of all, is the true starting-point for dealing with the crisis. Perhaps we should first define the starting-points and alternatives that are available to the Ummah. These may be classified into three main categories:

  1. The Imitative Foreign Solution: This is often called 'the foreign solution" and entails borrowing solutions which spring, in essence, from the cultural (secular and materialist) experience of the contemporary West. This may take the form of individualism, totalitarianism, secularism, atheism, capitalism, or Marxism.
  2. The Imitative Historical Solution: This implies relying on solutions derived from the Islamic historical experience, regardless of considerations of relevance in terms of time and place.
  3. The Islamic Asalah [The meaning of asalah is not to he confused with "fundamentalism". It is rather a more comprehensive term which denotes the innovative application of original Islamic principles to changing circumstances. (Trans.)] Solution: This is the approach which seeks to apply relevant solutions, derived from authentic Islamic sources, to the Ummah's problems.

In the Ummah's quest for the recovery of its vitality, there are four prerequisites:

  1. specification of a sound approach;
  2. unswerving faith in that approach;
  3. resolve to do all that is necessary for the attainment of its goals; and
  4. provision of all the practical means required to ensure its success.

We might begin promoting the correct approach by taking it directly to the people and explaining to the Ummah's writers, thinkers, and leaders what we believe to be its most important aspects. In this way, they may come to share our conviction that our approach is the best one.

Perhaps the most effective method of promoting our solution would be to lay bare the weaknesses of the faulty approaches by explaining why they are unsound and then presenting the correct solution and the reasons why it should be adopted. This is the method used In this book, for while the Ummah is under attack, so to speak, by cultural invaders who seek to confuse it and make it lose its way, it Is imperative that the Ummah understand the reasons why the solutions proposed by others will not work. In this way, the Ummah will be better able to discern for itself the most suitable solution and then proceed to bring it about.

The Imitative Historical Solution

The historical approach traditionally has been the Ummah's choice. However, this approach inherently disregards temporal, local, and ummatic considerations. In recent times, it has failed repeatedly to meet the challenges of modern life and the forces inimical to the survival of the Ummah and its thought. Had traditional solutions remained effective there would be no crisis today, no downfall, and no impending disaster. Moreover, there is no point in making excuses for the inefficacy of this approach. if there were extenuating factors, then the fact remains that the traditional approach failed to take them into consideration. In any event, it failed to deal with the problem in its totality.

The main drawback of the traditional approach is that since it begins with the pious assumption of its own infallibility, it is totally intolerant of all parties, approaches, and circumstances that do not agree with it. An approach that demands even its detractors' cooperation is clearly impractical. Rather, it is symptomatic of the Ummah's problem itself. Essentially, the approach that has dominated the Ummah's thought for so long is little more than a stubborn insistence on maintaining the facade of Islam's golden age. The traditional approach ignores the realities of history and material development. Therefore it has consistently failed, despite the Ummah's faith in Islam. This also explains why the fuqaha' stopped short of dealing with modem transactions (mu 'amalat), restricting themselves in-stead to the regulation of religious ritual and personal circumstances.

An example of how the traditional approach may lead to an absurd extreme is the pronouncement made by one of this century's most prominent Muslim reformers, who nevertheless misinterpreted the connection between the social and political systems at the time of the khulafa'. His opinion, based on the traditional approach, was that the Ummah could only be reformed by what he termed a 'Just dictatorship." This, as any student of political science knows, is a contradiction in terms. That 'dictatorship' and 'justice' are mutually contradictory, or in no way compatible, is a recurrent theme in the Book of Allah:

..but man transgresses all bounds, in that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient (96:6-7),

..and consult with them in affairs [of moment] (3:159),

..who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation (42:38).

The isolation of Islam's intellectual leadership from its political leadership dates back to the confrontation between the first khulafa' and the various ethnicities and tribal groups. This was the upheaval which ended in conflict between the old-line leadership like al Husayn ibn 'Ali, 'Abd Allah ibn al Zubayr, Muhammad al Nafs al Zakiyah, Zayd ibn 'Ali, and others who advocated an Islamic polity along the lines of the first Islamic state at Madinah, and the emergent political leadership that established dynasties on the basis of ethnocentrism and tribal loyalties. when the first group was defeated politically by the second, its members, along with the scholars, withdrew from public life. As time passed, the isolation of Muslim intellectuals from the challenges of public life became more pronounced. The result was the growth of a school of thought that was isolationist and protectionist (in that they feared the Shari 'ah might be tampered with by unscrupulous rulers and those who served them). Those who ascribed to this school of thought paralyzed the progress of Islamic society and culture by referring almost exclusively in their writings to the events of the early years of Islam (the lifetime of the Prophet and the thirty years that followed his death). In this way, they left the political and social leadership of the Ummah to those who were intellectually and politically incompetent.

Owing to this withdrawal, the Ummah fell prey to despotism, poverty, and social and political decline. Indeed, from the times of the Mongol invasions and the Crusades, this has been the fate of the Ummah. In more recent times, it fell beneath the sway of foreign colonial powers and was exposed to the dangers of blindly imitating a foreign civilization, either of its own volition or under duress. In every case, however, imitation led to greater and more widespread infirmity and decline. Thus the cultural, economic, and technological gaps widened between North and South, between the advanced industrialized nations and the underdeveloped nations of the Third World, many of which are Muslim.

The lessons to be learned from this are that the traditional approach has been of no avail and that dreams of times past are useless against the relentless movement of life in time and place and in thought. In short, the obvious results of this approach have inevitably been backwardness, weakness, and decline.

The Imitative Foreign Solution

This is the other approach that has found currency in the Muslim world. Historically, it was first adopted over two centuries ago, when the Turkish 'Uthmaniyah empire was confronted by the military might of Europe. Under Salim III, the 'Uthmaniyah empire began a policy of imitating Europe, thinking that this was the way to renew their declining power.

Thus the cycle of emptiness and loss of vision began on the millstone of imitation, as the attempt was made to import foreign technical knowledge and experience. The Turkish state began by establishing its first modern engineering college and followed that with a military academy for training officers along Western lines. So determined were the 'Uthmaniyah sultans to carry out their plans, and to regain their power and status, that they actually slaughtered their own traditional military corps, the Janissaries, in their barracks when they resisted plans to "modernize" the army.

However, neither the plan to imitate the West nor the method chosen to effect it was successful in restoring the power to the 'Uthmaniyah sultanate, in facing up to the challenges confronting their empire, or in transferring knowledge to the Ummah. Rather, the retreat of the 'Uthmaniyah sultanate continued without a halt before the onslaught of Western military might. Their solution to this unexpected turn of events was to increase their efforts to imitate the West by sending droves of students to Europe, a policy which led to further Westernization. This, in turn, brought a new dimension to imitation: the perception on the part of the Turks that political and social reform would have to be carried out along Western lines. otherwise, their reasoning went9 they would not have the kind of atmosphere conducive to the academic, administrative, and military reform so urgently needed for the reconstruction of their empire.

This kind of thinking resulted in many liberal political and social reforms, reforms that were crowned in the latter half of the nineteenth century by what became to be known as Midhat Pasha's constitution. It is a widely known historical fact that this attempt at reform was no more successful than those that had preceded it. Thus, Sultan 'Abd al Hamid II was encouraged to personally administer the entire state in a last hopeless attempt to rescue the historical model of the Islamic system of state and society.

This reform movement, based on the principle of foreign imitation, progressed and added a new and clearly European dimension: the importance of nationalism as a motive in building a nation. Among the Turks, the leaders of the reform movement that adopted the foreign approach emphasized the importance of nationalism. To give meaning to their assertions, they created "Turanian" nationalism. This was an essentially pan-Turkish nationalism that encompassed all speakers of Turkish in western and central Asia. The modernist reform movement began its rise to power in Turkey at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, when, under the name of the Union and Progress Party, it challenged the ~ sultanate, overthrew Sultan 'Abd al Hamid II, and took the reins of power. This attempt at reform, however, ended when these Turks, in their final war, were subjected to a defeat worse than any they had suffered under 'Uthmaniyah rule: the occupation of the heart of Anatolia by the Greeks, whom they had long considered to be their lowliest subjects.

In spite of all this travail, however, attempts at foreign inspired reform continued unabated, and in a more comprehensive fashion, until the 'Uthmaniyah sultanate was brought to an end at the hands of the founder of the modem Turkish republic, General Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and his military clique. This group carded foreign imitation to its furthest extremes, for its leaders instituted comprehensive and overall changes in accordance with European patterns, abolished the role of Islam and Islamic culture in society, endorsed the European concept of secularism, and ensured, in no uncertain terms, the separation of Islam from the affairs and organization of the state as well as from all aspects of society. In addition, they abolished all Islamic laws and 'Uthmaniyah institutions and replaced them with the legal code of the European country they believed to be the most advanced: Switzerland. In order to nullity the effects of Islamic culture on future generations, the Arabic script was abolished and replaced with the Latin alphabet. The common people were forced to adopt European dress, women were required to discard the hijab, and even Islamic rituals like the call to prayer were required to be performed in Turkish.

Before Ataturk's rule ended, the government had adopted many concepts dealing with state intervention in administering and making policy for the country's major social and economic institutions. In particular, the state took control of the country's most important financial and economic institutions, such as banks and insurance companies. However, these developments did not improve Turkey's condition. Rather, its decline continued unabated, even though it passed through all the stages of the foreign imitation solution: the importation of science and technology; the organization of a modem army; the modernization of its civil administration; the espousal of liberal concepts; the transmission of Western culture; the enactment of political and constitutional reforms; the adoption of nationalism, ethnicity, and secularism; the establishment of European laws and institutions; and state control of all important social, economic, and financial institutions.

Still, all that this imitation accomplished was the further weakening of the Turkish state and its eventual complete domination by the Western powers. General Ismet Inonu, Ataturk's successor and longtime comrade, was forced, as a result of the failure of these policies and of the pressure exerted by the Western powers, to abolish one-party rule in the country (i.e., the Republican party) and to return to a new round of liberal political reform. As a result, new elections were held and the opposition Democratic Party, under Adnan Menderes, took over.

In spite of the seriousness with which they were undertaken, none of these attempts was successful in rescuing Turkey or in restoring it to its former power and status. On the contrary, the deterioration was so complete that, in 1960, Menderes was hanged in the first of a series of military coups that would eventually lead to dictatorship and repression. Thus Turkey remains, as much today as ever before, the "Sick Man of Europe." In fact, Turkey is worse than sick. It is the perennial Western camp follower who has no hope of ever improving its lot in life.

If we look closely at the Egyptian experience from the time of Muhammad 'Alt, from the outset of the nineteenth century AC/thirteenth century AH until the present time, and if we look at the experiences of Islamic countries in Arabia, Asia, and Africa, we will find nothing new to add to the experience of Turkey and its painful results. Over the centuries, the Islamic world has remained, owing to its adherence to the principle of imitating whatever is foreign, a sick and fractured entity. And it remains so during a time when the civilizational gulf separating it from the developed nations continues to increase.

The reasons for the failure of this approach are easy to understand. Nations, as living human aggregates, are far more complex than individuals in their composition and in the amount of energy it takes to motivate them either to overcome obstacles or to be constructive. Each nation, then, in the same way that it has its own motivations, psychology, and history, has its own composition in terms of its values, beliefs, and concepts. Unless these are understood correctly, it is next to impossible to deal with a nation in a way that will inspire it to realize all of its hidden potential for progress.

What motivates one human being may not motivate another. The same is true of nations since each nation works on the basis of its own incentives and priorities. It is therefore a major mistake to ignore a nation's incentives and priorities and rush headlong after a blind imitation of plans for production and reform without a proper under-standing of what distinguishes that nation from other nations. Unless this way of understanding nations is adopted, the future of the Ummah will be no better than the long centuries of importation and imitation.

Examples from Recent History

Among the simplest and most readily understandable examples of what was mentioned above is the effect that the uniquely Western institution of banking has had on the Ummah. When it first appeared in the West, banking served to answer the economic and commercial requirements of Western society. This imported institution, however, had a distinctly negative effect on the foundations of the Muslim Ummah. Instead of assisting in the Ummah's development and economic reconstruction, it paved the way for further foreign influence. The main reason for this negative effect may be attributed to differences in beliefs and values. Indeed, Western-style banking succeeded in creating divisions and generating even more conflict, as well as draining the Ummah's strength, curbing its motivation, extinguishing its enthusiasm, and facilitating the foreign domination of its resources instead of acting as an aid to progress and economic development.

To a great extent, the reason Western-style banking failed in Islamic societies, despite its supposed success in the West, is that it is an application of methods that are essentially foreign to Islamic economic Systems and values. It presented both the individual Muslim and the Muslim Ummah with an extremely difficult choice: wealth and economic prosperity in this world on the basis of usurious transactions which would ultimately spell damnation in the afterlife, or toil9 backwardness, and poverty in this world if the teachings and values of Islam were followed.

What the Muslim conscience seeks is to make the best of life in this world and thus earn blessings, rewards, and ultimate bliss in the next world. There is no scope in that conscience for the acceptance of dualism or contradiction as to what is good and right in this world and what is good and right in the next. Islamic banking in the Islamic world today is a partial attempt to present an Islamic solution or alternative which gives hope to the desire to realize contemporary Islamic requirements, including financial and economic services, in a way that harmonizes with the Muslim's personality. thought, and heart.

The Ummah and the Imported Solution

The imported foreign solution is, to use a metaphor, a theatrical solution which turns the Ummah into a passive spectator in a drama that is mere play-acting and only a shadow of reality. The most that the audience can do during a performance is to applaud or show its displeasure in accordance with the twists of the plot and what it evokes. This does not mean, however, that the Ummah has any significant role to play in what takes place on the stage between the actors representing the political and social leadership. This may explain why every time one of these plays ends, or a leader falls from power, or a role is finished, the Ummah merely shakes it off and goes about its business as if nothing had happened. Before long, it will move on to witness another play, another distraction, another leadership, and another round of the latest trends in imitative historical and foreign solutions.

The difference between the thought of advanced nations, their leadership, and their institutions on their own territory, and the thought of backward nations, their leadership. and their institutions is immediately obvious: those of the advanced nations are real, for they spring directly from the being or essence, the values, the personalities. and the requirements of those nations. These are the components of thought, policies, and teachings that make the leadership and the nation one team working for progress and the purposeful betterment of the life of the nation.

This basic insight presents us with a sound explanation of what we might term the "comedy of politics and politicians" in the Islamic world and, on a larger scale, in the Third World in general. It explains the differences in the nature of politics, government, and administration in the developed nations. It also explains how these reflect the relationships of interaction and performance that represent a society, a process, and a movement springing from reality, dealing with and influencing it, and being influenced by that same reality.

What is required of us is that we understand the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the imported foreign solutions. if we can accomplish this, then we will not waste any more time on imitation and parody, and therefore spare ourselves and the rest of the Ummah more suffering and pain. It is certainly neither fair nor Just that the Ummah continue to be led by the political and intellectual leadership, be they nationalist, secularist, Marxist, or whatever, who have failed it so badly over the centuries. Why should they be allowed to direct the Ummah along the same useless path?

Serious and mature Muslim intellectuals and leaders must commit themselves to the one path that is truly open to them, regardless of how difficult it might at first appear to be. They must make certain that the solution they seek originates in their religion, their homeland, and their history, and that they use it to steadfastly confront the challenges of the present. if this is not done, the bitter failures suffered by the Islamic world over the past several centuries will pale in comparison with the new problems that it will have to face.

Of course, Muslim leaders and intellectuals, with all their different leanings and preferences, as well as the entire Muslim Ummah can continue to dream of salvation, progress, honor, or power. However, if they do not change their present ways, means, and methods of thinking, in the end they can only expect that their lot will be a harvest even more bitter than those they have experienced in the past. The Ummah's intellectual and social leadership must search for an authentic Islamic alternative solution, strive to discern its elements from deep within the thought, culture, practices and institutions of the Ummah, and then relate it to the actual circumstances of its people.

The Ummah and the Historical Solution

The Ummah has also attempted to apply the imitative approach. However, this solution ignores, in a completely haphazard fashion, the elements of time and place in the structure of the Ummah and its historical progression. In the last few centuries, this approach has represented continual reversals for the Ummah as regards the challenges put forward by contemporary life and the forces inimical to the Muslim mind and its thought. Clearly, this solution has failed to rescue the Ummah, for the circumstances of the Ummah have continued to deteriorate rapidly, its enemies have gained a great deal from its crisis, and it continues to be beset by innumerable problems. if this approach had been successful, the excuse that certain unforeseen obstacles prevented the realization of the desired results would never be accepted. Obviously a solution is only as good as its results and, unless it takes the unexpected into consideration, it will not be satisfactory, for the unexpected is an integral part of the problem.

The imitative historical solution greatly oversimplifies matters by attempting to establish the soundness of its own principles and the inadequacy of all others. In fact, it is a solution that requires, as a condition for its success, the cooperation of its opponents. Were they to place obstacles in its way. it would not be able to solve anything. This in itself represents a part of the problem that needs to be solved.

Essentially. the imitative historical solution that has captured and held the imagination of so many Muslims for so long is little more than a stubborn insistence on a return to Islam's golden age. It does not take into account any change, whether material or contextual. This explains why this 'tlslamic1' approach to delivering the Ummah from its tribulations has consistently failed, even though the Ummah Is Islamic In its beliefs and has been so throughout its history. This further explains why the scope of traditional madhhab-based fiqh was confined to the sphere of ritual worship and personal law.

Perhaps the example which most embodies the fallacies inherent In this solution Is that of Sayyid Jamal al Din al Afghani. Although he was one of the greatest and most sagacious of all recent Islamic reformers, he nevertheless misinterpreted the relationship between the social and the political systems at the time of the early khulafa' and deduced his Infamous conclusion that the leadership needed by the Ummah was a "just dictatorship."

Obviously, dictatorship and justice are at opposite ends of the political and administrative scale. And, furthermore, this was clearly enunciated in one of the first Qur'anic revelations:

.. but man transgresses all bounds, in that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient (96:6-7).

In attempting to understand the phenomena of the imitative historical approach, we should first come to terms with how the approach developed through the history of the Ummah. The origins of the approach go back to the division between the Ummah's intellectual and political leadership: the last days of the early Khulafa', which were characterized by a power struggle between the leadership of the state and those ethnocentric and tribalistic desert Arabs who supported the movements toward apostasy and repeated political refractoriness. Finally, this conflict escalated Into an open confrontation between the leaders of the state at Madinah who represented the general politics of Islam (I.e., people such as al Husayn ibn 'Ali, 'Abd Allah ibn al Zubayr, Muhammad Dhu al Nafs al Zakiyah, Zayd ibn 'Ali, and others) and the political leadership of the ruling dynasties.

This confrontation ended in the defeat of the Intellectual and religious leadership, a development which engendered their withdrawal from politics and their assumption of a new role: an intellectual and religious opposition. Their isolation continued to increase and9 over the centuries, left an indelible mark on the nature of Islamic thought and the concerns of Islamic thinkers. As the scholars fell into the trap of looking at problems from a narrow perspective and interpreting the texts of revelation from a purely lexical point of view, schools of taqlid came into existence. In the scholars' defense, it is likely that their desire to protect and preserve the Shari'ah from any tampering on the part of the unqualified and unscrupulous contributed to the overly conservative approach they adopted. Still, the natural result was that as time went on Islamic thought became distinctly retrospective, lost in faint recollections of times past and the adoration of sacred relics.

As a result of this development, the intellectual roots of the Ummah's social and political leadership shrivelled up and died. when the leadership finally and completely lost its hold, the Ummah succumbed to blind imitation and intellectual stagnation, particularly the religious scholars who no longer had any practical political or social role to play. Repression, tyranny, and subjugation took hold of the Ummah as the political and social leadership lost the intellectual base from which to derive the solutions needed for the Ummah's development, and its alternatives and replacements.

On one side, the Ummah was enveloped in imitative and stagnant thought and, on the other, by despotism and political autocracy. This is a fairly accurate picture of the Ummah's history and the reason why, after the Mongol invasions and the Crusades, the Ummah fell prey to Western imperialism and remains today under foreign domination.

The important thing here is that the Ummah's decline, the failure of its institutions, and its inability to think beyond the limits of historical imitation led to an even greater danger: the perception that the solution to its problems was to be found in an imitative foreign approach. However, the results of that imitative approach were to hasten the fall of the Ummah and to leave it weaker than ever before. By following this path, the Ummah was soon beset with what scholars call an increasing civilizational (economic and technological) gulf between the North and the South, or between the advanced and industrialized nations and those of the underdeveloped Third World, many of which are Muslim. Among the most important lessons to be learned from the failure of this approach Is that backward-oriented dreams are unnatural and contrary to the laws of motion that govern life, time, space, thought, and possibility. Moreover, insisting on this type of thought and approach when it comes to reform entails insistence on the results of the approach: backwardness, decline, and defeat in the face of a barrage of foreign ideas.

The Ummah must find a new path to tread, and the intellectual and political leadership must make a serious attempt to find ways and means of reform. But what is this new way? And what is this new approach? What is at its core? What are its characteristics? How can it be tested so that we may know that it will be better than what preceded it, and that it will succeed where the others failed?

In order to answer these questions, we first have to understand this phenomenon. How did it begin? How, when, and why did the decline first set in? How did the situation degenerate? Surely an understanding of the malady itself, its beginnings and its symptoms, and then its progress as it infected the corpus of Islam and its history is an essential prerequisite to understanding the cure and its attributes. By means of such an understanding, we may determine the kind of effort required for reform, the priorities of such an effort, and the plans for its implementation.

The Approach of Contemporary Islamic Asalah

As its name indicates, this is at approach based on Islam in terms of its objectives, beliefs, values, and ideas. This is because the Ummah for which growth, positive action, and reform are intended is Islamic in its beliefs, values, and intellectual and psychological makeup. Thus there is no way to motivate it if this basic truth about Its personality, hidden strengths, and motives Is ignored.

Clearly, It is not enough to state categorically that Islam is the essence of the approach and the solution, because Islam constitutes a part of both the imitative historical approach and the contemporary Islamic asalah approach. It is therefore essential that the distinguishing features of the latter be defined.

These features may be sought in the contemporary aspect and the integrity of the proposed Islamic approach. This means that the solution will be derived from Islamic beliefs, values, and Inclinations as they reflect on the Amah's contemporary circumstances and its standing issues. It also means understanding what those circumstances require as regards time and place In relation to Islam's heritage and experience in its earliest age on the one hand, and in terms of the significance of quantitative and qualitative change in human life on the other. This differs from the imitative solutions in that the solution based on contemporary Islamic asalah comes as an enunciation of the Ummah's needs, and as an answer based on the values, concepts, and objectives of Islam, to the challenges confronting it. In this way, the Ummah and its potentials are placed in a position of leadership, and through its values and objectives the Ummah may best direct the future of humanity.

Our understanding of "contemporary asalah" or dealing with contemporary circumstances from the starting-point of the Ummah's Islamic character, means, to begin with, "comprehensiveness." This, In turn, means understanding the theories and applications of the early period of Islam with all their dimensions of time and place. This also entails a thorough understanding of Islam's objectives and higher purposes and the proper relationship between them. This is what is to serve as the foundation for all ummatic interaction with contemporary life and society, so that the Ummah may assume a position of leadership as regards other civilizations.

Contemporary asalah implies ability, technical experience, and sound methodology. It also means an academic and intellectual approach based on knowledge of the laws of nature and experience. The experience referred to here is that which springs from real issues, problems, and possibilities as viewed from the perspective of Islamic thought, principles, purposes, values, and teachings. By means of a methodology based on academic and practical comprehensiveness, it should be possible to make the desired intellectual and civilizational transition from pastoral, agricultural, and simple trading societies to the world of automation, communication and unending movement, one which is characterized by change in its potentialities and capabilities, its wealth and production, and in the requirements and responsibilities of individuals, groups, and political, social, and economic systems. In this way the challenges, dangers, and opportunities from which the world has begun both to benefit and suffer can be met.

There is therefore no escaping the need to think about overall and comprehensive approaches or of following the movements and social dealings of human groupings. This, above all, means that there must be a complete understanding of and concentration on, the higher purposes of the Shari'ah and on its general principles, values, and fundamental teachings. These must become the starting point for contemporary Islamic social thought and for the arrangement of its institutions, organizations, and the regulations that direct and guide its movement. if these goals are realized, Islamic society will remain distinguished by justice, shura, solidarity, brotherhood, and all the other values held dear by Islam.

In order to achieve the goal of contemporary Islamic asalah the methodology of research in Islamic studies must be restructured so that it proceeds from experience derived from practical situations related to Islam and its higher purposes, values, and societal and civilizational precepts. what this entails is the reunification of the two branches of education on all levels: the spiritual, with its stress on values, and the technical, with its stress on application.

Attention also must be paid to Islamic approaches and philosophy in every branch of learning, particularly the humanities and the social sciences.

In the final analysis, contemporary Islamic asalah will lead to a reordering of priorities and a restructuring of methodology and thought so that the means for sound Islamic education will be provided. Moreover, a reconstruction of institutions, organizations4 social systems. and political institutions will also take place, so that complementarity and sound progression will propel society towards a constructive reorganization on the basis of Islamic values and purposes.

The approach taken by contemporary Islamic asalah must include two factors if it is to have an effective role in the leadership and reform of human civilization. Based on the study of historical civilizational change, these factors are: the impetus of a positive religious outlook and preeminence in effective thought.

In the early days of Islam this came about through the pure Islamic 'aqidah (creed) and the supremacy of Islamic thought. Such a combination gave rise to many remarkable accomplishments in the first generation of Muslims: the severing of the pagan Arab trade routes, military and diplomatic genius at the battles of Khandaq and Hudaybiyah. the conquest of Makkah, the amazing crossing of the Syrian desert prior to the decisive battle with the Byzantines at Yarmuk, the genius in maintaining the various diwans, framing policies. establishing organizations, building mosques as schools and training centers, and the dissemination of knowledge and scientific lore. Ml of this speaks eloquently of the Ummah's cultural superiority at that early stage of its history when it was surrounded by corrupt and failing civilizations and barbarian Bedouins.

The same was true of the European Renaissance, for it was driven by a positive new religious outlook (the Protestant reformation) dedicated to an effective Christian worldview aimed at erasing the superstition and ignorance of the Middle Ages. This, combined with the reform of European thought, which until that time had been shackled by literal interpretations of fabulous tales derived from biblical sources, proved to be a potent mixture. what had happened in the early days of Islam, the Joining together of a constructive religious outlook and effective and superior thought, also happened in Europe and resulted in a similar development: the founding of a new civilization, that of Renaissance Europe. The approach of contemporary asalah is based on these two factors as well.

Thus, emphasizing religious reform to the exclusion of sound methodology will not benefit the contemporary Islamic movement Moreover, Westernized secularists will not succeed if they are only concerned with the issue of thought and its brilliant achievements. Rather, both elements must be combined, and the two camps must unite to bring about the needed elements for Khilafah and the establishment of a new civilization.

The process of bringing the religious and the secular elements together is, from the Islamic point of view, a restoration of the link between reason and revelation, or between the role of the mind in appreciating (comprehending and interpreting) revelation and guiding the mind by means of the revelation's objectives, its comprehensive and universal outlook, and its living and civilizational values. Thus, the Joining of the two wings in the pursuit of reform is an intellectual process in its methodology and style. In other words, the crisis faced by the Ummah at the present time is one of thought.

It is only natural, then, that the call to the proper approach, the explanation of what that approach and its priorities should be, and the plans for its implementation should be made by the Ummah's intellectuals, writers, and concerned social and political leaders. These people must strive to clarify the picture, to make the Ummah aware of the problem, and to plant the seeds of reform so that these may grow and eventually bear fruit. It may sometimes seem that the road is a winding one. This, however, is the case in every beginning and new undertaking. Although the beginning may be difficult, people have never chosen paths simply for the ease of passage these may afford them. On the contrary, paths are chosen for the reason that they lead to those objectives for which people set out on the road in the first place.

The Historical Roots of the Crisis

Change in the Political Base:
Bedouins, Infighting, and the Fall of the Khilafah

It should be quite clear from the preceding analysis that the Islamic solution must be applied if the Ummah is ever to resolve the crisis of its debilitation, factiousness, backwardness, and lack of civilization. The opening pages of this work briefly sketched the Ummah's efforts to extricate itself from the crisis and to institute reform when it found itself face to face with modern Western culture and forced to taste the bitterness of defeat at its hands. For the first time, the Ummah was confronted by a decidedly destructive enemy which threatened its entire civilization. In the foregoing pages, we reviewed how the Ummah has failed repeatedly in its attempts to liberate itself from the challenge of Western influence. As a result of the preceding analysis and what we see today, we have come to look at contemporary Islamic asalah as the only way to deliver the Ummah from its present woes and to free it from the vicious circle in which it finds itself enveloped. It is therefore all the more important that we understand the nature of the crisis and the axis on which it revolves. Only if that is accomplished will we be able to penetrate to the heart of the crisis. Indeed, until now, it has been our ignorance of the nature of this crisis that has hampered us from evaluating our performance as a civilization and maintaining a course of progress over the centuries.

In such an undertaking, we must be ready to plumb the depths and to ignore the superficial (regardless of the defects in our upbringing), the shortcomings in our thinking, and our trepidations with regard to what we hold, legitimately or otherwise, to be sacred. Undoubtedly, we have been influenced by the long popular, political, and intellectual struggles that have taken place over the centuries and that rarely, if ever, show themselves for what they really were, or are. Moreover, these influences persist beneath the surface of our caution about what we hold sacred, and thus paralyze our minds and souls, and prevent us from thinking seriously, from pondering these matters, and from wisely using our intellect in ways that lead to true accomplishment.

It is therefore incumbent upon us to consider our present condition and every aspect of our long history. We must examine these closely in order to acquire a proper understanding of the situation and to distinguish between what is truly sacred and what is not. We must also avoid the futile trap of attempting to assign responsibility for our failures to others.

The first sign of the Ummah's emerging crisis was the fitnah (infighting) which broke out in a series of destructive civil wars within the Islamic state. The third khalifah 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, was martyred during these wars, as was his successor 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Eventually the khilafah came to an end and was replaced by the profligacy despotism, and tribalism of the new rulers of the Ummah the Umayyah royalty.

The infighting that ultimately resulted in the fail of the khilafah is such an important event in the history of the Ummah that it should not be passed over until we have gained a correct understanding of it, of what caused it, and of what it engendered. We need this information because the events of this period continue, even in our own day, to influence the Ummah's behavior.

The most important factor in the infighting was the unnoticed and inevitable change in the political power base from which the leadership of the khilafah derived it,, legitimacy. Because the Companions (sahabah) constituted the armies and echelons for the power base of the Prophet's state, they also performed the same function for the khilafah with all that this implies as regards standards of quality, inclination, training, wisdom, and morals.

During the sequence of events that Included challenges by the contemporary Persian and Eastern Roman empires, the door was open for Arab bedouin tribes, still imbued with their ethnocentricity and prejudice, to join the Muslim armies. While the numbers of the new bedouin recruits increased, the numbers of the veteran Companions decreased, for many were martyred during the early conquests. This fact made it possible for the bedouins to preserve and maintain, in addition to the main teachings of Islam, all of the prejudices and ethnic biases of the desert, namely, all of those elements which the care and upbringing of the Prophet had managed to erase from the hearts and minds of his Companions.

Thus the political foundations of the khilafah underwent drastic change due to the ascendancy of these bedouins. The purely Islamic values, objectives, and criteria that had been taught by the Prophet were no longer the guiding forces of the new armies or of the new politics. The inevitable result of such a development was Infighting and the eventual fall of the khilafah, which was replaced with the power of the tribes and the ethnocentric and despotic tribalists of the Umayyah royalty.

It was also quite natural that the religious and political leadership In Makkah and Madinah would not last for more than a century, and that the efforts of Husayn ibn 'Ali, 'Abd Allah ibn al Zubayr, Muhammad Dhfi al Nafs al Zakiyah, Zayd ibn 'Ali, and others would come to naught In the bloody civil wars against the overwhelming bedouin majority. As time passed, great numbers of Persians, Byzantines, Indians, Turks, Africans, and others entered the fold of Islam without the benefit of a complete Islamic upbringing to destroy their old prejudices and pre-Islamic concepts. This missing clement soon caused many members of the Ummah to deviate from purely Islamic practices, concepts, and methods. In short, when the bedouin tribal majority came to power, the political power base changed and the Ummah was subjected to a mixed pre-Islamic and Islamic style of leadership and politics.

The Rift between Political and Religious Leadership

If the bedouin domination of the army that led to the fall of the khilafah and its replacement with the Umayyah royalty was the first cause of change and deviation, then the subtle differences that came about as a result of this overt change were decidedly more Insidious. Essentially a rift occurred in the ranks of the social leadership between the political and religious intellectual leaders. This rift became one of the most important factors in the dissipation of the Incredible energies so recently released by the force of Islam.

Following the establishment of ethnic and dictatorial forces in the Islamic social system, the religious intellectual leaders located in the Hijaz refused to accept the reality and the reasons for the new changes. Instead, they resisted on the basis of dogma and thought, as opposed to ethnicity, all tribal forces, Including those of the Umayyah branch of the Quraysh.

When the century-long civil wars had exhausted the religious Intelligentsia (who had been unable to gain the support of the masses whose thinking and upbringing were decidedly tribalist and ethnic in nature), Its members retreated and sought refuge far from the political leadership, abandoning all attempts to mount any significant opposition. The strategy of the new political leadership was to contain the religious Intelligentsia and to force its members to do as they were told by applying increasing amounts of pressure. Thus the lot of the great ulama, especially those four who founded the schools of legal thought, consisted of torture and exemplary punishment. Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 150/767) died In prison because he refused to accept a position as a judge In a regime that was not committed to Islam. When Imam Malik (d. 17 5/ 795) opined in favor of the invalidity of taldq pronounced under duress, he was beaten so badly that his hand was paralyzed. [Under the 'Abbasiyah khilafah subjects were required to take an oath of allegiance in which they swore that if they ever broke their allegiance to the khalifah then their wives would stand divorced. Thus, Malik's fatwa absolving one under duress of the consequences of pronouncing divorce was, under the circumstances, an important political statement (Trans.)] Likewise, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855) was forced to undergo a great deal of suffering for his opposition to the political ambitions of those in power. Imam al Shafi'i (d. 204/820) was forced to flee from the authorities in Baghdad after he was brought there in chains from Yemen. Finally, he had to take refuge in Egypt, far from the center of power.

The rift between the Ummah's political and religious Intellectual leadership represented the beginning of the decline of Muslim power, of the rent in the fabric of Muslim society, and of the crisis in Islamic thought and Institutions. All of these factors contributed to throwing the door open to corruption and decline. Gradually Islam was no longer able to maintain its vitality. As a result, only the remnants of its spiritual teachings have survived over the centuries. The rest of Its glorious civilization has perished.

The rift between the religious intellectual and the political leadership was the underlying cause of all the maladies that would later beset the Ummah. This bitter rift led to the removal of the Intellectual leadership from all practical and social responsibility within the Ummah. This, in turn, became the most Important reason for the paralysis of the Muslim mind, which literally retreated into the confines of the mosque. There, its only concern was with tomes of primarily theoretical lore dealing essentially with descriptive and lexical approaches to the interpretation of texts from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The intellectual leadership's only other concern was its vigilance in preventing the political leadership and its agents from corrupting or misinterpreting the sacred texts in order to justify their actions. As a result, the Ummah is even now incapable of competing with other civilizations on either a material or intellectual level. In fact, its very existence Is threatened by contemporary Western civilization.

This sorry state of affairs led to what is widely known as the closing of the door to ijtihad, although in truth, ijtihad never had a door to close. Rather, "closing the door" was a metaphor for the stagnation of thought based on the political leadership's loss of commitment to Islam because of its preference for perpetuating its authority and power through despotism and for putting everything it touched into the service of its, and its agents', own interests. All of this served only to drive the ulama deeper into the recesses of their mosques, far from the continuing changes.

Secondly, the rift led to the political leadership being deprived of a viable Intellectual base capable of serving it in the face of changing circumstances and providing it with ideas, policy guidelines, and workable alternatives. It should come as no surprise, then, that the political leadership of the Islamic world has, generally speaking, been despotic and dictatorial in nature. Rarely, if ever, has there been scope for shura, a Qur'anic term denoting the participation of the masses in determining the Ummah's affairs. This being the case, there Is also nothing strange about the way in which the Ummah faded and then disappeared as a world civilization with its own unique characteristics, thought, and institutions.

It should not be difficult for readers to appreciate the kind of factionalism and political disintegration that afflicted the body politic of the Ummah after the fall of the khilafah. Readers must understand, however, the difference between the power of civilizational vitality exhibited by Islam in its early period and the great accumulations of wealth and territory that came about later as a result of that early vitality, accumulations which were partly due to the imminent collapse of the neighboring Persian and Byzantine empires. These outward signs of vitality came about despite the decay that had set into the Muslim Ummah, for the loss of vitality we refer to was a relative loss. In fact, the Ummah of that time still retained a great deal of its vitality. It Is therefore important that readers not overlook what might otherwise be hidden by outward circumstances; the Ummah's strength was sapped.

The Crux of the Crisis and the Future of the Ummah

A Crisis of Thought not a Crisis of Belief

In spite of the continual ill-fated attempts to apply foreign or traditional solutions to its problems, the Ummah's understanding of an Islamic outlook has remained unclear. This is perhaps due to its general misconception concerning thought and belief, i.e., viewing thought and belief as one and the same thing, absolute and eternally sacred. In fact, this misconception is a direct result of what our enemies have circulated among us via their control of culture, education, and the media. In particular, the concerted efforts of those engaged in orientalist studies about Islam or the Muslim world have greatly increased our level of confusion. one factor contributing to the lack of clarity in contemporary Islamic vision is the psychological impediments that have left the Muslim mind as tame as a household pet. In other words, it does not have enough courage to analyze its intellectual legacy or what It holds as sacred. As a result, it cannot understand what is really important, distinguish between what is fundamental and absolute and what is temporary and limited; or even appreciate what is essential and what is a matter of performance and style. The fears, the lack of self-confidence, and the misgivings that we have planted in ourselves make It impossible for us to look honestly at the events, and the accompanying factors and shortcomings, of our past.

The Muslim mind, therefore, has remained a prisoner of those concepts and basic approaches that doom it to remain bound by past mistakes and digressions and bereft of the ability to penetrate, distinguish, and amend its own course, or to plumb the depths of the issues confronting it. Thus it is unable to boldly chart a course for the future, for it sits bound and blindfolded in a dusty corner of the distant past.

If the methodology of thought does not undergo change, and If its approaches are not rectified, the Muslim mind will remain unable to take a critical or penetrating look at anything. Instead, it will continue to gravitate from one failed solution to the next. There can be little doubt that continuing along this path can only lead to further disintegration and collapse.

To add to the burdens of the wretched Muslim mind, the Ummah's intellectual and political leaders, whether by design or otherwise, despaired of ever having a complete monopoly on leadership. What each group sought, then, was to force its own kind of terrorism on the Ummah. Regardless of what its Intentions might have been, the political leadership practiced a sort of material terrorism, whereas the intellectual leadership perpetrated a sort of psychological terrorism. These two groups engaged in this type of activity in order to ensure the continued pacification, weakness, and subjugation of the Muslims vis--vis the leadership in their private and public lives. What is so laughably regrettable, however, Is that this terrorism reached a point where even the intellectual and political leadership themselves were negatively affected. The final result was that the infirmity of the Ummah caused the collapse of the leadership's power base and left it unable to defend itself in the face of the onslaught of foreign colonial powers.

Owing to the fogginess of the Muslim vision and the way that it has been hampered, we find that Muslims either accept their past with all its deviations and peculiarities of thought, society, and organization, or they reject it, along with all its inherent values, entirely. Over the centuries, this vision has grown increasingly weaker as the Ummah's personality has been beset by a series of devastating illnesses that have left it unable to distinguish between truth and dogma, ends and means, religion and folklore, values and commonplace events, and concepts and imitation.

In essence, the Muslim mind was divided between groups that called upon it either to reject or to accept everything, without differentiating between historical fact and fiction or distinguishing between the means and the end. Some groups within the Ummah even claimed that peoples and societies whose material resources have suffered are actually the victims of Immaterial or abstract crises.

Issues of Thought and Means
Versus Issues of Values and Ends

It should be clear that no one could possibly object to the values, principles, and beliefs which form the foundations of Islam. Still, the enemies of Islam do not speak of these matters. According to them, when one speaks of Islam one speaks of fatalism and tyranny, political absolutism, intellectual and psychological shortcomings, the excesses of the slave trade, and the degradation of women. Such people also proclaim that Islamic beliefs are no more than the myths of Muslims and the history of their mistakes and their beliefs are really their customs and traditions, as well as signs of their Ignorance, superstition, and prejudice.

However, what we must remember is that the peoples who accepted Islam did so at a time when their nations were in decline. Thus whatever those peoples achieved thereafter was the result of the precedence of Islam and Its principles and approaches. On the other hand, whatever evil ways those people fell into came about in spite of Islam and its values and can be traced back to the practices of their former civilizations. Had it not been for the civilizing effect of Islam and Its values and principles, the Muslims would undoubtedly have involved themselves in far worse sorts of Injustice, corruption, and Ignorance.

The Important thing for us to realize at this juncture Is that the shortcomings In the lives of Muslims are In no way attributable to the values, objectives, and purposes of Islam, but rather to the way that Muslims think perceive, and reason. Thus when we speak of reform, we are really speaking of thought and the Muslim mind. What really needs addressing Is how the Muslim mind applies the values and principles of Islam in society and organizations, and In specific situations and under various circumstances.

After all, there is a difference between the principles of mutual agreement and solidarity and the arrangements and procedures used to realize these principles (or those which in fact allow these principles to be lost or wasted). 1here Is also a difference between the higher purposes of the Shari'ah and the policies framed to ensure them, as well as between the principles and values of the Shari'ah and the procedures and arrangements for carrying them out. Things like values, principles, and ends are among the universal laws of existence, which, in spite of limitations of time and place, become parts of a sound human character. Procedures, policies, approaches, and practical measures, on the other hand, are very much linked to the exigencies of time and place.

What all of this means Is that the difference between beliefs, principles, and values, on the one hand, and thought, understanding, and application (or Its lack or imperfection), on the other, is a very basic issue. If ever we hope to put our future course right and effect any sort of meaningful reform, we must be clear on this issue. In the final analysis, this confirms that the Ummah's crisis is essentially one of thought rather than of belief, one of method and not of meaning, and that the issue involved is one of means and not of ends. This, then, is the proper place from which to begin a serious study and, In so doing, to put an end to the needless confusion about pretentious claims and timeworn traditions.

Intellectual Isolation:
The Cause of Taqlid and Backwardness

As time passed, the crisis In the Muslim mind became more and more difficult to ignore, for the gulf between theory and practice became more exaggerated. Muslim objectives took on the aspect of unattainable hopes and fanciful wishes, and Muslim accomplishments became little more than history and memories of times past. When control of the Ummah passed into the hands of Its enemies, the bankruptcy of Muslim society and its political leadership was self-evident. The Muslim Intelligentsia also suffered the same fate, and to the same degree, for by that time It was no longer competent when it came to facing the challenges thrown its way by the foreign cultural invasion.

The civilizational horizons attained by the Ummah in the past were clearly the result of the overwhelming impetus provided by the early generations of Islam. Yet the spark had to fade eventually, and the movement had to come to a standstill sometime. Times and circumstances changed. But the Ummah truly lost both its way and its ability to renew itself when its political leadership became separated from its intellectual leadership. This split so encouraged literalism, taqlid, indulgence, and superstition that they soon became the order of the day. The Ummah lost its ability to give birth to new Ideas, to update its institutions, and to produce the planning, means, and policies essential to further progress at the civilizational level.

Since the time of this separation, the Ummah has lived on the ruins of the broad societal foundations laid by the early generations of Muslims. Yet at the same time, the agents of political and intellectual decay have spread throughout the Ummah and its leadership, a trend that has resulted in the virtual disintegration of the historical Islamic social structure.

The intellectual leadership, due to its isolation (often an Isolation imposed upon It by the forces of political authority), rarely if ever exercised its social responsibilities. Instead, it devoted itself to studying religious texts, cultivating an oasis of religious sciences, and preserving the intricacies of the Arabic (as the medium of all religious texts and sciences) spoken in classical times. These activities led to the establishment by these people of the textual sciences of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the Arabic language. The science of fiqh was limited from its inception to the regulation of individual practice In formal acts of devotion. As such, it never developed a perspective beyond that of the daily circumstances of the early generations of Muslims. Likewise, the practical science of fiqh was never applied to the doctrinal sciences ('aqa'id), so that these became, generally speaking, theoretical and speculative in nature. Thus the doctrinal sciences never played a significant role in guiding the Ummah.

Even the major principles of Islam which had guided the Muslim mind and the Ummah in Its thought and deeds in the early generations were divided Into two distinct sets. The first, and by far the most important, consisted of those principles related to the preservation and interpretation of the textual sources of Islam. The second set, deemed secondary in status and relegated to insignificance and neglect, were those principles related to the rules and approaches essential to analysis of social conditions and the circumstances and variables of life in society.

Owing to this division, the principles dealing with texts were developed Into highly complex sciences, while the "secondary" principles and all the fields of knowledge related to them were essentially ignored. It was for the above reasons that no social sciences, in the proper sense, ever developed from Islamic principles and approaches. This explains why no Islamic economic, educational, political, communications, or administrative sciences were ever developed. Instead, these subjects were mentioned by the classical scholars of Islam, if ever, only in passing or as casual asides or observations. Thus matters like establishing cadres within Muslim society, organizing it, and framing policies for its development were never anything more than ad hoc and wholly arbitrary, concocted in reaction to fluctuating circumstances. The differences between casual observations made on social phenomenon and the use of formal social sciences is that formal studies are structural, begin from reality and an understanding of nature, and then proceed to objectives, principles, and values. The social sciences are regulated by real results and are in no need, as so often happens, of hiding behind catchwords and empty phrases.

The crisis in the Muslim mind is one related to the achievement of Islam's higher objectives and the embodiment of Islamic values. It is therefore a crisis of thought in Its essence and Its approach, and a crisis of the methodology, which the Ummah lacks, in the social sciences. The crisis of Muslim thought is one of the establishment of those social sciences that can assist the Ummah with its thought, organization, institutions, and policies. When we speak of the social sciences, we refer to the fields of methodological study, without reference to any specific (Western, Leftist, Eastern or whatever) theories or schools. Certainly the Muslim mind, with its complete and comprehensive sources of knowledge, will have much of value to contribute to such sciences and disciplines.

It is certainly premature to speak in a detailed fashion of the issues and problems of the Islamic social sciences. Rather, these are things that, with the passing of time, will become more apparent. Regardless of the formula we begin with, the point is to make a beginning from what is already known, to benefit from what humanity has already achieved in the relevant fields. The important thing here is that the starting-point be distinguished by its w5dlah, maturity, and openness, so that progress may begin far removed from the restraints of those traditions which have held the Ummah captive for so long.