The Fourth Phase : After Freedom

We now pass on to the fourth phase of our history, during which almost all the Muslim leads liberated themselves from foreign political domination.

A New Tragedy

Unfortunately, however, political power and economic control have passed in all these countries into the hands of those who have little knowledge of their religion and less pride in their cultural traditions. Indeed, most of them treat all the traditions of the Muslim nation with contempt and think that the Muslims will be unable to make any progress in life and to achieve an honorable position in the comity of nations if they adopt the Islamic way of life and stick to Islamic principles and values. To them, the only road to redemption and progress lies through wholesale adoption of Western ideas, theories and values. This is indeed their considered opinion; and it could hardly be otherwise, for, their education and training was designed to produce precisely this kind of attitude and approach. The alien rulers deliberately fostered and strengthened such elements and pitched them in key positions in all departments of life. This happened morn or less in all the Muslim countries. The wars of liberation were fought in the name of Islam, but after the people had won the hard way, through untold sufferings and sacrifices, Islam was practically thrown overboard.

The latest instance in point is that of Algeria. After its Muslim population had succeeded in liberating its homeland through super-human sacrifices and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, the leaders suddenly proclaimed that Algeria would be a secular, socialist state. Turkey, Pakistan, Tunisia and Egypt have witnessed more or less similar phenomena during the past few decades, Take Tunisia, for instance. The Muslim bulk of its population were called to battle in the name of Islam, and it was for the sake of the Faith that they challenged French rule and ultimately overthrew it through a struggle in which they had to make very heavy sacrifices. But soon after the war had been won, President Bourguiba told the Muslims that their fasting in the month of Ramadan adversely affected production. Mr. Bourguiba thus tried to undermine the faith of the Muslims of Tunisia much in the same way as the Soviet Union. The contention that fasting hampers production is obviously aimed at abolishing the institution of fasting, for nearly all the relatively young and able bodied members of a community are engaged in production, and the old and the sick are anyhow exempted from fasting.

Much to the chagrin of the groups that wield power in the Muslim lands today, the truly religious elements have survived everywhere. They know the principles and doctrines of Islam and the injunctions of God and His Prophet. They know what Islamic culture and civilization really mean. Unfortunately, however, these people lack the education and training necessary for effective governance and efficient administration in the present conditions. These elements share the sentiments and aspirations of the common Muslims, who are confident that, if voted to power they will not seek to undermine Islam, and foist an un-Islamic way of life upon them. But on the other hand the people fear that these elements will not be able to lead the nation, run the affairs of state, take care of the administration, organize the dispensation of justice, manage the finances of the country and conduct its foreign relations. And the people have good reasons for their misgivings and fears about the religious elements' abilities and capacities in these spheres.

The Real Difficulty

The average Muslim is bewildered and stands miserably divided between his inherent loyalty to Islam and lack of confidence in the practical abilities of the elements that stand for the establishment of the Islamic way of life. It is true that the bulk of the people in any Muslim land have little knowledge of their religion, that they are morally weak and their conduct and habits are generally repugnant to the principles of Islam. Nevertheless, as I have pointed out earlier, the extraordinary force of the original Islamic movement is not yet completely spent, and the spark that survives is still capable of kindling the flame of an Islamic revival. For instance, you may ask even the most corrupt and depraved Muslim whether he regards drinking, adultery, gambling or bribery as permissible or proper for a Muslim. There can be no doubt about the answers, which will clearly prove that the values of the common Muslim have not changed at all in spite of his moral decline and degeneration. These values have gone into his blood and become a part of his very being. Or, ask an average Muslim what he thinks of a dance by a semi-nude woman: he will undoubtedly refuse to agree that it is in accord with the spirit of Islamic culture. The average Muslim is no doubt ignorant; he hardly understands the Qur'an and knows practically nothing of the Hadith. Nevertheless his thoughts and beliefs still reflect in some degree the moral notions and cultural concepts that have survived down the generations in the world of Islam. In spite of his ignorance and moral degeneration, the average Muslim still tends naturally to look at things in the light of his communal traditions and to form his opinions accordingly. Almost all Muslims all over the world have some basic notions about Islam and its values, which, however vague, are essentially correct. In Pakistan as well as in Turkey, in Iran as well as in Egypt and Algeria, Muslims believe more or less in the same common Islamic values. And it is not possible to persuade any large body of Muslims, anywhere in the world that the values of the modern West have anything in common with Islamic values.

Moreover, although the average Muslim may not have any considerable knowledge of Islam, there is no doubt that ho is enamored of it. Recent developments in the world of Islam have proved it beyond a shadow of doubt that Muslims can be aroused and inspired and induced to make sacrifices only in the name of Islam; no other call can appeal to them. A Muslim can lay down his life only if he is sure that he is doing it for the sake of Allah and will be rewarded for it with a place in heaven. A Muslim who is not inspired by this belief will not be persuaded to lay down his life and will indeed be the most cowardly of men.

Unfortunately, however, political leadership and state power has, in all the Muslim countries, passed into the hands of elements who, in opposition to the manifest sentiments and aspirations of the people, seek to set national life in a direction contrary to the Islamic way of life. If conditions are otherwise favorable, they seek to achieve their objective openly under the banner of secularism-as they did in Turkey under Mustafa Kemal. Elsewhere, they continue to pay lip service to Islam and try to foist Western values and culture upon the people in the name of Islam. But fortunately, it is not possible for them to mislead the bulk of the Muslims in any country. However ignorant or degenerate a Muslim people may be, they cannot be persuaded to accept any manifestly un-Islamic belief, idea or practice as Islamic.

In Turkey and the Soviet Union, attempts to de-Islamize the Muslims were accompanied by such violence and cruelty as we in this country would find it difficult even to imagine. In Turkey, for instance, thousands of people were killed only because they were not prepared to change their headgear. Since the Western hat introduced by the new rulers was not available within the country, condemned stocks were imported from Europe. Thus this great 'reform' was introduced at the point of the bayonet, and the rulers went so far as to impose martial law to enforce the desired change. But in spite of all this oppression, we find that the average Turk is as good a Muslim today as he ever was. This has established conclusively that the Turks cannot by any means be made to abjure Islam and accept any way of life repugnant to it.