What to do? (Part 1)


The Light (Pakistan), 1st February 1923 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 2)

The world of Islam is in a fix today. Perhaps never before in the course of its variegated history did it pass through a stage more critical. It has awakened, after all, to the gravity of the situation — a happy sign! There is quite a deal of — shall I say — groping in the dark, quite an anxious taxing of mind, as to some way out. What to do? is the question of questions.

There is no cause for despair or despondency. Ebb and tide are things in the common course of nature, and human affairs are no exception to the rule. Today there crops up a civilisa­tion, mighty and magnificent. Then comes the inevitable hour and when it does, neither its might nor its main avails it aught. And on the other hand, we find a people sunk today to the lowest depth but coming up to the highest water mark tomorrow. These are the ways of the Lord. But to change our fortune we must change our ways, so says the Lord. Hence this question: What to do?

First and foremost, change your mentality, I would say. Slave mentality and greatness are a combination unknown to history. Nor can a free mentality dwell in a slave-body. Refer to the history of any people; you will realise the truth. Study the birth of any nation, its growth and rise and you will find one principle invariably at work: one common factor, so to speak, to all. Never did there a tide in the fortune of a people but, with­out fail, it was preceded by a wholesale mental awakening. So I say: Change your slave mentality.

Prison bars, no matter how strong and solid, melt away at the very touch of a free soul. Under one such master touch arose the tide of primeval Islam. The camel-driver was stirred from cen­turies-long slumber. Shackles of ignorance and superstition, of fetishism and idol-worship were cut asunder. Thus quickened to life, the son of the desert became the builder of a grand civilisation. East, West, North, South, withersoever he turned his face, he carried the torch of light in one hand and of learning in the other. From Bagdad [Iraq] to Cordova [Spain], the globe became one vast illumination.

Where lay the secret? As I said, in the spark of freedom, kindled by that Father of the Free, the Emancipator of humanity — the Great Prophet of Arabia. Not until the soul of the desert had been set at large, not until the head of men had learnt to keep erect and bow to none but the Lord, and not until Muhammad (all glory to him!), that Superman at the zenith of grandeur and glory, had become a man like unto you, did the wave of Islam sweep as far as the walls of Vienna [Austria].

So I say: start with the right end: Emancipate the soul!