Editorial: Islam at All Costs
The Light (Pakistan), 15th February 1990 Issue (Vol. 67, No. 2, p. 2–3)
Man being what he is, a Muslim must respond to the various calls of his immediate surroundings besides the higher demands of his human existence as postulated by his acceptance of Islam. He has to be attentive to his individual physical self—he must feed himself at least twice daily, he must look after his personal hygiene, protect himself from the inclemency of weather and also maintain the decency of his appearance and his immediate material surroundings. He must look after his family, feed, clothe and educate his children as best as he can. He must try to improve the lot of the racial or cultural community to which he belongs and so on and so forth. But he has also a duty greater than all these. He has to work for the universal welfare of humanity. It is a duty moral as well as spiritual. Moral, because he is a member of the universal community of the human race and has been enjoying the benefits of the accumulated culture of that community, whether he is conscious of it or not. Spiritual, because along the path of performance of this duty lies the fulfilment of his spiritual destiny. Along this path he is to attain a life eternal, of bliss and happiness.
While emphasising on the distant objective of human peace and progress and individual spiritual illumination, Islam takes good care of the immediate needs of human existence as well. And it is here that Islam strikes a distinct note of its own. It is a religion both of universalism and of narrower human interests. In the course of their historical career, however, the Muslims came somehow to lose sight of their distant goal, and paradoxical as it may seem, it was this which brought about their failure in their struggle for the achievement of their nearer objectives. Their material backwardness, in other words, was due to their neglect of their social and spiritual goals.
From this slumber the Muslims were roused by the persistent shock-attacks of hostile religious-cultural communities—the Christians in the West and the Hindus in the East. And it so happened that both these inimical forces came to join hands in this very interesting sub-continent of Indo-Pakistan. The attempts to liquidate Islam never before found themselves so fully organised intellectually and politically. But strangely enough it was this critical situation that succeeded in awakening the Muslims to a consciousness not experienced for many centuries. This resulted in the emergence of Pakistan. This new dominion based on religious brotherhood was nothing but an evidence of dormant life in the faith of Islam. Although economics constituted a factor in the Pakistan Movement, yet the organised revolt of the Muslims against the Hindu political intrigue was purely religious in character. The economic aspect of Pakistan Movement was confined only to a section of the upper classes. The appeal to the masses that supplied momentum to the Movement was in the name of religion. Pakistan became a religious ideal and that is why it succeeded in such a short time to unite the millions of Muslims of this sub-continent, ere this lying scattered like the desert sands.
Since the creation of Pakistan, however, this religious aspect has not received the attention it deserved. Educated on the western lines we who were charged with the leadership of the community have not been speaking to our people in terms of religious ideals. Our addresses to the nation have been covertly if not overtly in terms of western political ideals. The prosperity which we have held out before our people has been grossly materialistic in nature. We have, consciously or unconsciously, persuaded the nation to feel and think in terms of Moscow or New York. What we could have done was not only to have turned the attention of this new promising nation away from the deceptive brilliance of western civilization but also to have made them realise the pitfalls in that not unmixed brilliance of Muslim prosperity which manifested itself in Baghdad, Granada and Delhi. We should have taken the nation’s view straight back to the arid desert Islam of the days of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his immediate successors. But we have done nothing of the kind. Through press and platform, through schools and colleges, through cinema houses and Radio broadcasts, we have consciously or unconsciously been leading our people towards either New York or Moscow. All this has been definitely wrong as we have so often pointed out in these columns. Westernism has done no good to the West itself. It is sure to prove worse for us. No wonder we are witnessing today some very unhealthy symptoms in the socio-moral life of the nation.
If we would care to see, the present social and political crisis in our country is the result of our indecision with regard to our national policy, creating a sort of inner conflict in the conscience of our people. The nation undoubtedly loves Islam as its ready response to all appeals in the name of Islam shows. But in practical life it is found to behave in quite an un-Islamic manner. This latter evidently is due to wrong leadership and wrong education.
It is true, and we want to emphasise this fact, that Muslims cannot be wholly converted to any alien ideology and way of life. Let the Hindus do all that they can, let the Christians apply their whole strength to this effort and let the Communists employ all the means at their disposal—they will never be able to wean permanently a whole Muslim community from the faith and culture of Islam. Their hostile attacks and their clever designs to undermine Muslim’s faith in the mission of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, will only result in increased Muslim awakening in the world. They would not judge Islam in the light of their experiences with other religious communities. It is possible to make communities. It is possible to make a materialistic culture and anti-God movement out of Christianity, but similar attempts to pervert Islam will end only in the rejuvenation of this faith. Because, unlike the founders of all other faiths Muhammad’s, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a living, active spiritual personality.
Indeed, Islam is the only hope of humanity today, containing as it does the real germs of religious faith and hence of social peace for the world. And, Pakistan being based on this re-awakened faith in Islamic ideology is the only country in the world today which promises a real religious lead to the rest of humanity.
All that these regrettable happenings show is that although ideologically alive, we have not yet been able to rise equal to the full demands of our ideology. And, this is just because we have not given undivided attention to the development of the religious emotion and religious outlook on life to the total exclusion of all that the existing order presents. Better late, however, than never. Let us even now pick up the lost thread and pay the fullest attention to toning up the religious vision of the nation.
Revival of Islam needs great sacrifices. We have to sacrifice at the moment even such sentiments and loyalties as are otherwise permissible. In the end, however, we stand to gain and not lose by such abnormal sacrifices. It is not political but religious considerations that should determine our attitude to all questions that come before us. We are struggling hard for our existence all the world over as a religious community—this we must always remember. All other loyalties and interests must be subordinated to this one loyalty and one interest at this moment. Whatever our losses, whatever our humiliations, whatever our sufferings—Islam must be upheld at all costs. The prestige of Islam, the self-respect of the Islamic peoples as a religious community, must be maintained in their undimmed glory. The glory of Islamic brotherhood must not be tarnished by any rift that may give a glee to the enemy. Under any circumstances, we must stand by the Quranic injunction to be
“firm against the unbelievers and compassionate and forgiving among ourselves.”
All our differences should vanish as soon as they are found to encourage our enemies. That is the way to please our Lord God and that is the sure way to our national greatness.