Islam to East and West

by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din


This collection of lectures of the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, delivered in different countries, is in itself proof of his popularity as a well-known person who needs no introduction and those who read these lectures will themselves be able to realise his mastery over the subjects he has dealt with. Let me, however, who has devoted all his life to the comparative study of religions and particularly of Islam, assure the readers of these lectures that the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din did not present “Neo Islam” but the old Islam in its true colours whether he did it in Paris or Cairo, London or Bombay, Woking or Rangoon or anywhere in the world. Everywhere he presented the Islam of thirteen centuries. He presented it boldly and convincingly. He has himself said on one occasion:

“I come with no apology for my Prophet.”

The Prophet does not indeed need any apologists. His was a superhuman mind. He was a practical Teacher. He never taught what he did not himself practise. All that the Prophet did, all that he said, was what should have been done, should have been said, exactly as he did or said it. His actions were based on Truth. His sayings were based on Truth. And truth is unalterable at all times. In every age it is the same. At every place it is the same. A Persian sage has beautifully said:

سخن کز بہر دیں گویی چہ عبرانی چہ سریانی
مکان کز بہر حق جویی چہ جابلقا چہ جابلسا

Sukhan kaz bahre din goi chi Ibrani chi Suryani
Makan kaz bahre Haq joi chi Jabalka chi Jabalsa.

What matters it whether the words thou utterest in prayer are Hebrew or Syrian,
or whether the place in which thou seekest God is Jabalka or Jabalsa.

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has taken pains in his lectures not to say anything without an authority behind it. For example, at one place he has said:  

“I maintain that at times it becomes one of our highest humanitarian duties to unsheathe the sword.”

Christians who believe in the maxim

“Turn the other cheek when one is smitten,”

may have taken an exception to it but the Khwaja has quoted the authority of no less a person than the Bishop of London in the support of his views. On 9 June 1915, in a mass meeting at Hyde Park, London, the Bishop of London proclaimed at the top of his voice:

“If we saw a blackguard ill-using a little child, should we stand still? No, we should deal with the blackguard speedily and vigorously.”

Whatever the Khwaja has asserted on behalf of Islam he has supported it on the authority of the Prophet himself or of the Quran. For instance, when he asserts that Islam is the Religion of Nature he quotes the following passage from the Holy Quran:

“Nature given by Allah — the very nature upon which man has been given his frame — this is the true religion.”

As the locality of his lectures is different — one in Europe, other in Asia, other in Africa, so is the subject-matter. At Paris, he talks on the “Special Features of Islam” and proves the rational basis of the Faith of Islam.

In London, his subject is “The Free Religious Movement” and he compares in parallel columns “The Fundamental Principles of every Human Society” with “The Fundamental Principles of Islam.”

At Hastings, he delivers his lecture on the riddle of “Self-expression and Cosmic Consciousness” and quotes:

“God sayeth, O man! Only follow thou My laws and thou shalt become like unto Me and then say ‘Be’ and behold ‘It is’.”

Only a mystic can grasp the full import of “The self-expression and Cosmic Consciousness” mentioned in the above lines.

In his lecture in Madras, “The League of Faith,” he boldly asserts that

“the whole nature gives the lie to a belief which confines Divine revelation to a certain community or class of people,”

and shows how Islam accommodates all other religious principles of high moral and spiritual value and forms in itself a much desired “League of Faith.”

In his lecture at Rangoon on the “Philosophy of Islam,” who can deny that his Islamic conception of the Doctrine of Evolution and of Paradise and Hell is not philosophic. He gives a practical turn to the philosophy of ethics when he lays down that

“Morality does not mean extinction of passions and killing of impulses. It consists in controlling and balancing them.”

And it is thus that the Islamic practical and active morality is distinguishable and is distinct from that of other religions like Christianity and Buddhism.

In his lecture “Islam and what it Means,” the Khwaja defines the object of Religion to be

“to work out hidden faculties of the human mind”

and proves definitely that no other religion has succeeded in achieving that object as Islam has.

Considering the circumstances prevailing in India, the most courageous expression of his views was when Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din said at a public gathering in the Cowasjee Jehangir Hall at Bombay that he was

“a Muslim first and an Indian afterwards”

but who could deny his assertion that

“Islam and only Islam, and no other racial, country or patriotic consideration creates in me a consciousness that responds to all the demands that are essential to the establishment of peace, amity, fellow feeling and patriotic ideals in the world.”

Khwaja’s appeal at the end of this lecture to his brother Muslims deserves the attention of all. He said:

“Yours is the religion of proselytisation. Win others to your faith as your forefathers did. Win them for your cause by your actions, by the love you should bear to all, by the peace you are bound to make with others, as Assalam Alaikum is your watchword, and by the tolerant spirit which should characterise your thought, your word and your action. Your religion is Islam. It means Peace.”

I do wish most earnestly that not only Muslims of Egypt but of all other countries also took to heart the appeal and warning uttered by the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din on 25 June 1923 when he went to Cairo with our friend, Lord Headley. (Alas! He too has left us.) The Khwaja concluded his lecture with these words:

“These are the spring days of Islam. The vital power of growth is at its best. Heaven is pouring down its showers. Breezes are gentle and wholesome. This is all God-sent. But no crops are to be expected, even under conditions so ideal, until and unless the husbandman takes to the farm, ploughing, tilling and sowing. Arise, therefore, you farmers of Islam! Take advantage of the season! Else, do not forget the Divine warning: ‘Another nation shall take your place that will better fulfil the Divine purpose.’”

I was in Cairo last year with my sister-in-law, Begum Maqbul Hosain Kidwai, and her granddaughter, Miss Nishat, and they probably realised more than I did, because they had a greater opportunity of studying the mentality of the Egyptian ladies, how instead of utilising to the best advantage the “spring days” as the Khwaja had addressed them to do twelve years ago, certain Egyptian men, and also Egyptian women, were allowing exotic weeds to outgrow those useful seeds which their forefathers had sown and had watered with their blood before.

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din was a great personal friend of mine. We worked together for years and years for the same cause. He once wrote to me that our minds moved on the same lines. I too had been giving the very same warning to the Muslims of the world which he had given to those in Cairo that a new Nation will be born to take up the Standard of Islam if those Nations which were honoured to possess it will be unable to keep it aloft high up to heavens.

I had even named the nations likely to be chosen by Providence to re-raise up the Standard which cast its benign shadow over the East and West, North or South.

The “New Nation” might be the Japanese. If converted to Islam, Japan herself would be able to gain her highest aspirations. She will at once become a World-power with 500 million men and women linked with her with the golden and unbreakable bonds of fraternity and spread all over the Globe. The circumstances of the time are such that the Muslim Japan will be able at once to take the lead of the whole of Asia and Africa. As regards Europe also, the Islamised Japan may take the place of the Muslim Spain in her most glorious days.

Inscrutable are the ways of Fate. Who knows that if Japan is not so lucky her very antagonist — Russia — may be given the honour of taking up the Standard of Islam. Since Russia did away with the Czardom it has come nearer to Islam as I intend to show in the chapters on Islam and Bolshevism, I am adding to my old book — Islam and Socialism, which is going to be republished soon.

I think that the moment Russian Communists realise that the anti-God movement which they have needlessly taken up has alienated them from millions upon millions of people who were otherwise inclined towards them and that the God-idea — the truly and exclusively Islamic God-idea instead of being a hindrance to their objective and their creed can be of the greatest possible help to them even as it was to the Muslim Arabs and Moors, the moment the Russian Communists realise that their ideals and objects — grand, noble ideals of abolishing Poverty, Social-gradations, Exploitations and Imperialism and of establishing all over the world international harmony and goodwill can be achieved not with present methods — not with brutal force — but with the moral power of Islam and Islam alone, they will turn to Islam and then both the East and the West will be under their influence and their dream of the world revolution will be realised. The gigantic bloc of Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and Prussia will be invincible all round. In short, whichever may the New Nation be, but there is no doubt in my mind as there was none in that of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s that if the Muslims of the present day fail “to fulfil the Divine purpose,” “another Nation shall take their place.” It may be long, but it is sure to come. If the world is to be saved, Islam must rise again. Human progress on right lines depends upon that. Otherwise, Humanity is doomed — all culture and civilisation is doomed. Unfortunately, the signs are that it is doomed for the present if it continues to develop as it is doing now. The re-rise of the sun of Islam seems destined to be preceded by the deepest world-wide darkness.

Shaikh Mushir Husain Kidwai of Gadia

Mushir Manzil, Lucknow
20 October 1935