At a time when Islamophobia is shaping up into the mosque massacre, Muslim nations are still caught in their own parochial perceptions. As two opinionated Kashmiri Muslims argue in this piece, the need of an hour is to rise above the sectarian views for the larger reforms in the Muslim societies.
By Junaid Ashraf, Haseeb Malik
A particular preacher’s remark—“two lakh mobile phones remain active in Kashmir after 10pm”—lately set many thinking in the valley. It brought home a growing sense of hidebound pulpit pitch. What it also brought to mind was how some great Muslims of yore had contributed to keep the flame of the ‘religion of peace’ alive during trying and treacherous times. One of them happens to be Maulana Muhammad Ali Jowhar.
Clubbed as one Ali brother in the post-independence textbooks of Congress, Maulana as a child would stealthily listen to the lectures of Prof. Shibli Nomani. He went on to secure a Bachelors degree from Oxford. It was the time when other Indian elite graduating from the elite educational institutions would take pride in getting into the bureaucracy. But according to one of his biographers, Maulana Jowhar was “meant for greater things”.
He would proudly wear his Oxford education on his sleeve. But more importantly besides his activism, his tussle with the jealous Bengali press and intellectuals and his one-sided bitter relationship with Gandhi, he chose to study and delve deep into the Islamic sciences and confronted the rabid British imperialism in its worst phase.
Maulana Jowhar chose to take leadership position of Indian freedom movement with all sincerity, responsibility, dedication and determination. He was buried in Palestine and along with some of the best brains of the sub-continent became instrumental in writing a glorious phase of resistance against British imperialism in Indian history.
So the leadership of the Indian freedom movement was not in the hands of “2 lakh phones active after 10pm” guys, but the men with such wonderful qualities of head and heart, trained both in modern sciences and traditional ones, and knew the location of their island and were aware of how to fight with the contemporary waves of times.
Even if Maulana Jowhar was somewhat inclined towards the literalist tradition, the Islamic sufi tradition was not dotted with the likes of Gulzar Peer but the intellectual, spiritual and moral giants like Allama Iqbal trained in half a dozen social sciences including law and philosophy and economics, with interest in natural sciences and foremost thinker with soul burning with the love of his people.
And when the best sons of Indian society, mindful of the world and its current trends chose to immerse themselves in the tradition, Indian society could get such dazzling pearls. Vilfredo Pareto calls such men lions of a society. Winston Churchill found these men to have glittering treasures of heart and mind. It’s these people who push the barriers and set the benchmarks. Men, who according to Will Durant, have changed the course of Human Civilization. Dr. Israr calls them the brain trust of a society and Arnold Toynbee calls them the creative minority, the wings of whose head and heart can lift nations, cultures, societies, economies, civilizations, humanity with their path-breaking ideas and rock-like determination.
Pharaoh had so many children, and according to Will Durand, the reason was that he wanted all his personal material values and qualities to get transferred into his children. It’s these men who’re waiting to be converted into the swords of God or citadels of Satan, depending whether they’re bathed by morality of Machiavelli—who can turn into a pious Saladin or a tyrannical Hajjaj Bin Yousuf.
That’s why Prophet Muhammad [SAW] prayed for the conversion of Umar [R.A] because there’re very few camels, in the words of Prophet, who’re worthy to reach the destination.
That’s why Mosses [A.S] was brought up in the center of civilization in the house of pharaoh. That’s why Abraham [A.S] was brought up in the home that made idols for the world. That’s why Prince Gautama Buddha, considered by many to be Dhul Kifl in the holy Quran, was deeply bitten by the sufferings of his people and therefore wanted to understand the meaning of life.
That’s why Joseph was brought to the center stage of bustling Egyptian economy and culture to grow intellectually and to lay foundations for a civilization that had Dawood [A.S] and Suleiman [A.S] as its rulers.
And that’s why Prophet Muhammad [SAW] was brought up in the centre, in the city of Makah, in the home of Makkan elite.
According to Bertrand Russell, the 18th-19th centuries claimed its superiority over the preceding centuries mainly on the basis of its technological superiority. The Muslim world too was dazzled by the bright face of its technological achievements. While the western world had tasted the fruits of its labour, its dissatisfied men were crying: “We’ve been taught to fly like birds in the air and to swim in the water like fish, but we don’t know how to live on earth!”
To the Muslim eye, in the colonialism, the English men were brilliant because they can fly. But it couldn’t understand that he wouldn’t have been able to fly, had at some point of time Omar Khayam done path breaking research in mathematics. And had West not learned knowledge in the Muslin Spain.
The Muslim, then, simply thought religion was a superstition, the chains hung around his neck by his not-so-smart ancestors. He therefore embarked on a journey to copy his western friends not just in language, in manners, in dress, in culture, such that he too could do the wonderful things that his masters were doing.
So while the Muslim societies currently are riddled with deep-moral problems, backward economies, disloyal-to-the-people governments, the preservation and propagation of religion is not in the hands of the “creative minority” but those who think Masla-e-Kashmir remain there till doomsday.
This goes contrary to the past when Muslim world would produce some gems like scholar economist professor Khurshid Ahmed, Dr Umar Chapra and Dr Nejatullah Siddique who went on to win the prestigious Shah Faisal award. And the likes of the spiritual Khalifa of Ashrah Ali Thanvi, Isa Allahabadi, a graduate of the then prestigious Aligarh Muslim University. And somebody like Maulana Tariq Jameel who chose to study religious sciences after leaving his training in Medical Sciences.
These people are in no need of raking up sectarian issues for their cheep publicity or using religion as a bullock cart for their worldly destinations because they’re there to serve sacrifice, to offer their sweat and their tears for the grand causes.
Purification of soul is not the domain of any particular section of people, but leadership belongs to that section who is worthy of it.
A brilliant Pakistani economist once said:Physics can tell you what is in an atom and religious sciences bring out what is in a human heart. This very fact was ably demonstrated by the new converts in Europe, who leave their work for some time and go to the Middle East to Morocco, to Algeria, to Saudi to get trained in Arabic and religious sciences. The heads of the Zaytuna Collage in USA are the same products of the western society who were brilliant students, went to study religious sciences and came back to serve the American community in leadership roles.
But, here, we’re just satisfied with listening to some prejudiced preacher and going out to taunt Moulvis that they don’t know anything about the world and curse liberals and to how this irreligious class has looted this nation.
There’s a need that this society understands that religious sciences should be taught in the secular institutions. But then, can parents put their wards in the religious institutions for a year, say after 8th standard? Or, will religious institutions announce programs for the young secular educated men or women who’ve done well in their professional lives?
If only our youth choose to get trained in religious sciences to serve the society in leadership rules, it would pump up the strength of the society from within.
Junaid Ashraf has done Masters in Economics and English Literature. Haseeb Malik is pursuing B.Tech in Civil Engineering.
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