Project for Revival of the Muslim World
The early 20th century was a time when the Muslim Ummah was passing through a tough transition from Khilafah Usmaniya (Ottoman Caliphate as the British and the French liked to call it) to the bondage of European colonization. From Eastern Europe to Africa, to Indonesia, Usmaniya had controlled most of the present day Muslim countries and others like Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia as well as a large swath of sea and land areas. The Khalifa of the time, Sultan Abdul Hamid launched an ambitious Pan-Islamic project to unite the Ummah, but was not successful for the simple reason that the ailing Usmaniya was dwindling into decline. Usmaniya had controlled over 60 countries of the present day world and early 1900s saw the disintegration in country after country of the Usmaniya Khilafah. Under a plot hatched by Jewish inspired Freemasons and Secularized young Turks, Abdul Hamid was dethroned and with that the Pan-Islamic project came to a complete halt. In the year 1924, the Freemasonry project culminated in the total breakdown of the Khilafah. Turkey proclaimed itself a republic clipping all its wings of responsibility from the Muslim world. The Ummah of the time was characterized as leaderless, disoriented, dejected and looking westward for guidance. The decline of the Khilafah sent waves of disillusionment across the Muslim world.
One man from the seat of Khilafah, Istanbul arose valiantly armed with the diamond sword of the Qur’an to set the disillusioned Ummah straight. Although, Sultan Abdul Hamid desired reform of the conditions of the Ummah through his Pan-Islamic Project, he was unfortunately deprived the grasp of the problem and its appropriate solution. Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, who arose on the heels of Usmaniyah collapse, proposed dynamic solutions to the problems of the Ummah.
He possessed profound insight into the ways how the problems of the Ummah can be tackled. In his illuminating “Damascus Sermon”, which he delivered in the year 1911 at the Umayad Mosque, Damascus, Syria, amongst 10.000 Muslims with around 100 learned Ulema, he discussed the subject thoroughly. Commencing with (Do not despair from the mercy of Allah- Surah Zumar: 53), he infused fresh stamina into the soul of the slumbering Ummah. He proclaimed:
“Despair is a most grievous sickness of communities and nations, a cancer. It is an obstacle to achievement and is opposed to the truth of the Hadith Al Qudsi, “I am with my bondsman who thinks favourably of Me.” It is the quality and pretext of cowards, the base and the impotent. It does not tell of Islamic courage. It cannot be the quality of a people like the Arabs in particular, who among mankind have been privileged with a fine character that is the cause of pride. The nations of the Islamic world have taken lessons from the Arabs’ fortitude. Insha Allah, once more the Arabs will give up despair and will stand together with the Turks, who are the heroic army of Islam, and will unfurl the banner of the Qur’an in every part of the world”.
After giving hope and confidence about the mercy of Allah, he explained poverty, ignorance and disunity as the worst enemy of Islamic Union. Now in the year 2012 too Muslim Ummah is not completely rid of these problems, and as a result its social fabric is alarmingly eroding. These are three fundamental factors for the spiritual and material development of a society.
Although Imam Bediuzzaman’s analysis is of a general nature, it can be applied to the micro levels of each and every Muslim community. Let us take Sri Lanka as a case; comparing with many countries where Muslims are a minority, we have fortunately been indeed blessed with freedom of religion and substantial levels of educational and economic strength.
An observer of Muslim communities in many other countries would admit that Sri Lankan Muslim community is fairly disciplined and organised; Religious awareness prevalent amongst us too is relatively high; confrontation amongst organisations working for the cause of Islamic revival is relatively low, whereas in many other countries confrontation and even mutual killings are the norm. These are our strength from where community development can originate. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders of the community to engage constructively.
On the other hand, community’s wealth and energy are spent haphazardly without any clear purpose or on the basis of priority. How many Arabic Madrasas are there for boys and girls? They continue to mushroom in almost every Muslim village, without any concern for the quality of education to be offered. Generous individuals spend enormous resources to run orphanages, and some of these orphanages have gone to an awful extent of not finding any orphans to enrol; hundreds of scholarship programs and welfare projects are in operation; all these are signs that the community is dynamic and is able to respond to the needs of the less-privileged members. Had there been an efficient network among these organisations, their services would have produced more results and the community’s resources would have been properly channelled without duplication.
Poverty: Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said, poverty can lead to Kufr (Unbelief). Poverty is a root cause for all social ills. A poverty stricken person can go to the extent of selling his own organs to win bread; there are religious missionaries roaming around the world preying on the poor to thrust their ideologies upon. Poverty causes frustration and depression amongst people; poverty makes a person unproductive and loss of determination. We do not deny that within poverty a powerful force is hidden. There are stories of successful people whose beginning has been poverty. It is poverty that propelled them up in search for prosperity. For such people of fortitude poverty has been an asset. However, this is not generally so.
Ignorance: Illiteracy is not ignorance. The world has rich records of illiterate people who have been successful in their careers. For smart people, illiteracy has never been a hurdle in the march toward progress. Many illiterate mothers and fathers have brought their children up as shining examples of exceptional Islamic qualities and as successful professionals. On the contrary, ignorance is a disease; major problem with an ignorant person is his belief that he is an “All-knowing person”. Throughout history ignorance has done heavy damages to the Islamic Ummah. People out of ignorance have been cahoots in the hands of the enemies of Islam and facilitated the destruction of Muslims.
Ignorance of Islam has pushed people to be deceived by the external glitter of the so called western civilization, abandoning their own religion; Islam describes unbelief as compounded ignorance, because existence of Allah is a scientifically proven truth. It is ignorance that pushed Muslims to lag behind in science and technology.
Disunity: It is the disunity of Muslims that their enemies capitalize on. Unity of the rank is an obligatory act (Fardh) in Islam. Disunity makes a community to lose courage and make it powerless. This is the present predicament of Muslims everywhere. Quite contrary to these Qur’anic injunctions, we are creating a younger generation which has lost the ability to distinguish the fundamentals (Usool) from peripherals (Furoo’). We are not far away from the bad memories of the Beruwala mosque incident where two groups of Muslims converted a Masjid into a killing field, on the basis of peripheral Fiqh issues.
Qur’anic and Hadeeth texts are given radical interpretations to brand ordinary Muslims as pariah and to justify building of mosques merely for the purpose of practising specific movements in Salat, which are solely peripheral in nature. Often cases of Fiqh fights end up in police stations, as if they are the centres where Fiqh issues are resolved. Such is the humiliating level we have stooped. Instead of compassion as taught by our beloved Prophet (PBUH), a Bollywood styled violent younger generation is being performed in the name of Islam. On many occasions the Qur’an has put the issue of unity explicitly clear. One such remarkable verse is: “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another lest you should lose courage and your power depart. Be steadfast, surely Allah is with those who remain steadfast” (Al Anfal: 46).
Everyone has the right to pray the way he wants, and believe what he believes right, but no one has the authority to claim it is only he who is on the right path. Hence, it is time for us to return to our senses. Preserving the existing unity and protecting the community from division is an essential component of reform (Islah).