All praise is due to Allah , we praise Him and we seek his help and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our selves and from the evil results of our actions. I testify that Allah alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad is His slave and final Messenger. May Allah’s salawaat (peace and blessings) be upon the last and final messenger Muhammad, his family and his followers. Ameen!
To begin: The best discourse is the book of Allah, and the best way is the way of Muhammad, and the worst of the matters in the religion are those newly introduced innovations, for every innovation in the religion is misguidance, and every misguidance is going astray and every going astray is in the Hellfire.
I have embarked on my commentary on the The Economist magazine’s survey “Islam and the West” (large insert in the August 6, 1994 issue) after some considerable deliberation, and find myself confronted with a considerable task, and indeed Allah is the best of helpers. Brian Beedham is able to rely on what Noam Chomskey calls “manufactured consent”. While dictatorships use force in order to achieve consent from the people and prevent opposition, “democracies” manufacture consent through the media by using it to providing a particular world view which conforms to the interests, by and large, of the ruling elite. He is able to get away with a short, condensed, article because he doesn’t need to prove much of what he is saying, he only has to repeat the prefabricated conventional platitudes. For example, when he talks the Algerian Muslims as “a singularly intransigent bunch of Islamic rebels, fundamentalists of the most bloody minded sort” he doesn’t have to prove it, because the establishment has already ensured that people believe this is the case. In fact the statement in not at all true. The Algerian fundamentalists proved willing to go to elections and seek a peaceful way re-establish the Islamic Sharee’ah . Recent events, such as the meeting of the opposition groups, including the “rebel fundamentalists”, in Rome, calling for talks and a return to free elections - which was even supported by the French government and was rejected by the Algerian government - shows that it is the Algerian government that has proved bloody minded. In spite of such obvious discrepancies Mr. Beedham is able to get away with it because consent has already been manufactured that the fundamentalists are rebellious and bloody minded.
Similarly he never feels he has to prove that democracy is an advantage, it is taken almost completely for granted, knowing his audience is already “captive” so as to speak. In the age of the “sound-bite” (or perhaps in this case “word-bite”), opposing the conventional wisdom is not easy, for what the likes of Mr. Beedham can say in a sentence opposing it would take a book. Even then it would be of doubtful effectiveness, for opposing the norms of society is perhaps one of the hardest paths to take for an instinctively societal creature like ourselves. Thus I shall be writing a series of letters, and not just one, thus enabling me to break down the commentary into more manageable pieces. I shall also refer certain topics to appendices, which may include video and audio tapes.
Of course no Muslim could accept Islam merely as an idea. As the survey itself mentions, Islam is based on the "word of God, revealed syllable by syllable to Muhammad fourteen hundred years ago" (p.4 c.2). Thus it is no mere idea, rather it is the idea, the ideology, the truth, exclusive of all others. As the Qur’an states: "Indeed the religion before Allah is Islam" . . . "Whoever wishes for a way of life other that Islam, never will it be accepted from them and in the hereafter they will be amongst the losers" (Surah Al Imraan 3:85). The religion has been completed and perfected, and has no need for alteration or adjustment: "This day we have completed your religion for you and perfected our favour upon you and chosen for your way of life Islam" (Surah Al Imraan 3:85). The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said: "There is not one thing that shall bring you closer to the Paradise and away from the Fire without me having informed you of it, and there is not one thing that will take you away from paradise and towards the fire except that I have warned you about it." It is indeed true that Islam does not allow its followers to draw a distinction between the "inner" and "outer" aspects of life, between belief and actions, religion and politics, because in reality such distinctions are totally fallacious. Man’s beliefs are the foundations and prime motivators for actions, for what is held to be true on the inside must manifest itself outwardly. Indeed the very first task given to Muhammad, peace be upon him, was to correct the false beliefs. It was not that the pagan Arabs did not believe in Allah, or God the Creator. In fact the Qur’an tells Muhammad, peace be upon him,: "If you ask them who sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death? They would certainly say ‘Allah!’ Say: ‘All the praise and thanks be to Allah!’ Nay! Most of them have no sense" (Surah al-Ankaboot 29:63). "Say: ‘Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?’ They will say: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not them be afraid of Allah’s Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allah)?’” (Surah Yunus 10:31). Indeed the pagan Arabs used to worship Allah, pray to Him and sacrifice to Him in times of need and distress, as did the Jews and Christians, and they even claimed to love Him, but Allah rejected all of this from them and referred to them as senseless, and astray, and as disbelievers. So this is the reality concerning most of the men and jinn , that they claim to believe in Allah, and worship Allah, but what they believe about Him is incorrect, and the way they worship Him is incorrect . . . "Most of them do not believe in Allah except while joining partners with Him" (Surah Yusuf 12:106) . . . and it’s manifestations are many and the evil consequences numerous.
All of this has one common cause, or origin, and that is thinking and speaking about Allah without knowledge, and thus ascribing to Him that which should not be ascribed to Him, such as sons, or daughters, or human qualities and weaknesses, or claiming that some of the creation possess His powers and abilities, or by claiming that He, the Majestic, is pleased by some action that in fact angers Him, or that He is angered by some action that in fact pleases Him. So thus the idol worshippers call upon that which can neither benefit nor harm them, and the Christians call upon Jesus, and the Jews believe their racial origins guarantee His good pleasure, and those who believe that power, wealth and the such are means of success; all have put their faith and trust in something vain. This in itself is a great evil, for they have only wasted their time and effort, yet this is least of the evil consequences. As for that which is most severe . . . those who have fallen into associating partners with Allah have earned His anger and wrath, and upon them shall fall humiliation in this life and a most terrible fate in the next: "Surely Allah will not forgive as-shirk (the association of partners with Him), but He forgives sins less than that of whomever He wishes" (Surah an-Nisa’ 4:48). So "as-shirk", or ascribing partners to Allah (in whatever form it may take) is the unforgivable sin, because it is in reality the source of all evil, the greatest injustice, the worst oppression and wrongdoing. For if one is unafraid of speaking about Allah without knowledge, and this is a knowledge unattainable except through Him, for He is the best knower of Himself and His will, and that which pleases and displeases Him, then about what and about whom will one be afraid of speaking about ignorantly? For truly, as is obvious to anyone witnessing the destructive forces of nature, and untold misfortunes and miseries over which Allah alone has ultimate power and control, both in this life and the next, Allah is the most terrifying and most worthy of being feared. And also anyone witnessing the miraculous order, and precision, and symbiosis within the earth and universe, must realize the unparalleled knowledge and wisdom of its Creator. So if one is heedless of transgressing the laws of Allah, and thinks them of little or no importance, or worse considers them bad, evil, and outdated, then what of the laws conceived in the limited minds of men? If one is ungrateful to his Lord, the provider of all, then of what little consequence to such a one is ingratitude to the creation? If one denies the rights and dues of Allah, which are the most worthy of being fulfilled, then what rights and dues will such one be fearful of denying then? Thus imagine the case of a worker in a company run by yourself , who believes you are the lavatory cleaner, and the lavatory cleaner is the director! Would there not be evil results? Would you tolerate such a person? If so, for how long? Now envisage this fool teaching this to others, and insisting on it, so that the majority of the company came to believe it, ignoring your orders and prohibitions, and inventing them for themselves, and making their guide the lavatory cleaner who is moreover deaf and dumb!
The true cause of the evils that beset mankind are disbelief, sinfulness and ingratitude to Allah: “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” (Surah as-Shura 42:30). “Evil has appeared on the land and sea, because of what your hands have earned. That Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return” (Surah ar-Rum 30:41). As the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him,: "There is none who has a greater sense of ghira (a feeling of great fury and anger when one’s honour and prestige is injured or challenged) than Allah, and so He has forbidden shameful deeds and sins. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does" (Reported in Saheeh Al Bukhari). Allah is more infuriated by the disobedience of His slave than a man of honour is finding his wife fornicating with another man. So how is His fury with those who insult Him by ascribing rivals, and partners with Him, while He is glorious above such things! And the evil consequences are not limited to this life: "Verily, those who disbelieved, and die while they are disbelievers, the whole earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers" (Surah Al Imran 3:91). The Prophet, peace be upon him, explained: "On the day of judgement a disbeliever will be asked: ‘Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from the hell-fire?’ He will reply: ‘Yes!’ Then it will be said to him: ‘You were asked for something easier than that, that you should join none in worship with Allah, and submit yourself to Him, but you refused’" (Reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari).
Indeed the message of all the prophets is one and the same: "Verily, We have sent to every nation a messenger saying: ‘Worship Allah and avoid false objects of worship’" (Surah an-Nahl 16:36) and indeed this is the very purpose for which Allah created mankind: "I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship" (Surah ad-Dhaariyaat 51:56). So “as-shirk” (i.e. ascribing partners to Allah) is in contradiction to that reason for which Allah has created us, and the purpose for which we exist, which is to choose to single out Allah for worship, avoiding all false deities, and to worship Him completely, with sacrifice, supplication, submission, subjugation, obedience and compliance, and with love, fear, hope, trust and reliance upon Him, seeking only His pleasure and not the admiration of His creatures, and to do all of that according to that which was revealed to His last and final Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him,, and not according to whims and desires and mere conjecture.
Furthermore, and of immediate relevance to the discussion, are those qualities, unique to Allah, that single Him out, such as "al-Hakim", the Judge; "al-Hakeem", the Wise; "al-’Aleem", the All Knowing and "as-Shariy", the Legislator. Not only is Allah the Creator and Controller and Sustainer, but also the sole possessor of the wisdom and knowledge to legislate for mankind and to determine what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is lawful and what is prohibited, and thus what laws we should judge by, what social, economic and political system we should utilize . . . "And no partner in legislating has He-He is alone" (Surah al-Kahf 18:60) . . . "Indeed, the ruling is Allah’s" (Surah Yusuf 12:40). Allah admonished the Jews and Christians, and called them disbelievers, for " . . . taking their priests and rabbis as lords besides Allah" (Surah at-Tawbah 9:31). The Prophet, peace be upon him, went on to explain that the priest and rabbis "made lawful that which Allah had made unlawful, and made unlawful that which Allah had made lawful and the people accepted it...So that was their (i.e. the people’s) worship of them.” Thus to ascribe legislative power to people is a clear and obvious form of disbelief, and “shirk”, or setting up rivals to Allah, and is the unforgivable sin, and a contradiction of the purpose of creation. If Allah blamed the people from the Jews and Christians for accepting from those among them who were learned in the Scripture and Divine legislation changes and alterations, and the making the forbidden allowed and visa versa, as we see them doing until this day, then how about those who accept such actions from every Tom, Dick and Harry, who have no scripture, and no wisdom and only pure speculation, whims and desires, as is the case of Democracy?!?
So the The Economist magazine’s survey admits that Islam makes no distinction between outward and inner, private and public life, yet goes on to suggest Muslims should abandon this, and adopt the ways of the worst error: disobedience to and rebellion against Allah, and commit the unforgivable sin of ascribing partners to Him. Truly Allah speaks the truth when He says: "Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:120) and we seek refuge with Allah from that, for surely we would be of the losers.
Will there be a confrontation between Islam and the West? Mr. Huntington’s clash of civilizations claims “yes”, but the survey is "not convinced". It is true that the world of Islam and the West have more in common with each other than they do with the Confucian and Hindu ones, but in reality both Mr. Huntington’s and Mr. Beedham’s comparisons are unhelpful in understanding the reality of the matter. What Mr. Beedham’s admits are important differences (Westerners not believing that God dictated the Qur’an and Muslim’s not believing the Jesus is the son of God) are in fact irreconcilable differences, at least from the Muslim stand point . . . “And they say the Compassionate (i.e. Allah) has taken to Himself a son. Certainly you utter a disastrous thing, whereby the heavens are almost torn asunder, and the earth split open and the mountains crumbles to ruin, that you ascribe to the Compassionate a son! When it is not befitting the majesty of the Compassionate that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens or the earth but comes to the Compassionate as a slave” (Surah Maryam 19:88-93). Islam does not regard Christians who claim that Jesus is God, or the Son of God, as “monotheists” any more than Hindus who claim that Krishna is a “manifestation of God” or Buddhists who claim that Buddha is God. All of this is disbelief and polytheism. It is this that is the basis of conflict. It is a conflict not only sanctioned, but ordered in the Qur’an: "Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor the last day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Book , until they pay the jizya (i.e. protection tax) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued" (Surah at-Tawbah 9:29).
This is not a confrontation of civilizations, nor is it a clash of cultures. Islam does not oppose the West, or anyone else, because of revenge over past hostilities, out of a desire to restore injured pride or because of the desire to amass their wealth and lands. The fight is for one purpose only and that is to establish the religion of Islam in its totality, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, explained when a man came to him and asked: "One of us fights for booty, another for his tribe and another to be known as brave, which one is fighting jihad?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "None of them. Only the one who fights to make Allah’s Word the highest is fighting jihad." It is clear to any believer acquainted with Allah’s Book (i.e. the Qur’an) and His Prophet’s Sunnah that jihad (i.e. struggling to the utmost of ones ability) is an intrinsic part of faith, and a duty among the duties in Islam. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, as reported by Tariq bin Shihab: "He who amongst you sees something evil should change it with his hand; and if he is unable he should change it with his tongue; and if he is unable to do that he should at least hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest form of faith" (Reported in Saheeh Muslim, No. 79).
Jihad has three characteristics. The first form is jihad of the heart, or jihad of the self. This is the internal struggle to acquire the correct creed, and to remove from one’s self all doubts and misconceptions concerning this creed, and also the commands and prohibitions enjoined on the believer. It further more encompasses the purifying of the soul from base desires and acquiring noble qualities. The second level is the jihad of the tongue. This is the struggle against evil, and wrong beliefs and actions through preaching and writing books and the like. This form of jihad is characterized by its use against the deviants from among the Muslims, but also extends to the unbelievers. The final form of jihad is that of the hand, or sword, where one expends life and property. It is characterized by its use against unbelievers, but can also be used against deviant groups under the authority of the Muslim ruler. This jihad of the hand, often termed "Holy War", is further compartmentalized into three stages. The first is that of it being forbidden, as it was in the early days of Muhammad’s prophethood. If the Muslims are weak, and fighting is liable to cause only harm and no benefit, then they should desist. Such is the case of those dwelling in non-Muslim lands. The second stage is that of self-defense, or restricting the fight to "those who fight you" (2:190), and releasing the lands of the Muslims from the control of their enemies. This is the condition of the Muslims today. The final stage is that of fighting in order to open the path for establishing Allah’s rule in the lands of the unbelievers, as was done by the Prophet’s companions and the Muslim rulers after them. "And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah when there are weak and oppressed, old men, women and children whose cry is ‘Oh Lord save us from those who oppress, and send to one who will aid and send to us one who will help!’" (Surah an-Nisa’ 4:75). Thus one the Prophet’s companions, Rab’ia ibn Amer, went to meet Rostrum, the famous Persian general, at his request and the general offered camels, and women and asked them to return to the desert. Rab’ia refused, and Rostrum asked him why then were they fighting. Rab’ia replied: "We have come to take mankind from the darkness to the light and from the worship of the false gods to the worship of Allah, from the narrowness of this world the wide expanse of this world and the next, and from the injustices of man made religions to the justice of Islam."
So this Jihad is the peak of the matter and fulfilling it is part of fulfilling the covenant with Allah, and abandoning it is the cause of humiliation and defeat for the Muslims. As Allah said: "If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you by another people and you cannot harm Him at all, and Allah is able to do all things" (Surah at-Tawbah 9:39) and the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him,: "When you deal in “al-ainiya” (i.e. become complacent and satisfied with a domestic life) and hang on to the cows tails, and abandon jihad, then Allah will permit your humiliation at the hands of your enemies and will not lift it from you until you return to your religion." So today we find Muslims leading a life as if they had no prophet, nor belief in any Divine Message or Divine Revelation, nor expectation of any reckoning, nor is fear of the hereafter. They resemble the pre-Islamic nations, against whom they used to fight in the past. So they have turned on their heels as apostates from Islam and have imitated the ignorant nations in their civilization, in their social affairs, in their political systems, in their character and in the pleasures of their lives. So Allah hated them and forsook them, as He promised He would. He had warned them of this clearly in His Book, and on the tongue of His Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him,: "Soon the nations will gather to take from you the same way you invite others to share from a feast!" A person asked the Prophet, peace be upon him,: “Is that because we are small in our numbers?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered: “No! You will be many, like the foam on the sea, but you will be rubbish, like the rubbish carried down by the flood water. And certainly Allah will remove from the breasts of your enemies the fear of you and into your breasts He will cast enervation." A person asked: “What is enervation?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "It is love of life and fear of death." This has come true exactly, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, predicted, and if there is a “Revival of Islam”, then that is because anyone with ears and eyes can see how the Muslims are humiliated - their lands a feast for their enemies, ruled by laws and ways nothing to do with that which Allah has revealed. The solution to these problems has been given by the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself one thousand four hundred years ago: "Return to your religion", enjoin what Allah has enjoined and forbid what He has forbidden, prefer the next life to this, and for the Muslims to once again struggle with their lives and properties to bring themselves and others out of the oppression of man made ways of life to the justice of that which has been revealed by the All-knowing Creator!
So the matter of conflict between Islam and the West is not at all as the survey suggests, i.e. factors such as geography, past enmities, culture clash and so on; nor is the Islamic Revival some search for identity, coupled with some sort of inferiority complex. To the believer the conflict is one of truth against falsehood, justice against oppression, the way to Paradise against the way to Hellfire, the perfection of Allah’s revealed way against the misguidance of human ignorance. Furthermore, all of this should make it clear that there is indeed an "insuperable reason why Muslims and Westerners cannot live peaceably with each other" (p.5 c. 2). Mr. Beedham’s survey, for all its optimism, has made an oft-repeated mistake. He has judged the Muslims by his own standards, believing they want, as do the West, to reach some sort of compromise. The truth is that Islam teaches its followers to seek death on the battle field, that dying whilst fighting jihad is one of the surest ways to paradise and Allah’s good pleasure. It is as Khalid bin Waleed, whom the Prophet, peace be upon him, called the ‘Sword of Allah’ and hero of every good Muslim child, said in response to a Roman letter inviting him to surrender: “We have with us people who love death as you love wine.” It was Ronald Reagan who quite rightly pointed out that: “How do you expect to defeat a people who believe that when you kill them they go to a paradise filled with beautiful virgins and rivers of wine?” Whether the believer sees the result in his or her life time is irrelevant, for their duty is to carry on the jihad, and so be saved from Allah’s wrath in this life and the next.
The conflict will be there as long as there are those who stubbornly resist submission to their Lord and Creator. If all of this seems intransigent and fundamentalist that’s because IT IS. With Islam you are dealing with absolutes. This conflict, however, may not necessarily be a violent one, in the sense of war, causing loss of life, limb and property. Islam does not necessarily demand a change through violence if the end can be effectively achieved through other means. So perhaps there is cause for the surveys optimism, but the solution can only lie in a very different direction from what it suggests! Allah has promised in His Book that if the Muslims fail to keep their covenant, and fight against the foolish disbelief, then He will destroy them and "replace them with a people who will love Him, and He will love them, and they will be hard against the forces of disbelief and kind to the believers, and unafraid of those who find fault" (Surah al-Ma’idah 5:54). And Allah speaks the truth, and His promise comes true, and this has proven so in the past, as when the Muslims left their religion, fought amongst each other, and reveled in the delights of worldly life . . . then the calamity of the Tartars feel upon them, destroying utterly the Muslim lands, and its capital Baghdad. Yet from these same conquerors, Allah made them the defenders and upholders of Islam, and from them to the Turks, who in their turn lapsed, and so Allah destroyed them at the hands of the Europeans. Thus is situation in which Muslims find themselves today. It is quite possible that history will repeat itself, and that Islam will be given its strength again through those who had formally tried to destroy it.
The whole issue of whether the West will accept Islam or not has been a topic of debate amongst Muslim scholars and thinkers. It seems unlikely that there will be any sort of military conquest of the Western world, at least in the foreseeable future, but conquest is not always through arms. Indonesia and Malaysia never saw invading Muslims armies. Islam "conquered" these lands with a different weapon altogether . The weapon was Islam itself. The real threat from the growth of “fundamentalism” to those in the Western, and other, parts of the world who would like to see Islam far removed from influencing the way they run their countries, is not of invading hoards of Muslim militants, but rather the effect of a practical example of Islam in operation in the form of a true Islamic state. Also the probability of these same "fundamentalist" states utilizing their resources to inform the world of the reality of what Islam is, as opposed to the lies and distortions it has been fed until now! How likely, then, is it for this true Islamic state to materialize, and how do people following a religion one thousand four hundred years old possibly expect it to work in the twentieth century?
The Muslim world is at present a patchwork of competing nation sates, ruled by political, social and judicial systems that can by no means be termed "Islamic". Indeed in many of these countries there are laws in direct opposition to what has been revealed by Allah to His Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him,. It seems the only Islamic quality about some of these nations is that they happen to have Muslims in them. A large portion of the Muslim World has, for the last two hundred years, been under the occupation, or “protectorate”, of one or another of the European powers, who gradually dispensed with the Sharee’ah (Islamic Law) and supplemented it with various Western systems. After gaining so called “independence” these alien political and judicial systems remained, or were replaced by other Western influenced hybrids. The “Nationalism” of Attaturk in Turkey, the “Ba’athism” of Iraq and Syria, the “Pan-Arab Nationalistic Socialism” of Egypt’s Jamal Abdel-Nasr, and its various offshoots such as Qaddafi’s "Islamic Socialism". All of these movements freely used “Islamic” slogans when, and if, it suited their aims. The simple multitudes were caught up in the fervor of the new found "freedom", and in order to maintain it they were told they must "modernise". To the so-called “intellectual elite” this meant abandoning everything from the past, and taking on board everything that was new. Thus the “Modernist” movement arose, lead by the likes of Muhammad Abdu, that explained away every miracle of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and even many of the basic acts of worship. For the first time riba (dealing usury/interest) was legalised and the adoption of Western dress and lifestyles was encouraged. They tried to make all of this acceptable by bypassing the traditional methods of Islamic scholarship for personal itjihad (i.e. juristic reasoning) and interpretation of the texts.
For others, Islam itself was merely an enemy to progress, especially in the Soviet Union where veils were burnt, mosques demolished and scholars exiled to Siberia - or executed. Street walls were painted with the words: "There is no God and Lenin is His Prophet". In many places throughout the Muslim World mosques, became empty, and women walked in mini-skirts on the street. Then things started to change. In the face of Western and Communist power, medicine and technological wizardry, of men on the moon and aircraft that could circle the globe in days, of weapons of mass destruction that combined were able to destroy the world seventeen times over, the computer chip and nations that seemed to have reached unrivaled material prosperity and personal freedom, there was a gradual, yet unavoidably noticeable return to Islam. Not, mind you, only by the uneducated, impoverished peasants, but the educated, prosperous, middle classes. Furthermore, this was not merely a return to the mosque five times a day, and the veil for the woman, but a call for Islam in its TOTALITY - to be re-implemented once again. For indeed the reality that Islam makes no distinction between the private and public, between the religious and political, had been apparent to Muslim scholars long before the The Economist’s survey deemed to point it out. Indeed it was obvious that the situation within the Muslim countries, with their hybrid socio-judicial-political systems, was in contradiction to the very essence of Islam itself! So various movements started to seek to bring the Muslims back to the correct state of affairs. This of course met with some considerable opposition from the various governments supporting such systems. This opposition was, and still is, often brutal in the extreme. These governments received either direct, or tacit approval from their Western and Communist overseers, who in reality were more aware of the potential threat of such a Muslim revival to the status quo, and their own virtual world economic and political domination which they had striven so hard to achieve. The last thing they wanted to see were the Muslims back on their feet. Yet the revival continues . . .
Perhaps the reason why the rise in Islamic fundamentalism has been so phenomenal is because the point the fundamentalists are making is so, well, FUNDAMENTAL! After all, once a Muslim has become aware that believing in the validity of laws and ways other than those ordained by Allah is to commit the unforgivable sin of “shirk”, then, as the Qur’an states: "It is not for a believing man or woman, once Allah and His Messenger have decided on a matter to have any choice therein" (Surah al-Azhab 33:36) . . . "and their response is none else than we hear and we obey" (Surah an-Nur 24:51). Indeed, that is exactly what makes a Muslim what he or she is: someone who submits him or herself to Will of Almighty God. Of course the incompetence, corruption and brutality of the governments, the inevitable failure of their ideologies, and their frequent national and international humiliation has made the task of the fundamentalist easier. Yet it is naive to presume that this alone has given impetus to the rise in fundamentalism. Surely, if anything, the poor and desperate condition of the Muslim masses should drive them more earnestly to "modernization", "Westernization" and "Democracy", of which their countries have hardly been shinning examples! Indeed, even the most common peasant sees daily a barrage of images on the television screen (that has become as essential as a bed in even the most humble households) portraying the materialistic success of the Western World!
The true reasons for this persistent rise in Islamic awareness are not at all those to which Western analysts constantly refer. The reason for their inability to understand this phenomena is part due to their submergence in the purely material. Science and the “Theory of Evolution” has given them, so they believe, proof that man is at most no more that an advanced animal, a progressive monkey, and man’s basic needs are little different, fundamentally, to those of our supposed ancestors: food, drink, sleep, safety from predators and sex. Satisfy these, and man should be content. The Muslim World still has, by and large, kept more in touch with the reality of the human condition: that happiness is not at all merely a material thing, but in fact something more profound, and that understanding this is as important, perhaps more important, to the well being of the human condition, than mere material gratification. The evil results of this materialistic attitude is all too apparent in the rotting social conditions of Western society. Its effects have also become apparent in the Muslim lands themselves.
The second reason that the Islamic revival has proved so popular is that it is obvious to many of the Muslims, especially the more literate and educated, that the West itself does not really believe in “democracy”, or indeed any of those ideals, such as “Freedom of Speech”, “Human Rights” and so on, which it claims to cherish so dearly - except when it suits their self-interest. Both of these points of view are not confined to the Muslim fundamentalists. Indeed a growing number of Westerners are beginning to voice similar sentiments. In fact, past defeats, the need to prove oneself, incompetent and corrupt governments is hardly an explanation for the phenomenal rise of Islam among Westerners. Recent estimates have, on average, put the numbers at three converts to Islam every day in England alone. The rise is even higher in the U.S., and all this in spite of the incessant distortions and fabrications against Islam by politicians and the media. Indeed in those very countries were Islam is growing most visibly (Egypt and Algeria), the government, radio, T.V. and press are all firmly controlled by the Secularists. In spite of all of this, millions and millions are dying (sometimes literally) to go back to a book fourteen hundred years old. How can this be? Surely “science” and “reason” has dealt a death blow to the Qur’an and Islam, the same way it has the Bible and Christianity? It seems not, and there are good reasons why!
This brings us on to the third reason, and in fact the most important of all, why there is a phenomenal growth in fundamentalism, and that is Islam itself. As the The Economist article said: " . . . there is good reason why the culture of the Muslim world is regarded by many people as the West’s only real ideological competitor at the end of the twentieth century. Unlike the Confucians-and even more unlike Latin Americans, Slavs and Japanese - Islam claims to be based upon a transcendental certainty. The certainty is the Word of God, revealed syllable by syllable to Muhammad" . . . "As a means of binding a civilization together, there is no substitute for such a certainty. More-over, and this is not happening anywhere else - new recruits are flocking to join this claim to certainty" (p. 4, c. 2).
Why is it then that the survey does not, before its call for Muslims to practically abandon their religion and commit the unforgivable sin of “Shirk” - by replacing the laws of Allah with the laws of men - simply illustrate the Qur’an is not the Word of God, or at least some good parts of it, so that a few adjustments hear and there would only be in tune with what has happened before. After all, this has already been thoroughly accomplished with the Bible. Recently some of world’s top Biblical scholars delegated a good seventy percent of the words of Jesus as never having been said by him, and priests with impunity state that sections of the Bible, such as God’s destruction of homosexuals in Sodom and Gomorrah, are not from God. Indeed science and modern Biblical scholarship has cast so much doubt upon the authenticity of the Biblical text as a whole that a derogatory term was coined for those who persisted in the untenable position that it was the "Word of God": Fundamentalists! Indeed the Christian fundamentalists claim about the Bible what the Muslims claim concerning the Qur’an. Why could the Christian claim not prove an equally powerful force, and a similar ideological competitor? The reason is that merely making a claim is no basis for anything. The claim needs to be proven, and the weight of evidence gives the claim force. It is very hard for the Christian to maintain the claim that the Bible is the Word of God, because the evidence belies it. The illusion of "Gospel" truth was maintained in the Middle Ages because it was only available to very few, and they were priests! Others were forbidden by Papal Decree from reading it, sometimes on pain of death. With the spread of literacy and the dawn of the “Age of Enlightenment”, the Bible reached the hands of the people. Its internal contradictions and scientific discrepancies became apparent and thus it gradually became discredited.
The Modern World’s claim to certainty is “science” which, it claims, has been the cause for advancement in medicine and technology. Its results are proof of its worth, and the results have been achieved under the wing of “democracy”. Thus the two are intertwined. One of the other arguments in favour of “democracy” is the lack of major conflict between those democratic nations for the past fifty years, and another is the material prosperity it seems to have provided. Indeed, it was in the The Economist where I recall reading that "the Western nations have, more than any other civilization, succeeded in satisfying the material needs of man". All powerful arguments. Thus there is a claim, and evidence provided to support it. ( We shall, insha’llah, examine the validity of these claims later.) However things do not stop there. From the claim and subsequent supporting evidence, the ideology should then be implemented, otherwise the author of the survey would not be so audacious as to suggest that anyone (let alone the World of Islam) should adopt his ideas, merely because of his say so! He believes the weight of evidence in support of the “Modern Way of Life” is sufficient to give his suggestions force. Part of what makes “democracy” what it is, is the spirit of compromise and pragmatics: quite rational in the light of human ignorance and fallibility. The problem is that the The Economist survey somehow expects Islam to operate within a similar frame work. Islam, however, is built upon the certainty that it is revealed by Almighty God. This has consequences, the most important being that Allah is not ignorant and fallible like the human being, rather He is All-Knowing and completely perfect, and therefor when it comes to His Word there can be no question of compromise, nor a philosophy of pragmatism except were specifically allowed.
The survey tries to get round this obstacle by putting it all down to a matter of interpretation, but in fact Allah had already pre-empted this supposed loop hole when He revealed Islam fourteen hundred years previously by appointing someone to explain the verses of the Book: "We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’an) and we have made you the one to explain it" (Surah an-Nahl 16:44). So the explanation of the Qur’anic text is given exclusively to Muhammad, peace be upon him,, and things were not left there. The Qur’an also explains: "Whoever contends with the Messenger and chooses a path other than the path of the believers, then Allah will leave them in the path they have chosen and land them in Hell what an evil refuge!" What is this path of the believers? The Prophet, peace be upon him, explained: "That to which I and my companions are upon". The Prophet, peace be upon him, furthermore told the Muslims to cling to his way and the way of the rightly-guided successors. These successors have transmitted the knowledge and the way from generation-to-generation until this day, just as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said they would: "There will always be a group among this Ummah (nation of believers), firm upon the truth, unharmed in their faith by those that oppose them". It is exactly this type of comprehensiveness that makes Islam so frustrating to its critics and so convincing to its adherents, and this comprehensiveness extends through all the various aspects of Islam and its disciplines. The claim of Islam to be based on the certainty that it is from the All-Knowing Creator is no mere claim, but it is rather a claim backed by powerful evidence. Powerful enough for its adherents to prefer it over that offered by the Modern Word!
So what is this evidence that Islam claims to present that is so convincing? The first issue is authenticity. Purity of text is quite vital to the whole spirit of “fund”. This is because once a text has shown to have been corrupted and altered in order to make it comply with doctrinal or political expediencies, and if there is no reliable means to distinguish the corrupt from the pure, then there is not one passage of that text that cannot be called into question. This is not so easy with a pure and preserved text. This is well understood by the Christian fundamentalists. If it is not the “Word of God”, then what real value does it posses as guidance, except as a collection of wisdom? Few serious scholars, even from Islam’s opponents, have tried to dispute the Qur’an’s historical authenticity . Indeed it would be a pointless exercise, since anyone who cares to take a trip to Tashkent (in the former Soviet Union) will find there a complete copy of the Qur’an written by one of the Prophet’s scribes, Zayed ibn Thabit, upon the order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr within two years of the Prophet’s death. The manuscript in Tashkent is a copy of that first manuscript, also written by the hand of the same Zayed, but some twelve years later under the order of ‘Uthman bin Affan, the third Caliph, with the consensus of over fifty companions of the Prophet who also had written portions of the Qur’an, and also others who had memorised it in toto. This "Uthmanic" Qur’an, as it later came to known, was accepted without exception by the surviving companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as being one and the same that was revealed by Allah to his Final Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him,. One can take any copy of any Qur’an, from any mosque anywhere in the word and compare it with the mushaf of Zayed, and find it exactly the same - word for word. It is even recited in the same accent in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, recited it. Furthermore Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, is a living language, and the Book has always been in the hands of the people - not merely the domain of a few priests.
Thus anyone reading the Qur’an can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that they are reading the same words revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, over one thousand four hundred years ago. "Verily! It is We Who have sent down the Qur’an and surely, We will guard it" (Surah al-Hijr 15:9). The reality of the fruition of this statement is a clear sign to mankind, and one of the manifest miracles of the Qur’an. Moreover this preservation is not limited to only the Qur’an, but also its explanation, the Sunnah, i.e. the actions, sayings and tacit approvals of the Prophet, peace be upon him,. These were meticulously memorised and written down by his wives and companions, and passed down until they were collected in the more famous books of hadeeth some two to three hundred years after the Hijra.. The body of hadeeth literature has not enjoyed, quite unjustly, the same general acceptance of authenticity as the Qur’an. This is simply because the means by which the hadeeth became preserved was a longer and more complicated affair than that of the Qur’an, and therefore became a relatively easier target of attack by Islam’s enemies. Some Orientalists have even claimed that Hadith authenticity rates the same as the Biblical texts . This is, however a very superficial comparison, even if there are some apparent similarities. For example the major books of hadeeth such Saheeh al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawood, did not appear until just over two hundred years the Hijra. Those who compiled the books were not themselves eye witnesses. Many hadeeth within the entire body of hadeeth literature are clearly fabricated and of dubious authenticity, and ,as a whole, contain contradictions.
These statements are true in general, but a more detailed study of the history of the preservation of the hadeeth makes it immediately clear that the reality is quite different. Firstly, as we mentioned concerning the Qur’an, the language of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is preserved. Secondly the major hadeeth books we mentioned were not so much new works as compilations of earlier, smaller ones. There was also a good deal of oral transmission, but the collectors of Prophetic sayings were extremely weary of ensuring that any given narration attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him, could be effectively proven as such. The method by which this was accomplished was through the ‘isnad’, or chain of narrators. From the earliest days of Islam after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him,, various groups arose deviating from the teachings of Islam that had been given to the Prophet’s Companions. These sects began to invent sayings which they attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him,. So in response the Companions of the Prophet began to demand that anyone transmitting a narration must name which companion they had received it from, and thus the truth of narrator ascertained. The students of the Companions continued this policy, and further safe guards were added as not only the Companions name was needed, but also the next narrator in the chain of transmission . Conditions were laid down for these narrators to be accepted. The scholars differed over some of the conditions, some being stricter than others, but three basic requirements were agreed by all. First the transmitter must be a pious Muslim, secondly they must be known not to forget, thirdly they must not be liars. The next generation of hadeeth transmitters began to write the names of all those who attended their lectures. No one was allowed to narrate a hadeeth on that lecturers authority unless he attended the lecture in which that hadeeth was narrated and its meaning explained. From this developed the books of "Rijal" in which was listed the character, quality of memory, place of habitation, travels, teachers and students, and opinion of other scholars, concerning all the narrators of the hadeeth. Thus every available method was used to ensure that when the scholars of the sciences of hadeeth declared a narration of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as being authentic it was, beyond any reasonable doubt said by him. This methodology is not only used for the Prophetic traditions, but also the sayings of the Companions and the early scholars. Indeed any true scholar must be able to produce the isnad of his teachers back to the Prophet himself!
Along with this textual and contextual authenticity, the Qur’an itself lays down claims to prove its veracity as God’s revealed Words. Of course, "proof" is a big word, especially when it comes to God or religion, especially for the “Western mind”, programmed by two thousand years of Christianity, which seems to think that religion is supposed to be “mysterious” and “incomprehensible”. The idea that God and revelation are not only compatible with reason, but also can be proven, is often met with incredulity. After all, what’s the point? If you can prove it where does faith come in? This is because the Christian world has been taught that "faith" means believing the unbelievable without any proof. This is manifest in the that nonsense called the Trinity, and all the theological contortions surrounding it. Christians are expected to believe that black is white and yet still black, or in their terms, that the Invisible, Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator became a visible, needy, mortal, fallible creature who was killed on a cross, and this man was still the Invisible, Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator - completely God and completely man. Of course anyone with a mind will understand that one by necessity precludes the other. Something completely God cannot possibly be, or contain the qualities of, a man, for this would immediately exclude such a being from being truly God. Furthermore, any man that had the qualities of God would no longer be a man. In an attempt to “explain the unexplainable” the Doctrine of the Trinity was invented: One God made of three entities, each one completely God, (and therefor completely the same, yet somehow different) not making three Gods but only One! Moreover the Christian has been asked to believe that mankind’s salvation lies in believing God killed Himself (or His son, or an innocent man, or all three at the same time) as a ransom for a burden of sin - that He placed on all human beings for the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden tree! The inevitable refuge of the Christian when assaulted with a barrage questions over this muddle is that its all “a mystery”, and if you want to be saved from Hell you should stop asking so many questions and accept it as an act of faith. Yet it seems rather absurd that the Just Creator would punish anyone for refusing to believe things which are unacceptable and incomprehensible to the very faculties of reason and common sense that He has provided for the human to make their decisions, without providing some strong proof that they should do so!
The Qur’an, however, chastises mankind for not using their common sense and reasoning powers, and states that their failure to do so is itself a cause of their destruction: "And for those who disbelieve in their Lord is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination. When they are cast therein, they will hear the terrible drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth. It almost bursts with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: ‘Did no warner come to you?’ They will say: ‘Yes indeed; a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: ‘Allah never sent down anything, you are only in great error.’ And they will say: ‘Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the Fire!’" (Surah al-Mulk 67:6-9) Indeed there is nothing in the theology of Islam that cannot be understood by sound reasoning. In fact it is possible for anyone, anywhere to reach an understanding of the essence of Islam without ever having heard of Muhammad or the Qur’an. This is because the Creator’s existence can be readily understood by anyone observing the patterns and intricate mechanisms of the world and universe around us, and that ultimate power and control rests with this Being, and thus is alone truly worthy of worship, and that to worship this Creator one can only rely on Divine guidance. To attempt to do this is “Islam”, which means “sincerity and submission to Allah”. This very universality and simplicity is one of the strong arguments in favour of Islam’s Divine origin. For the Muslim, faith is not a blind leap in the dark against proof and reason, but rather a step taken as a consequence of contemplation, experience, instinct and evidence. Ultimately it does mean a complete acceptance of a single truth, but this is no more blind than the faith of a scientist in a particular theory, or a doctor in form of treatment that has proven itself valid clinically and operationally. It might be compared to the situation in a court, with a jury. Ideally what is supposed to happen is that the jury is presented with a series of evidences concerning a case. When the weight of evidence is so conclusive the jury makes its decision. It is not sufficient for it to say: "Well, we found the evidence really convincing!" In the end it must make a decision, "Guilty!" or "Not guilty!", based on the facts. Similarly in Islam, the Creator presents the human being with a series of conclusive