“Religious scholars (Ulema) should behave according to the demands of time”. This is a catchword we hear in a new style almost every day. Most of our secular minded leaders are repeating this suggestion off and on. And now we hear the echo of this suggestion even in our high level social gatherings whenever a religious subject comes under discussion. A group of people in our country is busy in surgical maneuvers on the explicit injunctions of Islam and its established principles under the guise of modernism. They regard religious scholars as the biggest obstacle in their path. They consider that their success depends on baseless accusations and malicious propaganda against religious scholars in whichever way it is possible. For this, they have adopted the ambiguous phrase “Demands of Time” as a hypnotizer for the modern minds, and make this a basis for their repeated appeals to the people and the government that religious scholars are the biggest obstacle in the way of progress and hence no heed should be paid to them and to what they say.
We leave them at the will of Allah from Whom no secrets of hearts are hidden. But there are some people who quite sincerely and seriously feel that religious scholars are unaware of the needs and demands of the modem age, and it is a result of this ignorance that they oppose every new thing. In these lines we wish to address this very group of people. But before this we humbly submit that if they are really well-wishers of Islam and Muslims they should give a cool thought to this matter and, for a little while, make free their minds from the grip of such hasty suggestions and try to understand what is meant by the “Demands of Time” and what is the best method of fulfilling it? With unbiased minds they should examine these allegations against the Ulema, the Islamic scholars.
The first thing to be defined is the phrase “Meeting the Demands of Time”? We feel that those who are so forcefully preaching the importance of demands of time themselves do not have a clear conception of these demands. They are simply making the ambiguous claims that religious scholars are opposed to the Demands of Time. But they never made it clear as to what those specific demands are which are opposed by the Ulema. If by the “Demands of Time” they mean that Muslims should endeavor to equip themselves with all the means of science and technology without which it is not possible to survive as a free nation in the world of today then indeed this is the greatest need and demand of this time. For God’s sake tell us who is the single scholar who forbids this most important demand of time? Which of these scholars, and when, has issued any verdict (Fatwa) that progress in the fields of science and technology is forbidden, unlawful, meaningless or useless? Science has made amazing progress in the recent years and it is in progress. Even in our life-time we have seen that newer inventions are coming up every day. How many of them have been opposed by the religious scholars? Electricity, Telegraphy, Telephone, Teleprinter, Wireless Radio, Transistors, Tape Recorders, Cars, Heavy Motor Vehicles, Aero planes, Steamers, Trains, Tanks, Mortars, Fighter Planes, Bombers, Submarines, Warships, Rockets, Missiles, Radar, Industrial Machines, Factories, Tractors, Chemical Fertilizers, Insecticides and Pesticides, Surgical Instruments, X-ray & other Radiological Machines are in use with religious sanction of Islam. All sources of knowledge in Arts, Science, Commerce, Mathematics, Geography, Geology, Astronomy, Civics, and Politics are some examples of material progress. Which of these has ever been opposed by religious scholars or any obstacles been placed in their way?
The history of the past twenty years of our developing country is a witness to the fact that by the Grace of Allah our country has advanced by leaps and bounds in material and economic progress perfectly corresponding to the wishes of our righteous religious scholars and religious circles. Many of the great economic schemes have been completed during this period, large factories have been erected, vast network of roadways constructed, numerous canals dug out for irrigation, many dams were made, the old communication system was replaced with new inventions, many colleges and universities for various sciences and arts came into existence and barren land was cultivated. Only an insane person can feel unhappy about these advancements. Once again I ask our modernists to point out just one religious scholar who ever opposed these achievements, or ever criticized production of expert scientists or educating people in engineering, or constructing roadways, factories, bridges, canals, river dams, using advanced technology in arms and ammunition for the country’s defense, or ever suggested that our army should not be trained in modern machine warfare, or that the latest telecommunication means should not be adopted, or education and training in modern arts and sciences should be stopped.
If none of the religious scholars has ever opposed it there can be no other interpretation of these baseless accusations except malice and enmity against the righteous scholars of Islam. We know, not one but countless such scholars whose hopes and trust are centered on Pakistan, and it is their greatest desire that side by side it marches on the straight path of Islam, Pakistan should progress by leaps and bounds in the material fields as well. That is why on the one hand they have been emphasizing on the Muslims that achievements of expertise of science and technology is an important component of our obligations, and if we fail to fulfill our obligations we shall be presented before Allah as an offender, and on the other hand they are praying day and night for the prosperity and integrity of Pakistan which is best known by Allah, the All-knowing, All-aware.