Two Divergent Groups among the Theologians
With regard to this section, our theological class— if the term be correct for there is no clerical or priestly class in Islam— is divided into two divergent groups. One of them is emphatically opposed to worldly pursuits and does not want any truck with those who do, but it is also completely unceroned with the question as to what causes and factors are responsible for producing such atheistic tendencies among the privileged Muslim classes. It abhors having any contact with them and does little by way of purging them of their erroneous beliefs. The other group associates with them to the full and seeks advantages in terms of wordily again as a result of its association. It pays no attention to their spiritual redemption. Hence, this group has no call to give or religious pride to display. it seems to have abandoned those sections to their fate and has no solicitude for correction and reformation.
There is, unfortunately, no group among our religious leaders which can devote itself to the reformation of the Muslim upper classes thinking that they are merely the victims of a disease from which recovery is not impossible— a group which may carry the message of religious reclamation to them with tolerance and wisdom and discharge among them the obligation of selfless service. As a result of this handicap, the Westernised ruling section of our society get no opportunity to come closer to Religion and to the religious atmosphere. The result is that they spend their lives in ignorance and disrupt of Faith, and the distrust is further strengthened by the conduct of that group among the ecclesiastics which comes forward as its rival in the political field or fights against it for political power with Religion as the major instrument of its action. Such religious leaders help only to make their secular counterpart more suspicious of Religion, for it is natural for man to dislike those who compete with him for a thing which he holds dear. This regardless of whether it belongs to the realm of wealth or of power and prestige or of pleasure and self-indulgence.
The cure for the ills of the Muslim World lie in our capacity to produce a band of dedicated workers who can be above all personal considerations and have no worldly aspirations for themselves. Their entire endeavours should be directed towards loosening the intellectual and psychological knots of by ruling classes of society. This can be achieved by establishing personal contact with them the bringing forth an effective religious literature for them, and by reforming them through their own piety, sanctity of character, earnestness of purpose, sincerity, selflessness and Prophet-like moral conduct.
The Verdict of History
History records that it is men of this class and calibre who have rendered genuine service to Islam during all the phases of its career. The credit for changing the course of Umayyad rule and bringing Ummar ibn Abdul Aziz to the Caliphate belongs to this very class of men functioning under the inspired leadership of Raj’a ibn Haywah. In India too, the revolution of an identical nature that was wrought during the time of the Mughals owed its origin to a similar band of devoted servants of the Ummah. A powerful Emperor like Akbar had resolved, so it seemed to all intents and purposes, to cast the sub-continent in the mould of paganism, in opposition to Islam, after it had remained for four hundred years under the benign shadow of Muslim rule. But by virtue of the determined action of an inspired man of Faith and endeavour and his illustrious successors the land was won back for Islam— and more firmly than before. Each of Akbar’s, successors proved to be better than his predecessor till there came Aurangzeb on the throne whose reign constitutes a most glorious chapter in the annals of Islam and religious renovation. History, as you know, is always ready to repeat itself— it never tires of the process— the only thing is that there may be some force strong enough to turn its tide, and the only force which can bring back the golden era of Islam is the earnestness, the sagacity and the missionary zeal we have just spoken of.
The Crisis and the Action Needed
We should face the current crisis with wisdom, courage and fortitude. A woeful tragedy of moral, cultural and intellectual apostasy has struck Islam. It should be the object of serious concern to all those who have any solicitude for Islam. Today, the leading sections of Muslim society almost everywhere are on the verge of dissolution of Faith. They have already discarded, in the main, the moral obligations imposed by the Shariah, their mental outlook has become wholly materialistic and, in politics, they are enthusiastically pursuing what must be described as the course of irreligion. There are many among them— to avoid saying a majority of them— who do not believe in Islam as a creed and an ideology. And the Muslim masses, although they possess all the seeds of goodness and virtue and constitute, innately, the most virtuous segments of humanity, are under the influence and overlordship of these sections due to their educational and economic backwardness. If the present situation continues as it is apostasy will infiltrate the masses as well and destroy the Faith of simple minded Muslim peasants and artisans. It has been so in the West and it will happen here in the East if events are allowed to take their course and if the All-Powerful Will of Providence does not intervene.
There is not a day to be wasted. The World of Islam is threatened with a most dangerous wave of apostasy. This wave is a revolt against the moral and social values that are the most precious treasures of Islam. If these treasures are lost, which are a sacred heritage from the Prophet handed down from generation to generation and for whose protection the soldiers of Islam have borne enormous hardships and gone through the severest of trials, the World of Islam will also be there no more.
Shall we awake to this great reality, to this mighty threat to the times? Or shall we not?