A bold and enterprising country of the East, namely, Japan has shown us the way, although in a limited, and, from the standpoint of Islam, most imperfect manner. Japan learnt the material sciences and technology from the West and acquired mastery over them and, at the same time, it held fast to its spiritual background and cultural heritage. But, unfortunately, its religious creed and civilization were such that they could not keep abreast of time or fulfill the need of a universal message. Japanese culture is only an amalgam of antiquated beliefs and out-worn traditions. It is a miracle of the will-power and loyalty to the past of its people that modern Japan is still clinging to it. With Islam, on the other hand, it is wholly different. It stands for a Faith, a Shariah and a law for which the term ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ have no meaning, and a civilization whose roots are embedded in imperishable truths. Like an evergreen tree it is always young and ready to send forth new blossoms. Hence, in Muslim countries the integration between modern sciences and the fundamental teachings of Islam can be worked out without any serious difficulty, and its impact will also be much more revolutionary and extensive than what we have experienced in Japan. In a tradition-bound country an attempt like this is bound to be self-defeating.
For a Muslim, however, there need be no contradiction in it, for, according to him, correct religion and correct knowledge do not pull in opposite directions or stand in each other’s way. Knowledge, says a tradition of the sacred Prophet, is the lost properly of a Muslim and he is its rightful owner. From the Muslim view-point, it is the end for which the means is employed that determines whether it is good or bad. The true purpose of knowledge, power and all other worldly resources and acquirements is that they serve the cause of the Divine Faith and help to promote the genuine welfare of mankind. It is the duty of a Muslim to see that these precious gifts from God are not misused. To take them out of the wrong place and to put them in the right place and to assure that they are employed for constructive ends is a matter of moral responsibility for the Muslim.
Muslims can however, only discharge this sacred obligation when they are able to produce in themselves that strength of Faith, courage of conviction and skill and sincerity which can repulse the onslaught of imitative tendencies and glittering catch-words and overcome the petty considerations of immediate gain, both individual and collective. For this their leaders, too, will have to make the necessary sacrifices, but, even from a personal point of view these sacrifices will not be in vain. By virtue of them, they will rise tremendously in the estimation of their people and it will also become possible for them, and through them, for their countries, to play the sublime role of guidance and leadership they can never dream of otherwise.
Western civilization is doomed. It has become rotten to the core, and if it is still surviving it is not in any way due to any of its latent qualities but because no other civilization is ready to take its place. The other civilizations in the world are, at the utmost, its own hazy carbon copies or third class caricatures, or they are so weak and decrepit that it is beyond their ability to stand against it face to face. Now if a Muslim country or the world of Islam, as a whole, can muster enough strength and competence to fill the void that is going to be created by the fall of Western civilization it can re-establish its claim to the leadership of mankind which, according to the unchanging practice of the Lord, always goes to those that are earnest, deep-hearted and resolute. Muslims ought, therefore, to decide whether it is more honorable to approach the West with a begging bowl or to assume the exalted position on the stewardship and guidance of humanity of which there is no greater glory in the world after Apostleship. Does the sacrifice of worldly renown, power and wealth count for anything before it? Even if a man possessed a hundred lives and had to lay down all of them for the sake of it, the bargain would not be bad.
Let us, now, see which Muslim country comes forward to take up the gauntlet and carry out the lofty mission against which the mighty events of the past, such as the Renaissance or the French and Soviet Revolutions, must fade into insignificance. For the forces of peace, progress and freedom it will release will not remain confined to Islamic countries alone but sweep across the world and give a fresh lease of life to dying humanity. Only those people or communities can respond to this call who are bound in allegiance to the Millet of Abraham and for whom the choicest Qur’anic tidings and reward of the ‘Last of Divine Faiths’ and ‘The Termination of the Line of Holy Apostles’ were meant. Today, the ‘Song of Eternity’ for the leaders of the Islamic World is the same one the Muslims heard long, long ago at the dawn of Islam:
And strive for Allah with the endeavor which is His right. He has chosen you and has not laid upon you in religion and hardship, the faith of your father Abraham is (yours). He has named you Muslims (those who have surrendered unto Him) of old times and in thes (Scripture) that the Messenger may be witness against you, and that you may be witness against mankind. So, establish worship, pay poor-tax, and hold fast to Allah. He is your protecting friend; the Best of Patrons and the Best of Helpers. (Al-Hajj: 78)