The world of Islam is passing through a crisis of confidence. However, unpalatable it may be the truth remains that the qualities of self-awareness and self-reliance are not the distinguishing features of Muslims in any part of the world today. Even those Muslim countries that are free (no matter whether they have been free for centuries or only recently attained freedom) are intellectually and educationally subservient to the West. The rulers of these countries often show commendable courage, even to the extent of incurring grave risks, in the political field but where the cultural, intellectual and educational spheres are concerned they betray an awful lack of self-confidence and freedom of judgment. It is an accepted fact that cultural and intellectual servility is much more harmful and degrading than political serfdom. Once a country has passed under the cultural and intellectual domination of another, it no longer becomes necessary for the latter to annex it politically. Further, since in the modern world the conquest and annexation of a country is no longer possible, superpowers are inclined to concentrate, more and more, on strengthening their cultural and intellectual hold over weaker nations instead of seeking their political subjugation.
If there is any power in the present-day which can challenge the cultural and intellectual supremacy of the West and its resulting ideological domination it is the World of Islam with its own distinctive personality, its characteristic program of life and its soul-stirring moral and spiritual appeal. Unfortunately, however, we Muslims have lapsed into such a state of lethargy and disorder that we offer little resistance to the growing influence of the West. In addition, Western nations are taking due care to dissipate what little moral and spiritual awareness and vitality is left in the weaker countries through a number of well-calculated steps, some of which bear the stamp of innocence and magnanimity while others are openly hostile and vicious. Even the patronage of institutions like UNESCO has proved detrimental to the interests of Islam in Muslim countries in many ways.
The moral and spiritual stamina of Muslims is being continuously sapped, sometimes through the generous supply of foreign teachers, social workers and technocrats, sometimes through a liberal provision of the wrong kind of literature which can only disturb indigenous people’s peace of mind and encourage doubt and disbelief by arousing what is worst in man, and, sometimes, through campaigns like the popularization of television in the name of raising standards of living and making life more worthwhile.
Often, open-handed economic or military aid is made available to developing countries, and, in return, they are compelled to enforce such changes or set into operations such schemes as are positively inimical to the Islamic temperament and can only lead to the disintegration of the Muslim way of life. In brief, while apparently keeping away, the West has thrown such a powerful ring around Muslim countries and created such conditions in them that these sovereign and independent nations are now caught more firmly in its grip than they were in the bygone days of naked imperialism.
Ironically enough, the rulers of the Islamic world themselves, some of whom never tire of posing before their people as the champions of Muslim regeneration or advocates of a separate Islamic block, display much greater enthusiasm in the carrying out of these changes than the Western crusaders of modernization and reform in the East. The undiscerning manner in which educational and other so-called progressive experiments made in the former Soviet Union or America are being pushed through in Muslim countries, the unbridled freedom that has been given to Western experts to draw out program for a fundamental change in the thinking and disposition of Muslims, the way unlimited opportunities are being provided for the indigenous pupils of Western Orientalists to sow the seeds of skepticism and discord in Muslim society, and the recklessness with which the inclination towards luxuriousness and self-indulgence is being fostered and the encouragement given to trends like co-education, the abolition of purdah, and the free inter-mixing of the sexes drives one to seriously doubt if these leaders are not deliberately functioning as the tools of the West. At times, it seems as if they are purposely trying to pervert the minds of their own people in order to deprive them of the religious pride and moral stamina which can any day pose a threat to their leadership i.e. with the blossoming of a powerful Islamic revival force. If this process of change and ‘reform’ is allowed to continue for some time and the forces of moral degradation and anarchy are left free to work themselves out, rising generations in Muslim countries will drift so far away from their spiritual moorings that no urge will be left in them to strive against the mounting pressures of Modernism and Westernization. Among the new generations that are being exposed more and more to values and concepts imported thoughtlessly from the West the process of cultural, moral and intellectual de-Islamisation has already begun, and as this process gathers momentum the moral leprosy which has become the bane of Western society will inevitably make a thorough conquest of Islamic countries as well. So much so, that not a single healthy society in the world that can hold out hope for the moral and spiritual resuscitation of mankind will remain.