Dazzled by the achievements of science during the 18th and 19th centuries, many westerners thought that religion had exhausted all its usefulness and surrendered to science once for all. Almost all the minent western psychologists and sociologists expressed themselves in similar terms. Freud, the renowned psychologist, for instance, while demonstrating the futility of religion in modern times, says that the human life passes through three distinct psychological phases: superstition, religion and science. This being the era of science, so all religion was pronounced out of date.
There is no denying that there were certain causes which led the men of science in Europe to adopt a view of life antagonistic to religion. It was mainly due to the great controversy, that raged between men of science and the Christian church, which made them think – quite justifiably of course – that whatever the church stood for was reactionary, retrogressive, backward and superstitious and that therefore it must vacate its seat for science so as to enable humanity to move ahead on the path of civilization.
Without appreciating the difference between the peculiar conditions of life obtaining in Europe at the time of this unhappy conflict and those in the Islamic world, a section of people has been demanding the renunciation of religion and of the sacred traditions that have come to us from our earlier generations. This move has been strengthened by the puerile imitation of the West that is gaining currency in the Muslim lands. Many naive people fancy that the only way to progress is to follow the dominant nations of Europe, intellectually and culturally. To achieve this they have to discard their religion just as Europe had done failing which they fear they would be trapped in an abyss of reactionism, backwardness and humbug.
But such people overlook the fact that even in the West, not all the outstanding, scholars were antagonistic towards religion; nor do their works exhibit anything of this sort. On the other hand we find some of these eminent intellectuals who were never under the spell of Europe’s Godless materialism and who affirmed that religion is a psychological as well as an intellectual necessity for mankind.
The most noted figure among them is the astronomer Sir James Jeans, who started his intellectual career as a Godless skeptic but was led finally by his scientific explorations to the conclusion that the greatest problems of science could not be resolved without believing in God. The famous sociologist jeans Bridge went so far as to eulogize Islam for achieving a successful amalgam of the temporal with the spiritual into a harmonious system of thought blended with a practical code of life. The well-known English writer Somerset Maugham epitomized the whole attitude of modern Europe towards religion when he remarked that Europe had in the present era discovered a new god Science, in place of the old one.
The god of science has, however, turned out to be extremely fickle, ever-changing and constantly shifting positions, upholding one thing as a fact and reality today and rejecting it the other day as false and spurious. Consequently its ‘worshippers’ are doomed to a perpetual state of restlessness and anxiety, for how can they find rest and peace of mind under such a capricious god? That the modern west is afflicted with this uncertainty and restlessness is borne out by the large number of psychological and nervous disorders that are so common in modern society today.
Yet another result of this deification of modern science is that the world we live in had become devoid of all meaning and purpose with no higher order or power to guide it. Tension and conflict between different forces have become the order of the day. As a result everything in this word suffers change: economic and political systems change; relations between states and individuals alter; even scientific ‘facts’ change. What can man expect save misery and perpetual restlessness in a world with such a somber setting where no Higher Power exists whom he should turn to for support, strength and comfort in this ruthless struggle of life?
It is religion and religion alone that can bring peace and tranquillity to the world. It instills in man love for goodness and the courage to stand up to the forces of evil and tyranny was a necessary condition of obtaining God’s pleasure and to make His will predominant on this earth awaiting with patience for his reward in the Hereafter. Doesn’t mankind really need peace, tranquillity and comfort, in a word, religion?
What will become of man if his life is devoid of belief in an eternal life in the hereafter? Belief in the continuity of life in the next world is a revolutionary concept. Under its impact, man’s life upon earth assumes new dimensions opening higher horizons of progress before him, in the absence of which he is inevitably oppressed by a torturous sense of nothingness, as it means a virtual cutting short of man’s total lifespan, making him a mere plaything in the hands of his whims and caprices which teach him nothing but to derive the maximum possible amount of pleasure during this short sojourn upon the earth. Mutual rivalries, savage battles and conflicts over the possession of material gains follow, as there is no Higher Power to control and restrain one’s desires. Blinded by greed and lust, man tries to gain whatever he can in the shortest span of time. His total perspective of life and its mission is lost altogether. This degrades man to lower planes of feelings and thought. His imagination sinks low and so do his ideals and the means to achieve them. Mankind is doomed to a perpetual life of hideous internecine wars that scarcely permit it to pursue higher and nobler ends in life. In such a world there is hardly any room for love or sympathy, as men are obsessed with carnal pleasures, and spurred by uncontrolled passions. In such a context, how can they strive for lofty aspirations or even appreciate genuine human feelings?
In such a world men do gain some material profits. But of what use are these when their fellowmen are constantly wrangling over them, each ready to cut his brother’s throat only to enhance his own material welfare? Materialism so spoils life that even man’s material achievements are rendered useless and senseless. Men are enslaved by greed, lust and avarice. Blind appetites gain control over them. They lose their grip on them and become their slaves. This results in the dehumanization of man.
The predicament of the nations is not different. They, for similar reasons, get entangled in devastating wars which spoil all harmony in life. And science, with all its dreadful weapons, is employed for the extermination of the human race rather than to contribute towards man’s well-being and his moral advancement.
Viewed in this context religion means broadening the mental horizon of mankind, for life is not confined to this world alone but continues even beyond it – towards eternity. This inspires hope in man’s heart, encourages him to live and strive for the achievement of higher ideals and to remain steadfast against evil and oppression. Religion teaches love, sympathy and universal brotherhood and is thus the only way to peace, prosperity and progress. It equips man in the best possible way for the hard struggle of life.
Furthermore, it is faith and faith alone that can inspire man to rise above his self and suffer for noble and lofty ideals. Deprived of faith, he is left with nothing else to look up to outside his own self. He is torn away from the total reality of the creation and is rendered into an isolated being. This reduces him to an unsocial animal, a brute.
Many a man fell fighting in the noble cause of truth spending the whole of their lives in the struggle yet achieving nothing in the materialistic sense of the word. What inspired these noble souls to engage in a battle that brought them no-material rewards, that caused them the loss of whatever little they happened to possess? This has been one of the products of faith. Such behaviour can never be produced in pursuit of selfish motives. Avarice, greed, lust, etc., can never make a man achieve anything really good and noble. That is why the material triumphs won by selfish avarice are self-centred, short-lived and temporary. The incentive of immediate gain cannot equip a man with a noble character, nor can it give him the courage to stand fast suffering patiently for long for a lofty ideal.
There are some so-called reformers who seek inspiration from hatred rather than love. The hatred may be personal in character or it may be based on class, or region or nation. Such rancour-inspired people may realize some of their objectives, may even muster courage to sacrifice for such ends, but a doctrine based on malevolence and hatred can never lead humanity to anything good. They may remove certain evils and put an end to the existing state of injustice but would generate new evils and injustices and fail to remedy the ailments of mankind.
On the other hand a creed that does not aim at the immediate gains of this world, nor derives inspiration from malevolence but fosters in men noble passions of love, fraternity and the determination to lay down their lives serving their fellowmen can heal the festering sores of humanity and pave the way for future progress and prosperity. The essence of such a creed is faith in God and His love. This produces a virtuous mode of living that helps man get nearer to his Creator, and become a true servant of humanity. Belief in the Hereafter gives man. a firm sense of security, banishing from his heart the fear of extinction with his physical death and promising him an eternal life. This, in other words, means that his efforts shall not be wasted but shall be crowned with fullest reward in the life to come, even if he is unable to achieve anything in this world. This is a natural corollary of belief in God and the Hereafter. It is true of religion as such. But as far as Islam is concerned it does not stop here, it goes a long way ahead: it has a far more fascinating story to tell.
Those who may imagine that Islam has become outmoded and is no longer needed, do not know as to what it stands for, nor do they seem to understand its real mission in human life. The image of Islam that emerges from books on Islam and Islamic history written mostly by Western orientalists and their disciples and taught ever since the colonial period is something like this: Islam was revealed merely to put an end to idolatry and guide man to the worship of God alone; that the Arabs were torn into antagonistic tribes, Islam came and united them and made them a strong and unified nation; that they were addicted to drinking and gambling and led depraved lives; Islam stopped them from these depravities and abolished other evil customs prevalent among them such as burying alive their daughters and wasting away their strength in acts of revenge; and that Islam called upon Muslims to disseminate its message, which they did, this in turn leading to the battles that ultimately determined the boundaries of the Islamic world as we know it today. This, according to these people, was the sole purpose of Islam in human life! This being its historical mission, it has long since been fulfilled: there is no idol-worship in the Islamic world; the once antagonistic tribes have been more or less subject to a process of absorption losing their identity in the larger nationalities or communities. As far as gambling and drinking are concerned let us bear in mind that human civilization has advanced to such an extent now that it is useless to declare such pastimes unlawful as we see that despite all religious taboos they still persist. It is no use insisting on their abolition. Thus they conclude that Islam has served its purpose in this world; it has had its day but is no longer needed. It has nothing new to offer. We must, therefore, turn towards the modern civilization and seek progress through it.
One listens to this prattle from all quarters. Even some educated and otherwise enlightened persons repeat these assertions like a parrot. This case against Islam is, however, a product of sheer ignorance and prejudice. We must not judge Islam on hearsay. Let us try to understand what Islam is and what it stands for.
Islam, in a word, means liberation from all sorts of slavery such as may inhibit the progress of humanity or may not allow it to follow the path of virtue and goodness. It means man’s freedom from dictators who enslave him by force or fear, make him do what is wrong and deprive him of his dignity, honour, property or life. Islam liberates man from such tyranny by telling him that all authority vests in God and God alone; He alone is the Real Sovereign. All men are His subjects and as such He alone controls their destinies, none of them having the power to cause any benefit or avert any distress from his ownself independent of the Divine Will. All men shall be presented before Him on the Day of Judgement to account for their performance in this life. Thus Islam brings to man freedom from fear or oppression inflicted on him by men like himself and who, in reality, are as helpless as he is and who are no less subject to the Will of God Almighty than he himself is.
Islam also means freedom from lust, including the lust for life, as it is this very weakness of man which is exploited by tyrants and dictators intentionally or otherwise in enslaving their fellowmen. But for it no man would silently accept subservience to men like himself or sit idle to watch tyranny on the rampage and dare not challenge it. It is a great blessing of Islam that it taught man to fight tyranny and oppression bravely rather than cringe before them in abject servitude. Says the Qur’an: Say, If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the dwellings in which you delight – are dearer to you than God, or His Apostle, or the striving in His cause – then wait until God brings about His Decision: and God guides not the rebellious. (AlQur’an, 9: 24).
As against blind passions and appetites, the love of God generates in life the values of love, virtue, truth, and striving hard in His way, the way of all that is good and lofty in life. Islam subjects human passions in the service of these noble goals of life. The lore of God becomes the dominant and real directing force in man’s life. Without this no man can claim to be a true Muslim.
A man steeped in sensual pleasures may entertain the mistaken belief that he enjoys life more than others do. But soon he has to realize his mistake, for he is gradually reduced to a mere slave to his blind passions. He is doomed to a perpetual life of deprivation and restlessness, for animal desires once run rampant become insatiable: the appetite increases with every effort to satisfy it. The result is a craze for the maximization of sensual pleasure. Such an attitude towards life is not conducive to progress, material or spiritual. Humanity cannot approach higher realms of nobility unless it is freed from the dominance of the blind animal appetites. It is only through control of the animal self that man is freed to make progress – in the fields of science, arts or religion.
It is for this very reason that Islam attaches such a great importance to the freeing of man from his animal passions. For this purpose it neither favours monasticism nor gives man unbridled freedom to serve the demands of the flesh. It aims at the attainment of a balance between these two extremes. Whatever is there in the world is for man. It is there to serve him and not to dominate or rule over him. He should not allow himself to be made a slave to these, rather he should use them as means to a higher end, i.e. his spiritual perfection by disseminating the word of God amongst his fellowmen. Thus Islam has a twofold objective in view:
- In the individual life it aims at providing to each and every individual a just and adequate share so as to enable him to lead a decent and clean life; and
- In the collective sphere it arranges things in such a way that all the social forces of a society are directed towards the enhancement of progress and civilization in accordance with its basic outlook upon life and in such a way that the balance between the constituent units and the whole, between the individuals and the community, is established.
Islam has had a most liberalizing effect on human intellect as it is diametrically opposed to all sorts of superstition. Humanity has, in the course of history, fell a prey to a number of absurdities, in theory and practice. Some of these were even described to have some divine origin. All these acted as shackles for the human minds, which groped about in the dark before the advent of Islam. With islam it attained maturity and freedom from this hotch-potch of nonsense, symbolized in the so-called gods, distorted Jewish traditions, and the imbecilities of the Christian Church, Islam freed man from all superstitions and brought him back to God and established direct relation between man and his Creator.
Islam uses a very simple terminology. Its teachings are very easy to understand, perceive and believe in. It invites man to make use of the faculties given to him and to seek the fullest possible understanding of the world around him. It does not admit of any inborn hostility between reason and religion or for that matter between science and religion. Islam impresses upon man in clear and unequivocal terrns that it is God and God alone who has in His immense mercy subjected all the things on this earth to man, and that all the facts that are discovered by scientific investigation and the material benefits that flow from that to man, are in fact blessings from God, for which man should offer his thanks to God, and strive hard so as to become a worthy servant of so Merciful and Beneficent a Master. Thus Islam holds knowledge and science as a part of faith rather than regard them as an evil intrinsically opposed to genuine belief in God.
What is the state of the world today. Has man freed himself from all superstition, imbecilities and absurd beliefs? Has he discovered the man within himself? Has he liberalized himself from the yoke of worldly tyrants indulging in the exploitation of man by man? If such a millennium has not been achieved despite all developments in science and technology, then Islam has still a great and glorious part to play.
Half of the inhabitants of the world today remain idol-worshippers. India, China, Japan and a great many other parts of the world are instances in view. The other half is engaged in the worship of a new found deity whose corrupting influence on man’s thoughts and feelings is no less significant. This deity is styled as Modern Science.
Science is a powerful instrument to help us increase our knowledge of the world around us. As such it has an impressive record of achievements to its credit. All these brilliant achievements were, however, vitiated by one fatal mistake of the westerners: they installed science as supreme God, declaring that it alone had the right to claim the adoration and submission of man to it. Thus they denied themselves all means of acquiring knowledge save that recognized by empirical science which let humanity wander further away rather than bring it nearer to its real destination. Consequently the otherwise vastly immense range of human endeavour and progress was shrunk and made co-extensive with the fimitations of empirical sciences. The total dimensions of the human situation are not taken care of within the scope of science whose domain is limited. It is of immense help in discovering the knowledge of the means of life, but fails to guide us in the realm of objectives of life, its values and norms, and the nature of the ultimate reality.
Some protagonists of science claim that science alone can introduce man to the secrets of this universe and life, and conclude that only that which is upheld by science is true; the rest is all trash! But while making such a statement they overlook the fact that science with all its brilliant and impressive record is still in its infancy and ever hesitant to commit itself as regards the veracity or otherwise of many things, for the simple reason that it cannot penetrate deep into the heart of reality beyond attempting a mere superfluous survey of it. Yet its votaries assert in the authoritative way that there is no such thing as human soul. They deny that man, confined as he is within the limitations of his sensory organs, can ever have any contact with the Unknown – not even a glimpse of it through telepathy’ or dreams. They repudiate all these not because they have proved them to be mere illusions but simply because the experimental science with its inadequate instruments has not yet been able to fathom their mystery. That they belong to a higher order of things not subject to man’s observation was however sufficient to make these gentlemen turn their backs on them and pronounce their nonexistence. Non-existence is one thing, non-susceptible to one instrument of investigation a very different matter. But they fail to see the difference between the two. . .
Such then is the ‘enlightened ignorance’ man suffers from today, which shows how desperately he stands in need of Islam to blow away these allegedly scientific cobwebs of knowledge. Idol-worship was the older form wherein human folly found expression; the cult of science-worship is its latest version. To liberate human reason and spirit, both of these yokes must be shaken off. It is in this perspective that Islam emerges as the only hope for humanity, for it alone can restore peace between religion and science, bring back once more the tranquillity and concord to our distressed world and enable man to satisfy his both cravings, the desire for knowledge and the search for truth, the need to control the forces of nature, and to integrate with the Ultimate God.
Islam establishes not only peace and harmony but also rids mankind of tyranny and oppression. The contemporary world presents in this respect no better view than it did fourteen hundred years ago, when Islam freed it from all false gods, Tyranny still on the rampage in the guise of haughty kings, insolent demagogues and heartless capitalists who are busy in sucking the blood of the millions, subjugating them and making capital out of their helplessness and misery. There is still another class of dictators who rule with sword, usurp peoples’ liberties and claim that they are merely instruments in enforcing the people’s or the proletariat’s will. Islam brings to an end man’s rule over man. It makes the rulers as much subject to the Divine Law as are all other men and women. Islam does not allow any man to subjugate others. or impose upon them his will.
Only God’s commands are to be obeyed and only the Prophet’s examples are to be followed. The ruler, in such a community, shall, as a part of his obligations towards men and God, be required to enforce Divine Law failing which he may no longer have any lawful claim to the people’s obedience. They may in such a situation quite lawfully disregard his orders. This was explicitly stated by the first Caliph Abu Bakr (May God be pleased with him) when he said that Obey me only so long as I obey God with respect to you; and if I should happen to deviate from God’s obedience, then in that case my, obedience shall no longer be incumbent upon you. As such the ruler in Islam has no privileged right to use the Public Exchequer or to formulate state legislation in defiance of the Shari’ah. Moreover, it is only the trustworthy people who have any right to rule, who are elected to a post of authority through a free, just and impartial election with no checks on voters save those of justice, virtue and decency.
Such an Islamic State will not only liberate its citizens from all tyrants at home but shall safeguard their freedom against any outside aggression as well. This is so because Islam itself is a religion of glory and power and as such it cannot tolerate that men should degrade themselves by prostrating at the feet of the false god of imperialism. Islam prescribes a very simple code of life for man. It exhorts him to strive hard to gain the pleasure of his Creator, surrender his will to that of his Lord, follow His commandments and come forward with all the sources at his disposal to fight against the spectre of imperialism and tyranny.
Let Man therefore turn towards Islam for this is the time for all human beings to flock together under its banner so as to wipe out from the face of the earth all the vestiges of imperialism and exploitation of man by man. Here is the way to real freedom, one which allows no serfdom, promises all men freedom in thought, action, property and religion, jealousiy safeguarding their integrity as well as honour. For only thus can we become Muslims worthy of our God, the object of our adoration – in Whose path we tread, the path He chose for us: ‘This day I have perfected for you religion and completed my favour on you and chosen for you Islam as religion.’ (Al-Qur’in, 5: 3).
Such a radical reformation effected by islam is by no means a parochial one confined to the Muslim community alone, but is, on the other hand, by its very nature universal in character. It is nothing less than a blessing for the world of today afflicted as it is with internecine wars, with a still another and far more terrible world war looming large on the horizon.
Islam is the only future hope of humanity; and its victorious emergence out of the present ideological warfare is the only guarantee of man’s salvation. But important as the triumph of Islam is for the future of mankind, its realization is not easy to come by. It can be effected only if the people who are already in its folds and profess loyalty to it should pledge themselves for its glory and triumph. Islam freed mankind from the tyranny of animal appetites fourteen hundred years ago, now it can once again shake off the shackles of lust and free man to direct all his faculties to reach a higher spiritual plane and establish virtue and goodness in life.
The revival of Islam is a practical and realizable undertaking. The history of Islami proves beyond any doubt that it is quite capable of raising man above a purely animal level. What was possible in the past is quite possible in the present and what is possible in the case of individuals is equally realizable in the case of nations. Mankind has not undergone any temperamental change ever since. The human society in the sixth century was at as low a level and was as much taken up with sensual pleasures as it is today. There is no difference in the nature of the basic human ailment, although some of the symptoms, the outwardly forms or names of the vices indulged in, are dissimilar. Ancient Rome was no less rotten morally than its modern counterparts. Similarly in ancient Persia, moral anarchy was as widespread as is in the present day world. Dictators of today are not very different from the dictators of the past. It was in this historical perspective that Islam was revealed to the world. it brought about a complete change, lifted mankind from the abyss of moral degradation, gave human life a lofty purpose, dynamism, movement and infused into it a spirit to strive hard in the way of truth and goodness. Humanity under Islam flourished, prospered and there was set afoot a dynamic intellectual and spiritual movement that encompassed the East as well as the West. The world of Islam became the mainspring of light, excellence and progress in the world for a long time to come. During this long period of its dominance never did the Islamic world find itself lagging behind materially, intellectually or spiritually. Its followers were looked upon as symbols of goodness and excellence in all spheres of human activity till they ceased to reflect in their lives the noble and exalted ideals of Islam and became mere slaves to their whims and animal desires. It was then that all their glory and power came to an end in accordance with the immutable law of God.
The modern Islamic movement that is still gathering momentum derives its strength from the past and makes use of all the modern available resources with its gaze fixed on the future. It has great potentialities and as such has a bright future ahead, for it is fully capable of performing that great miracle which has once changed the face of history.
This does not, however, mean that Islam is a mere spiritual creed, or a plea for morality, or just a scheme of intellectual research in the kingdom of heavens and earth. It is a practical code of life that fully embraces worldly affairs. Nothing escapes its penetrating eyes. It takes notice of all the diverse patterns of relationships binding men together irrespective of the fact that such relationships fail under the economic, political and social categories. It regulates them by prescribing suitable laws and norms of behavior and enforces them in human life. Its most outstanding characteristic is that it establishes a unique harmony between the individual and society, between -reason and intuition, between work and worship between this world and the Hereafter.
We have tried to examine briefly the threats that confront man today and to show how relevant in fact how necessary Islam is to mankind in our own times. Let us conclude by summing up some of the distinct features of Islami which make it all the more necessary for the modern man to seek his salvation through this ideology.
Firstly, it must be well understood that Islam is not a mere ideological vision. It is a practical system of life that fully appreciates all the genuine needs of mankind and tries to realize them.
Secondly, in trying to meet the genuine requirements of man Islam affects a perfect balance between all areas of life and activity. It starts with the individual maintaining a balance between his requirements of body and soul, reason and spirit and in no case allows one side to predominate the other. It does not suppress the animal instincts in order to make the soul ascend the higher planes, nor does it allow man, in his efforts to fulfil his bodily desires, to stoop down to the low level of animalism and hedonism. On the contrary, it makes them both reet on a single higher plane doing away with all the internal psychological conflicts that threaten the human soul or set a part of it against the other parts. In the social sphere, it proceeds to achieve an equilibrium between the needs of the individual and those of the community. It does not allow an individual to transgress against other individuals, or against the community. Nor does it allow the community to commit a transgression against the individual. It also does not approve of one class or group of people to enslave another class or group of people. Islam exercises a beneficent constraint on all these mutually opposed forces, prevents them from coming into collision with one another, and harnesses them all to co-operate for the general good of mankind as a whole.
Thus Islam strikes a balance between different sectors of society and between different aspects of existence, spiritual as well as material. Unlike communism, it does not believe that economic factors, i.e. the material aspect alone, dominate the human existence. Nor does it contribute to what the pure spiritualists or idealists say claiming that spiritual factors or high ideals alone are sufficient to organize human life. Islam rather holds that all these diverse elements put together form what is called human society; and that the best code of life is that which takes note of all these, making fuil allowance for body as well as reason and spirit and arranging them all in the framework of a harmonious whole. Thirdly, it must always be kept in mind that Islam has an altogether independent existence of its own as a social philosophy as well as an economic system. Some of its outward manifestations may on the surface appear to resemble those of capitalism or socialism, but in fact it is far from being the one or the other. It retains all the good characteristics of these systems, yet is free from their shortcomings and perversions. It does not extol individualism to that loathful extent which is the characteristic of the modern West. It was from this germ that modern capitalism sprang and institutionalized that concept of individual’s freedom where man is allowed to exploit other individuals and the community only to serve his personal gain, Islam guarantees personal freedom and provides opportunities for individual enterprise but not at the cost of society or ideals of social justice. The reaction to capitalism has appeared in the form of socialism. It idolizes the social basis to an extent that the individual is reduced to an insignificant cog of the social machine, with no existence whatever of its own outside and independent of the herd. Therefore, the community alone enjoys freedom as well as power; the individual has no right to question its authority or demand his rights. The tragedy of socialism and its variants is that they assign to the state absolute powers to shape the lives of the individuals.
Islam strikes a balance between the two extremes of capitalism and socialism. Being appreciative of their role Islam harmonizes the individual and the state in such a way that individuals have the freedom necessary to develop their potentialities and not to encroach upon the rights of their fellowmen. It also gives the community and the state adequate powers to regulate and control the socio-economic relationships so as to guard and maintain this harmony in human life. The basis of this whole structure as envisaged by Islam is the reciprocity of love between individuals and groups; it is not erected on the basis of hatred and class conflict as is the case with socialism.
It may also be pointed out here that this unique system of life as envisaged by Islam, did not originate as a result of any economic pressure, nor was it an outcome of some mutually conflicting interests of antagonistic groups of people. NO. It was revealed to the world as the ordained system of life at a time when men attached no particular importance to the economic factors, nor did they know anything about social justice in the sense we know it in modern times. Both socialism and capitalism are much later developments. Islam presented its scheme of social reform much before any of the social movements of our times. It guaranteed the basic needs of man – food, housing, and sexual satisfaction – more than thirteen hundred years ago. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said that: ‘Whosoever acts as a public officer for us (i.e. the Islamic State) and has no wife, he shall have a wife; if he has no house, he shall be given a house to live in; if he has no servant, he shall have one; and if he has no animal (a conveyance), he shall be provided with one.’ This historical announcement of fundamental human rights not only contains those rights voiced by many a revolutionary in our times, it adds to them some more as well, without, however, necessitating any inter-class hatred, bloody revolutions, and without of course rejecting all those human elements in life that do not fall under the above three heads: food, housing and family.
These are some of the salient features of the Islamic code of life. They are sufficient to show that a religion with such laws and principles, and so comprehensive as to include the whole of the human existence, emotions, thoughts, actions, worship, economic dealings, social relationships, instructive urges and spiritual aspirations – all arranged in the framework of a single harmonious but unique system of life, can never lose its usefulness for mankind. Nor can such a religion ever become obsolete, as its objectives are the same as those of life itself and therefore destined to live on so long as there is life on this planet.
Considering the existing state of affairs in the contemporary world, mankind cannot reasonably afford to turn its back upon Islam or reject its system of life. Mankind is still afflicted with the most savage and odious forms of racial prejudices. America and South Africa may offer a case in point in this respect. Surely the twentieth-century world has yet a great deal to learn from Islam. Long ago Islam freed humanity from all racial prejudices. It did not content itself with the presentation of a beautiful vision of equality alone but it achieved in practice an unprecedented state of equality between all people, black, white or yellow, declaring that none enjoyed any superiority over the others except in virtue and piety. It not only freed the black from slavery but also fully recognized their rights to aspire even to the highest seat of authority in the Islamic State. They could become the heads of the Islamic State. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Listen and obey even if a negro slave be appointed as your superior so long as he should enforce. amongst you the Law of God.’
How can also the world of today ignore the message of Islam stricken as it is with the evils of imperialism and tyranny with all their barbarous attributes, for islam alone can help mankind shake off these chains. It is opposed to imperialism and all forms of exploitation. The way Islam treated the peoples of the countries it conquered was so generous, just and sublime that the eyes of the Civilized’ Europe can hardly penetrate those heights. We may in this regard cite the famous decision of the Caliph ‘Umar to whip the son of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, the victorious general and honoured governor of Egypt as he had beaten an Egyptian Copt without any legal justification, while the renowned father himself had a very narrow escape from the whip of the Caliph. This shows what social liberty and human rights were enjoyed by the subjects of the Islamic State.
Then there is the evil of capitalism that has poisoned all life. Its abolition and the need to rid humanity of its evil consequences again calls for Islam. For, Islam prohibits usury and hoarding which taken together form the mainstay of the capitalist economy. This, in other words, means that Islam alone can effectively check the evils of capitalism as it did check them fourteen hundred years ago.
Similarly, the world dominated by the materialistic, godless communism stands in need of Islam, which achieves and maintains social justice of the highest order without destroying the spiritual mainsprings of human life. Nor does it confine man’s efforts to the narrow world of the senses. Above all, it neither endeavors nor aims at the imposition of its own creed on mankind forcibly with the iron rod of a proletarian dictatorship, for, There is no compulsion in religion; indeed the righteousness has been differentiated from the wickedness. (Al-Qur’an, 2: 256).
Finally, the world with the shadows of war still hanging over it cannot but turn towards Islam – the only way to establish and maintain real peace on this earth.
The era of Islam has in a way just started, not ended; it is not a spent force, but a living dynamic force. Its future is as bright as its great historical past is glorious when it illumined the face of earth at the time when Europe was still groping its way in the dark recesses of a medievalist.