Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Decline of Muslim Spirituality- I

Early Islam produced men of outstanding ability, extraordinary drive and exemplary personal initiative. They were willing to sacrifice their all for the progress of their deeply held convictions, in the service of their faith. This in turn brought the Muslims victories over victories, successes over successes, grandeur and power which lasted for many centuries altogether. On the contrary, “the deeds of the Muslims (of the present times) have become a big dark spot on the exemplary performance and exceptional exploit of the first and true soldiers of Islam”. The contrasting fortunes of Muslims of the past and of the present have invited considerable scholarly attention in recent times. In his Friday Sermon of March 30, 2012 Hadhrat Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius profoundly reflected upon the lamentable spiritual conditions of the Muslims today and prescribed the spiritual medicines essential for reviving the fortunes of the Community.

Read the Extracts from the Sermon:  

We are nowadays in the Islamic year 1433 After Hijra. When we analyse that when the world was plunged into the darkness of ignorance, sins and immorality, a light of true knowledge and guidance (that is, the Holy Prophet Muhammad-sa) made its appearance in the horizon amidst the rocky mountains, Batha (the name of the small mountains surrounding Mecca). Its rays went beyond all boundaries, be it in the east, west, north and south, and these rays (of that divine light) illumine each corner of the earth. In the limited period of twenty-three years, this light leads the way so that people accede to such elevated honourable stations which had not been reached before. It has brightened the Muslims and created in them the profound desire to follow the true message that should guide them in the future towards success.

When they followed the true path, guided by this light, the Muslims won victories over victories, successes over successes and they reached the highest position of honour in history. For many centuries, they reigned over the world with grandeur and power. No (non-Muslim) leader of their time could have got the courage to face them, and if someone did attempt to do so, they risked leading themselves to their own destruction. [Inset: Mughal Emperor Muhiy-ud-Din Aurangzeb Alamgir (1618-1707).   His empire at its zenith spread over the whole of modern South Asia and Central Asia- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, parts of Iran and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and one-fourth of the then world population lived under his rule. Historians testify that Emperor Aurangzeb inflicted such fear in the minds of the foreign elements trading in the waters of India that it took the British  more than a century and a half to consolidate their hold over India even after his death]. 

This is a historical truth which nobody can ever erase. But it is sad to see that these days this historical truth has become an old tradition, an “ancient story”, only good to be told (for a short time), and which appears farfetched for modern times, especially in our present times whereby the deeds of the Muslims have become a big dark spot on the exemplary performance and exceptional exploit of the first and true soldiers of Islam.

During the past centuries, history presented the Muslims as the sole holders of honour, dignity, power and grandeur. But when we cast our eyes away from the pages of history and look at the deeds and positions of the Muslims nowadays, we see a community which is plunged in difficulty and dishonour, a people who do not have real strength, honour, brotherhood or understanding. They neither possess the required exemplary qualities, nor morals nor behaviour of a true representative of Islam.

Today we do not see the zeal of the ready extraordinary actions adopted once by the Muslims. These qualities were present in each one of them, but sadly, it is not the case nowadays. We can hardly today see a Muslim who has a pure and sincere conscience. On the contrary, Muslims have stumbled in vices and sins. They have so much strayed from the right path (good deeds) – the path which has all the time guaranteed them success – that the enemies of Islam are now discussing how the Muslims have become weak. They readily mock the Muslims and tell all sorts of jokes on their account because of their hatred for the Muslims.

Unfortunately, the problem does not end here.

The young Muslims, of the new generations have been affected and influenced by the so-called modern trends, and also the fashionable trends of the west. They take pleasure to mock the principles of Islam and they openly criticise the Shariah (the sacred laws of Islam). They label the Shariah as ancient, not applicable for modern times, and impossible to put into practice. One is shocked before such open behaviour and thoughts!

A people who once brought strength and stability, prosperity, peace and honour in the world, now they have become a torn and depressed people, completely overtaken by (spiritual) sleep. They are empty and powerless. These people were once in the past the ones who taught the whole world moral lessons and good conduct; nowadays they are the ones who do not implement these vital moral lessons.

The trouble with the current Solutions 

The so-called brilliant intellectuals and so-called defenders of Islam, each one of them have drifted away from the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunna of our noble prophet Hazrat Muhammad (sa); when we analyse profoundly the way that they have presented the teachings of Islam, each in their own way, this situation has become catastrophic.

The “remedies” they have applied have worsened the malady. The situation has deteriorated today and the forthcoming days appear all the more bleak. Remaining powerless (without taking action) and being satisfied with the way the situation is have become a grievous sin and an unforgivable sin. But before we take a decision on what we have to do, it is necessary that we analyse the true reason behind the decline of the Muslims (of the reality of this deplorable situation). People have brought forward many reasons to explain this degradation, and they adopted several solutions to prevent the situation from worsening. But unfortunately, all efforts till date brought all the more frustration. Instead of progress, it is despair and confusion which have settled, especially among the preachers and the sincere and noble scholars of Islam.

The truth is that we have not succeeded in finding the true foundation (root) of this malady. And as long as we do not find the true cause of this (spiritual) illness, we cannot prescribe a remedy and appropriate treatment, and we can no further try it (in the absence of the right remedy). In such circumstances, how can we hope for recovery or amelioration (in the spiritual health of Muslims)? Any treatment that will be applied without us knowing the true cause of the illness shall aggravate the situation and shall bring in more confusion and discouragement.

Return to the Shariah and the Holy Qur'an

Islam identifies the Shariah as the sacred laws from Allah. Allah the Almighty therein guaranteed a complete way of life and gave us all means to advance (in life) and make progress on the true path of success and goodness. Allah the Almighty has clearly shown us which path to take and indicated to us the methods to verify and correct our direction whenever we have gone too far away or stayed (from the right path). In other words, the Muhammadan Shariah guarantees material goodwill as well as spiritual goodwill of the Muslims and their progress throughout all their lives, and in all situations till the Day of Judgement. It would therefore be a loss of time if we seek the solution to the present predicament of the Muslims outside the rules of the Shariah. Indeed, if we do so (look for the solution elsewhere), our situation will become worse.

Therefore, we must therefore necessarily examine profoundly the noble Quran for it is the basis of the Shariah and the source of all knowledge and guidance for the whole humanity. Verily, the Quran is the sole source of wisdom for people. We must seek help from the Quran so as to discover what really are our difficulties, how to remove them, and when Allah the Almighty sends us (Muslims) a messenger, what do we do? Believe in him or reject him completely, labelling him a liar and turn our back to his message and ordering that boycott be applied on him and evil plots be hatched against him? If we really want to have a complete recovery from our (Muslims’) illness, therefore we must consider the Quran as sacred and never reject the messenger of Allah whenever he comes to lead us to Allah. Man is weak but when he seeks the help of Allah, then it is Allah who opens His way to accept His messenger and not to turn his back to Allah, His messenger and the divine messages.

Also, it must be that we remain (solidly) attached to the teachings of the Holy Quran and Allah the Almighty has give us solutions to resolve all our problems and each solution is found in the Holy Quran and once we know what we have to do, we must hold fast to the divine solution to resolve all our problems and we take a firm decision, resolution to put these divine commandments into practice. There is no doubt that wisdom and guidance from the Quran shall never fail us, especially in the actual context and in the critical situation we are going through. Therefore let us look for the true solution in the Quran and Sunna.

The Promise of Divine Help for the Believers

We have to analyse the problem. Allah the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe has promised the power to lead and His caliph on earth only to the true Muslims, those who truly submit themselves to Allah. This is clear from the following verse of the Quran: “Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them vicegerency (from Him) upon the earth.” (24: 56)

Allah the Almighty has given the guarantee that the true believers shall always dominate the infidels and that the infidels shall stay behind, without any partisan, or any friend. Like the following verse says: “And if those who disbelieve had fought you, they would have turned their backs (in flight). Then they would not find a protector or a helper.” (48: 23) We can also say that Allah the Almighty has taken upon Himself the task to extend help to the true Muslims and He also promised that it is these people (the true Muslims) who shall always have honour and glory. This is confirmed by these verses of the Holy Quran:

“It is Our duty to help the true believers.” (30: 48)

“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are (true) believers.” (3: 140)

“And to Allah belongs [all] honour, and to His Messenger, and to the believers” (63: 9)

These sacred declarations show clearly that the path which shall give the Muslims back their honour, grandeur, glory, respect and worth is solid faith. If your connections with Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (sa) are firm and sincere, there is no doubt that you shall control and lead each thing in this world. But if your faith is weak, or it slips from your hearts, then automatically we (Muslims) shall crumble down and calamity shall ensue.