Thursday, 13 June 2024
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Islam and Nationhood

Today, alas, the symptoms of an inferiority-complex over Western industrial prowess and its deadly consequences mark everything in Eastern nations’ life. Many a Muslim is so impregnated with Western ideas that he wishes to see everything through Western spectacles, in the belief that progress demands manners and morals, laws and legislation, which copy Western styles. This total surrender welds the ring of slavery in our ears. We spread the red carpet of our self-respect, our material and moral wealth, our religious and national heritage of good-breeding, before their feet. This is what saps Muslim nations’ strength, both physical and spiritual. Muslims they may be: but they have lost the art of thinking on Islamic lines, cast aside their Muslim outlook on world events, alienated themselves from Islam’s creed and culture, and want to Westernise all Muslim ways. Mankind’s greatest problems are not those which can be solved in the laboratory.

Shall a foreign force prevent our taking our place in civilisation’s caravan? Suppose we follow neither the capitalist nor the communist trail. Suppose perfect social justice rules the interior of our land, and wins us an international regard, restoring our ancient prestige amongst the assembly of national governments. Might this not save us and mankind from further horrors of wars?

Why do we not let our religion’s laws and statutes solve our internal problems? If it can prevent us occupying the seat of a beggar at the table of humanity, and instead install us as masters in that house to the benefit of all, is this a small thing? Can a rich and generous giver turn beggar? Can a man born to command turn submissive, cringe and crawl as an inferior, and give up his right to choose the road he knows is proper?

Our inherited treasures have blessed humanity in the past. Neither West nor East dare disregard that fact, and despise us as backward and helpless, however much they strive to turn our confidence into confusion and our hope into hopelessness, so that we fall easy prey. Our long experience over three thousand years of history has left us tired. We have culled habits, thought, laws, manners from here and there over centuries, and donned them in indiscriminate combination, so that we make ourselves more like figures in a ridiculous carnival procession than the dignified personalities that we should be, wearing our own national garb with distinction and consuming our national dishes with conscious nobility.

Take our present constitution. We first copied French models : then those of other European nations were added ; and later, on each occasion when new legislation was called for, sought our mould in some other place again, so that there is an endless conflict between the spirit of the laws which we have borrowed from outside, and the national spirit for which the laws are made. As a result, a transgressor of the law gains national renown, hero-worship, and help unstinted in every way. Why? Through ignorance in the community? Not so! For the educated do not respond to the laws. No! It is the inconsistency between the national spirit and the borrowed laws, unrelated to social needs, historical antecedents, national consciousness, personal convictions that emerged from an environment entirely alien to the spirit of our people. Each borrowed law came from a community with its own history, religion, needs and peculiar realities. Yet none of them can even give a wholly positive answer to its own people, as continuous insurrectionary conditions show.

Professor Hocking of Harvard in “The Spirit of World Politics” writes: “Islamic lands will not progress by merely imitating Western arrangements and values. Can Islam produce fresh thinking, independent laws and relevant statutes to fit the new needs raised by modern society? Yes! – and more! Islam offers humanity greater possibilities for advance than others can. Its lack is not ability – but the will to use it. In reality the Shar’iya contains all the ingredients needed.”

Iran’s national daily “Keyhan” on 14th Dey, 1345 reported: “Yesterday, anniversary of the martyrdom of the Imam Ali, all Tehran practised Islam’s laws 100%. Result: – no crimes; forensic offices unemployed; no murders; no violence; no ripple on the calm surface; borough officers and police untroubled by any calls; even family quarrels within the homes were quickly hushed in reverence for the martyred Leader of the Faithful.”

The Persian “Reader’s Digest” (No. 35, Year 25) corroborated this, saying. “The average number of corpses in Tehran mortuaries on any one day of last year was 6 – fewer of course on religious holy days and more on some other days. Last week’s anniversary (Dey 13th) of Ali’s martyrdom was total peace – a proof of the persistent strength of religious conviction, and of the calm and sanity society attains on days when sale of alcohol is banned and amusement houses are closed.” Such is the result of Muslims practising their religion’s laws for 24 hours. Could a single Western city report, if not 24 hours, even 60 minutes, without an accident, a theft or a murder? When will mankind attain the adult maturity to learn the simple lesson from which so easily comes the peace, the quiet, the unity that all want? It is plain serendipity for us for, in the poet’s words,

“I round the globe in search of Heaven did roam:
Returned, and found my Heaven was here at home.”

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