Unity of the Islamic World
Prof. Abdul Wahid
Allah the Lord of the Universe and the Most Gracious in His infinite Mercy, in the process of His own scheme, sent His last Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) with Al-Qur’an a complete and the final code of life for guidance of mankind who have been declared as the noblest creation and His vicegerents on this earth to implement the principles of Al-Qur’an to establish His Kingdom here.
Concepts of Equality and Brotherhood of Men are Integral Parts of Islam
Of all the religions of the world, Islam is the first, foremost and the only religion that along with the declaration of oneness of Allah (Tauwhid) it declares the unity of mankind. Wherefrom emanates the concept of equality which is foundation of brotherhood of men as well as of the unity of the Islamic World. Al-Qur’an declares: “Verily this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood and I am your Lord and Cherisher, therefore, serve Me. (and no other).1 Al-Qur’an unambiguously mentions the sources of equality and brotherhood of men: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you and Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).2 Al-Qur’an further declares that Allah created mankind from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women.3
Fraternity of believers has been declared: “Believers are but a single brotherhood. Reconciliation has been enjoined between the two contending brothers.4 Allah commands the Muslim Ummah to remain united in the following terms: “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves, and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love and you were on the brink of the Pit of Fire, and He save you from it. Thus doth Allah make His signs clear to you: that you may be guided.5 Prophet (Peace be upon Him) in his famous Farewell address said that there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab and vice versa. Mankind is the progeny of Adam who was fashioned out of clay. He further declared that every claim of privilege whether that of blood or property was under his heels. The Prophet (Peace be upon Him), in fact, did not consider, even himself, to be above the law. Al-Quran makes it clear that he is a man like others, except that revelations come to him and he did never claim any distinction in his social behaviour.6 He also sought to establish this by his own acts and precepts. He himself appeared in several suits filed against him.7
To encourage a genuine brotherhood it has been emphasized that one can not be a Mumin unless he like that for the brother which he likes for himself. The integrity of the Ummah has been compared with a human body: the entire Muslim society is considered as one body and if any one part becomes diseased the other parts shall feel the agony. The Muslim Ummah was also compared by the Prophet with a building. Each member of the Ummah is closely connected with other members as a source of a strength as each brick is the source of strength for other bricks. The Prophet having put the fingers of his one hand into the fingers of his other hand demonstrated the strength of unity. The history of love and sacrifice for the sake of Islamic brotherhood among the Muslims is an unparalleled one. The Mujahedeen in the field of Jihad were extremely in need of drinking water, but every one was anxious to sacrifice for giving preference to other brother. The water carrier approached them one after another but each one refused to drink in preference to other brothers. Eventually each of the Mujahedeen expired without any water. Love and sacrifice of the Ansars of Medina for the Mujahedeen from Mekka are the proverbial instances of brotherhood (Ukhuwwa) in human history.
On the teachings of Al-Qur’an and the guidance of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) the spirit of Islamic brotherhood developed, during the early days of Islam, to such an extent that it accelerated the unique success of Islamic movement and consequently the establishment of an Islamic state at Madina based on the principles of Al-Qur’an. Due to the integrated brotherhood of the Ummah inspired by the ideology of Islam, the conquests of two mighty Empires: Persia and the Byzantine (the Eastern Roman Empire) were made possible. The Muslim Ummah within a century of the Prophet’s death conquered half of the known world covering important regions of three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.
For long 800 years the Muslims ruled in Spain and made it the highest seat of civilization of the then world, when rest of Europe was slumbering under the thick cover of darkness and barbarism. According to M.N. Roy the best sons of Europe admit it even today that if there would not have been Muslim Civilization in Spain, Europe would not have seen the light of civilization. The European historians, further admit that there would have been no Renaissance movement of Europe during the 16th century if there would have been no Muslim civilization in Spain to educate the Christian Europe. Apart from that, the Muslim Rule over half of the known world for about 1000 years created the Golden Chapter of Human history in all affairs.
Unfortunately with the slackening of the tie of brotherhood, and dislodgement of the Muslim Ummah from the teachings of Al-Qu’ran, decadence set in the Muslim Ummah which resulted factional conflict and fratricidal frictions.
Consequently a sectarian and regional patriotism came to prominence which ultimately took the shape of Geographical Nationalism. Taking the advantage of departure from the teachings of Islam and disunity of Muslim Ummah, the imperialistic powers from the European countries penetrated in the heart of the Muslim World by the 18th century. So far as the consequence of imperialistic conquest in this sub-continent is concerned the British identified the Muslims to be their worst enemy on the consideration that the Muslims had been in power, being defeated they were exasperated against the British, they opposed the British power tooth and nail, organized the 1st war of independents, wrongly called Sepoy Mutiny (1857). The Hindu India was very happy to welcome its new masters and help themselves through strengthening the British hand. The Muslims were removed from all appointments and replaced by the Hindus. The position of the Muslims was reduced to abject poverty. W.W. Hunter’s Report: The Indian Mussalmans, mentions the confiscations of Muslim properties and other methods, led the Muslims to such an extent of poverty which none could even conceive. The Hindu India, under the umbrella of British patronaize, as their loyal supporters vanquished the Muslims.
Jamal Al-din Al-Afghani (1839-1897 A.D.)
In the context of the pitiable condition of the world of Islam, during the 19th century, Jamal-al-Din-al Afghani appeared on the scene. He was a born fire-brand Mard-e-Mumin. He started a movement to bring back the unity of the Muslim world for revival of Muslim power. Afghani like Ibn-i-Taimiyya and Shah Wali Ullah strongly felt that the cause of decadence of the Muslim Ummah was deviation from the teachings of Al-Qur’an. Afghani led an anti imperialistic political campaign. While Afghani was serving the cause of Islam in Egypt, Taufiq Pasha assumed power as an agent of the British. Afghani had to leave Cairo and reached Paris. His disciple Abduh having been driven away from Egypt, joined Afghani there in 1884. Both of them issued a weekly newspaper in Arabic from there: Al-urvah al-Wuthqa. He established a Pan-Islamic society styled as Ummul Qurah in Mekka to inpire the Muslim world. Having quoted profusely from the Holy Qur’an, he appealed to the Muslim Rulers, Intellectuals and masses all over the world to unite, on Qur’anic Principles of Brotherhood (Ukhuwwa), and to join his movement: Wahadat Al-Islamia which was termed by the Western critics as Pan-Islamism.
Afghani drew the attention of the Ummah to the Qur’anic direction that Allah does not change the condition of a nation unless they themselves change their condition.8 Afghani’s devotion for the cause of Islam made him a full time crusader.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938 A.D.)
Iqbal’s study of Western philosophy, and acquaintance with Western concepts on different issues of life created in him a synthesis. This re-orientation made him a master of modern thought and a reconciler of the spirituality of the East and the materialism of the West.
Iqbal was very much critical of the secular concepts of the West on sovereignty, nationalism, democracy, political and economic systems. According to him the national state based on geography and language as distinguished from ideology and higher values makes the state itself a demigod and an object of adulation. People as citizens of such national states are trained up or compelled to live and die for the nation irrespective of right or wrong. Such secular states naturally become instruments of exploitation. The concept of such nationalism had come into vogue as a result of a secular intellectual movement in Europe during the 18th century. It became an instrument of exploitation and lacked all higher values. The concept of the national state played havoc with Islamic ideals: Brotherhood, Equality, Tolerance, Universalism and pan-Islamism. Iqbal waged a crusade against nationalism based on geography. The concept of nationalism as envisaged by Al-Qur’an is based on Islamic ideology which is not confined by geographical boundary nor by barrier of language.
The foundation of the Islamic concept of nationalism is constituted by the philosophy of Tauwhid, teachings of Al-Qur’an and the Prophet (Peace be upon Him). In Bang-e-Dara he says that this centre is in Medina. He urged the Muslims to break the idols of nationalism and to be absorbed in Islamic Millat. There is no Irani, Turani and Afghani within the concept of Islam. He further stated that mankind created by Allah is one, but human greed and desire for power have divided them into different groups. In his poem Tulu-e-Islam in Bang-e-Dara, Iqbal called the Muslims to become the messengers of Brotherhood of men which is the message of Islam. In that case all the difference of Hindi, Khorasani, Afghani and Turani will disappear. In Tarana-e-Milli he projects the concept of universalism and the wide vision of a Muslim. “Chin o Arab Hamara Hindustan hamara, Muslim Hain Ham, Watan Hai Sara Jahan Hamara.” China is ours, Arabia is ours, Hindustan is ours, I am Muslim and the whole world is the homeland of ours.” Iqbal rejected the Western idea of the fatherland as the basis of modern political nationalism. In his verses in The Mysteries of Selflessness, it is said “Our essence is not bound to any place, the vigour of our wine is not contained in any bowl, Chinese and Indian alike, the shard that constitutes our jar Turkish and Syrian alike, the clay forming our body; neither is our heart of India, or Syria or Rome nor any fatherland do we profess except Islam.”
Emphasizing the concept of Brotherhood of Islam, he regretted in Jawab-e-Shikwa: the Prophet of all Musalmans is the same, Din is the same, Iman is the same, Kaba is the same, Allah is the same, Qur’an is the same, is it difficult for the Muslims to be united; there is Firkabundi, different groups and tribes and nations. Is this the way for the Musalmans to progress and become powerful?
The Western world succeeded in their imperialistic design mainly, due to superior weapons. Though the European power amassed wealth through exploitation of the conquered countries, but they failed to offer any sound government even in their own countries. Secular democracy, even though was tried but that too miserably failed since it proved to be a vehicle of exploitation leading virtually to various forms of dictatorship. The Western political scientists and others admitted the same including Harold J. Laski in Parliamentary Government in England and in Democracy in Crisis. Staffor Cripps in his Democracry-Up-To-Date corroborates the same view.
Failure of Non-Muslim World
In the context of utter failure of man-made isms and religions, other than Islam, not only the Western World alone but the entire World does not see any system of life to solve the problems of mankind. They on proper study of Islam are convinced that, Islam is the only answer as solution. The educated and intellectual sections of the Christian World, have started accepting Islam and a new wave of conversion to Islam is visible prominently. The leadership of the non-Muslim World, out of jealousy and bewilderment having hatched up conspiracies, already started multi-dimensional attacks upon Islam to stem the tide of Islamic progress, mostly by vilifying in a straight way, Islam and the Muslim Ummah through false propaganda, and some times through subtle types of internal conspiracies. Islam is castigated as ‘Fundamentalism’ meaning thereby that Islam is against rational thinking and it lacks in scientific research, thoughts and progress. This sort of wild criticism against Islam, rather, exposes Christianity itself. Bible far from being a code of life it stood as the worst obstacle in the way of rational thinking, scientific approach and advancement of mankind.
Maurice Bucaille a Christian and a French doctor examined the Holy Scriptures in the light of modern knowledge and concludes: “The comparison of several Biblical and Qur’anic narrations of the same subjects shows the existence of fundamental differences between statements in the former which are scientifically unacceptable, and declarations in the later which are in perfect agreement with modern data. In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Qur’an which are connected with science, could have been work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Qur’an as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place on account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which when studied today, appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.9
That as a matter of fact Christianity itself can not compete Islam on merit since the former is detrimental to human advancement and the later is, rather, indispensable for advancement of mankind in all spheres of life.
Even non-Muslim political philosophers, top-ranking Western sociologists and thinkers admit the superiority of Islam as a code of life. According to Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the superiority of Islam over Christianity is glaring. He says” “During the Middle Ages, religion flourished in both the Communities, yet that was when Islamic civilization flourished while Christendom showed no vitality. He further observes that as long as Christianity reigned supreme, Europe was actually backward, it is only as Europe has gradually shed her religion, or relegated it to less and less decisive aspects of life that she has forged ahead so spectacularly. The Islamic World, on the other hand retrogressed since gradually forsaking the true tenets of Islam.10
In the face of mischievous propaganda and persistent machination against Islam, the Muslim Ummah needs to be united and go to pristine purity of Islam to accept the challenge of time to repulse the said propaganda led by anti-Islamic forces.
There are over a billion of Muslims living in the World. Though they are ideological one and belong to the same faith, but are not organized because of political separatism and cultural difference. Some of the reasons are:-
- There is no common educational policy among the Muslim countries,
- Muslims do not have common cultural consciousness,
- There is no culture of philosophy about Allah’s Oneness and unity of the followers of the Prophet.
As a result we are failing to fix our responsibilities and duties as the best creation of Allah, His Vicegerents and as the members of the Muslims Ummah. We forgot that the education of a Muslim could not be completed without the knowledge of Al-Quran and its application. A Muslims life could not attain fulfillment without the philosophy of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him). Incomplete knowledge limits a man exclusively to follow the selfish ends which confines him to a geographical boundary.
The Role of the O.I.C is far from expectation. It should formulate far-reaching programmes practically to bring the entire Muslim World to one common platform with quick and tangible steps, to effectively face the machinations against Islamic countries.
There is no denying of the fact that the present debacle of the Muslim World was caused by departure from the teachings of Al-Qur’an. Despite Allah’s direction not to accept the Kafirs-Mushriques as friends, except the Mumin, but the individual leadership of Muslim countries has been accepting them as friends for personal aggrandizement or political power.
The Unity of the Muslim Ummah, as directed by Al-Qur’an and Sunnah, should be followed in the strict sense of the term.
Iqbal’s Inspiring Guidance to Boost up the Ummah
Iqbal emphasized the importance of Iman in God, Takbeer and action
He encouraged the Ummah not to loose heart.
He was proud to admit himself as an Islamist and was sure of the victory of Islam:-
He gave a clarion call to be united from the Nile up to Kashgar with a destination: Mecca, ideologically;
He directed to take the derailed misguided deer to Mecca, i.e., to Islam:
He inspired: if you are really a Mumin, Allah’s promise is true that your victory is sure.
He urged upon the Muslims to strengthen the action, then fate shall be changed. He further says that good news of victory lies in restless devotion and perseverance.
It is useless to complain against Taqdir, since one can buildup his own Taqdir. He, during the trials and tribulations guided and encouraged the Muslim World.
If the Unity of the Islamic World may be achieved we are confident that Islam shall play its vital role again to save mankind, because of its inherent strength and indispensability.
Let us put our steps to the 21st Century with Allama Iqbal’s Prediction:
The lion who had emerged from the desert and had toppled the Roman Empire, is, as I am told by the angels, about to get up again (from his slumbers)…”
- Al-Qur’an, Anbiyaa: 92
- Al-Qur’an, Hujurat: 13
- Al-Qur’an, Nisaa: 1
- Al-Qur’an, Hujurat: 10
- Al-Qur’an, Al-i-Imran: 103
- Al-Qur’an, Kahf: 110
- K. Jamal Ahmed, Heritage of Islam.
- Al-Qur’an, R’ad: 11
- Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, Translated from French by Alaspair, D. Pannel and the Author, pp. 251-252.
- Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Modern Islam in India, Sh. Ashraf Publication, Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore, Pakistan. p.62.
- Prof. Muhammad Munawwar, Iqbal, Poet-Philosopher of Islam, Iqbal Academy, Pakistan. pp. 64-65.
Secretary General, Iqbal Society, Bangladesh.
Iqbal Congress Papers,
Third Allama Iqbal International Congress,
November 9-11, 1998.
University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.