The complexity of human relations, the multitude of events in
the political, economic and social spheres of life, the enormous
problems of society and the environment, put together, often create
a feeling of helplessness in many people. Muslims and non-Muslims
alike face this same predicament because of their inability to evaluate,
explain and relate the hows and whys of events.
Many have resigned themselves to the social forces in society. Others
have reasons of their own for turning a blind eye to society as a
whole. They have immediate problems of their own to think about-their
job security, wage differentials, family preoccupations and a host
of other things. They do not bother about issues on a global scale
until their immediate interests are satisfied.
Many Muslims simply shun away from what they regard as the disorders
of modern life saying that society is in such a state because man
today is materialistic and refuses to acknowledge God.
This may be a true and fair comment but are we to turn a blind eye
to modern developments, merely branding society as kafir (unbelieving)?
All Muslim workers must realise the fact that all the Prophets and
Messengers of God brought assurances of a just and blessed life on
this earth. They brought good tidings and did not just call people
to submit to God because of the fear of punishment in the hereafter.
Their message dealt with the complex demands of human life and emphasised
the real meaning and purpose of life on this earth. They were themselves
living examples of the message they conveyed even though it involved
opposition and persecution from those who refused to accept this message.
From the example of the Prophets and Messengers are derived the techniques
of da'wah (the invitation to Islam) for all times. Many Muslims today
in expounding the message of Islam can explain very well the meaning
of laa ilaaha illa Allah (there is no deity but the One True God)-
the fundamental monotheistic doctrine of Islam.
They can point out the various false gods that people follow consciously
and unconsciously, ranging from alien philosophies to their own selfish
passions. This is already a good start but the language used and the
method employed make the message intelligible only to Muslims and
not to non-Muslims. Non-Muslims would probably see such a presentation
as a typical theological argument of one of the many religions that
exist in the world today. The "Muslims", a majority of whom are secularized,
westernised or confused, would see this message as a further compounding
of the technicalities of the Islamic faith. Such an approach may not
attract them to the faith because the message is not presented as
giving an answer to his concerns, worries and dissatisfaction.
An improved approach which many Muslim workers have mastered is the
elaboration on the consequences of rejection of faith after explaining
the meaning of laa ilaaha ilia Allah. They can elaborate on the point
that if man submits to false gods, he would face contradictions and
problems in his life and human society would be in disorder. Arguments
of this nature can be found in "Towards Understanding Islam" (Chapter
1 ) and in "Milestones" (Chapter 6). This technique is good and has
more wisdom but it still does not win over the hearts of the majority
of people on its own because these ideal concepts do not seem to be
close to man's immediate needs. Many people would have some glimpse
of the answer to their problems but would not be satisfied because
the Muslim worker cannot explain and evaluate the causes and conditions
that bring about specific problems such as rising prices, pollution
or job insecurity. Here is where many Muslim workers have failed.
We cannot expect Muslim scholars such as Maududi or Sayyid Qutb to
explain every detail or solution to each problem. What they have expounded
is the solid base on which Islam stands. They have expounded the principles.
The Muslim workers have to think more deeply and evaluate contemporary
events based on these principles.
People today do not talk in terms of which religion is good. They
talk in terms of "How do you curb inflation?" or "How do we cure the
moral degeneration among youth today?" or "How much social security
can I get with this government?" and so on. These are the things that
are close to their hearts. Their minds are focussed on such issues.
Such issues are of "make or break" concern to them. And as long as
the concern remains unanswered, they remain uninterested in practically
everything else. These issues are of course deeply related to people's
overall attitude towards life and the purpose of existence.
In considering the demands of da'wah, we must realise that we are
going to spread the message to people who have a particular attitude,
a particular way of looking at things, a particular concern, be they
Muslim or non-Muslim. We must be able to respond positively and critically
to the burning issues of the time using the eternal principles of
Islam and presenting effective and tactful arguments. We know that
no other way of life can adequately answer the problems of man and
society. Many problems "solved" in the light of purely man-made legislation
and assumptions would only cause other problems to rise up. Only Islam,
being the wisdom and guidance from God, can provide the real answer
to the problems of humanity. We must not run away from facing or tackling
these issues because lasting solutions can only be found on the basis
of Islamic principles. For as long as Muslims are not able to answer
and talk about the issues of everyday life in relation to belief,
then Islam would continue to be looked upon as a mere religion only,
which soothes the spiritual needs of man. This is a current attitude
towards Islam and Muslims must rectify this narrow attitude.
Keeping the above aim in mind, we must also be aware that kufr (unbelief)
today is very well structured to perpetuate its own assumptions and
goals. From its essentially secular philosophy, institutions are established,
politics is shaped and economic and social organisations is structured.
Many are the organisations and institutions that comprise the system,
whether it be a political party, a trade union, an industrial organisation,
a regional organisation like the EEC, a multinational corporation
These institutions it is that make the present world go round no matter
what the masses think of the present life, whether they are discontented
and aspire for change or not. In certain cases, even when Islam is
presented as the solution and the masses accept it, they find an impossible
state of affairs where they cannot get out of the strangle- hold of
secular institutions. They see themselves controlled by a Kufr economic
system, they see international power politics influencing events in
many a Muslim country to move in undesired directions. But they remain
helpless onlookers who do not know the way out even with their high
hopes in Islam.
Power in society resides in these institutions and organisations.
It is they who propagate and facilitate vice; it is they who introduce
all kinds of amenities and activities that bring about various deviations
in society causing it to lose its integrity and cohesion. Kufr today
dominates societies all over the world, for its own end, controlling
them and leading them away from all traces of religiosity and moral
goodness. How is this power system structured and where does the
ultimate power lie?
We must be able to see how the structure of power in a society is.
We must be able to see how the affairs in a country are controlled-is
it internally or externally? How is it facilitated-is it through multinational
corporations, foreign aid or the banking system? As an example, let
us take the case of a Muslim country whose economy is more than fifty
per cent foreign controlled. Economic control leads to political control,
which means that any regime that comes into power cannot make major
changes in the economy even though the aspiration is there to help
the poor (at least on paper). Political control brings about the control
of the mass media, the control of information, the shaping of attitudes,
the suppression of "subversive" forces and the like. This kufr power
is well organised and often subtly hidden from the eyes of the masses.
In this age, advanced science and technology have removed the barriers
which isolate nations. Various political, economic and military groupings
are thus able to influence each other, and on a wider scale. It is
in this setting that we have to identify and link up the tools and
institutions of power so that the evil design of kufr forces can be
exposed. A clear understanding of how these forces act and influence
the trends in society can contribute to a more effective means of
channelling our resources and efforts so as to steer changes in the
Further, we are in a better position to chart our course of action
in the face of contending forces and ideologies which are struggling
to establish themselves over the face of the earth and naturally at
the expense of al-Islam. Hence, equipped with such additional knowledge
as outlined above, and the ability to make calculated moves in a wise
manner, we will, in sha Allah, be able to play our role more effectively
in leading mankind to the path of al- Islam-the path of righteousness
and success (falah) both in this world and the hereafter.