Individuals committed to the Islamic Movement are like the building
bricks fused together to form a solid wall. Each individual, like
a brick, must be strong and capable of withstanding the loads and
stresses that it is called upon to bear. Just as each brick must
be fully burnt and purified in a kiln and pass certain minimum standards,
so too an individual has to go through a process of training and
development in order to be effective within the edifice of the Movement.
But what is involved in this construction of the individual? What
has the individual got to do in order to prepare himself for his
role in the Movement? These are fundamental questions - for a pre-
requisite to the revival of Muslim society is a revival of the individual
or the self.
The starting point in this process is what the Qur'an calls the
qalb - man's heart. Look at yourself and you will find inside you
a whole universe - emotions, desires, urges, instincts - which motivate
you from within. The qalb does not mean the pump which pushes blood
around the body -- it means the centre or locus of the personality
which is pumping motivations, desires and urges and which makes
man do what he wants to do.
The Qur'an goes on to explain that this is the key to man. His success
depends not on what he is physically, nor on what he does, but on
what lies at the centre of his personality. The Qur'an declares
"Except the one who comes to Allah with a sound heart on
the day of Judgement,"
none will be successful in His eyes. Another hadith of the Prophet
- peace be upon him - is:
"Beware, there is a piece of flesh in the human body. If it
is right, then the whole body is right and sound and if it is
corrupted then the whole body is corrupted. Look, this is the
According to the Qur'an, the basis of corruption stems from
within man. The social institutions may be corrupt, there may
be exploitation and abuse in the economic sphere and politics,
but the basis of all these diseases lies inside man's heart. The
"The disease (is not somewhere in the body, it) is inside
What it is tkat stops man from seeing right and doing right,
that turns him blind? The Qur'an explains
"It is not the eyes which go blind but it is the heart inside
you which goes blind."
This then is the basic starting point for the Movement - to
purity the heart and then summon it to the service of mankind,
whether it be in government, in political institutions or in economic
ventures. For us who are committed to Islam as a Movement and
who are involved in the path of Jihad, attention should always
remain riveted on keeping the heart - the centre of our personality
- pure. Our whole attention must be focused on this continuous
struggle. All the rites that have been prescribed by the Qur'an
reach out to purify the deepest regions of our self. The Qur'an
"It is not the flesh and blood that reaches Allah, it is the
taqwa within your heart that finds acceptance. "
If the individual is the primary building brick of society, then
the heart is its foundation within each man. The important question
is therefore how should we set about preparing this most basic of
First we must understand that the 'heart' must submit totally and
exclusively to its Creator. It cannot be compartmentalised - we
cannot dedicate one piece of it to Allah, and another to some other
god, like wealth, status, career, women and so on. There is a beautiful
verse in the Qur'an which throws light on the absurdity of such
a situation. It tells about some of the Mushrikin who sacrifice
animals and then say that one part of the animal is for Allah and
another is for their other idols. Then it asks us to remember that
whatever is assigned to Allah is also, in reality, assigned to the
idols, because Allah does not accept something divided. He is One,
indivisible, and wants man to be undivided in service to Him. So
long as we remain divided within ourselves, so long as our heart
lies in a hundred places, so long as our eyes are set in a hundred
directions, so long as our destination is not one but many, we shall
never be able to achieve that first condition for building a strong
and pure personality.
Why do we allow divided loyalties to capture parts of our heart?
Nothing of this world is going to be of use to us when we breathe
our last, however hard we may have striven for it and however valuable
it might seem to us. We must recognise that the prizes we should
want are not the worldly possessions received from human beings
like ourselves. It is only our Creator who can put a real value
on our striving and bestow the real reward. "Shall I tell you of
a 'business' which will deliver you of a tormenting punishment?"
This 'business' amounts to a man committing his whole undivided
being to Allah alone, and selling himself in order to seek His pleasure.
This is the first step towards the building of the individual.
The second step is to love Allah. The Qur'an says
"Those who believe love Allah more than anything."
It does not say that one must love only Allah. Love is a blessing
given to us by Allah which is manifested in so many aspects of
life. In Islam, however, it must be foremost for Allah, our Master.
What is love? Perhaps it cannot be defined in terms which adequately
reflect its nature and importance in man's life. It is not possible
to define it by a formula as we define a scientific fact, nor
can we define it by a mathematical equation. But still each one
of us knows what love is and can tell, from his own experience,
the powerful force that it is once it comes to reside in the heart.
It becomes the overpowering force in life. It captivates you,
it grips you, it moves you and you are prepared to do anything
for the sake of it. Once love is there, what you do is not something
which has to be imposed upon you, because you need imposition
only for the things you do not love. Iman is something which must
penetrate deep in our heart and generate love for Allah and His
Prophet, more than for anything else. Unless that happens inside
you, you cannot even get the real taste of Iman. According to
one hadith nobody can taste Iman unless Allah and His Prophet
are more beloved to him than everything else.
But we must remember that this love for Allah and His Prophet is
not of a kind to take us into the seclusion of a monastery. It is
a love which makes us do our duty to Allah while we are in the street,
at home or in the office - everywhere we live as servants of Allah,
willingly making every sacrifice required of us.
Whether or not we have that love is something for each one of us
to closely examine. One of the criteria is that if you love something,
one of your most intense desires is to get nearer to it. Now we
have a way in which we can come nearer to Allah and 'talk' to Him,
and that way is the Salat. The Prophet said that when a person performs
Salat, he actually comes nearer to Allah and talks to Him. If you
look at how you pray five times a day, you will have a barometer
in your hand to find how much you love Allah. Once you are praying
to Him, you are in front of Him, you are near to Him, you are talking
to Him, you are responding to Him in gratitude, you are asking for
His forgiveness. Prayer is not just a ritual in which you go through
certain postures. The soul has to surrender itself exclusively to
Allah and love Him. This love is like a seed which, as it grows,
envelopes the entire personality. This will make you the sort of
person the Islamic Movement needs today.
The next question is how to nurse and cultivate this seed of Iman.
The most important nourishment for it is the Qur'an. We know that
the first workers of the Islamic Movement got their training from
the Qur'an. It was their guide, their light, their leader. It is
a treasure house of soul-stirring inspiration and wisdom. We can
and should spend hours in understanding the Qur'an. There are thousands
of pages of Tafseer to read. But we must know that the real test
of benefiting from the Qur'an lies somewhere else. The Qur'an itself
says that when people really listen to it their faith must increase.
Where there is a fire there is smoke. If the fire of iman has been
lit inside the heart, there must be smoke, and you will see that
those who truly listen to the Qur'an, their eyes begin to well up
with tears which trickle down their cheeks. Nowadays when we listen
to the Qur'an or read it, our hearts are not moved, nor do our lives
change. It is as if water is failing on a rock and flowing away.
Our task is to replace this hard rock with soft absorbent soil,
so that the Qur'an may nourish the seed that has been planted. We
should always study the Qur'an as if it is being revealed today.
One of the greatest injustices we do to the Qur'an is that we read
it as if it was something of the past, and of no relevance to the
The next method of sustaining the seed of iman is to develop a strong
bond of brotherhood, Brotherhood reinforces man's life like nothing
else. The Qur'an says
"you bind yourself with those who call upon Allah morning
As soon as you have planted the seed in your own heart, and you
have recognised it in someone else and you find that he agrees with
you, you feel ten times stronger, It has been proved experimentally
that the 'group' life is one of the most powerful forces to stimulate
and inspire man.
The final method to nourish the seed of Iman is Da'wah - to strive
and invite others to the path of Allah, the same path as you are
following yourself. Again, if the faith is there inside you, this
is a necessary outcome of it. As iman increases you get aroused
and you want to go out and tell everybody what you think is right
or call upon them to join your mission and your group. Moreover,
as your group grows, your iman grows as well, each reinforcing the
other, and that is how the whole of life becomes integrated and
finds a path to the Movement.
To sum up: your person is the key to your Movement and your 'heart'
is the key to your person. Make your heart belong to Allah alone;
let Him alone be the prize you seek. And let His love be uppermost
in your heart. Once it is so, every duty will turn into a pleasure,
to pray will be a delight, to indulge in politics for the sake of
Allah will be a blessing. To nourish the seed of iman and the love
of Allah in your heart, you have three means at your disposal! first
is the Qur'an; second is the Brotherhood; third is the Da'wah -
we need persons who will make every endeavour and offer every sacrifice
to change the entire world around them through a social movement,
in the light shown by the Qur'an and the Prophet who brought the
Qur'an to us.
[ December 1973 - January 1974]