On Immigrants, Student Power, Pakistan, Moon Sightings…


This is the second and the final instalment of an exclusive interview with Maulana SayyidAbul A’la Maudoodi by The Muslim


The movement of Muslim people from Muslim to non-Muslim countries is unprecedented. How can the challenge arising from this new situation be faced.

If the Muslims who are now pouring in non-Muslim countries in quite sizeable numbers sincerely and honestly live in accordance with Islam and scrupulously represent their faith through word and deed, then the prospect of Islam’s far-reaching influences on these non-Muslim countries are immense. Is it not a fact of history that Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and many African countries were influenced by Islam in a similar way. It was through population movements that Islam was introduced to these countries and as the Muslims presented a noble example of life and informed the people of the simple and life-giving teachings of Islam, these new lands entered the ambit of Islam. If the Muslims in these non-Muslim lands play a similar role, very encouraging results will ensue. On the other hand if they act to the contrary, God forbid, they may lose their distinct entity and be dissolved into an alien culture. In this latter case I am afraid their future generations may even be lost to Islam altogether.

The situation as it stands today holds both possibilities- inauguration of a new career for Islam in these lands and the threat of gradual disintegration of the Muslims. Now it is the responsibility of the leaders of the Muslim communities in these countries, particularly of the Islam-loving elements, to consciously and systematically work for the fulfillment of the above-stated opportunity and the avoidance of the latter calamity. They should, through nutual consultation and deliberation, prepare detailed programme for these objectives and I have enough hope that if they rise to the occasion, they shall, by the Grace of Allah, succeed. As far as I am concerned, at the moment my health does not permit me to chalk out any such programme but if the Muslims in different European countries begin to apply themselves to this task, I hope they will be able to work out necessary details and I would always be available for consultation and discussion.

What future do you see for Muslim children here, the majority of whom are Pakistanis?

The Muslim children are faced with a real threat of disastrous dimensions. If proper and adequate efforts are not made for their religious education and moral teaching and for preservation of their language and culture, there is every danger that they may gradually be cast with the moulds of British society and culture and would be lost to the Muslim ideology and society.


Concerning the actual work to be done in the Muslim community it seems that many leaders are no more than `armchair’ intellectuals, having no idea of doing the ‘dirty work’ of administration, maintaining contact with the people and so on. How can this problem be solved?

I am not aware of any ready-made cure for such ‘leaders’. Instead of trying to reform such leaders, it is far better for the educated and talented persons from among the Islam-loving elements to step ahead and work on their own lines. Once they enter the field and present a better example, a new leadership will automatically emerge and the days of the ‘do-nothing’ leaders would be numbered.

One can detect a great amount of frustration among workers for Islam because there are not many results to show. Does it mean that the nature of the extent of these efforts have not been good enough?

If frustration and disappointment ever overtake the workers of Islam, it is so because they must have begun to expect that their efforts should bear fruits before their own eyes. We do hope that the things will change, but a Muslim is always motivated by one and only one consideration- seeking the Pleasure of Allah. Our eyes are riveted only to the reward that comes in the Hereafter. Whatever results are produced here are only in the nature of by-products. Our real objective is to fulfill the will of our Creator. Those who are looking to the products of their efforts here and now should reflect over the examples of those who laid their lives in the battles of Badr and Uhud. They spilled their blood to fulfill this mission, but did they see any fruits of their sacrifices? They looked only to the results that come in the Hereafter, not the ones that you can see with the eyes under your brows.

Had they not watered the Islamic movement with their blood and had they not offered those sacrifices, future generations would have never witnessed those changes that transformed the course of human history. But they never worked to see those results, they never lived to observe the fruits of their efforts- their real ambitions were to fulfill their duty. This is the attitude which must be cultivated by the workers of Islam.


We have seen a remarkable growth of “student power”. What for you is the significance and importance of all this?

I am afraid the ‘remarkable growth’ in “student power” to which you are referring is a growth of the evil- and is being used as an instrument for the propagation of evil. Students occupy a very important position in the society and their role as leaders of tomorrow is very great. But the expression of the untamed, unbridled and reckless ‘power’ that one finds in the western society can hardly be called a movement for the better. I do not blame the students for that. This is the natural result of the faulty foundation on which man in the western society has for a long time been organising his social life. This has robbed the new generations of all moral norms and values.

The new attitudes it has generated are nihilistic – nothing is left to be looked upon with respect and reverence. Freedom is degenerating into license. Co-education and disintegration of the family home tear asunder all codes of social ethics. Pursuit of the sensual has become the order of the day. Younger generations have been alienated from their society and whatever they are doing is in the nature of protest against the social order which has reared them. The mal-training to which they have been subjected for long has also made them volatile- they are prepared to respond to any cry for revolt and invitation for destruction. They are the products- or you may say victims – of this system. Now the tree cannot refuse its fruits, however bitter they might be.

Should students arrogate to themselves an exclusive role and responsibility? What should be the attitude of Muslim students in the light of recent developments?

Students have a right, rather it is their duty, to prepare themselves to replace the older generation and shoulder the responsibility of the future. It is also part of their moral duty to remain vigilant and keep an eye upon the developments that are taking place around them. But it would be an act of folly on their part to plunge into the arena before properly preparing themselves for the task. If vital decisions are made with an immature mind and uncompleted training, what good can come out of it? And if, at the instigation of a few trouble-mongers, such decisions are imposed on the society under threat of disturbances, this would be highly unfortunate.

Muslim students should not be a party to such irresponsible play. Instead of participating in such activities, they should try to launch a counter-movement through which those who are studying in the educational institutions should be persuaded to act more reasonably and responsibly. They can play their role in a more admirable way and prove themselves better than the older generation only if they prepare themselves more seriously and thoroughly and not otherwise. The role I visualise for the Muslim students is that they should work in a constructive way and create such a strong opinion in favour of their healthy approach to the problem that the chances the success of their being misled by the other group are reduced infinitesimally.


Extreme capitalism in Pakistan indicates that people due to lack of correct guidance find socialism inevitable. Is there any political party which can provide ,cogent opposition to this?
Pakistan is faced with the threat of socialism. Her economic conditions, ignorance of the people in general and the ‘learned ignorance’ of the educated classes are factors which may drive towards socialism in Pakistan. And the presence of powerful socialist states along our border enhances the dangers of this threat. Perhaps I am not exaggerating when I say that the organised-movement of the Jamaat-e-Islami has been the greatest deterrent to the progress of socialism in Pakistan. Had this movement not been there, the country might have been painted red. But the Jamaat is working amongst the people and is presenting Islam as a socio-economic programme of life-a programme far superior to capitalism and socialism alike. And I am confident that by the Grace of Allah, the Jamaat will, by mobilising all Islam-loving forces, succeed in establishing a real Islamic State in Pakistan.


Why has the Muslim World always had leadership problem?

I find it difficult to subscribe to so sweeping generalised a statement. However, as far the contemporary situation is concerned there are many historical factors responsible for them. Whatever be he internal weakness of the contemporary Muslim society, the situation with which we are beset today is, inter alia, the result of an all out effort to impose on the Muslim countries a leadership that has come up in the natural way. As a result of, and through, the direct and indirect influences of Western Imperialism, which till very recently ruled over most of the Muslim countries, the political leadership in these countries has fallen to persons who are not the real leaders of the society. They mostly come from the class of vested interest or of services, administration or military, and can never become the natural leaders of the Muslims. The other part of this tragedy is that those who can be natural leaders of the Muslim society are either incapable of acting as political captains of the country, or, if they are capable of playing this part have been denied the opportunity of coming to the helm of offices. One of the reasons of dictatorship in the present-day Muslim world is that the political leadership is not the natural one, and can remain in power, only if people are bridled into some kind of “controlled” or “guided” policy and also that this is the only effective albeit artificial way to check the natural leaders from coming to the helm of affairs.
This state of affairs is bound to produce a leadership vacuum, and we are faced with that. This vacuum can be filled only by continuous, sustained and unceasing efforts. The struggle it calls for is really uphill, but the future of the Muslim world depends on that. This situation is a challenge for all right-thinking persons and I hope that the Muslims will strive hard to put their house in order.


Do you think Muslims the world over should celebrate Eid on the same day, or should it be according to Moon-sightings in a particular country? Or should timezones be accepted ? To celebrate Eid on the same day all over the world is neither necessary according to the Shariah, nor is it practically possible or beneficial in any significant way. The moon cannot be sighted on the same day all over the world. This is an astronomical impossibility. Ramadan and Eid have been associated, according to the Shariah, not with the ‘birth of the new moon’, but with the sighting of the moon. The moon can be sighted only 25 to 30 hours after its ‘birth’. If this ‘sighting’ of the moon takes place in any eastern country, it must also take place in all the countries to its west. But if it is sighted in a country in the western region, it does not mean that sighting becomes possible in countries which are in the eastern direction. And if sighting is astronomically impossible in the western countries how can any credence be given to the claim of any eastern country that the moon has been sighted there. Any declaration that goes against the established facts can carry no weight, even if it comes from the mouth of any Mufti (juris-consult) of a Muslim country.
There are certain persons who assert that the beginning and the end of Ramadan should be made uniform all the world over and when the moon has been sighted in any one country, all should follow. I am afraid these people do not take into view the facts of geography and astronomy and are, therefore, making an unsound suggestion. The earth is a big planet where differences between sunrise and sunset vary from a few minutes to 24 hours. How is it possible to expect simultaneous sighting of the moon all over the world, or to make others, however distant they may be geographically, act on the basis of the sighting of the moon in a particular country. From the practical viewpoint also, this is bound to create new problems and difficulties. If one sighting is to be followed all over the world, then every year in almost half of the world people will begin their fast in good faith and will have to break that after the so-called sighting. Will this reduce confusion or increase it? If one sighting is to hold valid for the whole world, how would this decision be communicated to people scattered throughout the length and breadth of the world. Have we assumed that those who are in deserts and mountains do possess a radio or transistor to follow the said declaration. The Shariah does not discourage us to use these and other communication-media, but the injunctions of the Shariah are not dependent on or associated with their availability. Ramadan was observed long before these discoveries and is observed today by those persons also who do not possess them. We are talking of ‘Eid on the same day’ because we have access to certain mass media. But during the last thirteen centuries when people did not even have access to telegraph and telephone how could this have been possible? If the Shariah really wanted to have ‘Eid on the same day’ then this injunction must have remained impracticable for many centuries and its implementation could take place only after certain discoveries of our own times. This is not the approach of the Shariah and we must not try to impose this upon it. We are free to avail from all beneficial discoveries of our times, but the simplicity of the Shariah is not to be marred in any way.
One thing that should be kept in view is that ‘Eid’ in Islam is an act of worship and not merely a social function or festivity. We should not look upon it in the same way as others look upon their social functions. The spirit of the ibadah(act of worship) must be jealously guarded.