Western Civilization, Islam and the Muslims

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The word ‘religo’ meant originally ‘paying regard’ to unseen powers as might influence mankind for good or ill. Religion in this broad sense, is an attribute of every human society and it was almost universally in the world of Greece and Rome. Things like Western civilization or Islamic civilization are the handiwork of Satan minds who are using religion for owning worldly comforts, depriving the rightful owner, by usurping their territories and resources, in the name of religion or morality.

The traditional religions of Greece and Rome were not wholly unconcerned with ethics. It was the general belief that the gods would punish certain forms of wrongdoing. If a man committed perjury the god whose name he had taken in vain, would naturally avenge him; if a strong man were to kill or ill-treat a weaker person who had invoked the aid of a deity, it might be his turn to suffer at the hands of stronger man. They also gave way to the view that prosperity turned man’s head that the resulting hubris or infatuation engendered ate and that it was against such displays of arrogance that gods intervened.

The idea of after-life was not ignored in traditional religions of Greece and Rome. Belief in some sort of heaven and hell did exist. Zoroastrian religion of Persian, envisaged life as a perpetual battle between a beneficent god and powerful god. Its crusading spirit made special appeal to military men and its diffusion from the Euphrates to Hadrian’s wall was largely brought about by the soldiers of Roman army, whose altars to Mithras survived in great numbers – the formidable rival of Christianity on which it exerted a noticeable influence. Many of the Christians practices come from Mithraim (Gilbert Murray, in Peak’s Commentary on the Bible, P. 632).

When the Seleucids took possession in Palestine, they followed a similar policy in regard to the Jews, until Antiochis IV had the unhappy idea of supplanting the worship Jehova at Jerusalem by that of Zeus (C.165.BC). Augustus, in deference to their uncompromising Monotheism, exempted them from the newly established cult of Roman empire (A.D. 66-70 and 131-134), the Jews were suppressed and, were virtually made homeless and were not allowed to spread their fabrications among the Gentiles, anywhere.

“History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated”. (Dlacy O’Leary: Islam at cross-roads. London 1923.p.8) “In their wars of conquest, however, the Muslims exhibited a degree of toleration which puts many Christian nations to shame.” (E. Elexander Powell: The struggle for power in Muslim Asia. New York 1923, P. 48).

The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history. Springing from a land and a people alike previously negligible, Islam within a century spread over half the earth. The other great religions won their way slowly by painful struggle and finally triumph with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. The Arabs were blood thirsty savages, bent solely on loot and destruction. On the contrary, they were an innately gifted race, eager to learn and be appreciative of cultural gifts which older civilizations had to bestow, upon them. Inter marrying freely and professing a common belief, conquerors and conquered rapidly fused and from this fusion arose a new civilization, in which the ancient culture of Greece, Rome, and Persia were revitalized by the Arab genius and Islamic spirit. For the first three centuries of its existence (Circ-A.D. 650-1000). The realm of Islam was most civilized and progressive portion of the world, studded with splendid cities, gracious mosques and quiet universities where the wisdom of the ancient world was preserved and appreciated; the Muslim world offered a striking contrast to Christian West, then sunk in the night of ‘Dark Ages’. (A.M.Lothrop Stoddard; the new world of Islam, London. 1932. pp. 1-3).

Confused as to his place in the scheme of a world growing each day closer, yet more impersonal, more densely populated yet in face to face relations more dehumanized a world appealing ever more widely for his concern and sympathy with the unknown masses of men, yet fundamentally alienating him even from his next door neighbour. In modern terms, “alienation” has been used by philosophers, psychologists and sociologists to refer to an extraordinary variety of psycho-social disorders including loss of self, anxiety states, anomie, despair, depersonalization, rootlessness, apathy, social disorganization, loneliness, atomization, meaninglessness, isolation, pessimism and the loss of beliefs or values. Powerless in the face of modern technological and social forces, we have reached a point in history where knowledge and tools intended originally to serve man now threaten to destroy him. What kind of society is it that loses control over its own tools and creations? It is one in which the sense of community has become seriously, if not fatally, weakened. What can the Muslim world do to avert the abyss?

First of all we must realize the fact that we Pakistanis are not a nation of war-mongers. We are not even a very-war-like. Essentially, we love our peace. Why do we then ever never realize that we the Muslims are in the clutches of degeneration resulting from our centuries-old misdeeds of our palmy days? Why do we not heed the verses of the Holy Quran: “This day have I perfected your Din for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your Din (V-3)”. Then what’s the problem? Why such a disgrace? It’s the interpretation and elucidation that has created Sects and Sects within Sects, that has caused more enmity amongst the Muslims resulting into unending sufferings. No outsiders have inflicted more tragedies and more atrocities upon the Muslims than the Muslims themselves have done so, upon themselves. They know Muslim’s weaknesses and are experts at pressing the right button at the right time.

We are a most illiterate lot in the world. The Europeans profited from the wisdom of Muslim scholars, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, psychologists and jurists, who had made startling discoveries of revolutionary theories, particularly in the field of natural sciences which, as Briffault puts it, because “The genesis of that power which constitutes the permanent distinctive force of the modern world and the supreme source of victory”. (Making of Humanity, P. 109). If this be so, then can the spirit of enquiry not be rekindled again? “See ye not how Allah hath made serviceable unto you whatever is in the skies and whatever is in the earth” (XXXI-20).” And He constrained the night and the day and the sun and the moon to be of service unto you, and stars are made subservient by His command.”

Our forefathers were not spiritually less noble possessing not less moral and character qualities compared to the Western colonials who came all the way long from across the seven seas and kept them enslaved for centuries? They were in fact technologically backward and far less inclined towards acquiring knowledge for which the Holy Quran has exhorted them to do; by covering 1/8th of it; as much as it has been done almost in case of prayers etc. The balance has been kept for having good for here and good for the hereafter. That was unfortunately absent!

What to do even now? Let the Muslims learn from Islam to:

a.     Define Islam in terms of its fundamentals in a rational and liberal manner, emphasizing, inter-alia on the basic ideals of universal brotherhood, tolerance, and social justice.

b.     Interpret teachings of Islam in such a way as to bring out its dynamic character in the context of intellectual and scientific progress of modern world.

c.     Carry out research in the contribution of Islamic thought, science and culture with a view to recapturing an eminent position in these fields.

d.     Take appropriate measures for organizing and encouraging research in Islamic history, law, and jurisprudence after according highest priority to science and technology. “Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts”. (XIII-12)

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