The above picture tells a thousand words about the state of Muslims and Islamist in the world today. It was an art piece in an exhibition in Spain.
I was not sure whether to use the term Muslim or Islamist. Muslims are those who submit to the One God, ALLAH, while Islamists are those who profess the religion of Islam, the supporters and advocates of Islam in whatever forms. I am sorry, I am going too much into details, so for the sake of simplicity let us call both categories Muslims.
I have been wondering. God has promised that Muslims are the chosen ones, Muslims are the victors, Muslims are the Khalifahs, Muslims are the respected, yet I see the opposites. Muslims are being oppressed, disgraced, ridiculed. At least that is how many Muslims feel.
Even if you look at nations that claim to be Muslims, they are at the bottom rungs of the table, in whatever fields particularly economically and technologically. Muslim nations are said to belong to the Club of Doom.
I believe in what has been promised. Something must have gone wrong! the state they are in must be the cumulation of mistakes and misdeeds they have done. Let us look at the last 40 years, the 4 decades used to measure a generation.
That brings us to the 70s.It was a time after the second world war that saw many newly independent nations, mostly Muslims. The new freedom and and the power of oil saw a resurgent of new economies in Asia and the Middle East. Coupled that with the demise of the British Empire, the French, Italian, Spanish colonialism there was a strong feeling that it was the time for the Islamic revivalism. Islam was the answer to the the decay and decadence of the former colonialist.
Coincidentally my coming of age occurred in the 70s. I was in the UK. The flushed oil money meant that there were funds to spare to send students to have British education. Thousands from Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco were flooding the universities in the UK. Amidst the rock and roll boom of the 70s quietly a revivalism of Islam was taking place. Of all places it was the Universities in the UK. Off all people the activists in these revivalism were the engineering students of Bradford, Southampton, Leeds and many colleges. Had they been microbes there was a perfect and ready culture to accelerate its exponential growth in the form of the Bangladeshi, the Indian and Pakistanis communities of these cities.
These were the new migrants who have been chased out by Idi Amin of Uganda. Both were lost in the alien and ungodly Britishness and conveniently found each other for solace and comfort. From then on the Tabligh movement which originated from India and Bangladesh found a ready supply of cadres, intelligent and youthful, to take the world. A perfect alliance.
I remember how the vulnerable and insecure 17 year olds found comfort, convenience, food, companions, in the form of seniors in and salwar, in robes and sporting the goatees. There would be congregations almost on alternate days, communal eating, communal outings, congregational prayers. There were even marriages among them,. There were also the moral police squads that snoop, reprimand and advice the strays. You name it they had it but these were youths, as young as 16 and not more then 21 living in a system they called the Way of the Prophet.
The main activities were the gathering and sharing of knowledge in regular group meetings called USRAH and the thing they did was TAZKIRAH which means to remind. In the absence of any authority and quality materials, they relied heavily on reading the compilation of Hadiths or the traditions of the prophets. Their argument is simple. Muhammad is the chosen and exemplary man, and in order to find God follow the traditions and sayings of the Prophet.
So you see the goatees, the robes the miswak, the communal eating. They emulate the way the prophet sit, the way he sleep, the way he approached Aishah, his sayings. Line, rod and sinker!!
The soldiers of Muhammad were ready to take and influence the world.
And they did. Back in their home countries they were the exemplary Muslims, followers of Muhammad. They rose in prominence, influence in their societies. They were the leaders and active agents in the so-called the revival of Islam in the next few decades.
Are the present day Muslim societies the product of these revivalism? Obviously the answer is a resounding YES!!
Do not get me wrong. These are good people. These are trustworthy honorable people. These are exemplary people who are willing to sacrifice comfort and wealth for Islam. There were even those who think they were soldiers of Muhammad with the same understanding of Jihad as Muhammad’s early followers, those persecuted in the early years of Islam, willing to blow themselves up and kill the infidels as if they were at war.
And they were not the only movement in this wave of revivalism. The new-found wealth of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, meant that there were funds to export the versions of Islam to the rest of the world. Take the case of Saudi Arabia. Billions were spent to export Islam, the Arab culture, wahabiism . In the case of the export of Arabic culture what better way then to focus on the WAY of Mohammed, centred on the Hadith.
There was a common theme in all these revivalism – the way of the prophet, the Hadith.
Back to the present day, it is clear that the revivalism, the mass movement they initiated has not been good enough to take the Ummah to a different level, if not to win to compete with the might of the western world. The decadent west rose like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Where was the Quran in all these?
That draws me to these verses in the Quran (surah 39 verses 23 to 36 ). Special focus on 39:23 and 39;26 in which God says “GOD has condemned them to humiliation in this life, and the retribution in the Hereafter will be far worse, if they only knew”. My previous entry compiles all verses related to Hadith in the Quran.