THE ISLAMIC IDEAL
being a lecture delivered by
Maulana Muhammad Abdul Aleem Siddiqui
at the Islamic Cultural Centre,
Regent's Lodge, Park Road, London, England
on the 1st. March,1950.
Sisters and Brothers!
It is my first and most pleasant duty to thank the Lord God who provided me with the opportunity to come to this country and to deliver the Message of Love on behalf of His last and greatest Messenger, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be with him!). After that I have to thank all those who assisted me morally in the execution of my mission during my stay in London.
I do not find words to express my gratitude to my brother, Dr. Ali Hasan Abdul Kader, whom I had the occasion to know for the first time in London. He is an embodiment of Islamic brotherliness. May God bless him for the invaluable co-operation I received from him.
His Majesty Farouk-al-Awwal of Egypt has laid the whole Muslim world under a debt of gratitude by establishing the Islamic Cultural Centre. In that respect he has followed the noble tradition of his great predecessors. God bless him for it and enable him and other Muslim sovereigns to further the cause of Islam.
According to the Islamic teaching, every Muslim must act as a born missionary. For, Muslims have been described in the Holy Qur'aan as the "best of nations" on the ground that "they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. " Therefore, if Muslims of the present day fulfill this obligation, they will deserve this title. In case of neglect, they can only be classified in the reverse category both in this world and in their accountability before God. History bears witness to the fact that so long as Muslims continued to fulfill this great task of the active and dynamic realisation of Islam, they continued to enjoy an enviable position in the comity of nations. Its neglect brought them down and we may be sure that if they return to it once again, they will regain their lost position.
The need for such a revival, the call of Islamic missionary activity, is indeed more pressing to-day than ever before. Among all the instruments which the opponents of Islam employed for checking the advancing Islamic tide, none was as successful as false propaganda, which at times assumed the most horrifying forms. In his book, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, Bosworth Smith has given a brief account of those calumnies and vilifications. And not only he. Many other honest non-Muslim scholars have admitted that no religion was ever more calumniated than Islam. This campaign of misrepresentation met with something more than success. To-day, the average Westerner possess such strange notions about Islam which are simply staggering and he hates the religion in the same proportion as he ought to have loved it had he known the true picture. Besides the Westerners, there are men and women in the Muslim fold itself, who, because of one-sided Western education, know only that picture of Islam which their anti-Islamic teachers have painted before them and consequently suffer from uneasy conscience. They are the descendants of Muslim parents, they are the inheritors of a great and noble tradition from the right source and have, therefore, become a source of weakness to themselves and to Islam.
The dissemination of Islamic knowledge is, therefore, the crying need of the day and calls for the determined, organised and well co-ordinated effort, which should be planned in accordance with modern conditions.
While I say this, I wish to warn Muslims against that type of formal and lifeless propaganda which certain people have learnt to carry on in the name of Islam. Superficialities cannot carry us far and the glory of superficial attempts is always short-lived. What we need is a high-class and honest Islamic intellectual campaign, on the one hand, and the radiation of the light of Islam by personal example, on the other. My thirty years’ labour in this field has convinced me that it is ultimately man which attracts man. It is the personal and practical example set by the preacher in his total personality which counts above everything else. This is a fact which many of us seem to have forgotten to-day and have thus belied our own history. Need I remind my Muslim friends that it was the personality of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (God bless him!) which, beside the correct intellectual presentation of Islam, was responsible for the most wonderful revolution of human history. Again, the whole history of the spread of Islam revolves round the personalities of those who were, in their own persons, shining illustrations of Islam and possessed not only the knowledge of Islam but also a share from the spiritual magnetism of the Holy Prophet. Read and re-read the history of the propagation of Islam in India or Indonesia or China or Africa or any other part of the Muslim world, and you will come across the same story of the Muslim world, and you will come across the same story everywhere. I wish my Muslim friends to study that history and then to cast a glance at those attempts where hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent on formal and lifeless propaganda. Such attempts cannot bear comparison with even the quiet efforts of those who, in their missionary work, are relying solely on their sincerity and piety, not to speak of the glorious record of our great ancestors who carved out a whole world for Islam by sheer missionary effort.
I have said this to stress the all-important fact that any effort on our part cannot be fruitful unless and until it crosses the sheer literary boundaries and illumines the path in the moral and spiritual domains on the basis of personal example.
The close relations which have existed during the past one century between Great Britain and the Islamic world have made it all the more obligatory for us to disseminate the knowledge of Islam among British people. For, the more they will know the correct facts about Islam, the more friendly will become their attitude towards Muslims, and this will ultimately contribute to international fellowship and goodwill. Besides, Britain is a centre where Muslim young men and women come from all parts of the world in search of knowledge. It is necessary to enlighten those youngsters about Islam so that they may safeguard against the anti-Islamic ideas and habits, on the one hand, and become the emissaries of Islam, on the other.
In view of this, it is the bounden duty of the Muslim world to strengthen the Islamic Cultural Centre which is ideally situated in the heart of London. The construction of the proposed Mosque is also a necessity in view of the stability it will impart to Islam in this country and because of the general psychological effects. But a Mosque without worshippers is an anomaly. Therefore, what we need before everything else is that every Muslim should consider the Islamic Centre as his own and should regard it his duty to make it the rallying point of Muslims. Muslims should not only come here to study in the valuable library which His Majesty King Farouk so graciously donated for the benefit of Islam and Muslims, but they should also make it their centre for Islamically-legitmate sports and all other healthy forms of cultural activity. The aim should be to utilise the great asset which we have in the form of this magnificent building and library for presenting to the Muslim and the non-Muslim alike the true intellectual as well as the practical picture of Islam.
Islam is above and beyond those conceptions of religion which have generally come to prevail to-day. With some people religion consists in a few rituals and a few prayers. With others it is a blind faith in certain supposed ultra-natural verities where human reason can have no say. With certain others, it is synonymous with “ism” and has reference to some particular aspect of life. Then there are people who interpret religion as individualistic faith, in which everyone is free to speculate and believe, and which has no practical relation with the social life and its implications.
Unfortunately, these wrong conceptions are being applied to Islam also in one way or the other. But the fact is that the Islamic religion is co-existent with nature and comprehends human life in its totality. Islam is a complete code of life which contains perfect guidance for all the aspects of human activity, namely, faith and practice, devotional and practical, individual and collective, social and moral, political and economic. Islamic life, therefore, is a life which reflects the Islamic guidance in all these aspects. A Muslim is he who believes that God exists, that the world is a moral order, that God sends down guidance to humanity through His chosen Prophets, and that he must submit his will and his whole activity to that revealed guidance. A Muslim is he who believes all this and acts accordingly.
The word "code" may not, however, mislead us to think that Islam is only a social ideology. Nay, as pointed out already, it guides man in all his natural yearnings. In fact, it starts not from the social side but from the divine. It starts from the point where natural sciences end, where our physical senses refuse to go further, where the philosophical discussion of the "Great Reality" or, in the words of Sir Oliver Lodge, the "Unknown", begins. Where our physical capacities proclaim their inability, Islam guides to the deeper recesses of human consciousness. It opens the doors to the mysteries of life and death and of the Great Beyond through prayer and worship, on the one hand, and by harmonising our social activity with the spiritual illumination to the other. For, in Islam, every action, however mundane, if performed in the light of God's commands, is 'worship' and leads to spiritual progress. The five daily prayers in Islam are in reality the spiritual diet which cause the soul-force of a consciously-practising Muslim to grow, even as our timed daily food guarantees our physical growth. Communion with God and social living in accordance with God's revealed law, form the road to saintliness in Islam.
Every code of life has a reference to a certain ideal. Without fixing up an ideal, we cannot have a code of life. The cause of the confusion which is prevailing in the world today is really that either the ideal is not well-defined, or it has been defined in a limited perspective, or it is not defined at all.
For this reason, the first thing that Islam does is that it presents a rational ideal for man. The Holy Qur’aan says:
"And I have not created the Jinn and mankind except that they shall worship Me."
In the Hadith Qudsi, God says:
"I was a hidden treasure. I loved to be known. So I brought forth Creation."
The purpose of our creation is our attainment of the knowledge of God and His Attributes. Further, every particle of this universe is a manifestation of God's Attributes. Hence, when a Muslim engages himself in scientific pursuit as a true Muslim, whether in the field of Geology, or Astronomy, or Chemistry, his goal is the knowledge of God. The Holy Qur'aan says:
"Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day, there are signs for men of understanding, who remember God, standing, sitting and reclining, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth, and say: 'Our Lord! Thou hast not created all this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire'."
Thus even the purely scientific pursuit has a deeper significance in Islam. The true Muslim scientist does not stop at the discovery of physical causes, but proceeds further to realise the working of the "Great Beyond". Such an attitude can be possible only when the ideal of God-realisation remains constantly in the forefront. Hence, the Holy Qur'aan says:
"Say: Verily, my prayer and my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, who hath no partner."
Elsewhere, the Holy Qur'aan teaches us to repeat:
"For God we are and unto Him is our return."
Thus, when the ideal is God alone, it is but mete that a Muslim should conform to the Divine Law in all aspects of his life, individual as well as social.
This brings us to the point that a Muslim has to keep constantly to the Golden Mean, to the focal point of moderation. Going astray from that point is termed in the science of Medicine as "disease", in the science of Morals as "inequity" and in the science of Social Life as "war". Essentially, the focal point is God, and when we move away from Him and His Laws, we commit what in religious terminology is called "sin", and its consequence is "disease" on the physical plane, "inequity" on the moral plane, and "war and strife" on the political plane.
What the world, therefore, needs today most is the effort to bring rebellious humanity back to God. We should especially reform our educational systems in such a way that the rising generations may learn to know and love God and to follow His Guidance. That alone will ensure peace and healthy progress in the world. Without that we can only expect mankind to continue to descend deeper and deeper into the pit of war and strife and misery.
I am sorry I cannot prolong my stay in this country owing to certain pressing engagements in America, where I am proceeding tomorrow. Therefore, I leave this Message in the hands of those admirers and followers of Islam who have a permanent residence here. I hope they will present the best model and serve the cause.
Thank you all.