Islam Gave the World the Gift of Liberty
Liberty: That Is Islam
Liberty? That is us. That is Islam. Long before other folks got wind of it or started to make loud noises about it.
Liberty is so much a central part of the message of Islam that the American Revolutionary orator, Patrick Henry, may have taken his words directly from the pages of the Qur’an.
Demanding freedom for the American colonies from Britain, Patrick Henry said in the later part of the 18th Century: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Note the reference to “Almighty God” in this passage. Also note the juxtaposition of the notion of liberty with a direct invocation of the name of God Almighty.
Who among us Muslims, the card-carrying criers of the name of God day and night, could have said it better?
A Great American Revolutionary Hero
This great American revolutionary hero knew full well that a life lived without liberty was no different from death. And he somehow knew that “God Almighty” had a hand in human liberty as well as in all matters of life and death.
Precepts of the Biblical prophets and the teachings of Jesus Christ, Alaihis Salaam, were still fresh in his mind.
That is how the glorious and divine notion of liberty came to be the bedrock of American culture and tradition. And that is also how the fledgling nation of the United States of America became the lodestar of liberty for the rest of the world in modern times.
But from way before that, starting from the 7th Century, liberty has been the cornerstone of Islamic culture and tradition. In fact, the idea of liberty is a fundamental teaching of the Qur’an.
And God Almighty sent Islam to bestow upon the human race the gift of liberty one more time, and in its full and final form and phase – a gift he had been sending to humanity piecemeal at different times and in different places through different prophets and messengers, may God bless them all. Bits and pieces of God’s gift and plan of liberty for humanity adorn the pages of all books with any divine basis or background, including the Old and the New Testament.
And this concept of liberty finds its final form and shape in the Qur’an and in the daily doings and saying of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
It was the lofty cry for liberty, coming down from heaven in the pages of the Qur’an, and through the lips of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, that found this belated modern-time echo in the free and democratic America that Patrick Henry and his American Revolutionary colleagues such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were trying to wrest from the tyrannical clutches of the British Empire.
One Nation under God:
That Is Precisely What Islam Is All About
That is also how the American flag came to be the symbol of “one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”
Now tell me, which part of this American Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is not a direct reflection of the core teachings of Islam? Is it “one nation”? Is it “under God”? Is it “indivisible”? Is it “liberty for all”?
Or is it “justice for all”? Which one? Precisely which one of these wonderful ideals and concepts did Islam not teach the world – and that too all of 1400 years ago?
Which one of these elements is not a direct reflection of the words of the Qur’an, or a continuation through time and space of the legacy of Muhammad – Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – a legacy that had been sweeping the world for well over a full millennium before the American Revolution or the French Revolution made this thought and language about liberty possible in this part of the world at this particular time.
The question we all need to ask today is this: Who among us present-day Muslims will build these bridges of shared understanding, camaraderie and cooperation between America and the West on the one hand and the world of Islam and Muslims on the other hand?
Who among us has the training, qualifications and background fit for this mammoth and historic undertaking? And who among us has the attitude and mindset suited for this task?
And who among us has the sincerity of purpose, depth of understanding, clarity of vision, boldness of spirit and sharpness of skills that this stupendous responsibility requires?
The Shame of Present Muslim Reality
So liberty is Islam. Make no mistake about it. And so are its inseparable cousins: universal human dignity and equality.
This neat little package of liberty, human dignity and equality is what Allah designed and sent Islam into this world to give everyone everywhere.
The shame of it is that much of the present crop of inept Muslim leaders as well as their mostly ignorant and supine following is not brought up to think, believe or act like that, which is a measure of the enormous gulf that separates all too many Muslims from their twin life-support systems of Qur’an and the true Sunnat of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Many of the Muslims of our time, as their forbears of recent past, are so caught up in the details and minutiae of their Fiqh-based Masaa’l and Madhaahib, as well as in the advancement of their own personal interests and ambitions, mostly for wealth and power, that their minds and spirits are not in tune with Qur’an’s life-giving message of universal human liberty, dignity and equality.
And those few enlightened and dedicated souls among Muslims – and non-Muslims – who tried in the past, and try now, to wrest a handful of freedoms and rights for their people, including Muslims, are killed, bought off, marginalized or imprisoned and tortured by those who are bent on holding humanity in thrall and plundering its wealth and resources, whether in the name of Islam or non-Islam.
Just get hold of a list of all the places where people from around the world are sent to be tortured when they are taken prisoner in so many of the so-called wars or when they are kidnapped from their homes or streets on one charge or another, and you will begin to get a sense of what I am talking about.
Often, it is people with Muslim names and backgrounds that are set to catch Muslims and keep them in serfdom and bondage and deny them their lawful Islamic and human rights, liberties and dignities.
Muslim Problems: Muslims’ Own Doing
So, there is little surprise if Muslims in much of the world today live in bondage and fear, much of which, they must understand, is of their own doing. Yes, you can and should always blame the Devil for your own shortcomings and failures of omission and commission. It is a given, for in the lives of human beings, both Muslims and non-Muslims, the Devil is always the default.
Yes, there are a lot of non-Muslims who wish Muslims ill and have seldom passed up an opportunity to rob them of their wealth and power. But that is their job in a sense: to fight for their own self-interest and target those who they see as a threat to them.
So, from that point of view, the Muslims can continue to blame any or all of the following for everything that went wrong with them without undertaking any serious analysis of the causes and effects of their own life and without taking any responsibility for their own role in their own decline and downfall. Here is a rich list of enemies to blame, but this list is only a partial one: Crusades; Colonialism; Imperialism; Hindu Chauvinism; America; Israel.
I am not denying that any or all of these have been a source of trouble for Muslims in the past or happen to be so in the present. What I am saying is that Muslims seem to be remarkably incapable of analyzing, understanding and coming to terms with the role they themselves played in relation to any or all of these presumed sources of their trouble.
Also, Muslims conveniently forget that they were given a broad immunity of sorts against total domination or annihilation from external sources such as non-Muslims. It is the Muslims themselves against whom they were supposed to be vigilant.
Some Real Threats Facing Muslims
From that point of view, among the real internal threats Muslims would face in the world would be the following:
Muslims’ own problems of faith or Iman in its broadest sense and with all its theoretical and practical implications and underpinnings.
That includes the kind of beliefs Muslims hold with regard to God, the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Day of Judgment, the angels, heaven, hell and everything else of that kind. At the same time, it also includes their beliefs with regard to this world as well as with regard to their own role in this world.
Muslims’ own problems of character or ‘Amal in all its various individual and collective dimensions.
By this I not only mean their Siyaam and Salaah, Hajj and Zakaat, but also the full gamut of their Akhlaq and Mu’aamalaat. That means how Muslims view and treat everything and everyone in this world: Muslim, non-Muslim, human, animal, plant, water, environment, everything.
Muslims’ own lack of education in its most comprehensive sense looked at from a worldly (Dunya) as well as from other-worldly (Aakhirah) point of view.
On the one hand, that means Muslims’ knowledge of the Qur’an; the Hadith; and all else of that nature. On the other hand, it means the educational level of Muslims in the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences, engineering and technology and in all other branches of knowledge and expertise as currently understood and available and as the future brings.
Education in Islam means all of the above and more. And to talk of “Islamic” knowledge and education without reference to a full formal or informal understanding the world in which Islam is supposed to work and operate is to utter empty words that have no meaning. That means, those of us who make claims of expertise on Islam, must at the same time also be experts on the world.
One of the major reasons for the decline of Muslims – and for the troubles of the world in general – is the fact that we separated the knowledge of “Islam” from the knowledge of the real world.
Missing Organization and Management from Muslim Societies
Muslims’ own lack of organization and management at different levels from their own personal and family affairs to the affairs of their Mohallahs, Masaajid, schools, colleges, universities, other organizations, communities, governments, institutions, businesses and societies.
Muslims’ own lack of honest, competent, enlightened and genuinely elected and truly accountable leadership in all walks and at all levels of life and society.
Islam recognizes only one kind of leadership: the one that Muslims themselves put in place by their own free will and choice. In other words a duly and properly elected leadership that is fully and continually accountable to the electorate. Muslims of course said goodbye to that kind of leadership a long time ago and replaced it with various forms of personal, military, feudal and dynastic tyrannies and dictatorships.
Muslims’ own lack of proper knowledge, understanding and skills in all worldly and other-worldly matters at a number of different levels. A people whose mother’s milk was “Read!” have now become a people in whose midst literacy, knowledge and education are serious problems.
Muslims’ own lack of proper understanding of Islam on the one hand as well as of the world on the other hand and their lack of ability to fuse the two together correctly and intelligently in a fully successful and functional whole.
Muslims Forgot Qur’an, Allah Forgot Muslims:
Thus, from this point of view, the biggest enemy of Muslims, and the surest formula for their downfall, was going to be Muslims themselves and their turning their back on the Qur’an, as they have done for quite some time now. It was going to be the theoretical as well as practical separation of Muslims from the Qur’an and their inability to understand it and to translate its divine precepts into dynamic models of everyday individual and collective living and practice on earth.
It goes without saying that the Qur’an will not be of much use to you if you fail to fully and thoroughly understand the world in which you live. That is why the Qur’an itself made reading – education in the broadest sense of that term – the very first requirement of our affiliation with it. That means people with the best and most education in the world would be at the top and those with the least or deficient education will be at the bottom.
The state of the world today speaks to the truth of the Qur’an as it did in the past.
In other words, in terms of the unfolding of human affairs on earth, the greatest danger for Muslims was going to be Muslims themselves: the atrophy and decay of their Iman – their entire internal belief system. And, thereafter, of their Islam – the external manifestation of that belief system in the form of the daily practices that Allah mandated to train them into successful living on earth as Allah’s Khalifah or representative.
Empty Shells of Namaz and Roza
I don’t mean just in terms of the Namaz or the Roza – Salaah or Siyaam – as Muslims have come to know them, mostly as empty shells of what they are really supposed to be, but as divine mechanisms that are designed to be powerfully and totally transformative of human bodies, minds, souls, families, communities, institutions, cultures and societies on earth, not just for Muslims but also for non-Muslims.
And not just for humans either, but also for all life-forms. And not just for living beings but also for the entire planet earth with all its component parts both animate and inanimate.
That was going to be the greatest threat or danger facing Muslims after Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, left this earth: Muslims’ own internal state of mind in the form of increasingly deficient Iman in terms of their understanding of and belief in God and his world as well as of the external manifestation of that Iman in the form of their increasingly flawed Islam in all aspects of daily individual and collective living.
And that is exactly how it turned out to be.
Within a few decades of the departure of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, from earth, Muslims fell prey to all sorts of divisions, dissensions and internecine quarrels and warfare that weakened, debilitated and decimated them, exactly as the Qur’an had warned them not to, and never looked back.
Imagining a Different World
I often find myself wondering what would have happened, and how would the world have been different, if Muslims had not taken to quarreling and fighting among themselves and instead kept steadfastly on the path on which the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, had put them – the path of taking the Qur’an to every home and heart that needed it in every nook and corner of the world.
I ask myself, what the world would have been like if Muslims had, as individuals and societies, steadfastly adhered to the path of putting Aakhirah before the worldly perks of power and wealth, the Dunya.
How the world would have been a very different place to live if Muslims had made research and education their main priorities, as they were supposed to do, rather than the building of monuments or the pursuit of an opulent lifestyle.
Maybe then this earth itself would have turned into a piece of paradise for everyone everywhere. Both Muslims and non-Muslims would then have known first hand what it was like to live in God’s Kingdom on earth.
But Muslims allowed their all-too-human weaknesses and proclivities to overcome their better judgment and instincts and the result is the kind of world in which we live today.
Other than all the terrible things that have happened to our world since then, one of the greatest tragedies to strike the world is the deep alienation of Muslims from their Islamic roots and moorings both in terms of theory and practice. So much so that today we have all too many professed Muslims without Islam, just as we have all too many self-proclaimed Mu’mins without Iman.
And the result also is that Islam and Iman are increasingly used as clichés and crutches without their being translated into ideas and actions applicable to the times and circumstances in which the Muslims happen to be living today. Islam, rather than being a panacea for the many ills of the modern world has ended up as a grievance sheet in the hands of many modern-day Muslims today.
Greatest Anomaly in Human History:
Muslims without Education or Character
This has produced some of the greatest anomalies of modern times – you fix the origin of those times at whatever point of history you are most comfortable with: Muslims without education and Mu’mins without character.
How is such a thing possible? How can there be a sun without sunlight or a moon without moonshine? Well, Muslims managed to produce these anomalies in practice, no matter how impossible they may sound on paper.
If Muslims had not read their Qur’an, they should have at least read their Iqbal, for he, warned them that character was key to leadership in the world.
And that character, Iqbal said, consisted in the universal Islamic principles of truthfulness, trustworthiness, commitment to justice for all as well as the courage and strength to learn them; to understand and internalize them; to remain fully focused on them; to speak and preach them; to stand up for them; and work to achieve and implement them in practice – for yourself and for everyone else.
That is what Islam was supposed to be.
And that is why Islam spread throughout the world with the unstoppable rapidity and effectiveness it did. Thirsty souls, hungry minds, parched lips and starved and shackled segments of humanity everywhere lapped it up the way a patch of famine-struck soil soaks up the first downpour of rain from the sky.
Iqbal on the Core of Muslim Character
I think the following are Iqbal’s words in the beautiful language of Urdu:
Sabaq phir padh sadaaqat kaa, ‘adaalat kaa, shujaa’at kaa;
Liya jaa-ay-ga tujh say kaam dunyaa ki imaamat kaa.
Don’t ask me who is or was Iqbal, for, right now, if you don’t know, I don’t care to tell you either. You should know. Those around you should have told you. Nor do I know if the couplet I quoted above is fully accurate or not. Again, I leave that up to you to find out.
I am what people may call a working man with what they refer to as a full-time job – a gift from Allah, like everything else in this world, or in any other world that there may be. Where do I have the time, the resources or the energy to go and meticulously check out every little detail of everything that I might want to speak or write, even though that is exactly what I would like to do and that is exactly also what is expected of a Muslim?
But the imperatives of time and circumstances – space if you will – decide.
Life is not a set of abstract principles lived in a vacuum tube from which all air has been emptied. Life is a set of highly constrained concrete measures and steps that are on the one hand space-time-based and which are at the same time derived from and guided by certain abstract and universal principles rooted in accumulated human wisdom, clear and tested science or unimpeachable divine revelation.
So, sometimes, it is more important to say certain things that you feel are broadly and fundamentally true, even though you may not be one hundred percent sure of every single detail about them. What may be advisable in these situations, however, is to be aware of your limitations and where applicable own up to them and alert others to them, so that those hearing or reading you will be on guard.
That is the kind of integrity Islam teaches and requires. And that is the kind of character Islam builds.
And that is one big reason why Islam spread the way it did: Because the people of the world, who had been lied to and deceived all their lives, all of a sudden ran into these fellows called Muslims whom they could trust – fellows who were honest and sincere beyond belief and who seemed willing to speak the truth, even when it might hurt their own personal interests.
Where was the surprise if the world fell in love with fellows like that when this message of universal human liberation burst upon the world for the first time after a long break?
Those were the principles then that the Qur’an taught the world. And that is the kind of culture and character Iqbal tells Muslims they should build all over again. For, the Muslims were, according to Iqbal, once again on the verge of being called to the leadership of the world.
What an amazing man was this Iqbal and how amazingly insightful was his message, a derivative from the pure and pristine teachings of the Qur’an and Islam!
So, Liberty Is Mother’s Milk to Muslims:
Or at Least It Should Be
Therefore, while liberty is the common right of all humanity, and in many ways its shared heritage, to Muslims it should be nothing less than mother’s milk. A Muslim is conceived, born and brought up in liberty and dedicated, as someone said, to the proposition not “all men” are created equal, but that “all human beings” of all races and both genders are created equal.
It is not a simple matter to be pooh-poohed or dismissed lightly, but rather, it is a most important and fundamental difference – this difference between “all men” and “all human beings.” When the best of the best in this world were still struggling, even that with such glaring imperfection and timidity, we the Muslims had gotten hoarse singing for centuries the loftier song of Universal Human Equality and not just of male equality, that too White male equality, or more appropriately, the equality of White males with property.
Smart and decent people everywhere need to understand and accept these differences. For, in the appreciation of these differences lies the key to a proper understanding of the world in which we live today. That is also how we can most effectively address the question of how to go about making the world of today a better place for all.
Human Equality Means Equality for Everyone
So, human equality in Islam means the equality of all human beings regardless of race, color, religion, creed or gender. That means all the Jews; all the so-called “Savages” of American Indians; all the so-called “Negroes” on whom centuries of the most brutal slavery was imposed for no other reason than the fact that they were Black and therefore inherently unequal to Whites.
That also means all the women in the world, long before some of them in America turned suffragettes and were enfranchised and were “given” the right to vote by their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and grandfathers.
And it also means all the Vietnamese “Gooks“; all the Chinese “Chinks“; all the “Untouchables” of India; and all the “niggers” of old America and all the “Sandniggers” and “Hajis” of new Iraq.
These are some of the despicable and disgusting labels of derogation, humiliation and disparagement that human beings invented and applied to other human beings at different times and in different places in order to dominate, enslave and oppress them and steal and plunder their wealth and resources and exploit their labor, talents and skills for their own personal aggrandizement and benefit.
Islam, on the other hand, made it clear that human beings were all ab initio – right from the beginning that is, right from the moment they were conceived in the wombs of their mothers – unalterably equal to one another. There were no doubts, questions, hesitations, ifs, buts, vacillations or prevarications about it in the divine culture on earth that Islam fostered and established beginning with the middle of the 7th Century.
Simple Formula of Human Equality
There was a clear and simple formula for universal, unconditional and categorical human equality that was drilled into every Muslim’s head right from the outset. And that never lost its luster or integrity from the day it was first promulgated on earth in its present form in the pages of the Qur’an and through the blessed words of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, 1400 years ago.
Here are broad contours of that formula:
If you are connected to Adam in any shape or form through a single common drop of his blood, then you are all fully and absolutely equal to one another, and you are all, by virtue of that common and exalted ancestry, endowed with inherent dignity and rights in equal measure in a way that no king or commoner, and that no individual or government on earth, can touch, diminish or take away in any form or fashion except through due process.
According to the core message of the Qur’an, that is how all human beings are created and sent into this world through the sperms and zygotes of their parents: absolutely equal in their humanity and absolutely inviolable in their basic dignity and human rights.
Human beings thereafter begin to distinguish themselves based on the kind of character and qualities they bring to the table – qualities of head as well as qualities of heart – and based on the efforts they expend in the pursuit of mental, moral, physical and other forms and types of excellence from a worldly as well as other-worldly point of view.
There! You have it in a nutshell: the theory of basic human equality as well as of human differences.
It is also Islam in a nutshell.
Striving for Liberty:
The Great Human Imperative
Thus, liberty is what Islam is all about. And it was to set humanity free from its chains and shackles of mind, body and spirit that Islam came into this world. And striving to bring to humanity the gift of liberty is Islam’s greatest gift and imperative.
Read the Qur’an and you will know.
Don’t believe me? Here is the Qur’an for you: Yadwa-‘u ‘anhum israhum wal aghlaallati kaanat ‘alaihim.
Paraphrase: “Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, frees them from the chains that bind and shackle them and takes down the burdens that oppressed them and broke their backs.”
Elsewhere the Qur’an holds out activism in the service of liberty as the lodestar of human life. Fa-laqtahamal ‘aqabah, it says condemning those who will not strive in the pursuit of liberty.
Paraphrase: “And he did not make the hard choices.”
Wa maa adraaka mal-‘aqabah?
Paraphrase: “Do you know what that tough decisions is?”
Paraphrase: “It is setting people free by shattering the bonds around their necks.”
That is Islam for you, folks. It came to set human beings free. And it came to encourage everyone to work to set everyone else free.
If Muslims forgot that or never learned it, and if non-Muslims never found that out about it or pretended not to know it, then it is the fault of neither Islam, nor of the designer of Islam, God Almighty, nor of the Prophet of Islam, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
The responsibility rests entirely on us, human beings of our time, both Muslim and non-Muslim, A, for not knowing it in the first place and, B, for not sharing it with others thereafter.
Lost Souls of Islam – and Non-Islam
Now let us look at some reasons why the world knows so little about Islam
My readers have every right to ask, if Islam is all you say it is, and if the Qur’an contains any or all of these seemingly earthshaking claims you seem to be making in its behalf, how come no one knows about it?
The answer has many parts and here are some of them.
Part One. The main reason why “no one,” as we say, knows about it is because the Muslims have more or less given up telling people about it. There were times when Muslims did it with gusto, tell the people about Islam I mean. Those were the times when Muslims cried from every rooftop about Islam and its beautiful message of love, liberty and uncompromising human dignity and equality.
That beautiful message was the reason why everyone everywhere rushed to embrace Islam, not because, as some so-called scholars, writers and protagonists claim, Muslims went around chopping off every non-Muslim head they could find.
If Muslims had done that, two things would have happened. First, there won’t be any heads left to accept Islam. Second, there won’t be any non-Muslims left in much of the world today, at least in those parts of the world where Muslims were in power to any degree.
So, this was one of the most brazen lies perpetuated against Islam by all those who were opposed to the fundamental message of human liberty and equality that Islam brought into this world and that Muslims tried, at one time, to take to everyone’s doorstep everywhere.
This was done to stop the march of Islam, to slow the progress of human liberty in the world and to keep human beings in bondage and chains everywhere. That is how tyranny over the minds, bodies, souls, lands and resources of human beings came to be so rampant in all these past centuries and continues in one form or another to this day.
Therefore, Islam spread not because Muslims went around chopping off non-Muslims’ heads wherever they went, but for two simple reasons. First, people everywhere welcomed and embraced Islam because Islam was the most liberating and life-giving message the world had heard in a long time.
When Muslims Walked the Walk
Second, people welcomed Islam because the Muslims not only talked the talk but they also walked the walk. In many ways and to an extraordinary extent, Muslims personified in their own lives and societies the message of human equality, dignity and freedom that they preached and spoke about.
Most fair-minded non-Muslims, most of them in bondage and suffering all kinds of injustices, oppression and exploitation, couldn’t believe their ears when they heard the message of love, liberty, tolerance and human fellowship Muslims preached. Nor could they really believe it, until they saw with their own eyes, over and over again, that Muslims were not merely preaching these things but they were also actually practicing them.
When these non-Muslims could no longer deny the testimony of their own ears and eyes, they had no option but to jump on this colossal bandwagon of love and liberty that was Islam. That is how Islam spread to the four corners of the world at a time when there were no newspapers and when there was no radio, television or the Internet.
Show-and-Tell about Islam
If Muslim individuals, families and societies don’t “show” a great deal of true Islam in their lives, the way Islam is truly supposed to be lived and shown to be practiced at all these different levels, by and large Muslims have also lost their historic flair for “telling” or preaching about Islam. So, they don’t “show” and they don’t “tell.”
So, how do you expect the rest of the world to know about Islam?
Add to this great wall of Muslim silence and the anemic and misleading Islam many Muslims practice, the totally false propaganda and hate that are let loose upon the world about Islam from so many different sides – by the so-called enemies of Islam – and you have a perfect scenario for the way the world is either ignorant about Islam or suspicious of it.
At the same time, someone somewhere should ask the non-Muslims what efforts they have made on their part to learn about Islam. Muslims are one-fifth of the population of the world and yet non-Muslims have not lifted a finger to decipher Muslim life on earth? Unbelievable!
Islam in many ways dominates and drives the lives of so many people in so many parts of the world and yet that does not make non-Muslims sit up and smell the roses? What planet do they live on?
Muslim oil forms the life-blood of modern civilization and society at all levels and yet non-Muslims will not go beyond the oil slick and take an honest look at what Islam really is – beyond the naiveté and foolishness of Muslims and the propaganda of non-Muslims?
Part Two. So, part of the reason why so many non-Muslims do not seem to know about the true nature and teachings of Islam is because so few of them seem to be showing the necessary curiosity or taking the required initiative that would connect them to the true message of love and liberty that Islam and the Qur’an brought into this world.
Part Three. Another powerful reason for the closing of the non-Muslim mind to Islam is the negative propaganda that is let lose on the world to demonize Islam and Muslims by those who have reason to fear the success of Islam in the world.
The Crusaders, for example, not only killed people – mostly Muslims but also Jews – for centuries, they also engaged in systematic demonization of Islam and Muslims by spreading all kinds of lies and distortions about them.
The Colonizers built on the falsehoods the Crusaders had invented and further deepened and compounded the ignorance and mistrust of most non-Muslims about Islam and Muslims. Ever since, the military onslaught against Muslim lands, as well as the propaganda barrage against Islam, the Qur’an and Muslims have continued, right down to our days, under new names, forms, pretexts and excuses.
Part Four. By and large, the Muslims themselves have lost the flair for the preaching and practice of Islam as a message of liberation and uplift for the world and have chosen to view and practice Islam as a set of often empty rituals mostly for purposes of personal salvation. Most Muslims – the good ones I mean – are mostly fixated with success in the next world often to the detriment of success in the present world.
Muslims Don’t Tell, Non-Muslims Don’t Ask
There are so many other parts to my answer to the question of why the world harbors such colossal ignorance, hate, mistrust and hostility about Islam and its life-giving message of liberty, equality and dignity for all that I have neither the time nor other resources to do justice to them.
But in spite of there being so many parts to this answer, the facts are quite simple: Muslims never told and non-Muslims never bothered to find out.
As a result, both sides – Muslims as well as non-Muslims – are in the kind of trouble and jeopardy that they are in. Meaning: Humanity is in peril. And this state of perfect peril is brought on by both sides of the Muslim-no-Muslim divide.
If you want, read chapter 103 of the Qur’an – Surah Wal-‘Asr – and it will tell you precisely how and why. That amazing Surah will also tell you what humanity can and should do about it.
Dilution of Human Freedom and Dignity in Muslim Lands
As a result, Muslim communities and societies are no longer vibrant examples of human freedom, dignity, achievement, equality and exaltation that Islam came to teach the world, making it difficult for the rest of the world to take Muslims as role models. It is fair to say that most Muslim individuals and societies today are not exactly lodestars of excellence, brilliance and achievement in the fields of knowledge, education, science, organization and management.
It is also perhaps fair to say that most Muslims today live under brutal tyrannical regimes that respect neither law nor individual rights, dignities or freedoms.
The story continues – the story of the lost souls of Islam and non-Islam.
But these are obviously some of the reasons why the world knows so little about the true nature of Islam’s life-giving and liberating message of love, liberty and human dignity and equality. Thus, both Muslims and non-Muslims seem to have conspired, shall we say, to make it happen: to keep the world in darkness about Islam.
When your analysis has finally run its course, and if you still feel like you need a scapegoat, don’t forget to blame the Devil for your troubles – and for the troubles of the world – for, when troubles swamp Adam’s offspring, the Devil is never too far behind.
Turning Things Around
So, what should the world do? What should Muslims do and what should non-Muslims do? What should all of us do – every single one of us?
The answer is simple – just one word: Education!
The fact is Islam came to educate the world. Qur’an is a book of reading that came to teach the world reading. And it came to give the world enlightenment. Qur’an says, God Almighty sent the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to educate humanity.
The Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, himself is on record as saying that he was a teacher and that he was sent with a clear mission to teach and educate.
So, the surest way to put humanity – both Muslim and non-Muslim wings of it – out of its present misery is to educate it. It is to give it the facts and let it decide for itself. Here is how:
First, educate Muslims in the Qur’an and its life-giving message of love and liberty for all. As part of that education, teach Muslims the fact that it is their most important duty to take the Qur’an to every home and heart that needs it in every nook and corner of the world.
Second, educate non-Muslims that it is their duty, and in their own best interest as well as in the best interest of the world, for them to educate themselves as fully and completely as they can in the truth about Islam and the Qur’an.
That is all we need to do – the truly caring, enlightened and right-thinking people among us, whether we are Muslims or non-Muslims. Starting from today, we need to dedicate ourselves to the noble and sublime task of educating all members of our common human family about Islam and the Qur’an.
Nothing is easier or simpler than that. Nor could anything have more profound or perfect or wonderful consequences for humanity and our planet at large.
So, what is holding us back?
© 2008 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.