Whither Indian Muslims
– Part One
Combining Deen and Dunya
So, in the light of all we have talked about earlier, whither Indian Muslims? What do they want and in what direction are they headed?
That means how do we ameliorate the condition of pain, suffering and frustration that seems to dog the steps of Muslims everywhere, not the least in India? How do we show them the way for a better life right here on earth and pave the way at the same time for a wonderful life of bliss and felicity in the hereafter?
In some ways, to ask that question is also to give away the entire game as it were. For, that is a full commentary in itself on the divine remedy that Islam is and offers to every human ailment on earth. It is the living and ongoing miracle of Islam that every solution it offers to a human problem on earth is also the golden recipe for earning an honored place in paradise.
Too many smart people spend their time and energy – and their expertise – arguing how to separate the Deen from the Dunya. They are fixated and obsessed with how to keep the affairs of this world from intruding on the affairs of the next world. Islam throws a very different kind of challenge at humanity: live your worldly life in such a way that it will automatically qualify you for the best and highest rewards in the life hereafter.
So, in Islam it is not choosing one or the other – this world or the next world. But it is combining both in a most complete and dynamic recipe for all-round success and happiness in both worlds. That means teachings of Islam offer perfect solutions not only with regard to the mundane and secular aspects of human existence but also with regard to its most sublime, spiritual and other-worldly dimensions.
Frankly, this obsession with separating the secular from the sacred is a legacy from Europe’s history of dividing up the world between the king and the pope and watching them both go at it forever with consequences in the form of gore and misery everywhere and for everyone.
There is no reason why the rest of the world should continue to suffer forever the consequences, and pay forever the price of, this misguided and, quite frankly, somewhat perverse European legacy. It is time to take human life for what it is – an organic totality and an integrated whole that needs to be viewed and treated in a holistic fashion and not piecemeal.
And that is the approach Islam takes.
Life is one, so treat it as one, says Islam. And Islam offers a world view and a set of teachings that show how everything in creation is closely intertwined not only in human life but also in the entire universe.
So, keeping these things in mind, how do we help build a new and better life for Indian Muslims – and for Muslims and human beings everywhere?
Building a Better Life
for India’s Muslims
Building a new life for Muslims, whether in India or in any other part of their natural habitat, which is the entire world really, how exactly do you go about accomplishing that goal? Just how do you do it?
Wiping out or dimming the dark and sad memories of their more recent past, which may extend decades or centuries depending on how you look at it, and setting them on the path to a glorious new future, how is it to be done?
Maybe we should begin by asking if it is even possible in the first place to turn the ship of Muslim destiny around. Let me make it clear at the very outset that the answer to this question is a categorical, enthusiastic and resounding “YES!”
If we don’t believe that, then, not only will we be decrepit and dysfunctional psychologically and socially, it will also place our entire Iman in doubt. It will be a direct violation of a direct divine command in the Qur’an not to give up, no matter how desperate the situation and no matter how tough the going.
Laa taqnatoo mir rahmatillah is a categorical call not to ever despair of the grace, love and mercy of the maker, who made us for no other reason than that it was his will and pleasure to do so. To think that he will make us and throw us away without hope or recourse is the worst kind of insult we can level against our creator.
If we lose hope and give up, then, we simply may no longer be Muslims – or if you prefer, Mu’mins: people with any belief or conviction.
So, yes, absolutely, the Muslim condition is changeable and improvable. And yes it must be changed and improved. We simply cannot allow things to go on like this forever.
Yes, there is absolutely no doubt that we can build a new life and a new future for India’s Muslims. And for Muslims around the world. There is not a doubt about that.
The real question then is how: How do we go about doing it? To this question, there are two answers: (a) one a short, very short answer and (b) the other a long, very long one.
Here is the short answer, and it is in fact the only one that matters, for, everything else is details, details and more details of the same original short answer.
The short answer is this: education and character. That is it. That is the answer, the short and the real one. And the only one that matters if you ask me.
In the language of the Qur’an, these two things are called Ta’aleem and Tazkiyah respectively: education and character.
That means, number one, Muslims – as individuals, communities, nations and societies – need to undergo new comprehensive character training. We need to reshape the character composition of Muslims – in India and around the world.