As a result, even as these non-Muslim societies made phenomenal strides on the path of knowledge using the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – and eventually on the path of progress and development – they also could not help letting loose a reign of oppression, exploitation, conquest, terror and plunder on God’s world, including the Muslim world, that is probably quite unprecedented in human history.
That is because, generally speaking, their knowledge was not accompanied by appropriate character education and reform. That is, their Ta’aleem was not wedded to Tazkiyah. It was not built on the foundation of the moral values that the Qur’an teaches to go along with education. Values that Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, embodied in his own life and on which he raised a generation of 10,000 saint-like followers as the Bible calls them.
The character of Europeans simply could not keep pace with the knowledge and education they rapidly acquired following the Islamic model. As a result, they gave rise to a New Dark Age of Neo-Jahilliyyat as it were, that in many ways rivals and puts to shame the earlier Pre-Islamic Paleo-Jahiliyyah.
The Lesson that Muslims Forgot
In the meantime, the Muslims slowly but surely forgot the lessons of Kitab and Hikmah that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught them. They confused and jumbled up the theory and they diluted and mixed up the practice. And in most cases they were left with only the empty shell of the pure and perfect teachings of Islam, chief among them character (Tazkiyah) and education (Ta’aleem) that he had left them with when he said goodbye to them 1400 ago. In most cases, the meat and substance of those teachings were gone.
As a result, Muslims ended up being among the least educated people of the world. They no longer knew either theory or practice of this world or how to practice Islam in this world. They ended up as a shadow of their past self and as a caricature of most things Muslim and Islamic.
Muslims thus became mostly a people who had neither knowledge nor character. For all practical purposes, they became social, political, cultural and educational zombies.
Muslim debates and discussions became increasingly abstruse and removed from reality. Instead of being practical and pragmatic, they became pointless theological disputations and hairsplitting. And Muslim lives and societies became pale and powerless shadows of their earlier selves, unable to control their own destiny or impact and shape the destiny of the world.
Their time and energies were spent arguing endlessly about what kind of knowledge was Islamic and what kind was not and who were really good Muslims and who were not. Many Muslims became heavily preoccupied with subjects such as ‘Aqeeda. And ‘Amal (read it character in its broadest sense) to many of them became more of the same: more namaz; more roza; and more dhikr.
And of course purer and more ‘Aqeedah.
In the hands of these super-purists, Islamic ‘Aqeedah or core creed that Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, had summed up in no more than seven words – Laa Ilaaha Illaa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah – now became the mother of all tomes and treatises, consuming everyone’s time and sucking up all Muslim energy and creativity.
Some of those whom Allah had blessed with wealth and resources thought Islam meant going to Hajj over and over and over again as if Baitullah meant, may God Almighty forgive me for uttering such nonsense, Ma’adallah, that it was the place where God lived.
They forgot that Hajj was a Fareedah – a requirement – only once in their life. Thereafter it was extra stuff that you do when you have nothing more important or urgent to do in your life such as, for example, the following:
Taking the Qur’an to every home and heart that needs it – and which one does not.
Feeding every mouth that was hungry.
Clothing every body that was naked.
Protecting every orphan.
Ensuring honorable remarriage options and opportunities to every widow.
Making sure every child – male as well as female – received the best education possible.
Stopping every oppressor.
Guaranteeing the rights of every oppressed.
Ensuring peace and security to every human being that was fearful.
Protecting every animal from abuse.
Saving every forest from wanton destruction.
Keeping every body of water safe from pollution.
Safeguarding every natural resource from waste or abuse.
Keeping every people and region of the world safe from domination and exploitation by others.
Keeping earth and its environment safe from pollution.
Reshaping a dysfunctional and archaic educational system.
Working to usher in more freedoms to their own people.
Doing something, anything, to relieve the chokehold of feudal structures from the throats of Muslims.
Working to break the stranglehold of usury, interest and Riba on the lives of those around them.
Making arrangements to provide interest-free loans to the people in their communities and neghborhoods – both Muslim and non-Muslim.
Trying to replace the tyrannies in their societies with political structures and institutions that were more open, responsive and accountable to “The People.”
Working tirelessly to replace the various dictatorships in their midst by individuals and power arrangements that were freely elected by a well-informed citizenry.
You can add your own list of priority items here in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith – And Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
And common sense, for, a great deal of Islam is common sense.
Supererogatory Refuge of the Pseudo Super-Pious
These are all compulsory things in the sense that they are all required of all Muslims. They are thus moral, social and “religious” obligations. And they are political and survival and success imperatives in any society.
But these pseudo super-pious Muslims in search of a purer ‘Aqeedah and a clearer and more direct shot at Jannat keep boosting up their credentials with multiple extra-Hajj and other supererogatory rituals, while forgetting the obligations they have toward the widows, the hungry, the needy, the poor and the orphans in their midst.
And they forget those groaning under the burden of crushing and impossible debts right before their eyes. They forget that helping people to pay off their legitimate debts is an Islamic obligation.