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Whither Indian Muslims – Third and Last Part


Whither Indian Muslims
– Third and Last Part

Dr. Pasha

(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)


Some Examples of Lack of Character

We have been saying so far that it would take two things to change the condition of Muslims in India – and also in other places:

  1. One, a complete overhaul of Muslim educationTa’aleem – in India and everywhere else.
  2. Two, a total revolution in Muslim characterTazkiyah – in India as well as in other places.

Naturally, this means that there are some serious problems with both Muslim education as well as Muslim character. Below, I provide some examples of lack of character among Muslims. And also among others, I guess, if you want to generalize it to other groups. I have deliberately repeated some instances using different language and emphasis.

Add to this list your own ideas. But as you are doing that, please keep the following three things in mind:

  1. First, keep those ideas practical. Don’t forget Islam is a pragmatic system.
  2. Two, keep them simple. Making things complicated may make you feel important, but it doesn’t get the job done.
  3. Three, don’t create confusion by using so-called “religious” expressions as a substitute for real-life issues and language. Islam is not theology. Don’t forget that its first addressees were the no-nonsense children of the desert.

Even though in reality, the Deen of Islam and real life are one and the same, many Muslims unfortunately do not see them that way and they do not know how to use them that way. Therefore, always think practical and always think simple and real.

For, that is what the Deen of Allah, the Deen of Nature – Deenul Fitrah – really is. It is simple. It is clear. And it is most eminently practical.

For example, when someone asks you – does not matter who it is – if you will do something, don’t say “Inshallah!” and leave it at that. Don’t try to put that person off with the intention of buying time. Instead, do not hesitate to say, “Yes!” firmly and clearly.

But don’t forget to add “Inshallah! I will do my very best to do it.”

Try to be as real and as genuine and honest in everything you say and do. And do so regardless of who you are dealing with – Hindu, Muslim, Jew or Christian; rich or poor; friend or foe; adult or child. For, that is the spirit of this Deen: total and complete openness and honesty – with Allah as well as with Allah’s creation.

That is the nature of this beautiful Deen that Allah sent from heaven to guide and help you right here on earth – to make your earthly life as nice, as good and as successful as possible.

If You Lie, You Lack Character

So here goes:

You Lack Education, You Lack Character

Wasting Resources Shows Lack of Character

If You Are Not Nice to People, You Lack of Character

Jealousy and Hate Means Lack of Character

Abuse of Power or Authority Is Lack of Character

Not Paying Zakat Shows Lack of Character

But What Is It Really: Character or Iman?

I am calling them examples of lack of character. But at the same time, are all of these examples of lack of Iman as well? Sure they are. For, Iman is at the root of everything in life. But Muslims have turned the expression Iman into a cliché. And they often use it as a way of escaping the challenges of everyday life. They invoke it to escape reality.

What Muslims need to learn to do, therefore, is to turn the expression Iman into a more real and meaningful reality in their life. They need to break Iman down into all kinds of real-life components and implications and concentrate on dealing with each one of them in a practical way.

That means Muslims – and others – need to understand their Iman, or faith if you will, as an effective practical means to get rid of the whole host of social, moral and character ills and problems I have listed above.

Therefore, if it makes you feel better – and somehow feel superior to some others – to call them flaws in your Iman or ‘Aqeedah, rather than examples of your lack of character, by all means call them that. But regardless of what you call them, rest assured that these things and Allah’s Deen do not go hand in hand.

These are all loser ways. And Allah’s Deen has nothing to do with losers – regardless of what they call themselves.

Practical Implications of Iman

Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, says (I am paraphrasing the Hadith) that Iman has deep roots in the heart but it is confirmed by externally visible and verifiable action: Maa saddaqahul ‘amal.

That means it is another way of saying, “If we had Iman, we will not have these problems – or we will not be acting that way.”

Or to break it down further, every one of us must clearly understand and see and say to himself and herself things like:

“If I had Iman, I would not lie.”

“If I had Iman, I would not cheat.”

“If I had Iman, I would not be late to meetings and appointments.”

“If I had Iman, I would not make false promises or break my word.”

“If I had Iman, I would not be wasting my time.”

“If I had Iman, I would not be jealous of the achievement of others.”

“If I had Iman, I would be nice to everyone.”

“If I had Iman, I would learn a new skill today.”

“If I had Iman, I would do my level best to educate myself.”

“If I had Iman, I would do my very best to help educate someone else.”

“If I had Iman, I would teach someone a new skill (Hunar) today.”

These are examples of a winner way of thinking and acting. Allah’s Deen is for winners. Allah’s Deen is by definition a winner. And those who associate with Allah’s Deen in any form or fashion also have to emerge as winners. Otherwise, their assertions of association with Islam as well as their character both lack credibility. And their claims to have Iman sound hollow.

For, if you have Iman, your action, your character and your behavior must prove it. That is the Hadith I am talking about. Here are the glorious words of that Hadith – divinely guarded by Allah’s mercy and so meticulously and carefully preserved by Muslims in their books of Hadith: Al-iman maa waqara fil qalb, wa saddaqahul ‘amal.

Paraphrase: Iman’s true home is the human heart, where it takes root and resides. But Iman must be continually confirmed and verified by action. That means if Iman is true and valid, it must flow in everyday life in the form of appropriate and suitable human conduct and action.

You can take all I have said so far on the question of character as a mere commentary and reflection on this one beautiful Hadith.

So, question: What should Indian Muslims do? Answer: They must simply get on with the business of character building.

Question: But how, how do they do it? Answer: Using every lawful and peaceful means at their disposal and using the fullest power of their imagination and creativity.

Character Building for Indian Muslims

Pas chay baayad kard aiy aqwaam-e-Sharq?

What should the Indian Muslims do, then, on the character front? How should Indian Muslims – and others – go about changing their character in ways that will help to turn their life around?

And in doing so, how can they build a better and brighter future for themselves – and for the entire world?

Indian Muslims have to start putting together immediate, complete and comprehensive plans and programs for character building. And they must do so using every means, method and resource available to them.

And where means, methods and resources are in short supply, they must improvise. They need to be creative and invent their own solutions.

They must change their age-old attitude of being Lakeer kay Faqeer and be flexible, inventive, innovative and bold.

The only condition or caveat I would place on this is that every means and method they use be strictly Halal, peaceful and, as much as possible, legal in the societies in which they live.

I say “as much as possible” because sometimes some laws in some places may be, they just may be, so morally wrong and so patently unfair and unjust, and so against all canons of human decency and accepted norms and modes of civilized conduct, that Muslims need to work to have those laws repealed and changed.

If necessary those laws must be resisted by all civilized and decent human beings everywhere regardless of race or religion.

One example is the Identity Card laws that the British Colonizers imposed on their colony in South Africa. Gandhi started his Civil Disobedience movement by resisting those barbaric laws. What a man Gandhi! What a vision, what courage and what confidence that man had to take on the entire British Empire, almost all alone, on a day when the sun of that empire never set!

Another example is the segregation Black Codes in America that used the legal framework and the judicial system to perpetrate the worst kinds of unspeakable atrocities on American Blacks.

So, keeping these limitations in mind, Muslim efforts for change, in India and in every other part of the world, must not only be Halal and peaceful, they must also be within the bounds of the law, both internationally and in their own societies.

And they must be open and aboveboard.

Success in Both Worlds

Muslim change programs, therefore, must include the building and strengthening of all those qualities and skills that are required for success in this world as well as for success in the next world. And in most instances, they are both the same: Success in both worlds. That is the nature of Islamic laws and teachings.

What Indian Muslims – and Muslims around the world – need to understand is that what leads to real and true success in this world also sets you up for success in the next world. That is the amazing gift of Islam to humanity. Work for legitimate and true success in this world, with an open mind about Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and it will set you up nicely on the path to success in the next world.

Thus Wudu, five times a day, or as many times as you need it, gives you all kinds of cleanliness and hygiene in this world and also at the same time takes you to Jannat in the next world, provided you believe in God and his Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

Five times congregational Namaz-e-Jama’at in a community mosque is packed with all kinds of personal and social benefits for you and your community in this world and it also puts you on track to Jannat in the next world.

So is also the case with Siyaam and Zakat and Hajj. And with Tilaawat or reading and recitation of the Qur’an. In all these cases, what you do for success in this world will also prepare you for success in the next world, if your heart and mind are filled with belief in God and the Day of Judgment.

What Muslims need to understand, and what the rest of the world needs to understand, is that they are all good for Deen as well as for Dunya. They are good for your body as well as for your mind; just as they are good for your soul as well as for your society. And they are all pathways chalked out by Allah that take you directly to Jannah based on the grace, love and mercy of Almighty Allah.

And based on the gift of faith and belief that he may have already bestowed upon you.

What Muslims of India have done, just like Muslims in many other places, and just like many Christians and others all over the world, is to separate the Deen from the Dunya. This separation is most artificial and unfounded. It is unfounded in science or common sense and it has no basis in the so-called religion itself. It is most irrational and unscientific. It is also a most disastrous, unreal and dysfunctional separation.

For, in the human person, the body, the mind and the soul are all seamlessly fused together. You cannot help one of them in the right and proper way without helping the other two. Nor can you do things to hurt one of them without hurting the other two.

Let the Divine Nur Light up Your Face

Eat Halal, Tayyib food – food that is pure and clean and lawful – in the right quantities, which means not too much and not too little, your body will flourish. It will do all kinds of wonderful chores and functions for you that you never thought possible.

What is more, you will see the glow of natural health and beauty on your face. And that glow will not be merely the glow of your corporal body; it will also be, at the same time, the radiance of your mind and your soul.

With a body carefully crafted with healthy, Halal, life-giving, truly Islamic food – if you want to call it that – you will save tons of cash in Botox shots and plastic surgery. And your mental health and spiritual wellbeing would never have been stronger or more salubrious.

You can even call that glow a Nur: divine light of Allah shining on and through your face. No vitamins and no plastic surgery can rival that.

Train yourself to tell the truth. Think nice, positive and good thoughts. Be kind and generous and helpful to people. Avoid jealousy; put away hate; control anger and malice. Avoid laughing too much or too little. Smile often and wholeheartedly. Stay away from senseless gossip and backbiting.

And see what these things do to the look on your face.

I know what I am talking about. I have seen those faces. You could almost light up a room with them. And so have you – you have seen those divinely lighted faces too. I am sure you have come in contact with some individuals of that kind in your own life. They are individuals whose faces radiated a glow that was clear for all to see. And, I am sure, you found yourself wondering about that.

In the case of Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, it was physically true. In the case of the glorious followers and devotees of his in his as well as in our own time and age, it is more than a metaphor. It is surreal as they say.

What the good Muslims have done all too often – the kind of Muslims who believe and behave in an Islamic way – is to content themselves with what they think is Deen and relegated to a secondary place what they think is Dunya.

That is classic pre-Islamic thinking: to think that Deen and Dunya are two separate and disjointed things. One has nothing to do with the other. Call it Jahili thought if you will. Call it the thought of disjuncture and discontinuity. It was not a culture of connectivity, continuity and communion.

That is where the world was during pre-Islamic times. During the Jaahili times.

The general ignorance, the general lack of education and enlightenment, and the layers upon layers of darkness that prevailed in those times on every front were so opaque, so appalling and so palpable that the Qur’an calls that period of human history “The Earlier Times of Jahiliyyah.”

Al-Jaahiliyyatil oolaa: meaning the era of Pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah.

Islam came to put an end to this time of pre-Islamic darkness. Islam came to bring knowledge and enlightenment to the world. It came to remove the darkness that had laid hold of human life on earth.

It is this all-round enlightenment that the Qur’an calls “Guidance.” It stands for the most complete, valid and enlightened answer to every question you may ever have. About this world or about the next world.

Thus, Islam came to educate the people.

It came to give them the most complete and comprehensive education possible on every conceivable subject. Part of that education was to tell the people that Deen is Dunya and Dunya is Deen. And never shall the twain part till the Dunya (this world) is ended and the Aakhirah (next world) is the only reality left.

That means you can’t build one by destroying or neglecting the other. They are both two sides of the same coin. You separate the two, and the coin of human life on earth vanishes without a trace and leaves human life – both aspects of it, the so-called “secular” as well as the so-called “sacred” – knocking about in darkness without identity, without destination and without hope.

A Model Community of Newly Minted Muslims – Cast in the Old Mold

So, you want to change the condition of Muslims in India and elsewhere, let us get on with the task of character building. Let us start now and let us not stop or look back till we have accomplished that goal. Till we have filled God’s earth with generations of Muslims like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, may Allah be pleased with them all!

These will be people who say what they mean and mean what they say. They will be people whom both their foes and friends can trust – in good times as well as in bad.

These will be generations of people who will toil mightily during the day to build a better world, not only for themselves, but for all of humanity. And who will toil even more mightily during the night building their own and everyone else’s soul by crying before God as if their hearts will shatter in their bosoms.

These Muslims with the truly Islamic character will be the greatest scientists when they turn to science, as they will do most regularly and most instinctively. And they will be the most masterful and creative artisans and craftsmen when they turned their attention to those fields of human enterprise, as they will do at every opportunity the get.

Education will be their handmaiden and entrepreneurship their national character.

For an oppressed and benighted world, these new kind of Muslims, who will be molded and patterned after the old kind of Muslims of the Prophet’s (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) days, will be an embodiment of love, liberty and compassion. But in the face of tyranny, cruelty, injustice, greed, exploitation and domination of man by man, they will stand imperturbable like the Himalayas (I took that from Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru). And they will roar fearlessly like the lions of Serengeti (and that came directly from television).

Muslims fired up with the right kind of Islamic character will be the greatest workers and managers as well as farmers, factory hands and landowners. They will be the most visionary and at the same time the most practical economic planners and institution builders.

And they will be legendary leaders in the world of finance. At the same time, they will also be unrivaled designers and practitioners of social support networks for all. You can see that I am deliberately staying away from using dubious expressions such as “Social Engineers.”

These Muslims will be great soldiers, strategists and commanders, even as they work diligently and tirelessly to better and improve the neighborhoods and communities in which they live. They will be the best judges and policemen and the finest civil servants and tradesmen.

They will be the best husbands and wives; parents and offspring; neighbors and friends; colleagues and fellow-workers’ as well as supervisors and subordinates.

They will not pass by objects and events in this world as mere spectators or disinterested tourists. Instead, they will carry the burden of everyone and everything in this world on their shoulders.

And they will feel everyone’s pain and go to everyone’s rescue.

In a word, these newly minted Muslims, cast in the old mold of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his noble Companions, will be people whom the earth in turn will carry on her shoulders with great pride and joy. The birds in the skies and the fish in the oceans will bless them everyday and sing their praise and the glory of their lives and deeds to Allah, their creator.

They will not destroy the earth and its environment, no matter how great the temptation. Nor will they plunder or waste its resources, no matter how strong their desire to do so. They will not be makers of mischief or corruption on earth. Instead, they will fill the world with the divine message of hope and love that proclaims, a la Qur’an, to all those who can hear: “Sinners of the world! Despair not. For, God Almighty stands ready to forgive everything.”

What a people these new kind of Muslims will be! As individuals, groups, organizations, nations and societies! And what a wonderful world they will build – not just for themselves but for everyone everywhere.

In a word, they will be Muslims. Pure and simple. And they will be Mu’mins. Meaning: They will be those who submit to God in every way. And they will be those who believe in God in every way.

Muhajirs, Not Colonizers

These new Muslims of the new age will not colonize, pillage and plunder this world. Just as the earlier Muslims of 1400 years ago did not colonize, pillage and plunder this world. Nor will they conquer and enslave the people of the world and exploit and abuse them.

Instead, they will bring joy and liberation to the people of the world. And they will do so to all of humanity without looking to see who is a friend and who is a foe.

They will be Muhajirs and nation builders, not colonizers and conquerors. They will fill God’s earth with the blessings of Hijrat, just as their Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did 1400 years ago.

These will be people to whom many a people of the world will gladly and willingly handover the mantle of leadership, even as the people of Jerusalem did to Umar and his followers, without shedding a drop of blood.

These people will then set about building a truly brave new world with a brand new culture of fairness and justice for all, equality for all, liberty for all, education for all and opportunity for all.

And they will build this brave new world based on truth and candor and not based on lies and deception as the modern world is.

These will be men and women of character, truly Islamic character, formed and shaped through a process known as Tazkiyah.

Give a People Education, You Will Change Their Condition

So says the Qur’an we can say.

What is clear is this: Islam is all about education. The first commandment from God to Man in the Qur’an was simple, clear, direct, forceful and unambiguous. It was “Read!” And reading is key to education.

The same passage in the Qur’an points out how God gave education to human beings by means of the pen. Pen and education, in the middle of the 7th Century of the Christian Era? And the notion of universal education that is inclusive of male as well as female genders? How likely is such a scenario?

But that is the truth and that is what happened. We don’t have to take the word or judgment of historians for it. That is the open and secure record that is as fresh in the pages of the Qur’an today as it was 1400 years ago when the Qur’an first came down to earth.

I totally fail to comprehend it. I ask myself: How is it possible?

To me it is one of the greatest living miracles on earth that in the middle of the 7th Century an unlettered man without any formal education or training of any kind comes out of a cave in the Arabian desert and tells humanity “Read!”

And as if that were not enough, he rubs the whole thing in by saying, Oh yes, don’t forget that education comes from the point of a pen. And to make the whole thing even more shocking and mind-shattering, he throws in something that the world did not come to recognize almost till the middle the of the 1970s: Oh yes, by the way, make sure this formula of using the pen to provide education covers not only men but also women.

So, men and women of the world, go forth and seek education. Go read! Embrace the book and embrace the pen and pursue the path of education. And don’t ask if you are male or female, child or adult.

How in the world do you make sense of something like this unless you call it a miracle? And a miracle indeed it was. It is this miraculous world-changing formula that Muslims have been sitting on for all these 14 long centuries.

At one time, Muslims changed the world using this formula. That is precisely what they need to do again – one more time. And many, many more times indeed. Use the tool of education to change themselves and change the world.

For, that is what Islam is all about: education.

And lo and behold that is what the world did for the rest of the 1400 years since the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, gave humanity that glorious command “Read!” The world started to comply with his command and began to “read.” Slowly but surely education – literacy if you want – spread to the four corners of the world.

With the torch of the Qur’an in hand Muslims first spread education throughout the world within a very short span of time and pioneered all kinds of scientific discoveries and achievements. What even some of the brightest minds and most educated people in the world do not understand today is that this was completely and totally unprecedented in the world prior to Islam.

In most cases, that is how pervasive and powerful is the hold of false history, malicious propaganda and sheer ignorance on the minds of the people of the world today. Lying about Islam and Muslims and distorting history and the teachings of the Qur’an has always been a going concern. But it has never been such a widespread career choice, industrial base and market option as it is today.

Qur’an Makes Education a Universal Human Right

According to the Qur’an, education is a fundamental human right. But the Qur’an goes way beyond that. It makes education a most fundamental human duty.

As a result, no man or woman in Islam can be without education. That is the fundamental Islamic law. And that is the crux of that word Shari’ah that both Muslims and non-Muslims use so often and so freely and loosely nowadays.

But if that is the case with regard to the teachings of Islam, then, how did the Muslims end up in this pathetic stage of ignorance in which they are today? How did it happen that the majority of both males and females in the so-called Muslim world is without proper education?

The world had never before seen a universal and popular wave of literacy and education sweep the landscape before Islam introduced education to the world – not only as a universal human right but as a universal human duty and obligation.

True, the Greeks knew how to read and write. But it was their elite, not their masses who knew it. This was also precisely the case with the Romans. Just as it was also the case with the Indians – the people of India, I mean, not the American people whom Christopher Columbus erroneously dubbed Indians.

Others have maintained this most gruesome and shameful mis-nomination, mischaracterization and national character assassination and identity theft of the American people for the past five centuries.

Nor were the Mesopotamians or Chinese different.

Prior to Islam, all peoples, nations and societies of the world practiced just the opposite of what Islam gave the world. They all adhered with fanatical devotion to the universal law of denial of education rights to anyone but the kings and their royal households and the aristocracy and the rich and the elite.

But one thing was clear even then. Even in ancient times, the ability to read and write was thus the passport to power and privilege throughout the world. Or at least it was a perk of power and wealth.

For, everywhere in the world, it was the rich, the powerful, the royal, the privileged and the priestly classes that knew and practiced the art and science of reading and writing. But never the ordinary people. Never the common masses of humanity.

The Qur’an, Islam and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, completely flipped that equation on its head. They took education out of the privileged hands of the elite and privileged segments of society and placed it squarely in public and popular domain. They made education a basic right for all and not merely a privilege for the few.

Furthermore, Islam made education a fundamental human duty and obligation. For both males as well as females everywhere.

Islam, thus, made education a basic human right at all levels of society and not merely a jealously guarded privilege of the rich, the well-connected and the powerful few. What is more, Islam took education from the realm of being merely a right and made it a universal human obligation.

Thus, the Qur’an, Islam and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, made education a synonym and not just a component or correlate of Islam. Thus, in most cases, to be a Muslim became more or less the same thing as being educated.

That means Islam meant education. And no education meant no Islam. Let the Muslims of today deal with that issue. Let them come to terms with the challenge of this statement.

The Rest of the World Had No Choice but to Follow

Since Islam had opened the door to universal education, which it did for males as well as females, the rest of the world had no option but to embrace this Islamic doctrine universal. So, the world began to follow suit. But it did not do so immediately. Nor did it come to accept it without a long and painful struggle.

Selfish and corrupt leaders throughout the world kept their followers from following the light of Islam by using all kinds of false propaganda and wicked lies about it. This happened in Makkah, the birthplace of Islam.

And this happened in other places, notably, in Europe. Just like the people of Makkah, the Europeans too had a special knack for concocting and spreading all kinds of vicious lies about Islam, about Muslims and about the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

As they continue to do to this day.

Thus, European leaders, both secular and sacred, headed by the Pope, launched centuries of Crusades, cruelty and barbaric warfare against the world of Islam. They did not embrace Islam’s enlightened culture of science and education almost until the last Muslim had been packed out of Spain in 1492 or burned alive at the stake in what is known as Spanish Inquisition.

European scholars and reformers suffered everything from death to torture to being burned at the stake in their pursuit of the goals of science and education that Islam had made so alluring and unavoidable.

Jan Huss was killed for the crime of asking Christians to read the Bible, the way the Muslims read the Qur’an.

Martin Luther was hunted and hounded for questioning the Infallibility of the Pope and wanting to reform Christianity using the example of Islam.

Giordino Bruno was burned at the stake.

Galileo wisely repented and made peace with the Church before he suffered the same fate as Bruno. He did die under house arrest.

All this for the crime of seeking education; of pursuing science and enlightenment; and of wanting to believe and act as Muslims were doing right under their noses, and as Muslims had been doing for a long time right there in Europe.

For example, to believe in such things as:

  1. No human being could be infallible.
  2. Jesus Christ was not a son of God.
  3. It is the Bible that should be read and followed, not the Church and the Pope that should be blindly obeyed.
  4. The sun was not a chariot dragged across the sky by a team of horses.
  5. The earth was round, not flat.

Europe, mostly under the influence and direction of the Christian Church, punished its sons and daughters severely and ruthlessly for wanting to be like the Muslims and for embracing the individual teachings of Islam if not the actual and complete Deen of Islam itself.

Thus, the Qur’an made it clear that human success and salvation lay in reading and education. And the Muslims showed the world how. They became the Education People of the World.

Sabaq Phir Parh, Says Iqbal

So, let us relearn that lesson of universal education all over again. Let us put every ounce of energy we can to become the Education People one more time, such that no son or daughter of Islam, shall ever again be without the best education that it is possible for a human being to have in this world.

We can do it if we set our minds to it, should that be the will and pleasure of Almighty God.

It is the same lesson that Muslims need to learn all over again, says that towering super-genius, that matchless Urdu-Farsi poet and thinker, that piercing seer and visionary and that amazing man of God, Iqbal, Rahmatullahi Alaih!

The present condition of the Muslims, therefore, is not a cause for despair or depression. This is a challenge to us to be motivated, fired up and rededicated to the mission for which Allah created us in the first place: educating the world.

And that includes Muslims. Every man and woman on earth, Muslim as well as non-Muslim.

So, all we need to do is to gird up our loins, pull up our socks and each and every one us dedicate ourselves to teaching everyone we can whatever we can: from Qur’an to Hadith; from science to math; from history to geography; from carpentry to masonry; from computers to calligraphy; from cooking to sewing; from everything to everything else.

That is the power and the vision that lies behind that simple command of Iqra! It says: Go change the world, and start with education. The most complete and comprehensive education of the best kind that you can possibly get or provide.

To my fellow-Muslims I say: What are we waiting for? Let us get started. Let us do it. Let us do it however we can and wherever we can. We don’t need, at least right now, any resources other than what we have: ourselves. That is the most important resource we have.

We are our resources. Let me repeat: We are our resources. Let us not waste those most precious and valuable of resources that Allah has put at our disposal.

Those who know, let them teach those who don’t know. Those who know more, let them teach those who know less. That is not my idea. That is the formula given to us by Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in his last speech at Makkah during the Hajj.

Those who are here let them take this message to those who are not here, he said, who knows they may be better able to comprehend it.

So let us mobilize every resource every individual in the Muslim community everywhere. Let us mobilize every community everywhere. Let us mobilize every mosque in every community. Let us mobilize every imam in every mosque. And let us mobilize every man and every woman.

And with these resources at our disposal, let us go change the world. Let us go give the world an education. Let us educate every Muslim and non-Muslim and every male and every female everywhere, till there is not a single uneducated man or woman left in the world.

That is what Islam came in this world to do. And this is what Muslims did not do for the longest time. And this is what Muslims must start doing without any further delay and without any excuses.

For, there is no job better than this in this world. Hear the Hadith of Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, say it: Khairukum man ta’allamal Qur’ana wa ‘allamahu!

Paraphrase: There is not one thing anyone of you can do that is better than learning and teaching how to read.

That is how broad and inclusive is the meaning of that expression Qur’an in the Qur’an.

Each One, Teach One!

So, let us use all means and methods that are presently at our disposal. And what we don’t have readily available, let us invent and improvise. Let us use all the formal as well as informal methods of educating the Muslims – and non-Muslims – that we can find or think of.

Let us organize all kinds of Muhims, Morchas and camps for the purpose of educating the people – the Muslim people as well as the non-Muslim people. Let us make this the mission, the very purpose of our lives. Let us turn every mosque and every house into a school. And let us educate every male and female and every adult and child everywhere.

And let us educate everyone in every subject under the sun – from the sciences to the arts to all kinds of skills and crafts to Qur’an and Hadith and history and everything else.

If nothing else, let each one of us teach at least one other person. And then as we get used to that idea, let each one of us teach ten others.

Want an instant and complete social and educational revolution – anywhere on earth? Want an Islamic Inqilab – wherever you may be living? Want to change the world? Want to make our natural habitat earth better for all its inhabitants without considerations of race or religion, or caste, creed or gender?

Want to change the condition of Muslims in India? Want to transform life in India from what it is to what it should and could be: socially, politically, morally, economically and in every other way?

Want to establish a so-called Islamic State – Government of God on earth?

Then just follow the Islamic method of Each One, Teach One.

That is how the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did it for his time – and for all times to come. That is how he did in his place in Seventh-Century Arabia. And that is how you can do it – for your own time and in your own place., wherever you may be living.

You don’t need any resources other than yourself.

How Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Did it

Let us take a look at how Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, unleashed the first educational revolution in the world – 1400 years ago. He first made it completely clear to everybody that God was everyone’s God. He then told everyone that the earth and its richness and fruits belonged to those who toiled mightily and with iron discipline toward the goal of achieving them.

To the tireless toil of a noble life he applied the most glorious name of Jihad. And the iron discipline of living a good, honorable and responsible life on earth, he called Islam.

And God spoke through his mouth.

And God gave him a book to read that he called Reading or the Qur’an. And the first word of that book that came down from heaven to earth was “Read!” It was a common command to humanity – male as well female; old as well as young; rich as well as poor – to learn to read and write.

To do everything in their power to seek education.

He was in a cave in a mountain when God through his angel asked him to read. He emerged from the cave, collected his wits and set about explaining to a benighted humanity who he was and what his role on earth was. “I am God’s messenger to you all,” he said. “And my mission on earth is to teach,” he said.

“I am a teacher,” he said. “And I am here to teach you all.”

And he set about teaching them. And he taught them everything about everything and all things about all things, based, of course, on their capacity to bear the burden of knowledge that was being imparted to them.

“He was extremely careful not to overdo it, not to tire us out,” his noble companions said.

And he told them to pursue education wherever it might be, even if it were in China. And he said it was the duty of every man and woman to be educated.

When I consider all the things he said and did to educate his people and I look at today’s Muslims, especially the so-called “Good Muslims,” whatever that means, because the “Bad Muslims” don’t really count in this equation, and I think about these Muslims’ general lack of concern with education, I am left wondering what kind of Muslims are these that don’t seem to know or care about the first thing about Islam!

In any case, that is what he said and that is what he did: our dear, beloved Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. And this is what we do. He was all about education and we are all about ignorance. He was all about accommodation and compromise on the biggest issues of the day and we are all about petty fights, bickering and hairsplitting on the most trivial of matters.

He told his companion Abu Dhar that to learn a single Aayat of the Qur’an was better for him than praying 100 Rak’at Namaz in the mosque.

And here is the method that God gave him and which he used to teach and educate the world. It was the method of Each One, Teach One.

He asked everyone to be a leader. And lead their respective flocks to success.

Kullukum raa’in,” he said. “Wa kullukum mas’oolun ‘an ra’iyyatihi.” Paraphrase: You all have a flock of your own. So take full responsibility for your own flock. For, you will be held accountable for it.”

He told those who were present with him to convey his message and teach those who were absent. He said: A-laa falyuballighush-shaahidul ghaa-ib.

And here is another miracle of miracles, one of his most glorious Hadith: Khairukum man ta’llamal Qur’ana wa ‘allamahu. Paraphrase: The finest people in the world are students and educators.

“Teach yourself the Qur’an and then turn around and teach others the Qur’an,” he said. “For, those who teach the Qur’an to themselves and then to others are the best people on earth.”

They are the salt of the earth.

This World Is Knowable, Next World Is Not

But don’t forget, Qur’an being the Mother of All Knowledge – Ummul Kitaab – not a single branch of knowledge or education falls outside its purview or jurisdiction, regardless of whether it pertains to this world or the next world. And let us not dare forget that “Addunay,” as Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, put it, is, “Mazra’atul Aakhirah!”

That means this world is the pathway to the next world. It is our compass on the highway to heaven. It is preparation for the next world. What we sow here is what we will reap there. All our work and all our effort are concentrated in this world. This is where we live and work.

The next world is where we get paid for the work we did in this world. That is where we get evaluated for all that we did or did not do in this world and get rewarded or punished. So, this world is where all the action is. So, we have to know this world inside and out. For, without knowing this world well, we will not be able to live in this world successfully or practice any Islam in this world.

And that is what happened to Muslims. They started to know less and less about this world. Their condition became so pathetic that they ended up becoming total ignoramuses on practically all things pertaining to this world.

The irony and tragedy of it is that even as Muslims learned less and less about this world, they paradoxically claimed to learn more and more about the next world. This was a contradiction in terms.

For, there was really not much for us to learn about the next world. The next world was all Aalamul Ghaib – hidden away from our sight and knowledge. And it is completely out of our reach – until after death. We know about it only what we are told in the Qur’an and Hadith.

The only world we can know or learn anything about is this world of the senses in which we live. This is the Aalmush Shahaadah. This is the only world that is knowable in this world.

But that is the kind of bind Muslims got themselves into. And it turned out to be a sure recipe for disaster. I don’t know how much success the Muslims guaranteed themselves in the next world, but as a result of this warped perspective that they developed, they sure ended up being a failure in this world.

And that failure gets worse by the day.

Instead of focusing on knowing and learning about the knowable world (Aalamush Shahaadah) and using that knowledge to turn this earth into paradise and also at the same time earn Paradise in the hereafter, Muslims began to concentrate their efforts and energies on trying to know the unknowable world, (Aalamul Ghaib,) which is by definition and by its very nature not open to human access or knowledge while human beings are still in this world.

Yaa hasratan ‘alal ‘ibaad: Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Forgive me for translating the Qur’an using Shakespeare.

So do bear in mind that the Qur’an applies to both worlds and not a single branch of knowledge or education falls outside its sphere or guidance.

Therefore, it is all a question of proper understanding and perspective.

Also bear in mind that Muslim downfall began when, instead of going after every branch and field of knowledge wholeheartedly and with full gusto, Muslims sat around and spent their time and energies discussing what knowledge was good and what knowledge was bad. This is a practice and luxury that many Muslims indulge in even to this day.

The Qur’an Campaign

When we began our Read-the-Qur’an Campaign in the West Indies, this was the method we followed: the method of Each One, Teach One. Then later on, as the campaign gained momentum, we, Mashallah, upgraded that to Each One, Teach Ten.

This is the model we are working with at present: Each One, Teach Ten.

Our goals in doing this were many. One of those goals was to firmly plant the Qur’an campaign in the methodology of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Another goal was to empower the broad masses of Muslims with the knowledge of the Qur’an and do so directly and without dependence on a selected few among us.

Our third goal was to make the Qur’an campaign movement self-sustaining. We wanted to make sure this movement will not flutter and die in a few months or years for lack of teachers and specialists – such as the Mowlanas and so-called Islamic scholars.

The resulting success of this mission was, by the Grace of Allah, nothing less than spectacular. There were people of all ages and educational and social backgrounds teaching the Qur’an Naazirah – how to read the Qur’an in its original Arabic script and language – to themselves as well as to others.

They were teaching the Qur’an to people of all ages and educational and social backgrounds.

Thus, university professors, doctors, scientists, engineers and others were sitting around teaching the Qur’an to people without much formal education or training of any kind – and vice versa. And there were 10- and 12-year-olds teaching people who were 60 and 75 years old.

Grandmothers graciously accepted being taught and tutored by their own grandchildren.

Training Multiple Generations under One Roof

Thus, multiple generations were being trained and educated contemporaneously under the same roof without too much fuss or fanfare. Take my word: The divine method of Each One, Teach One works splendidly, Mashallah.

To achieve maximum intensity, we put everyone in the same room or hall or open space and let everyone work with everyone else and teach and learn from everyone without paying any attention to what the others were doing. The resulting spectacle could only be believed by those who actually witnessed those scenes.

Of course, we had to work hard and tap our creative potential to the utmost to foster the right spirit, the right attitude and the right frame of mind among these rapidly alternating cadres of students and teachers.

The hardest thing to achieve was simple physical and mental discipline. Not strategic and general dedication and commitment, but tactical, operational and specific discipline: for would-be teachers as well as for would-be students.

It is hard for a 70-year-old successful industrialist to sit down and let a 10-year-old teach him how to read the Qur’an and to repeatedly correct him when he made mistakes. It is also not easy for a 13-year-old surrounded by others of the same age not to lose concentration and lapse into more age-appropriate behavior as some would call it.

So also, it was not easy to get grown men and women to sit down like school children and not talk to each other for hours on end, but to get on with the job at hand and give it their one-hundred-percent attention and concentration. But it did happen and in fact it happened with greater ease than we thought was possible.

When Allah’s Help Comes Calling

It is obvious that only God Almighty can make amazing things like that happen. What is also obvious is that divine help does come calling when you most need it. And when you have worked hard and prepared yourself in every way to receive it.

Mataa nasrullah, is what people most often say when they have nowhere else to turn. They have done everything in their power. And they don’t know what else to do. So, now they turn to the only source of help they know: God Almighty.

So they cry out in anguish, Mataa Nasrullah: “When will Allah’s help come?”

To which Allah responds: “Don’t you know Allah’s help is near?” A-laa inna nasrallahi qareeb!

So Allah’s help came in ways we had no way of expecting or anticipating. But we saw it when and as it came. And we knew it came from him. And when it came, it made the impossible, possible. And also made the most difficult and challenging things easy.

And it brought with it resources no one even thought existed. As the Qur’an says, Min haiythu laa yahtasib – we know not whence or how.

At the same time, we also launched an organized campaign for Muslim schools to teach Muslim children the Qur’an as part of the schools’ regular curriculum. We trained teachers and principals in how to read the Qur’an and showed them how to train their own pupils in their own schools.

Many of these teachers and administrators actually volunteered their time after work-hours to teach themselves how to read the Qur’an following our method so that they can then start teaching the pupils in their respective schools. Who says Muslims have no heroes?

Allah bless and reward them and bless their efforts and purify their motives and intentions. For, without purity of motives, Allah’s work does not get done. And in the divine calculus without right intention no human act is worth anything.

And may Allah protect them and their work.

It may be hard for those who have not passed through our programs to believe it, but these teachers and others, they all started at the beginning, that is, with the Arabic alphabet: Alif, Baa, Taa and so on. Every single one of them: adults as well as children.

So bear in mind that when all is said and done, as they say, it is Allah’s help that settles the issue. This is not to say that Allah’s help is not there in the beginning. It is. And it was. If Allah did not help, nothing will happen. Not a blade of grass will move without Allah making it so.

The truth is Huwal Awwal wal Aakhir: he is the beginning, he is the end.

But Allah is so generous and so gracious – Kareem – that he gives us credit for things that are totally and completely his doing. As if on our own and without help from him we are capable of anything. How many of us can swallow our food without help from God? Or tie our shoelaces?

They Read the Qur’an, but Their Mother Tongue Is English

And maybe Allah likes to see some action – some effort on our part.

In the case of the Qur’an Campaign in the Caribbean, we had been at it for nearly 40 years. Doors had been slammed in our face. We had been shoved and pushed and banned from mosques and thrown out of meetings. Powerful and rich people marched into our homes to intimidate and buy us.

Well-connected people tried to get the government to throw us out of their land.

But we kept at it. No. Make it “But Allah kept us on track.” He made us go after it over and over again. If not in one place then in another place. If not with one group of people then with another group of people. He made us persist. He gave us Istiqaamat.

And lo and behold, then all of a sudden, it was happening. After nearly 40 years of struggle, but in ways and at a time, when no one expected or anticipated.

Tabaarakallahu Rabbul ‘Aalameen! Blessed be his name! It is his world, his kingdom. A-laa lahul khalqu wal amr.

Christians pray: “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven!” Tell them, his kingdom is already here. It never left. And his will is done on earth even as it is done in heaven.

Tell them, he is the only king, of both heaven and earth. And entirely and completely, it is his will alone that works everywhere.

Tell them that it is his writ and mandate that runs this world as well as the next world. It is his law that moves the earth even as it is his law that binds and moves the heavens.

So, using this divine method of Each One, Teach One, we now have, by the Grace of the Almighty, a mini-revolution on our hands. We now have any number of people of any age and social and educational background, male as well as female, who now Mashallah read the Qur’an, with the comfort, confidence, facility and fluency of those whose mother tongue may have been Arabic.

But there is one small difference. And it is a critical one. The mother tongue of not a single one of these amazing men and women, boys and girls, is Arabic. It is English.

And God Almighty blessed us with this most amazing social, educational and cultural transformation in the unbelievably short span of about five years – if we were to look at the latest phase of this work.

So, Let Us Change the Condition of India’s Muslims

So, let us change the condition of Indian Muslims, starting from today.

Let every single one of us start from today to teach what we know to everyone else who does not: whether it is math or computers; biology or Arabic; Hindi or history; or whatever else.

Including the Qur’an. For, the Qur’an is all of that and more.

Let us do it for five years and let us see what happens. Five years are not even a blink of an eye in the lives of nations. They are not even a wrinkle on the brow of time. They will pass before they even begin.

Let us do it without excuses. And without prevarications – what people in Urdu call Tal Matol.

Let us do it by putting aside all mutual jealousies and petty grievances and animosities. And let us do it all together without getting in each other’s way.

Let us do it with nothing but the fear of Allah and the love of his creation and his people filling our hearts.

And let us do it with the firm resolve and unshakable determination to take our destiny in our own hands and to change the condition of our people. And, in the process, to change the condition of the world.

Let Us Teach the Whole World, Not Just the Muslims

So, Muslims, let us convert every home, mosque and veranda, and let us convert every Baramada, living room and kitchen into a school. Let us teach every adult, every child, every man and every woman.

Let us teach on the streets of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. And let us teach on the street-corners of all other cities, towns and villages throughout India.

And wherever else Muslims have their habitat.

Let us teach under the public lamps and under the blazing sun and let us teach by the moonlight. And let us teach under the Pipal, Neem, Bargad and mango trees.

And let us teach on the banks of Ganga and Godavari and let us teach on the beaches of Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. And let us teach on the rocks of every hill in India.

Let us teach in the shade of Qutb Minar and Lal Qila’h and let us teach under the burning sun on the ruby-red parapets of Jama’ Masjid, Delhi, and Fatehpur Sikri, Agra.

Let us teach until there is no one left to teach, and until there is no subject left to teach.

And when we are done teaching the Muslims, let us teach the non-Muslims. Let us teach the Dalits; let us teach the Hindus; let us teach the Brahmins; and let us teach the Christians, the Jews and all the others.

Let us teach them all what they know not, just like the Qur’an said: ‘Allamal insaana maa lam ya’lam. God Almighty, using the pen, taught human beings all that they did not know.

We are the instruments of God on earth. We are the tools of the Qur’an in this world. So, let us get on with it and teach everyone everything they do not know, just like the Qur’an says.

And let us teach everyone everywhere until there is no one left to teach. And let us teach everyone everything until there is nothing of any kind left to teach.

Let us teach the world. For, that is our mission in life. And that is the very purpose of our creation on earth.

Be a Nation of Teachers: Let Everyone Teach Everyone

Let us thus become a nation of teachers, Muslims, let us become a nation of educators. Let us become what we were originally and forever meant to be. Let us become what our Rasul, our dear beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was sent into this world to be: a Mu’allim: a teacher; an educator; a mentor to humanity.

Yu’allimuhum and Yuzakkeehim: teaching and building character. That was his mission on earth. That is what he came into this world to do. That is what God Almighty sent him into this world to do.

And now, in our own time and place, that is what you and I are supposed to do: do what he did, which is teach the world.

So, let us – let every single one of us, male as well as female, rich as well as poor – dedicate ourselves to this divine goal of spreading knowledge and education throughout the world for the next decade – for the next ten years of our life – and then let us see what happens.

I know all kinds of perils stalk us and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The government will continue to deny us our rights; the fanatics and criminals will continue to kill us, burn us alive and try to bring economic ruin to us; and the agenda-setters and propagandists among the media and politicians will continue to malign us and make our name mud.

But let us put on blinders for a moment. Let us embark on this new path of educating Muslims and the world. Let us now travel this new path, which in fact should have been our old, our eternal path, the path from which we deviated with such disastrous consequences. The path that we for so long forgot and paid such a heavy price for forgetting it.

Back to the Twin Strategy of Ta’aleem and Tazkiyah

So Muslims, let us give this Qur’anic remedy of universal and all-round education a chance and let us see what happens.

If you do this for ten years Muslims, don’t be surprised if the sea parts and the fire pit turns into a rose garden for you. For, Aag kar sakti hai andaaz-e-gulistan paidaa, if only you can bring the right kind of dedication to it.

So, who among us is willing to rise to this challenge? And start a one-man, one-woman campaign to educate and change the world, including the Muslim world?

So, for the time being, these are the two paths to changing the condition of the Muslims: One, education or Ta’aleem; two, character building or Tazkiyah. And the two of them together make one incredible miraculous cure for all that ails the Muslims – in India as well as in other places.

For, education without character is empty and character without education is blind.

In part, it is divesting character from education that has gotten the world in the kind of trouble it has. Ivy League education, considered by many to be among the best in the world, without character to match, could lead to economic collapse and incalculable human misery around the world, just as it might have done over the past several years and decades.

In the same way, to arm and empower lust, greed, lack of morals and ruthlessness with the tools of the best and the most sophisticated education and training in the world is like placing the world’s deadliest arms in the hands of thieves and scoundrels.

So, to separate character from education will not help the Muslims. They must have both if they have to find success in Dunya and Aakhirat both.

So, Muslims, everyone is in a position to teach something, so round up everyone and start teaching. Don’t ask who and don’t ask what. Just start teaching.

And watch the fun.



© 2009 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.