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Part 2

Building up Strong Muslim Ummah
by Shah Abdul HANNAN


This talk was delivered by Shah Abdul Hannan, former Finance Secretary of Bangladesh. The title of the talk was "Building up Strong Muslim Ummah" which was addressed on Tuesday, the 22nd September-1998 at Sheffield Islamic Centre and addressed to the Sheffield local community and International students.

Let us look back at the causes of Muslim decline.

Let us look back at the causes of Muslim decline. As you all know we have been at the fore-front of expansion of knowledge. It is the Muslims who have been the principal actor in the field of knowledge in the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th century.

In the 11th, 12th, 13th century Muslim gave up the pursuit of knowledge. What happened? Why?. I have not the full answer but it appears to me that we neglected knowledge. It is clear from history that we neglected knowledge which led to our decline and among other  things is Taqlid, the blind following.

The Muslims started blindly following the old scholars and forgot their duties of pursuit of knowledge and Ijtihad by the senior scholars of Islam. If you want to know the level of Taqlid, I can refer to a book which I went through, there is book called Fatwah-e-Alamgiri which was prepared by 300 Alims at the time of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangjeb. They have discussed about 5000 issues and you will be surprised that after each issue nowhere they quoted any ayat of the Quran, no where they quoted the Hadith of the Prophet (sm). They quote some old books. They refer Tatarkhania, refer Shami, refer Baharurraik and refer Muhit, never to the book of Allah and never to the Hadith of Prophet (sm). After going through 12 volumes of Fatwai Alamgiri, I was dismayed, I was surprised, I got a shock. I want to mention that this taqlid was responsible for our decline. In such situation, the challenge of the West, political, cultural, economic and intellectual, how do we meet them, and also that we know the basic reasons of our decline, what should we do?

As I have said earlier we have to build economy and education etc. no doubt but above all we have to face the intellectual challenge of the West. If we want to build up an Islamic state, Islamic Ummah, Islamic societies, if we want to build up Islam based economy and economy based on Islamic values and politics based on Islamic values, there is no other way but face the western challenge. Explain the reasons behind Islamic injunction. As once upon a time Ilmul Kalam was developed that explained the roots of our faith, our Akaid (beliefs). Similarly, we have to build up new subjects, new responses to the challenge of the West, the intellectual challenge of the West. I think the most important thing is to build up individuals. If we have to build up strong Islamic Ummah we have to build up individuals. Why I say so, ultimately who runs the state, individuals, who runs the societies, individuals, who runs the economy, individuals, who runs banks, individuals, who runs the government, individuals. So my submission is that if we want to build strong Islamic Ummah, and face the challenge of the West we must build Islamically oriented individuals and great number of scholars and intellectuals in each field. For this I would suggest, if I can say that the prescription before us I would say is to build Islamic intellectuals. To build Islamic individuals, apart from Iman, apart from Akhlak(character), apart from practice, what is needed is I would say read, read, read. The prescription is read, read, read. I would say read, read, read. Any person cannot be a Islamic scholar unless he has read about 1000 Islamic books in addition to another 500/600 books of general interest. A first class Islamic worker cannot be prepared unless he has studied 500 Islamic books in addition to another 200-300-400-500 books on general matters. I suggest that the building up Ummah ultimately would depend on the one hand on to building strong economy, strong defence, good education, good infrastructure and so on for all of us. Facing the challenge of the West, threat of the West we have to build individuals. Because, ultimately, the individuals run the society.

What should we read? I think we should read as many Tafsir of Quran as possible, we should read as many commentry of Hadith as possible, we should have a firm grounding on Usul al Fiqh. Who do not know Usul al Fiqh, they do not understand how to classify Hadith. They do not know how to infer, derive laws from the Quran and Sunnah. They have not heard about Ibartunnas, they have not heard about Isaratunnas, they have not heard about Dalatunnas. They have not heard about Iktedaannas. These are the methods of derivation of the rules from the Quran and Sunnah. They have not heard it. A firm foundation of Usul al Fiqh is needed for anybody who wants to be a scholar of Islam and fight for Islam and work for Islam seriously. If you want to be a general worker, no problem but if you want to be serious worker. I can recommend a book to all of you in this regard a good book which is basically based on Arabic work of Usul al Fiqh, is a book by Dr Hashim Kamali, Islamic Jurisprudence published by Islamic Texts Society, Cambrige. The book is based on all earlier works in Arabic by the Ulema of Usul. I am coming to the close of my speech, so that you can ask some questions. I will make two three points. One is, apart from studies, we should take prophetic character, we should adopt the prophetic character. People say it is not possible to follow the Prophet fully. I do not agree. If it was not possible to follow the Prophet (sm), then Allah would not have said the life of the Prophet is a model for you” or Prophet (sm) would not have said his conduct is a Sunnah for all of us, he is a model for all of us,  is a guidance for all of us.

I believe personally that the need of the Muslim is to emulate Prophet (sm) fully. We should behave with our wives as Prophet (sm) behaved with Ayesha (ra). It is possible. It is possible to behave with our assistants as Prophet (sm) behaved with Zaid(RA). It is not true that Prophet (sm) cannot be followed fully.

So, I mean this is not properly understood and lastly, I would submit if we want to build strong Ummah, we must not ignore our women, we must not forget our women. They have the same potential for Islam, they have the same potential for Dawah, as man, because an ayat in the Quran  which was revealed in the 9th of Hijra in the last part of the Prophet's career says so. It is in Surattut Tawba.  The Ayat indicates that man and women are friend to each other, protector to each other, helper to each other. What do they do? The mumin man and women what do they do?

The common duties are to enjoin good and forbid evil, establish Salah, establish Zakat, follow Allah and  His Prophet. These six duties are the common duties of the Muslim man and Muslim women. This ayat clearly proves that the potentials of Muslim man and women are alike. We must not forget that the soul of Muslim men and women are alike, same. I mean in the basic level man and women are alike. There are differences of course. The structure of men and women are not same. The responsibilities and duties sometimes are little different. The basic levels are all the same, one. The souls are of same type. Allah (SWT) has not said anywhere that the souls of man and women are different. So, at the soul level, which is the most basic level, ultimately what is a human being, nothing but the soul, and about it Allah (SWT) says we are of the same type. Number two, despite all physical differences, Allah says, the physical level of men and women are really most excellent. Allah says in the Quran in Suratu Tin "Lakad Khalanal Insana ..............." that is, men women have the most excellent structure. Any solitary Hadith cannot be quoted against this teaching of the Quran. No majaji (allegorical) interpretation is possible here and thirdly we belong to the same family-the family of Adam and Hawa as has been stated in Sutatun Nisa. As we are all Muslims we must give the opportunity to Muslim women  to use and utilise their full potential. So in conclusion I would say that we  face major challenges in political field, in economic field, in social field, in cultural field and mostly in intellectual field. We have to prepare individuals, these individuals will create Muslim society and Muslim state and Muslim economy and politics and society and schools and education and Madrasha and Masjid. So I conclude my speech here. Thank you. Assalmaualaikum.

Q. Can Iranian constitution be an exapmle for Mulim Ummah-while Shias differ with us in many fundamental issues?

Ans: I would not discuss the Fiqh issues, the issues of Fatwah. But I would say as my opinion that the majority of Ulama approve Shia's as Muslims. They are allowed to perform Hajj in Mecca by a very conservative government and they are allowed to perform Hajj in Makktul Mukkarama. The Isna Asahria are considered an Islamic school of thought by the Fiqh academy of the OIC. Islamic Fiqh academy is the top most organisation who deals with the issues of Fiqh or Islamic issues who is Muslim and who is not Muslim. OIC has given a ruling that Bahai's are not Muslims that Qadianis are not Muslims but outside that they have not said anything and the seven Madhabs have been mentioned, Besides sunni Madhabs, there are Zaidia, the Isna Asharia. I am a small man to say on this issue. We need to allow Shia brotheres to establish their state and Sunni brothers to establish their states.

Q. How do we choose 500 books from so many books you mentioned in your talks?

Ans: I would say for example that there are major publishing houses, Islamic publishing houses. The Islamic Foundaton. I have learned that their number of publications is 249. There are many publications, like Ashraf Publication in Lahore which has published about 700 books. Islamic publication in Lahore has published another 300 - 400 books. Even if you read only the literature published by the Islamic organisation, the number would be 3000-4000. So you can read as much as possible.

Q. You have mentioned Ilmul Kalam, what is Ilmul Kalam?

Ans: Ilmul Kalam is also called Ilmul Tawheed, also called Akaid. This subject was not there during the time of Prophet (sm) or during the time of Sahaba. But when challenge came from the East and the West, from India and from the Greeks, it was necessary to explain the reasons behind our Akida- why do we believe in one God? Why do we believe? So many technical issues were raised. These questions were answered through the subject Ilmul Kalam or Ilmul Tawhid or Akaed. I refer a great book on this subject. The book is called Akidatul Islam by Mohammad al Gazali. I do not know whether it has been translated in English but I have read it's Bangla translation. In Bengali translation it is called Islami Akida.

Q. Could you please explain, now why all the Muslim countries are divided?

A. It is a difficult question, no doubt about it, but I will say like this-several reasons-one is ignorance about Islam. If you know Islam properly, you will not fight. Number two, western conspiracy is there, somebody is backing Iraq while somebody is backing Iran and western power is acting in their own way. I think that the Islamic leadership has also failed. If there would have been great Islamic leadership, religious leadership or scholarly leadership, then what would have happened they could go to the political leaders and advise them.

If there have been major scholars, outstanding scholars, they could go to the Prime Minister or the President and say do not do this, do this, do this. Such scholars we have not been able to produce in large numbers and we have forgotten the language of Dawah. We attack each other too much. Great Hasan al Banna said, Imam Hasan al Banna said that let us go forward, let us agree. Let us forget the differences and let us agree what we can agree and go forward. I think we have forgotten the language of Dawah. In any event the question is a big question and the answer is not so simple. I think the fault lies in the political leadership of Muslims as well, the political parties and also the failure of the Muslim Ummah as a whole to produce great great leaders and scholars who can talk to anybody at any time. But I think I have not given the full answer and I am not probably able to do that.

Q. What can be done to strengthen brotherhood among the Islamic countries?

A. Again it is very difficult question. I think OIC should be strengthened. I believe OIC should be really strengthened and some political leaders like Malaysian leader Tunku Abdur Rahman, he did a lot. Faisal was a father Figure, he did a lot. Unfortunately we are lacking father figures now. One or two leaders are needed in the Muslim world who can do it. Arbakan could do it but he was thrown out by the puppets of the West. We have a long way, I tell you brother that we have a long way that we must prepare great individuals, great individuals in Akhlak, in Iman, in morality, in Amal and also in knowledge. I say also in knowledge.

Q. Who can look after the Youth as Youth are the future.

Ans: I think, first of all, you look to the Prophet (sm). Read his life 10 times. I will tell you my story, how I became islamically oriented. My mother had a book of five lives of several hundred pages. The book was on Hazrat Muhammad (sm)- the Prophet, Hazrat Ali (ra), Hazrat Fatima (ra), Hazrat Hasan (ra) and Hazrat Hussain (ra). I read this book 5-7 times. It was a lot of reading, that reading made me. I never looked back and I turned away from all falsehood, Alhamdulillahi Taala. So I tell look to the Prophet (sm), look to the scholars, look to the great Khulafai Rashidin. I would not name but there are many good people in this society also. I do not think that Muslim society does not have good people. I think Muslim society have many good people, look to them. I do not want to name any one.

For Part 1

This issue is dedicated to such distinguished artists and author as (alphabetical order):
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Deadline: January 7, 2002
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