Phenomena and Obstacles

Muslim communities were inflicted, during a harsh phase of their lifetime, by cultural stagnation and decay. As a result, the diseases of ignorant and materialistic cultures slithered into their once-strong body. The maladies of western capitalist culture and the Eastern Communist one mingled with a set of morbid sediments and potent, deeply buried, long-standing factors of decadence. The character of the Muslims suffered from every kind of decay and ideological and behavioural breakdown.

Muslim society, meanwhile, was overcome by stagnation and disorder of awareness and conduct; understanding and mutual relationships; values and practices; thought and production; innovation suffered the tearing apart of the civilized and cultural fabric. It retraced its steps, regressed and fell into the pit of laziness, ignorance and cultural, political, scientific and social decomposition.

Gradually it began to lose the peculiarities of its character, the ingredients of its entity and its Islamic originality, which had always pushed it ahead of other nations. A reformer, who endeavours to rebuild and amend the cultural formula of the Islamic community has, first of all, to analyse its character and its constituents, and to examine the extent of depth of the disease and estimate how fatal a blow it deals to the community's reasoning for its existence and growth.

Naturally, he deals with these phenomena as obstacles; hindering factors, and a reverse, counter movement blocking the way of change and social reforms. So, he should channel all his efforts to fight these impairments and protect his own reforms and efforts, from their evils and destructive effects, to bring about social change.

By examining our Muslim communities, and studying the most common and harmful, morbid phenomena that are permeating them, one finds that they share common maladies. In addition, there are disgusting, local symptoms peculiar to each one of these societies. It is unwise to ignore these, for any attempt to reform society on solid Islamic bases without getting rid of the phenomena; uprooting them and obliterating their effects, is doomed. We must remember that these phenomena and symptoms are organically related to each other. They can be summarized as follows:

  1. Ignorance of Islam.
  2. Decline of Social Awareness.
  3. Disorder of Human Character.
  4. Weak Sense of Responsibility.
  5. Regression and Lack of Self-confidence.
  6. Despair of Change and Reform.

  7. Ignorance of Islam:

"... I admonish you lest you be of the ignorant." Holy Qur'an (11:46)

"And these parables, We set them forth for people, and none understand them but the learned." Holy Qur'an (29:43)

Ignorance is a dangerous enemy of man, the blight of life; the source of corruption; and the force that leads to decay and extinction. That is why Allah, the Most Exalted, warns Noah, peace be upon him, not to be ignorant:

"... I admonish you lest you be of the ignorant."

Ignorance is the key cause of the downfall of nations and the dissolution and rotting of cultures. Present-day Muslims suffer greatly from ignorance and scientific and cultural decadence. They have only a trifling share of knowledge. They know nothing of their noble Islamic mission. They are unmindful of their goals and roles in life as Muslims. And so it is not an easy task to remind them of their Islamic ideology and their cultural position, correct their concepts and view of life and rebuild their ideological and behavioural structure.

They are still groping about blindly in ignorance, in the alleys of invading principles, and yielding to the influence of foreign ideological currents and imported doctrines and theories, including communism, racism, capitalism, socialism, existentialism ... etc. This is simply attributed to their unawareness of the grand Islamic thought and ideology. It is also the result of the campaigns of distortion and suppression of facts organized by Islam's enemies, the most effective of which are crusading missionaries spiteful orientalists, and the followers of Communism, materialistic Capitalism and vicious zionism, which act through a variety of political and cultural facades.

In order to be successful in their mission, Muslim reformers have to spread Islamic culture and awareness, and cleanse the Islamic mentality of all invading, foreign doctrines, by employing every scientific means available.

2. Decline of Social Awareness:

Not every individual is able to analyze events; realize how they take place; or detect their positive and negative sides and not every person has the ability to realise the causes of corruption, and to be alert to that which takes place around him and threatens his own existence, The majority of people move within their daily circle of activities, without giving a thought to the social and cultural corruption and injustice which is engulfing their life; simply stated, they are not aware of their surroundings,

only being accustomed to and obsessed by their daily lives. Man has become a part of this pitiful reality; a human drop in a vast ocean; not pausing for a moment to ask himself: In which direction is this aimless human current moving? Why is there all of this injustice and mischievous corruption? Where am I going? But, how can he ask these questions when he lacks sound reasoning for his backward, stagnant life? How can he simply do this while his barren mentality is unable to think of reforms, or envision a new image of the world; one different from his own? How can he peer out of the window of reason to the spacious horizons of progress and freedom?

Such a man can never be fertile ground for Islamic reforms. Nor can he accept, receive of accommodate an Islamic way of effecting change for the better. Simply he is shackled by his stupidity and unrestrained freedom.

There is a pressing need for extraordinary great acts of historical and conscientious explosions to wake and sober people up to face the bitter reality of their existence. Heroes can discharge huge, deafening bombs of truth to awaken man's sleeping will and stir his inept depths.

Intellectuals and true adherents of the faith are able to shred to pieces the screen that prevents people from seeing things as they really are; great leaders can awaken a feeling of seriousness in their torpid, inactive nations: and, so, the Muslim reformer, who calls for Islam, should paint, faithfully and accurately,

the tragic state of humanity if he wants to address this group of people. Then, he should make a comparison between man's painful reality and the other way of life which Islam wants man to lead. Thus, adequately enthused and urged, man may move, of his own accord, to criticize his life, judging it in the light of a lofty call for a better and enriched one.

The Muslim preacher must also sow in his community the seeds of awareness so that it can proceed smoothly, with the sublime aims of Islam etched in its mind. Without such awakening, the gap remains wide between the Muslim preacher and the masses he is addressing. This gap represents a serious problem,

for the reformer can make no progress in an environment of torpor and paralysis. He finds no one to understand his call, nor anyone to share with him the shouldering of his mission. The people the reformer addresses are low in their awareness to his call and they do not respond to something they do not fully or adequately understand.

3. Disorder of Human Character:

"The hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, and He will requite their deceit to them. And when they stand up for prayer, they stand up sluggishly - they do it only to be seen of men and remember Allah but little. Wavering between that (and this-) (belonging) neither to these nor to those. And whomsoever Allah leaves in error, you will not find a way for him." Holy Qur'an (4:142-143)

"And when they meet those who believe, they say: We believe; and when they are alone with their devils, they say: Surely we are with you, we were only mocking. Allah will pay them back their mockery, and He leaves them alone in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on. These are they who buy error for guidance, so their bargain brings no gain, nor are they guided." Holy Qur'an (2:14-16)

The Qur'an, by these verses and others which are concerned with analysing the characters of both the individual and the group, raised the social awareness of the vanguards of Islam in its early days, depicting the shaky and hypocritical character which lacks originality and soundness, and possesses no internal tenacity due to its weakness and shattered will.

This morbid phenomenon of hypocrisy and double-dealing is a dangerous plague that may strike human cultures. Hypocrisy and character disorders, in any given society, deprive it of stability and harmony, and make it suffer from restlessness, breakdown, and collapse because of disharmony and lack of morals. The hoes of Islam realized the danger of this phenomenon on the Muslim society.

They worked on demolishing the Muslim character by subjecting it to the influence of contradictory political, social, and ideological currents; and to pressure, fear, and terror. The Muslim began gradually to lose his distinguished, independent character. Without originality and enlightenment, he easily fell prey to those invading ideologies.

The Qur'an pays particular attention to this phenomenon and alerts Muslims to it; warning those who do not feel affiliated to Islam-those who have no self-esteem, who are ready, at every moment, to bow humiliatingly to others, kissing their feet, who can change their beliefs as they change of profits, or getting short-lived social or political positions - that they should be mindful of their responsibilities. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) emphasized this phenomenon and laid great emphasis on the originality of the Islamic character. He said:

"Beware of being one who says: 'I am doing as other people do and if other people do good deeds so will I. If they do bad deeds then, so will I. Instead train yourselves to do good deeds when other people do, and avoid committing evil when other people do."

Imam Ali (a.s.) explained this point by saying:

"People are of three kinds: Spiritual scholars 'ulama' men who educate themselves as a means of salvation, and t he ignorant rabbles who follow every call, and move with every whim."

Islam calls on its followers to treat this last category of people with caution; to fight against this morbid condition fiercely and uproot its causes. It can only be done through deliberately and strictly building a solid Islamic character which is impervious to hypocrisy, self-destruction and aimlessness. A series of ideological and ethical injections would make the Muslim feel to be affiliated to Islam, which he should be faithful to, without the slightest feeling of fear, hesitation or internal weakness.

Once he conquers his weakness and internal defeatism, he will become a human force, possessed of will, and the freedom of choice. Then he can assume his role in fulfilling the Islamic mission; putting humanity on the right track, and standing firm in the face of disbelief, corruption and cultural crumbling.

Today, Muslim are suffering greatly from this most dangerous blight, which stands as a serious hindrance in the way of committed instructors, who guided by the Qur'an, are trying to improve the Muslims' condition and rebuild Islamic society on Islamic culture. It is a disease that they cannot simply ignore and must take it seriously for it is a plight to be reckoned with.

4. Weak Sense of Responsibility:

The sense of responsibility is a positive behavioural outcome which can only be found in the strong-willed men who feel they have the ability to fill the vacancies of life. It is a distinguishing mark of those people who are ambitious, feeling they belong to their group, and that they should do everything within their power to lead it to a good, decent, sin-free life. The responsible man knows where he belongs in life. He possesses excellent ethical sense, and strong will power.

But when this quality fades, and the malaise of reliance on one another takes hold, we cannot find, a single person who consecrates his life to serve his 'ummah'; feeling the pain and suffering of his fellowmen.

It is heartrending that this moral disease has permeated Islamic societies where hardly a person is found who feels responsible to his 'ummah', and commits himself to serve his faith and mission, discarding any trace of egoism or self-centredness.

Wakening a sense of responsibility within the Muslim Community is an indispensable prerequisite for a successful social endeavor.

Islam in the faith of responsibility; the religion that urges its followers to work. Life without a sense of responsibility is, in fact, chaos and a loss. That is why the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.) has said:

"All of you are shepherds, and all of you are responsible for your flocks."

And he is also reported to have said:

"He who no longer cares for Muslims' affairs is no longer a Muslim."

So, Islam connects faith with one's care for one's Muslim community and is the best way to free the Muslim individual from selfishness and self-centredness, and the habit of thinking only of his own interests, without giving thought to his brothers. Individualism, egoism; the shrinkage of the collective sense, and the lack of the feeling of responsibility are the most dangerous factors of destruction and subversion and for this reason Islam unrelentingly fought them and worked to get rid of them.