Islam and the Current Challenges
Saalih Ibn Humayd
Brethren in faith! Fear Allaah as He should be feared, for whoever fears Him will receive His protection; whoever turns to Him in repentance will receive His guidance and pleasure; whoever humbles himself in His worship will be honoured by Him and whoever transacts honourably with Him will prosper.
Fellow Muslims! Trials and afflictions are sent to awaken the affected nation to a serious and sincere review of its culture and civilisation, as well as a transparent assessment of its actions. This is because it is civilisation and culture that influence people's behaviour and concerns. Indeed, there is a dire need for this self-examination in order to identify causes of weakness and defect. Monumental challenges and crises awaken nations and constitute major turning points in their history; they rouse them to strive hard for their progress and development.
Indeed, past failures do not in any way kill the future of an afflicted nation; rather, they draw its attention to its potential and capability. Allaah says regarding the tribulation of the Battle of Badr that which means: “If a wound should touch you – there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allaah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs – and Allaah does not like the wrongdoers - And that Allaah may purify the believers [through trials] and destroy the disbelievers.” (Aal ‘Imraan: 140-141).
When major incidents take place, they do not affect a nation alone but affect most nations of the world, for they generate numerous religious, economic, social and political reactions. What is therefore expected of the intelligentsia of the affected nation is a fundamental review of its policies and systems as well as the effects of these on individuals and nations. Moreover, all contemporary principles, systems and policies of this age require scrutiny and re-examination.
There are indeed some current systems that are beneficial materially, technologically, medically, economically and educationally, but what effect have these useful systems had on those who propagate them? It seems as if the very propagators of these systems are themselves devoid of any compassion or mercy; they proclaim systems whose implementation is biased; they speak of freedom, democracy and human rights but their actions contradict their statements. Contemporary history is full of arrogance, ostentation, dictatorship, humiliation, oppression of weak nations and usurpation of their wealth. Justice and ration therefore demand that the afflicted nation should deal with other nations honestly, wish them well and review its policies towards them as well as to seriously reflect upon the basic factors that have caused people's hatred towards it.
What benefits are there of principles and systems that generate hatred and allow the humiliation of others? Of what use are policies that facilitate arrogance and haughtiness? Sincere reflection must be made upon the waves of violence that take place all over the world.
Let it be known that if violence is allowed to prevail instead of dialogue and mutual understanding, the voice of the weak will not be heard and justice will have no chance; and even worse than these is that aggression and violence will be legalised. It is therefore a must that all types of aggression, hostility, hatred and racism, be brought to an end.
Among the issues that need urgent review are the wars that have characterised this generation, in which many innocent lives have been lost and in which destructive weapons that not only kill but also cause impairment and chronic diseases to the living are wantonly used. What then is the benefit of a system which has as its product, aggressive and unjust wars that know no law or norms? Compare this to the injunction of the Qur'aan about the purpose of fighting a war which says that which means: “Fight in the way of Allaah those who fight you, but do not commit aggression. Indeed, Allaah does not like aggressors.” (Al-Baqarah: 190) Statistics speak of millions of casualties of these senseless wars all over the world. Therefore, a careful and sincere review of these policies and systems in the light of their effects will go a long way in solving the problems at hand.
Brethren in Faith! The contemporary civilisation and philosophy are built on materialism. Faith has been restricted to things that are only perceptible to the senses to the exclusion of the all matters that are unseen; the concern is only for this world and its pleasures and all scientific discoveries are for the purpose of this mundane life alone. This pathetic situation is accurately described by Allaah when He says that which means: “They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware.” (Ar-Room: 7).
Therefore, no attention is paid to spiritual development. This clearly manifests itself in the excessive attention that is being given to sports, music, dancing, drama, etc. Religion has no impact on people's behaviour or on politics and systems of life. Religion has become a mere ritual according to this contemporary civilisation and war has been set up between it and science, and between body and soul. In these ideologies, there is no place for Allaah - the only recognised deities are statues and images. When any of these people carry out religious rites, it is to follow prevalent customs and traditions and nothing more. It is in view of this that brutality and violence have become the order of the day because many people no longer have any respect for Allaah and have become heedless of the Hereafter.
Brethren in Islaam! It is incumbent upon us to have a sincere and serious review of our own actions so that justice and truth will reign and falsehood be annihilated. The world is in need of a merciful system and policies that will promote justice and eradicate all weapons of mass destruction. It is in need of a structure that will have real respect for human rights and will guarantee for all people the right of self-determination, freedom and tranquillity. It is in need of a system that will put an end to colonisation and all types of hegemony and subjugation. It is in need of a system that will restore the rights of the oppressed and punish the oppressor appropriately, for fairness cannot be achieved through injustice nor can security be achieved through fear. The sense of revenge must give way to dialogue and mutual understanding. The countries of the world are in dire need of cooperation and unity in order to reside in peace and this is what the wise and sincere, who want the best for humanity, should call unto. If they fail to do so, then the weak will only continue to weaken further.
Nevertheless, history has shown us examples of civilisations and nations that have risen and fallen as well as that of communities that have persevered, resisted the aggression of devilish nations and therefore survived and flourished, for all affairs belong to Allaah. He says that which means: “… And those who have wronged are going to know to what [kind of] return they will be returned.” (Ash-Shu‘araa: 227) and also: “And We had certainly established them in such as We have not established you, and We made for them hearing and vision and hearts [i.e., intellect]. But their hearing and vision and hearts availed them not from anything [of the punishment] when they were [continually] rejecting the signs of Allaah; and they were enveloped by what they used to ridicule.” (Al-Ahqaaf: 26)
When one reflects over the crises that Islaam has undergone throughout its long history, it will be clear that despite the civilisation, light, justice and fairness that nations and communities enjoyed under the rule of Islaam, these crises significantly weakened the Islaamic civilisation in a way that has been a cause of joy for its enemies. However, these crises do have positive aspects; they have re-awakened the Muslims, afforded them the opportunity to examine themselves and created in them stronger determination and hope. Therefore, the multitudes of persecutions that afflict the Muslims today are but harbingers of a bright future for them. An example of this was what happened to the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud. It is in this regard that Allaah says that which means: “Those [believers] who responded to Allaah and the Messenger after injury had struck them. For those who did good among them and feared Allaah is a great reward – Those to whom people [i.e., hypocrites] said: ‘Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.' But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said: ‘Sufficient for us is Allaah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.' So they returned with favour from Allaah and bounty, no harm having touched them. And they pursued the pleasure of Allaah, and Allaah is the possessor of great bounty. That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.” (Aal ‘Imraan: 172-175)
Having established that whatever evil has afflicted the Muslims is the result of their own deeds, there is certainty that they possess strong spiritual values that are embodied in the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in which they believe and upon which they stand. These two measures are the criteria for identifying all points of deviation and it is by them that the Muslim nation will be able to rectify its situation and rise again against all the odds – by the will of Allaah.
The Islamic Law is the Muslim's source of strength and immunity during ideological crises. Despite the fact that invading modern trends have achieved great success worldwide, the Islaamic world and its societies, regardless of all their sufferings, are by the will of Allaah united in resisting this invasion. Islaam is the religion of truth and is firmly rooted among the Muslim societies.
Although, the Muslims do not reject anything new which is beneficial, they refuse to subscribe to the notion that these invading trends are the only ideal way of life that must be universally adhered to. Muslims are open-minded people who welcome any progress that brings benefit for mankind; they are not enemies of science, technology or beneficial civilization. However, Islaam will never accept being subordinate to or melt into any other cultures or civilizations as many other religions and cultures have done, for Islaam is the protected and everlasting religion of Allaah.
Moreover, it is a source of honour and pride that Islaam, through its creed, law and culture, has provided for mankind that which other civilizations have failed to. Muslims are therefore capable of overcoming their problems and settling their differences with the help of Allaah. They should therefore strive to understand the reality of their religion and the nature of their message so as to be able to fulfil their responsibility towards themselves and humanity in general, bearing in mind the saying of Allaah which means: “…Indeed, Allaah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (Ar-Ra‘d: 11)