Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari
What has happened to us, the heirs of so brilliant and magnificent a civilisation? What has reduced us to our present living conditions? Why have we ceded the hegemony of our world to others? What has caused the decline in our culture, in our science and our political power? What stopped our progress in its tracks? Why have we yielded our leadership in manufactures and science to Westerners so that we now need them where they once needed us? Why must Muslims, with all their splendid past in East and West, hang their heads in the modern world?
It was not blowing our own trumpet or banging our own drum that raised Islam to world pre-eminence in its time. It was our culture, our remarkable spiritual and social revolution. Shame that we should waste our strength in conflicts amongst ourselves and in internecine tugs-of-war which have reduced the glory of Unity to an empty phoneme.
A strong nation can only be built on firm principles of manners, morals, order – sole sources of progress. Islam never owed its power to cannons and tanks and weapons but to the pre-eminence in thought amongst its Ulema, in character amongst its peoples and in following the guidance of God on the good road (for which we pray in the Fatihe 17 times a day), the road of justice, fellowship, brotherhood.
History demonstrates unmistakably that whenever the Muslims have constructed their philosophy of life in the spirit of the teachings revealed to them by Heaven, they have prospered : and whenever they have deserted those teachings, adversity and misfortune have been visited upon them. The Muslims who founded the brilliant culture and social wellbeing of the past followed those teachings more closely than we do, individual, society and nation alike.
The sun of culture shone while just measure and proportion was given to science, thought, matter and spirit. When we deserted those, the banner of endeavour, diligence and combat for right fell from our hands, only to be grabbed by the West in self- aggrandisement.
Where is the old Muslim sincerity: integrity, honesty and truthfulness? These were once the fences on either side of our path. When we transgressed across them we were lost in a trackless desert, and abandoned the holy calling, announced as God’s purpose for us, of leading mankind to live as God wills. Abandoning that destiny, we sank in the quicksands of corruption, ignorance and wretchedness which engulf us today. Yet a truly united Islam could return to that heavenly vocation and lead mankind’s feet on to the spiritual road. This would be a blessing for all.
Napoleon’s companion in exile on the island of St. Helena wrote: “In Egypt Napoleon constantly repeated his amazement at the blessings which the Prophet of Islam and her other great men in history had brought to the foreign lands they took under their sway. He looked with hope to Islam as the force which might again confer such blessings on the world, even saying: “I think I will take up Islam as my religion’.”
A true Islamic society would be very different from that which obtains anywhere in the world. Its thinking and its living must once again incarnate those heavenly principles of its inception. As the poet said:
“Islam’s pure truth’s from spot or blemish free:
Our Muslims blame for any fault you see.”
To take its full share in that moral and spiritual revolution which must come to the entire world, Islam must orient itself in today’s global realities. It must then undertake those internal reforms which will be its restitution for past backwardness. It must balance spiritual and material conditions in the right proportion in accordance with those principles of perfection which shaped the glories of its past and which are dictated by the Lord of both worlds – this one and the next. In these it will find, not merely its own internal stability, but also the secret of stability for the world and the way to mediate it to all mankind.