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Philosophy is a mental attitude. A philosopher has no direct concern with practical life or history. He draws conclusions from events and conditions but takes no practical part in the efforts to change them. Religion (in its current restricted sense) goes a little further. It sets forth certain beliefs, and separating the individual from society, also gives him some moral lessons. But the path of religion lies outside any collective system. It neither interferes with the political conditions nor seeks any comprehensive change in social institutions, nor challenges the leadership of the time. The preaching of religion is on the lines of a sermon. The preacher makes some exhortations in idealistic words and passes on. He cares little about the condition of his hearers, whether they are free or in bondage, nor worries how the public mind and character are moulded by the activities of interested groups, nor does he think about what influences the trend of daily events, nor even about ideologies acting against his own exhortations or to what social system his most ardent followers belong. He has no social ideal nor any plan of changing it. He has no political sense nor capacity for leadership. He does whatever he can to instil partial virtue in one department of life, while the rest continues to flourish unchecked. What has a man of God to do with it!

 

Our Prophet, on the other hand, was neither a philosopher to be contented with just propounding some lofty ideals without taking any note of the factual conditions nor a mere preacher who gave only pleasant sermons and shut his eyes to the pervasive evil and never bothered about the consequences. This redeemer of the humanity was gifted with social awareness and planned a complete transformation of human society. He comprehended the forces and elements dominating the society, kept in view the leadership which was at the helm of the crude social order, argued against it, criticized it and even challenged it. He kept his eyes on the trend of history and watched every event. He looked upon every move with the insight of a leader and with a political consciousness and whether it would be a help or hindrance in his campaigns of reform. He kept his eyes on all elements of society to ascertain at what time each may be expected to help. He matched his strength against that of the enemy and waited for the most appropriate time to strike and when that time arrived he boldly advanced. He minutely studied the movements of public opinion and smashed every propaganda of the enemy. Hostile fronts of poets and orators were formed and to meet them he set up rival groups of poets and orators. He strictly followed his principles but not with closed eyes, rather watched the conditions and expediencies and adopted the wisest course. Wherever he found opportunity he advanced his steps but when the occasion was unfavourable he retraced his steps. Where two evils were faced he avoided the one and dealt with the other. When war was inevitable he did not shirk it and when peace was possible he would not shun it but readily extended his hand of friendship. And what is most remarkable is that in all his dealings he not only observed but also advocated fear of God and the moral approach. When we consider this in the light of the Quranic teachings, we can easily discover the difference between a religion and a system mere preaching and a revolutionary call, individual purity and collective transformations.

 

Since the Prophet had launched a new order, he selected persons of sound intellect and everybody who had his heart illumined by truth was absorbed in the order after a severe test and whatever organized forces were available at a particular time were put under his guidance to fight against the barbarous system, intellectually and politically, and, as a last resort, on the battlefield.

 

He did not make Sufis and derveshes (monks) of those who gathered around him and did not lead them on to the path of hermits and ascetics. He did not expect them to dread evil or fear those in authority. They were not simple-minded and inert worshippers, but bold, fearless, conscientious, wise, self-respecting dignified, intelligent, sensible, active, energetic, initiators and restless workers. They did not adopt the ways of priest and sadhus (priests) but were endowed with ability to lead. Men of refinement after the best training and association with the finest order under the best guidance became an invincible force. It was thus in spite of being a small minority they dominated over the pagan Arabs. When in Makkah the number of Muslims was just forty, it created such a stir in the city and the surrounding areas that for years it was the main topic of conversation. In Medina, while the supporters of the Islamic movement hardly exceeded a few hundred, an Islamic state was established in the face of a non-Muslim majority.

 

For establishing a collective order, the Prophet did not wait for the whole of Arabia to accept Islam or till the majority of them was reformed. Nor was it his idea to go on preaching and reforming thoughts and beliefs till at last a wholesome order emerged or God fulfilled Himself by making them dominant. He knew from history that the bulk of the common people remain passive while only a small minority becomes active, and one section of it becomes the bearer of reform or revolution while another section obstructs it. The real struggle is between these two factions of active elements, and when the scores are settled the masses are aroused of their own accord. He was full aware that so long as evil leadership stood in the way and continued its campaign of contaminating the people or at least in keeping them stagnant, they could not accept a call for reform nor bring about a change in their lives. Even for those who had responded to the call, it was not possible to reform their lives to the full extent in the prevailing corrupt atmosphere.

 

On the other hand, if the revolution is delayed it becomes difficult for those who have achieved a position after long efforts as the bearers of truth to maintain that position, since the adverse conditions exert their full force in pushing them back. Thus the only course open to a collective movement is to gather as much strength as possible by selecting right-minded persons from among the active elements and to put them in the struggle against the opponents and break their ranks. History proves that all revolutions have been accomplished by active minorities. Since the movement for reform attracts comparatively larger numbers from among the active elements, rouses their latent sentiments and enhances their moral strength by training, the opposing group despite its power and influence, wealth and resources and also numerical superiority is defeated in the struggle. The Battle of Badr is a clear proof of this. So when the Prophet collected a sufficient number of right-minded persons, who, steeled by moral force, could confront the evil leadership and its supporters, he did not hesitate in taking the necessary steps to achieve his political aim. The real significance of the victory over Makkah is that the evil leadership was totally subjugated and as soon as it was routed people voluntarily began to respond to the call of truth.

 

There is not a single example in history where any virtuous system has ever prospered under evil leadership or that a collective revolution was accomplished by mere preaching and sermons and individual reform without political struggle. During the last thirteen centuries after the Caliphate, there has been so much preaching and sermonising in the schools, khanqahs and mosques where people are actively engaged in individual reforms that even today the amount of work being done by the Ulema, Sufis, teachers and writers is gigantic in its magnitude, and yet no reform has been accomplished to the desired extent nor the society been so far developed as to bring about a transformation in the collective life as Prophet Muhammad’s revolution had brought about in Arabia fourteen centuries ago. Obviously, there is some missing link in the theory of revolution, and that is without political supports, change of leadership is impossible and so individuals are approached leaving the general social order untouched.

 

Unfortunately, the political aspect of the Prophet’s accomplishment has been so much obscured that it is difficult to form a true concept of his mission and aims, and unless this aspect is fully kept in view, it is impossible to understand the difference between limited religiousness and the wider concept of the Islamic order. The Prophet had come with a complete system to establish an order based on virtue and to enforce the Divine laws. We should understand that the Prophet launched the movement for comprehensive reform in the widest sense and to establish a new society, for carrying out this movement he was fully endowed with the ability of leadership and political consciousness and just as there is no other person equal to him in other respects, in the same way he has no match in the greatness of his political leadership.

 

 

The prophet ceaselessly advocated virtue, struggled for the supremacy of truth and established a complete system, on this basis. This cannot be comprehended within the narrow meaning of religion. It was a mission, and a movement.

 

The glorious movement of the Prophet, which established a Divine system of life by bringing about a revolution, had as its distinguishing feature caused the essence of its creed pervaded all aspects of life with equal strength. It dominated the entire social order. All the institutions absorbed its impact. The one God, Who was worshipped within the four walls of the mosque, was also Omnipresent and Omnipotent. The Qur’an that was recited was the same Qur’an that formed the basis of court judgements. Moral principles which were obeyed in the homes were also followed in international relations. The truth which was preached from the pulpits was also practiced in administration. The beliefs which were impressed on the minds of individuals were also enforced on collective institutions. The mode of thinking which guided the educational system also moulded the entire culture. The Divine pleasure which was sought in prayer was also sought on the battlefield and in wielding the bow and the sword. It was a system in which the entire human life was under one Divine law and different values and codes were not followed in different areas. There were no contradictions in the system and its different parts never clashed with each other. There was no confusion. There was no eclecticism. It was due to this phenomenon that the humanity progressed under it with no parallel in history.

 

Taken from:  MUHAMMAD (Peace Be Upon Him), THE BENEFACTOR OF HUMANITY

 

 

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