The Decline and Fall of the Human Being
Islam Today in the Light of Europe since the Renaissance
I want to make it quite clear at the outset that this talk is situated firmly within the context of the Qur'an even if it may sometimes appear to stray beyond the normal confines of Qur'anic commentaries. It must be remembered that Allah's final message was indeed just that and therefore encompasses all events and eventualities between the time of its revelation to the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alyahi wa sallim, fourteen hundred years ago and our own time. In fact, everything I am going to say is contained within the meanings of the opening chapter of Allah's Book, Surat al-Fatiha.
What I will show is that the last four hundred years have witnessed a profound change in the human situation. During this period political and economic power have been systematically removed from their traditional bases resulting in a kind of political and economic control unprecedented in the whole of human history. This has gone hand-in-hand with a narrowing and empiricisation of the parameters of knowledge which has made it more and more difficult to have access to the spiritual dimensions of existence beyond the physical universe and therefore to belief in God. In spite of the varied and intricate pattern of events and movements that has made up the history of the last four centuries, in which it is all too easy to get lost and distracted following one particular strand or another, we must never lose sight of that true view of history outlined for us in the Qur'an.
Human beings were created to believe in and worship their Creator and all human history is made up of cycles which start when belief and worship are restored to a human situation which has been allowed to relapse into unbelief and decadence. This gives that society renewed power and life and it flourishes until it, in its turn, falls away from its original purity, becomes corrupted and is itself renewed or replaced. Our own society, for all its sophistication and intricate structuring is merely part of the on-going human story and does not in any way fall outside the overall pattern. There are only believers and unbelievers and the inheritance is for those who believe.
I will start by using a number of key historical events as stepping stones to bring us from the 15th century of the Christian era down to the present time. These are the Renaissance, the Reformation, the English Civil War, the so-called Glorious Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the First World War, the Fall of Khilafa, and finally the Second World War. My intention in doing this is not to present a potted history of the last four hundred years, but rather to point out the existence of a continuous leitmotif, a kind of theme by which these events are shown to be connected parts of a single process.
While the Renaissance was not, strictly speaking, an event, it had a definable identity and played a key role in the process I propose to outline. In essence what the Renaissance did was to completely change the way that people viewed the world they lived in. Previous to it people had been happy to accept a world-view based on divine revelation. They accepted without question that God had created them and the world they lived in and that the whole universe is ordered according to God's laws. They knew that the physical universe was only one comparatively insignificant dimension of a vastly greater cosmological reality incorporating angelic and spiritual realms, and that this life leads inexorably to the after-death realities of the Gardens of Paradise and the Torments of Hell-fire in which all human beings will be rewarded or punished according to what they believed and how they lived. This true view of existence gave to man supremacy of place in the universe but only by reason of his unique relationship to God, his Creator and the responsibility which that relationship necessarily incurs. In other words, people's perspective on existence was totally God-centred.
With the Renaissance a crucial shift in this perspective took place which led gradually towards people viewing the world in a completely different way. Human beings started to see themselves as existing totally independently of their divine source and to measure the universe not by revealed truth, but by their own perception of it. In other words, man made himself the measure of the universe. The relationship between man and the the universe changed from being one of caretaker to him considering himself the lord of all he surveyed. The implications of this shift were enormous and brought about a new approach to knowledge and to man's role in the universe thus opening the way to everything that has happened since. Ironically by placing himself at the centre of existence and severing the vital link tying him to his Creator, rather than exalting himself, man sowed the seeds of his own degradation and alienation. The point is that by the end of the Renaissance man viewed himself as the master of existence and the arbiter of his own destiny.
What happened at the Reformation is a logical extension of this new way of looking at the world. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the Church door in Wittenburg on 31st October 1517 and declared his independence from the Established Church in Rome he was in essence positing the supremacy of the individual over Divine revelation. He may not have realised that this was what he was doing, but subsequent events show this to have been the result of his action. He made it possible for people to reject the traditional understanding of what was right and wrong which was based on a previously unbroken connection with original prophetic teaching, and for them to decide these matters for themselves in the light of their own understanding and their own particular circumstances. He opened the door to situational ethics whereby anything at all can be right or wrong according to the situation. On the political level, Luther's break with Rome destroyed the integrity of Western Christendom, and we will see the further implications of this as we proceed.
The Reformation rejected the authority of the Canon law which was the means by which the traditional moral teaching of the Church, derived directly from its source in Divine revelation, was enforced. This enabled the Frenchman John Calvin in Geneva to take it upon himself to legalise, in the face of all precedents, the lending of money at interest previously universally known as the crime of usury. This event provides us with a striking example of the specific relevance of the Qur'an to every time and place. Allah says in His Book:
'They will say, buying and selling is like usury...' When justifying his action of legalising moneylending at interest, Calvin said, and I quote, 'In many cases usury is no worse than purchase.'
Allah ta'ala certainly speaks the Truth.
What is certain is that by legalising usury Calvin initiated the destruction of the established order of European society and enabled a new kind of power structure to come into being based on financial wealth rather than land. He ushered in an era of corruption and social imbalance which become inevitable when a fundamental divine law is cast aside.
The most sordid but perhaps at the same time the most explicit face of the Reformation unveiled itself here in England at the hands of Henry VIII. He unashamedly took advantage of the opportunities opened up by Luther and Calvin. He broke with Rome, established himself at that head of something he called the Church of England, changed the laws of matrimony to enable himself to indulge in a most unholy succession of marriages, usurped for himself the wealth and land of the monasteries and sanctified the lending of money at interest, by himself floating a large loan at ten per cent. Thus the Reformation enabled Henry to indulge his own lust and greed to the full and to set in motion the very process - the practice of usury - which was to bring about the destruction of the monarchic system he was supposedly trying to uphold.
Which brings us to our next step forward in time, the English Civil War. Taking full advantage of the new licence to practise usury granted by Henry VIII, a new class of merchants specialising in finance began to emerge and over the next century to gain more and more wealth and power, to such an extent that the balance of power in the country tilted away from the old landed aristocracy towards this new elite. In the meantime the Tudor dynasty which had encouraged these new developments came to an end and the Stuart dynasty mounted the English throne. The Stuarts retained close links to the Roman Church through their relationship with the French royal family and while they agreed to support the Church of England they very much stood for the old order of society. Charles I, who succeeded his father James I, firmly believed that it was his responsibility to rule in the name of God and to uphold religious law. This brought him into head-on confrontation with the new order which was very much identified with the more extreme kinds of Protestantism who although very restrictive about most matters, were very liberal where usury was concerned. The new elite had managed by this time to consolidate their power sufficiently to gain control of the English Parliament and from there they issued a direct challenge to the royal authority. This resulted in the Civil War and eventually in the arrest and execution of the King. The importance of this cataclysmic event cannot be overstated. It struck at the very foundations of the social and political fabric of Europe. The King at his execution claimed that he was dying 'a martyr for my people'. Yet he was killed also in the name of the people.
What had happened was that power had changed hands and a social order which had been in existence for a thousand years had been overthrown. Until this time political power had been vested in the person of the monarch who governed under the auspices of the religious authorities accepting in principle all the dictates of religious law. From now on the actual source of political power remained hidden. No-one knew exactly where it lay. Therefore it was no longer possible for any constraint to be put on it, religious or otherwise. It became a law unto itself.
Oliver Cromwell assumed the title of Protector of the Realm and governed England in the name of Parliament but under the thumb of his creditors, since much money had been borrowed to enable him to fight the Civil War and pay for the New Model Army whose general he was. The financiers had the upper hand. In the light of this it is not surprising to find that it was during his time that banking, which gathered together under one umbrella the various usurious financial techniques that had brought about changes in the balance of power, was formally established. Money-lending at interest had ceased to be considered a crime and was now accepted business practice.
Another insidious political development that can be traced back to Cromwell's England is the advent of secularism. Before the Reformation government had been implicitly under religion. The dictates of religious and moral law were recognised as paramount. Henry VIII, by proclaiming himself head of the Church had placed religious and secular authority on the same level. In Cromwell's Commonwealth, for the first time religion came under the authority of the state. This development which slipped in almost unnoticed marks another turning point in our story. From now on there was no way that divinely revealed law could have any real influence on government. The organic connection between religion and the state had been broken.
Our next stepping stone is the so-called 'Glorious Revolution'. After Cromwell's death the monarchy was restored but only as a shadow of its former self. The King was now to all intents and purposes a salaried employee of Parliament, a figurehead. The executed Charles I's son was brought back to reign as Charles II. He responded to the new situation by becoming a dilettante playboy better known for his mistresses than anything else though he did make a couple of half-hearted attempts to restore the power of the throne. His brother, James II, however, was more resolute and determined to bring England back into the Catholic fold which would, of course, have severely jeopardized the power of the new elite. The extent to which they had gained control was now demonstrated in no uncertain terms. Getting rid of Charles I had necessitated a lengthy and bloody civil war and finally his trial and execution. His son was simply bundled unceremoniously out of the back door. Parliament, supposedly representing the people but in reality fronting for the new power elite composed largely of financial interests, came to an arrangement with William, Prince of Orange, in Holland who had married James' daughter Mary. He was to be given the English throne on condition that all executive power would from now on rest with Parliament. Predictably William's reign saw the founding of the Bank of England, the first National Bank. It was not National in that it was owned by the nation - it was privately owned. It was national in that it had a monopoly in controlling the currency and in that it alone could lend money to the government. The government did borrow great sums from it and thus it was also national in that the whole nation was indebted to it and in that the interest on the money borrowed in the name of the people was repaid by the people in the form of taxes. This was the origin of national debt and it meant that from this time on the government was quite literally and openly subject to the dictates of the private individuals who owned the bank. From being despised criminals, people dealing in usury had become in the short period of one hundred and fifty years the power in the land.
The other significant event of William's reign was the passing by Parliament of the Toleration Act which purported to be about religious freedom but which actually served to advance the cause of secularism beyond the point of no return. By making various forms of worship equal under the law the act ensured that it was no longer possible to enforce any one religious law and the law-making procedure was thereby totally divorced from the source of morality in the revealed books. From this time on what was right and wrong was decided according to the fashions and dictates of the time and more often than not economic expediency. Religion, which had until then formed the backbone of the whole legal process, was now laid to one side and made more and more a matter of private conscience. With no way left to impinge on society in a structural way religion became less and less relevant to people's lives.
I hope that by now the leitmotif, the common theme connecting these events will have made itself clear. We started with a Europe unified by common values, a common understanding of existence and a common religion which for all its considerable deviations was still nevertheless connected to genuine prophetic tradition and found its roots in revealed texts. Europe also had a stable social order of many centuries standing. Beginning with the Renaissance this homogeneity began to be disrupted and at each successive step two interconnected trends are visible. The first is the accelerating break-up of the old order and the simultaneous undermining of the religion it represented and which sustained it. The second is the surreptitious emergence of a new power structure based on usurious financial techniques whose introduction was only made possible by the break-up of the old order. It has been necessary to go into this some detail to show how it came about but now that these two trends have fully revealed themselves I will confine myself to pointing out how they actually manifested themselves in the different situations.
Our next step takes us to the French Revolution. Clearly the open and avowed intention of the revolution in France was the overthrow of the old order, the ancien regime, and everything it stood for, including religion. In every respect the French revolution took what had happened in England the previous century a stage further, to the extent of legitimising atheism for the first time. Once again the monarch was sacrificed in the name of the people. By the time the turmoil set in motion by the French revolution had died down, the financiers had managed to establish an international banking network stretching right across Europe. Also it is with the French Revolution that Muslims enter the picture for the first time. Until this point the integrity and purity of the Shari'a within the Dar al-Islam had been preserved. When Napoleon entered Egypt at the head of the French Revolutionary expeditionary force, a breach was opened through which the poison that was destroying Europe was able to penetrate the defences of Dar al-Islam and begin its work of corruption. Within quite a short time alcohol was allowed to be sold in Egypt, the first bank was established and students were studying in Paris.
The last remaining bastion of Christianity in Europe was the Russian Empire which being Eastern Orthodox had escaped the onslaught which had been mainly directed at the Roman Church. The Revolution there, in which this time the monarch and his whole family were slaughtered, put an end to that and this time atheism was not just countenanced but made obligatory for everyone. Religion was destroyed absolutely.
The First World War shows us the process we have observed continuing unabated. What was left of the old order in Europe was destroyed with the dismembering of the Austro-Hungarian - formerly the Holy Roman - Empire and the humiliation of the German empire and now it was the turn of the Muslims to undergo the same treatment. The British fomented and supported an Arab revolt against the Uthmaniyya caliphate and by doing so totally destroyed the integrity of Dar al-Islam. They took Iraq, Jordan and Palestine for themselves and gave Syria and Lebanon to the French. The fall of the Khalifate was made inevitable and the secularisation of Islam ensured. The people who gained from the conflict were the armaments manufacturers and the money-lenders. Unheard-of sums were borrowed and international debt became a significant factor in world affairs for the first time. The aftermath of the war witnessed a marked deterioration in moral behaviour and in people's attitudes towards morality and a remarkable increase in the number of National banks.
We have now reached the final step in our journey through history bringing us through the Second World War to the present time. The process we have observed is now virtually complete. No effective trace of the old order remains. In political terms, religion is now an irrelevant anachronism tolerated for its ceremonial value and as a means of establishing cultural identity. Traditional morality, having been previously eroded, has now been actually legislated out of existence. The financiers by their usury have now enmeshed the whole world in a strait-jacket of international and domestic debt by which the entire population of the world is held in control. The myth of parliamentary democracy holds sway throughout the world while the true source of political power remains hidden and inaccessible.
The process we have traced down through the period of history we have been looking at is in fact nothing other than a repeat of the historical cycle outlined in the Qur'an which we noted at the beginning. It is the story of a society losing touch with its prophetic origins and relapsing into unbelief. And do not think that the Muslims have escaped unscathed. While the main thrust has been directed at Europe and its bastard North American offspring, there is no doubt that the whole world has been caught up in the headlong rush into unbelief. The Muslims, as custodians of the final revelation, became a special target, and the dismembering and secularisation of Dar al-Islam, involving as it did all the techniques, economic and political, which had proved so disastrously successful elsewhere, has left us in a situation where Islam is nowhere to be seen. Pockets of Muslims, yes, but Islam nowhere. Even people of fitra have been corrupted and degraded. If a human being is defined as a person who believes in Allah and the Last Day and lives within the limits that Allah has laid down and follows the Messenger - and indeed Allah Himself in His Book describes those who do not as animals or even worse - then the human being truly is on the verge of extinction.
One vital area which has been totally infected is the whole approach to knowledge which we touched on earlier. There are basically two approaches to knowledge exemplified in the Qur'an. One is found in the story of Sayyiduna Ibrahim, 'alyahi salam, in Suratu'l-An'am when he is seeking for his Lord in the heavens. He rejects first the star, then the moon, then the sun, and recognises from this the true nature of Allah
The point about this is that it is based on certainty. He in fact starts with knowledge of lordship and his search confirms him and makes clear to him what he already knew in the first place. The other approach has two aspects. The first is in Suratu'l-Qisas with Pharaoh - and it must be remembered that the tribe of Israel spent many generations in Egypt and that as the Qur'an makes clear, the connection was in some ways never broken. The translation goes: 'And Pharaohs aid: Council, I do not know that you have any other god than me. Haman, make me a fire on the day and build me a tower so that I can climb up to Musa's God. I think that he is one of the liars.'
In this example, the seeker after knowledge is making himself the measure of what can be known and limiting knowledge to what he is able to grasp with his own sense perception. What is being described if it is not an astronomical observatory!
The second aspect is illustrated in Suratu'l-Baqara by the story of Banu Israel and the Cow when they continually question Sayyiduna Musa's instruction to them to sacrifice the cow. Here the keynote is scepticism and questioning. Nothing is true till you prove it.
The first approach which takes Allah as a given and looks at everything else from that standpoint, the prophetic method, is now nowhere to be seen. All knowledge during the period we have been looking at has been acquired using the second approach. Knowledge of this kind is based on measurement and its object is control. It has been the approach of all the so-called great figures of science, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Darwin and all those since and in between. One effect of their observation, measurement and quantification has been to explain away the act of Allah in the sight of the common man so that belief in God, which before all this science was unquestioned, has now become an exception. Even the belief of those who do believe has been weakened and impaired. The reason for this is that the scientific method seeks to explain existence within its own terms and has succeeded in coming up with a model of the universe which describes it as a self-sustaining system of mutually dependant forces. Every phenomenon is explained as being the effect of a preceding cause. Everyone is now taught this way of looking at existence from the earliest age without realizing that it in fact represents a direct attack at the very roots of a true understanding of tawhid.
The result of all this science can be seen in the dazzling effusion of technological expertise which is put forward as the justification of the scientific method and as a proof that our society is more advanced than any which has preceded it. I would like at this point to spend a little time going into the technological phenomenon. The manifestations of technology tend to be viewed by people as things in isolation, i.e. the aeroplane, the computer, the heart-transplant, the television, the neutron bomb, the credit card and so on and so on. However to really understand what they are they have to be seen as varied fruits of a single tree which has grown out of the approach to knowledge we referred to. This may seem academic but believe me, it is vital if we are going to have any real understanding of the world we live in and therefore of the nature of the unbelief which has overcome it.
The essence of the technological process which has produced all these offspring is that it views the rest of existence as a standing reserve, as something that is there for no other reason than to be exploited for its own ends. Everything else is seen as something to be brought under control and used. The hydro-electric project sees the river merely as a source of power for itself. The motor-car sees the earth as something to be covered with roads and periodic service stations. The radio-telescope sees the whole universe merely as something to be measured and recorded. The examples are endless but appallingly clear. Nothing is seen as existing in its own right but only as a resource to be used up. The trouble is that man himself has got caught up in the process.
Primitive man tends to give to other things absolute existence, so he worships the mountain, the tree, the sun. Technological man sees other things only as a standing reserve, as something to be exploited. The Muslim man knows that Allah has created all things bi'l-haqq, meaning that all thing exist in their own right as creations of their Lord and can be made use of by man provided he treats them with the respect due to them. The technological imperative does not permit respect for other things in their own right. By its nature technology is only capable of seeing other things as extensions of itself to be used up and exploited to be brought under control. The inevitable corollary of this is that technological man views other human beings in this same way. They are seen as as a work-force, as consumers, as a market, as human potential, etc. etc. People are no longer respected in their own right. The terrible end-result is that individuals then come to see themselves as a standing reserve and by this are cut-off from ever understanding the reality of their own existence and their relationship with their Lord.
I want to make it quite clear that I am not, repeat not, saying that technology should be rejected out of hand and I am not trying to turn the clock back. One of the characteristics of technology is that once it is there, it is almost impossible to do without it; it makes itself indispensible. What I am saying is that it is naive and even dangerous to think, as many people do - I cannot count the number of times I have heard it particularly from Muslim students from abroad who have come to study in this country - that it is somehow possible to take the fruits of western technology and make them Islamic. This is to totally misunderstand the technological phenomenon. It is only by understanding it for what it is that it is possible to avoid being entrapped by it into a way of thinking that will inevitably set you at odds with the way of the Truth.
The desire for wealth and power has realised itself through the practice of usury, which as we have seen, now has the whole world in its grip. The usurers' relationship with authority has revealed itself in the killing and dispossession of kings which played such a prominent part in their rise to power. A sort of slave mentality has communicated itself to society as a whole. Slaves have no possibility of positive independent action, only of reaction and it is this psychology of reaction which has come to dominate the world we live in. Most people only find a sense of self-identity by opposing themselves to the other. Distrust rather than trust becomes the basic reaction in human encounters. People are only able to look at things within the confines of a highly defined dialectic which it is all but impossible to escape from. Left/right, progressive/reactionary, East/West, North/South, modernist/fundamentalist etc. The pairings are many but if you are not one you must be the other. Dialectic works like a hall of mirrors. The opposite images keep on reflecting back to each other ad infinitum and there is no way out. Never get into a dialectical argument - and I have seen many people do this in the name of da'wa - the only possible outcome is fruitless conflict. Nearly everyone is entrapped within this enframing, reactive view of existence, which precludes true freedom of action and therefore any possibility of transformation and ensures passive acceptance of the status quo. The system produces in people the illusion that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change the situation.
There is an aspect of this psychological domination which plays on the sense of guilt endemic to Christian culture. The whole world is made to feel continually guilty and self-recrimination is constantly encouraged. Control and subjection are maintained through guilt and self-recrimination, Suffering is redefined as goodness and by application of the dialectical process, spontaneous joy becomes shameful. Negative energy is everywhere dominant, positive energy discouraged. The results of this are the apathy, hopelessness and alienation that are apparent in so many aspects of the world we live in.
This, then, in brief is the picture of the world we live in and how it came to be like it is. It has been necessary to delve into it in this way because unless and until the sickness is thoroughly understood, no cure is possible.
I have pointed out four main means whereby unbelief has been able to gain ascendancy at this time. Scientific method - the practice of usury - the destruction of leadership - and domination by dialectic.
I started out by affirming the Qur'an as the final revelation and it is of course in Allah's Book that we find all the guidance that we need to address and overcome the unbelief that hems us in on every side.
To undo the empiricisation and structuralisation of knowledge the guidance is clear. We must follow the method of Sayyiduna Ibrahim. Let Allah Almightybe our only measure and our only goal. Become true intellectuals. The sole purpose of the intellect is to know Allah in all His signs and attributes. With us the effect precedes the cause. Because the cure has already been written the medicine is made available and effective. Every event is the act of Allah, direct without intermediary. Allah says that He sends down water from the sky. Rain is by Allah directly. Allah says He brings out the plants from the earth. Growth is by Allah directly. Allah says that nothing holds the birds in the air but Himself. Flight is by Allah directly. This is not figurative, it is the way things are. Once when it rained the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alyahi was sallam, went out and held out his cloak to catch the raindrops and said, 'Welcome to what has newly come from Allah.' This is not, God forbid, a simplistic understanding of a natural process, it is pure undiluted knowledge of reality. This is the knowledge that the Companions had that enabled them to sweep across half of the world in twenty years. This is the knowledge that has been the driving force of all those who have established Allah's deen. This is the true understanding of existence that has been all but wiped out. And this is the intellectual perspective we must regain if we are to re-establish Islam.
The key to the problem of technology is respect, respect for things in themselves, respect for the environment and above all respect for people. Respect for all things as creatures of Allah. We do not own existence. It belongs to Allah. It is not ours to do with as we please. Our job is to preserve the balance and to make sure that Allah's limits are not overstepped. It is necessary to positively reject the world-view of the technological project and to regain the balanced perspective so clearly set out in the Qur'an and so clearly demonstrated by the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alyahi was sallam, in words and in action. The Book and the Sunna need to be re-examined in this light. We have not been left without guidance, it is simply that until now the Muslims have viewed the whole matter of technology in a very superficial way. Nuclear energy, environmental issues, related social problems, these issues are all but ignored by our 'Ulama' and yet they are the real issues of our time and by Allah only we have the necessary knowledge and guidance to arrive at real solutions. As guardians of Allah's final revelation the responsibility is ours. Let us take it on bil-quwwa, with strength and vigour, take the lead, take the position that is ours by right, by Allah.
Usury is categorically and totally forbidden by Allah and His Messenger. The importance of it as an issue in our age is shown by he forceful manner of its denunciation in both the Qur'an and the hadith, the fact that it was chosen by the Prophet, salla'llahu''alyahi was sallam, as a central theme in the khutba of the Farewell Hajj and that it formed the subject matter of the last ayat to be revealed. And indeed it has, as we have seen, played a pivotal role in the historical process we outlined which has all but destroyed belief in God and almost wiped out the practice of Allah's deen from the surface of the earth. It is our clear responsibility to fight usury with every means at our disposal. First of all we have to educate ourselves about it, find out the forms it takes and how it manifests itself. Then we must educate others, Muslims and non-Muslims, making clear to them the harm usury does and how they are enslaved by it. In this way we can create a groundswell of opposition to it which will undermine the hold usury has over people and prepare the ground for its complete removal. It is also necessary for us as Muslims to re-educate ourselves in correct business practice. We must re-learn the parameters and details of the transactions of Madina so that after the collapse of the usury economy we are able to step immediately into the gap and re-establish Allah's limits in the domestic and international market place, including the re-introduction of bi-metallic coinage - gold and silver - as the principal medium of exchange. Again, we are the only people in a position to achieve this vital transformation. If the human being is to survive, the tyranny of usury must be thrown off. No-one else can do this but us - so let's get on with it.
The next element of domination process is the rejection of clear governance. Once more our guidance in this matter is clear and straightforward and devastatingly simple. It is the principle of Amirate, clearly established in the Book and Sunna. It involves political authority being invested in a single man and the formal allegiance to him of the rest of the people. It is based on obedience and loyalty to the Amir under the Shari'a and it is what makes possible the brotherhood in Allah which is the hallmark of genuine Islam, a brotherhood which manifests itself in actions not words. Without Amirate, there can be no establishment of Islam. Let us do away with committees, get rid of them once and for all. They are a noxious product of the French revolution, the poisonous fruit of a poisonous tree. They lead either to government by manipulation or to complete stasis. They are nothing to do with Islam and Muslims must have nothing to do with them. The same goes for the whole myth of democracy. Let me take this opportunity to dispel a commonly-held delusion that the Qur'anic injunction about shura implies democracy. Shura means consultation and it is certainly expected that the Amir consults others and asks their advice. However, the decision on what action to take rests with the Amir absolutely. There is no concept of majority rule. Amirate has been made synonymous with tyranny and injustice. In reality it leads to the exact opposite. It ensures social harmony and justice. Reject your conditioning and accept Amirate. Then we will see the banner of Islam unfurled and Muslims taking their rightful place at the helm of human affairs.
Finally we come to the issue of the psychological conditioning whose main manifestations are dialectic and guilt and which leads to people feeling powerless to change the system under which they live. Nearly everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims, are now trapped by this. It is a bit like hypnotism. The gaze is captured and held and so long as you look towards the hypnotist you are powerless but as soon as you look away the spell is broken. We have allowed ourselves to be defined within the terms of the dialectic and as long as this remains the case we are stuck. Reject the definition and you are free. Once more, if we look we find we have all the guidance we need. The key to it is holding to Allah. Dialectic is based on the conflict of opposite. The moment you grasp hold of the rope of Allah you align yourself with the One who has no opposite. There is much guidance for us in the Book of Allah on this matter. One important example is to be found in the words which Allah directed to His Messenger early in the revelation:
As for the orphan, do not oppress him.
As for the beggar, do not reproach him.
And as for the blessing of your Lord, declare it.
Here we find two vital principles illustrated which are particularly relevant to us now. If they are applied consistently they can greatly help in the escape from the trap of dialectic. The first is wherever possible do not negate, affirm. The second is do not simply react to what confronts you, respond actively and positively. Do not react, respond. It is essential for us to do everything we can to free ourselves from enslavement to the tyranny of the dialectical power.
As for guilt we unfortunately now find many Muslims suffering from it. There is no such thing as psychological guilt in Islam. Guilt is to be inwardly preoccupied with some actual or imagined wrong action and it has no outcome but despair and incapacity. Allah ta'ala has freed us from it by the great gift of tawba. Tawba is turning away from wrong action towards Allah. When you fall over, don't lie there wallowing in it, get up and go! Allah's mercy is vast and the door to it is never closed.
Let us accept Allah's definition of us.
You are the uppermost if you are believers.
Just read the Book of Allah. You will find in it nothing but affirmation of the believers and Allah's promise to them of success and victory.
Looking at it from this point in time, after the event, the original Islamic explosion, the extraordinary spread of Islam which brought the major part of the mighty Roman empire, the whole of the ancient Persian empire and most of North Africa under Muslim control within twenty years of the Prophet's death, all this is something we almost take for granted. But place your self on the other side of it, before it happened, with the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alyahi wa sallam, in Makka, with the tiny band of men who made Hijrah, with the small community in Madina tucked away in a desert on the edge of the world. If we look from there, the odds are impossible, what happened is absurd from any rational standpoint. The amazing thing is that the Companions themselves did not find it at all surprising. They knew it was going to happen. Allah had promised them victory in His Book and they knew that Allah's promise was true. What faces us is no more than what faced them. They had the Book of Allah; we have the Book of Allah and Allah's promise is true.
And Help is from Allah and victory is near.
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