The Islamiqueness of Today's Muslims (1)

12 May 2013

The Islamiqueness of Today's Muslims (2)

By Abdulwarees Solanke

Since this is the season of Ramadan, the season of reform and reflection for the Muslim Ummah, when all mature, healthy muslims are expected to engage in the rite of fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam, permit my indulgence in raising critical questions on how the Muslims world have fared in the in the recent past, coinciding with the rise of colonization and how their history has shaped events in the world. This is because this is the era of serious contacts and confrontation between the Orient and the Occident, between the East and the West. It is the era of the clash of the western Civilization and the Islamic Civilization.

In most development literatures from the West, the Islamic World in the past era was painted as crude and barbaric, unstructured and uncultured. But in the perception of the Muslims, the West, which was just undergoing the industrial revolution then , was a world that has abandoned guidance and lapsed into the modern jahiliyyah, ignorance. While the west was basking in the euphoria of its so called renaissance, the age of learning, the Muslim East was luxuriating in its own enlightenment (I call this Islamiqueness).

But what the Muslim East did not take into account was that at the height of their own enlightenement, they could becomes victims of plenty as they also begun to slip into some slumber when their world reached Utopia. I think this is arrogance on their part, and stupidity too, to forget where they came from, jahiliyyah, to favour from above. The Muslim world then had attained what is being championed as globalization today, in the Ottoman Empire or the Caliphate that they established was more of a world government where the order of the Sultan in Constantinople could take effect in Cairo.

At the height of their power which had reached the heart of Europe (Andalusia, Spain was actually an Islamic centre of learning with the most advance architecture), they became a threat to the West. But they had also, in some lascivious indulgences, began to show some cracks in the beautiful edifice constructed with the instrumentality of the Islamic order. As moral deterioration set in for the Ummah, their spiritual might waned and their strength of unity balked. It took the Western political, military and diplomatic strategists the simple tactics of playing brother against brother, divide and rule for the imperial West to smash the caliphate and split the ummah into pieces. At the end of the first world war, the empire of islam had collapsed. That is why the decision on the future of many Muslim lands were taken at the Berlin Conference or through the Balfour Declaration. The Berlin Conference was where the colonial powers decided on how to share territories of Africa and Asia predominantly muslim. The Balfour declaration set the tone of future crisis of the middle east over the state of palestine.

These insights are necessary for us to appreciate why it is in the Muslim lands that most of the colonial wars over territories were fought. They will also let us appreciate why the most problematic region now is the Muslim and Arab-dominated Maghreb and the Islamically influenced countries of South and south East Asia, from Algeria to the Philippines. They will also let us appreciate why the policy of may European nations is to curtail the influence of islam in their socio-cultural milieu.

But at the height of muslim power and domination of the World, there was pursuit of beneficial knowledge and application of virtuous science, even if not as advanced as what it is today. It brought out the Islamiqueness of Muslims as cultured, not the barbarians the western scholars made the world to believe. Trade and Commerce flourished in the golden era of Islamic orient, but not in what will compromise the sanity of man. Unfortunately, it is the Islamiqueness of that time that the so called modernists first assaulted as backwardness and unnecessary attachment to tradition. In the following analysis, I will highlight some of the basic values of Islam that confirm the Islamiqueness of the early muslims and their immediate successors with a view to identifying why today's muslims are falling short of their leadership expectations.

The first principle of Islamiqueness on which the early Muslim generation constructed their lives is iiman, that is belief or faith in Allah and the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad. The corollary to adherence to this first pillar of Islam is the acceptance of all the contents of faith: all the prophets, the angels, the revealed books, predestination and life after death/last day. The extent to which they held these articles of faith also defined the strength with which they upheld the other four pillars of the Islamic faith i.e. the prescribed daily prayers, as-salaat, the purifying payment of zakaat or charity, the obligation of fasting in Ramadan and the concern to perform the hajj, or the pilgrimage to the house of Allah, in Makkah.

To be continued...

ABDUL-WAREES  SOLANKE B.Sc. Mass Comm (Lagos); Master of Public Policy (Brunei Darussalaam)  Head, Voice of Nigeria Training Centre, c/o VON Transmitting Station, Ikorodu, Lagos. Formerly the special assistant to the Director General, VON, he is the 2007/2008 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association scholar in Public Policy at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, 08090585723



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