• Al-Ghazaly – The Man of Da`wah
    "Lack of a sense of culture for a religious scholar is more dangerous than a lack of blood cells for a weak patient. A caller to Allah has to read about virtually everything. He or she has to read the books of belief and the books of atheism, the books of Sunnah and the books of philosophy. In short, to read about all schools of human thought is how one gains experience in life."
  • Alija Izetbegovic
    "Do we want the Muslim people to leave their going-around-in-circles, their dependence, backwardness, and poverty? Then we show clearly which path will take us to that goal: establishing Islam in every field in the personal life of the individual, in family and society…and the establishment of a unique Islamic community from Morocco to Indonesia."
  • Bediüzzaman Said Nursi
    "There is an apparent burden in worship, but there is an ease and lightness in its meaning that defies description. For in the prescribed prayers the worshipper declares, “I bear witness that there is no god but God.” That is to say, he finds the door of a treasury of mercy in everything because he is believing and saying, “There is no Creator and Provider other than Him. Harm and benefit are in His hand. He is both All-Wise; He does nothing in vain, and He is All-Compassionate; His bounty and mercy are abundant.” And he knocks on the door with his supplication. Moreover, he sees that everything is subjugated to the command of his own Sustainer, so he takes refuge in Him. He places his trust in Him and relies on Him, and is fortified against every disaster; his belief gives him complete confidence."
  • El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
    "America needs to understand Islam, because this is one religion that erases from its society, the Race problem!"
  • Hasan Al-Banna
    "Wasting time and effort in investigating trivial matters that will not lead to action is prohibited in Islam. This category includes debating minute aspects of rulings in cases which have never occurred, investigating the meaning of the Qur'anic verses which are still beyond the scope of human knowledge (the mutashabihaat verses), and differentiating between the companions (Sahabah) of the Prophet or investigating the instances of disagreement that took place among them. Every sahabi (may Allah be pleased with them all) has the honour and distinction of being a companion of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and to each is the recompense of his motives."
  • Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah
    "Through patience and poverty one attains leadership in religion. The seeker of Truth needs the will that inspires him and pushes him upward and knowledge that leads and guides him."
  • Khurram Murad
    "Our heart beats approximately 67 times a minute, every time it wants to beat, it asks Allah, am I permitted to beat? If Allah says yes, it beats and if He says no then the life ends."
  • Sayyid Qutb
    "In the scale of God, the true weight is the weight of faith; in God's market the only commodity in demand is the commodity of faith. The highest form of triumph is the victory of soul over matter, the victory of belief over pain, and the victory of faith over persecution."
  • Syed Abul Ala Maududi
    "Islam has not lost its intrinsic values and it is as dynamic today as it was yesterday. Only, the people have lost the understanding of Islam, and they are not conscious of its superiority over other ideologies."
  • Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi
    "You must present a model and an ideal way of life which may make them (the non-Muslims) interested in studying Islaam, and eager to know the source of your Guidance which has enabled you to follow a particular way of life and worldview."



Al-Ghazaly – The Man of Da`wah

- Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

The best greeting I can start with is the greeting of Islam, and the greeting of Islam is peace. So, peace and mercy be upon you. I thank those who arranged this symposium in the memory of our Sheikh, Al-Ghazaly, may Allah bless his soul and be pleased with him. I wish to thank the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Royal Conference for Research on Islamic Civilization (Al al-Bait Organization) and The Society of Islamic Studies and Research. This is an example of cooperation that should be repeated and "help you one another onto righteousness and pious duty" (al-Ma'idah; verse 2). Cooperation always produces good.

I don't know how I can talk to you about Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. How can I summarize half a century in a few minutes? How can I put the sea in a bottle?

It is not easy to talk about our Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. And I am saying 'our Sheikh' even if he is just nine years older than me. So, the difference in our ages is not a lot, but I assert that I am a student of his. I got to know him first by reading his articles and then by reading his books, since his first book, Islam and Economy, and his second book, Islam and Social Systems. I also admired his articles. At that time, I was only busy with literature and poetry. All my readings were focused into that direction. But when I read Al-Ghazaly's articles in the Muslim Brotherhood weekly magazine, I found him to be an astoundingly eloquent writer. At that time, I was not aware that he was an Azhari Sheikh. Sheikhs have a different style of writing and discuss different issues from him. They simply have a completely different spirit. Sheikh Al-Ghazaly used to write under different titles. Such examples are his Free Thoughts, Pages of Glory, and The Underprivileged People. This is not a Sheikh's style. That is why I never imagined that Al-Ghazaly of the Muslim Brotherhood magazine was an Azhari Sheikh. One day he signed 'Mohamed Al-Ghazaly Al-Wa'ez' (the preacher). I asked some brothers, "Is he from the Al-Wa'ez family or is he really a Wa'ez (preacher)?" They answered, "Yes, he is a preacher. That is his job." I asked, "Is he Azhari?" They replied, "Yes, he is a Sheikh and he even wears an Al-Azhar uniform." This made me love him more and read more of his articles. Al-Azhar, at that time, was proud of all its men and Sheikhs.

It wasn't written that I meet him until I was moved from the prison of Tanta. My brother, Ahmed Al-Assaal, who is sitting here among the audience, and some other brothers accompanied me. After our forty days stay in the Tanta prison, we were transferred to the Hike Step Jail. Then, we were to be transferred to Al-Toor Jail in Sinai. On our trip on the ship a quarrel started between some bothers. I saw a young man who was slightly shorter than average without a head cover, who spoke only a few words that put an end to the conflict. He said: "Brothers, you have to be patient, until we reach the place, which is destined to be our place of residence. It is the land from which revelation emerged to liberate a captivated nation, which appeared before Mohamed (pbuh). We are going to the Mountain of Al-Toor." Silence overtook the group. I asked some Ikhwan from Cairo, "Who is this speaker?" They answered, "Don't you know him? He is the al-Azhari Sheikh, Mohamed Al-Ghazaly." I told them, "He is a dear brother to me. I loved this Sheikh before seeing him, and here I am gazing upon him for the first time."

Allah destined that I be with him in the same section of the jail. That jail was originally a place for health examinations for people returning from Hajj. It was divided into sections, and each section was divided into several rooms. Allah destined that I be in the same area that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was appointed an Imam for. I remember his first Khutbah there. It was an angry revolution regarding the living conditions of this prison. The prison guards were stealing the food from the prisoners! And it was just canned food to begin with. We were getting almost nothing to eat. After the Khutbah, Sheikh Al-Ghazaly led a rally inside the prison, the slogan of which was: "Stop the Hunger! Stop Organized Theft!" We were all rallying behind Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. At that time he was thirty-two. The jail administration was startled. Those in charge in it swiftly agreed to negotiate with the prisoners. We ended up receiving all our designated food – on the condition that we cook it ourselves!

This was Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. He would never tolerate oppression. From that incident on, I accompanied Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. It was then Ramadan. I enjoyed my Ramadan, praying behind him. He memorized the entire Qur'an perfectly. He would read the whole Qur'an twice during the month of Ramadan; the one time over the Taraweeh prayers and the other divided over all other prayers. At each prayer, he would begin reading with where he left off with until he finished the Qur'an. Then he would start the whole Qur'an again.

He would make Dua' during every prayer, the Dua' of Calamity. He would just say a few brief words. He would say: "Oh Allah, liberate us by Your power. Heal us with Your mercy. Take care of our affairs with Your kindness. Oh Allah, cover our bodies and make us secure from our fears. Oh Allah, take revenge on our oppressors." Sometimes, he would add a few other words.

I lived with Al-Ghazaly in prison - praying behind him and learning from his lectures. The theme of his lectures was, Islam and Political Oppression. The book that he later published under the same title was a collection of these lectures in prison. He was quite aware that those present were scrutinizing his words. But this never affected what he said. The prisoners' leader was our teacher and Sheikh, Al-Bahey Al-Kholi. Then, Sheikh Al-Bahey was taken out to attend a court case with the Ikhwan Secret Services. The Ikhwan in the jail agreed among themselves that Al-Ghazaly should be their new leader. He was quite young, but proved himself to be a wise and mature leader.

When we were freed we all kept strong ties with Sheikh Al-Ghazaly, and especially I and brother Ahmed Al-Assaal. He invited us to his place many times. We would very much enjoy his food and talk. That was good for our stomachs and our minds. I always accompanied Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. Even when I moved to Qatar, I would seize any opportunity to meet the man. I learned from him, as a Khateeb, as a lecturer, as a teacher, as a speaker, and as a writer.

I wrote a book on the Sheikh while he was still alive as a small gratitude. Many people do not show their gratitude to great men until after their deaths. Islamists, sadly, are guilty of this. Others, as for example Marxists, hail their men, their writers, their poets, and their thinkers. They over-exaggerate the greatness of their people. They adulate each other in the eyes of the public, while Islamists don't do this. The title of my book is Sheikh Al-Ghazaly, as I Knew Him: A Journey of Half a Century. Actually, this book started with an attempt of a group of writers to write a book on the Sheikh. It was planned to be a gift for him on his seventieth birthday. A committee was formed to publish this book, but unfortunately did not complete the project. The only one who published something was Brother Dr. Mohamed Emara. It was a small book titled, Sheikh Al-Ghazaly and his Place as a Thinker. Some articles written by others were gathered and published in a book by Dar Al-Sahwa. My book started off just as an article. The article had become too long. I realized I couldn't write just an article on the Sheikh. It would have to be a book. Although it turned out to be ten chapters long, I still think it falls short of being an adequate portrayal of the Sheikh. Each chapter of this book could easily be expanded into a separate book on Sheikh Al-Ghazaly.

Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was a man of Da`wah before anything else. He was, in fact, a top-level man of Da`wah. Da`wah or a being a caller to Islam was in his blood. He worked in it during the day and dreamt about it during the night. He lived for Da`wah in his past, his present, and his future – his entire self was dedicated to it. When he wrote, gave Khutab or lectures, he was doing it all for the sake of Da`wah. When he attacked, defended, or criticized, he was doing all of this for the benefit of Da`wah. He was a man of Da`wah.

He mastered using all the tools for Da`wah; first, the Holy Qur'an. He memorized the Qur'an as our brother, Dr. Ali Jum'ah said, "As if the Qur'an is one line in front of his eyes." I lived with the Sheikh and saw this myself. He would quote from the Qur'an as if it appeared all on one page in front of him. He considered the Qur'an as the first source for a Da'ee or caller. He believed that it should be the supreme judge over all other sources, such as the Sunnah, Qiyass (comparing of cases), and consensus. He believed that the Qur'an is the pivotal and fundamental source of `Aqeedah and Shari`ah. Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was a man of the Qur'an by all means. He saw things in the verses that nobody else would see easily. I was in Algeria discussing with some students of Justas Malik Bin Nabi, may Allah bless his soul. They were talking about Malik's theory on the tendency of Muslims to fall under imperialism. I told them that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly had first developed this theory. They asked how and where. I replied:

It was in his book, Islam and Economy. Al-Ghazaly wrote: "Nations are occupied when they develop tendencies for mischief. Occupation follows mischief." He went on very eloquently quoting some verses from Surat al-Isra'. These verses mention how mischievous the Children of Israel were and how this lead to their oppression and the occupation of their lands. They were oppressed by the Babylonians, Persians, Romans, etc.

The Sheikh was living with the Qur'an. Since his early books, one can easily conclude he saw in the Qur'an what nobody else was capable of. Dr. Al-Assaal described how Sheikh Al-Ghazaly would dedicate his books. At the beginning of his books he would write his dedications as follows: "In the way of Allah and the underprivileged." He took from the verse: "Why do you not fight in the way of Allah and the underprivileged." Therefore, it is a Qur'anic principle; "In the way of Allah and the underprivileged." He formed a group with some other scholars from Al-Azhar. Among them was Sheikh Khalid Mohamed Khalid (before he went in another direction). This group's slogan was "Religion at the Service of the Masses". This slogan was a response to those who say, "Religion is the Opium of the Masses". Sheikh Al-Ghazaly wrote this slogan on the covers of his first and second book.

Sheikh Al-Ghazaly would judge real life situations, Fiqh, Qiyass, and virtually everything by the words of the Qur'an. That is why he refused to accept anything that contradicts the teachings of the Qur'an. For example, he refused to accept the Hadith that Muslim narrated in his authentic collection, saying that the father of the Prophet (pbuh) is in the hellfire. Unfortunately, some brothers who work in the way of Da`wah quote this Hadith. When the birthday of the Prophet (pbuh) comes, one of the first things they say is: "People you have to know that the father of the Prophet (pbuh) is in the hellfire." Subhannallah, Sheikh Al-Ghazaly said:

This is completely contradictory to what is written in the Qur'an. Allah, glory to Him, said, "We will not punish a people until We (first) send a messenger." Arabs did not receive a messenger according to four verses in the Book of Allah, one verse stating for example, "To warn people, whose fathers were never warned," and another, "We have not sent him a Warner before you."

This is why he refuted this Hadith, even though it is found in the authentic collection of Muslim. The Qur'an, however, is the absolute truth. And Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was a man of the Qur'an. The Qur'an, of which he had immense knowledge of and experience with, was his main tool as a caller.

The second tool was his encyclopedic knowledge. In a book I authored many years ago titled, The Knowledge of the Caller, I mentioned that a caller requires six kinds of knowledge. Among them is the theoretical Islamic knowledge. This includes knowledge on Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh, fundamentals, etc. Another type of knowledge is knowledge in literature. Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was one of the most eloquent writers of the Ummah. He was so keen not to make any grammatical or semantical mistakes. He, like the excellent Azhari scholars, had a firm linguistic and religious background.

This is the reason behind his flawless writing and highly articulate speech. If he ever made a mistake, he would confess and apologize. One day he was so emotional while speaking, and so made a grammatical mistake. He thereafter said, "Strong feelings caused me to err in my speech. I will try not to get so emotional." In his early books he sometimes made grammatical mistakes in conditional statements. When he realized it he simply never repeated this mistake. He used to memorize thousands of verses of poetry. I think he memorized most of the standard Arabic poetical works, if not all of them.

Moreover, he had a solid background in Islamic history, particularly the life story of the Prophet (pbuh). He also had a very strong background in the humanities, as well as knowledge in the sciences. Dr. Fahmi Jud'an said that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was interested in science. Actually, a caller to Allah cannot do without science. Al-Ghazaly also kept up with current affairs occurring around the world and all strains of life. All this knowledge was his second tool after the Book of Allah, glory be to Allah.

Azhari knowledge has certain characteristics. Al-Azhar, like most religious schools and universities, follows the Ash'ari school of Aqeedah. I know that our Salafi brethren do not like this, but I would like to say that the whole Muslim Ummah follows the Ash'ari school. So, has the whole Ummah gone astray? Azhar, Zaituna, Al-Qaraweyah, and Dupand of India are all Ash'aris. All religious schools in the world are Ash'aris. So, Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was an Ash'ari. He just was not fanatical about it. He studied the Ash'ari school during his primary, secondary, and college years. His book, The Aqeedah of the Muslim, was written with a Salafi spirit and an Ash'ari breath. One can notice the Ash'ari touch in the way he defined and organized the chapters of the book. Nobody would be able to avoid this Ash'ari touch. He, moreover, took the opinion of applying both logic and scripts in Aqeedah. I would like to respond to what Dr. Fahmi Jud'an said. Logic is the foundation of scripts. Without logic we cannot accept the scripts. Proof of Prophethood is based on logic. Therefore, if we do not endorse logic, we cannot prove Prophethood or revelation. This is why Al-Ghazaly, and Ash'aris before him, said that logic is the foundation of scripts. A further reason behind his statement is that Ahadeeth coming from a single chain are not a strong enough evidence for proving Aqeedah. Single chains of Ahadeeth are doubtful and never absolute. Our brothers who criticize Sheikh Al-Ghazaly about this should know that the Sheikh did not come up with this means of judging Ahadeeth on his own. Ash'aris, Matridis, and most fundamentalists (Usoolis) are in the same consensus. I mentioned in my book that the Hanbalis' best scholars believe the same. I was referring to Abu Ya'la Al-Faraa's book, Al-Oddah (The Tools), Abu Al-Khattab's book, Al-Tamheed (The Introduction), Ibn Qudamah's book, Al-Rawdah (The Garden), and Ibn Taymeyah's book, Al-Moswaddah (The Draft). The fundamentalists of the Hanbali school, themselves, say that single chain Hadiths are not absolute. This is what follows from straight logic. Single chain Hadiths are weak because they are subjected to mistakes that can occur anywhere along their narration.

Logic is another tool that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly used in Da`wah. I mean by logic, the logic of the faithful. And in this case, logical reasoning works within and respects the Islamic fundamentals.

This is why I would like to comment on the claim that logic has no role to play in some areas. I understood from Dr. Fahmi Jud'an's talk that logic should have no role in determining Shari`ah rules. He said that Shari`ah is an area that should only be understood through revelation. I disagree. Analysis and reasoning has a role to play, and most definitely in this area. The use of logic is not confined to physics. It plays a fundamental role in revelation. There are, for example, issues that are not clearly defined within the revelation; there are issues that the revelation deals with in very general terms. Furthermore, there are issues that the revelation covers; however, the script can be understood in numerous ways. This is where the role of logic is integral to inferring what the script does not explicitly state. The application of reason and logic is crucial for grasping the meaning of the script. Hence, we have several schools of thought. Our Sheikh Al-Ghazaly used logic to understand Shari`ah and `Aqeedah. He, thus, refused to accept those few Ahadeeth that go against common sense. For instance, he refuted Ahadeeth such as, "If it were not for the doings of the Children of Israel, meat would not rot today" and "If it were not for Eve, no wife would betray her husband." These Ahadeeth are in Bukhari. Sheikh Al-Ghazaly said: "Meat rots because this is a scientific fact of life that was valid before and after the Children of Israel. If one leaves meat out at room temperature, it will rot after some time." He added: "Eve did not betray Adam. We do not have this notion in Islam." Thereby, he is using his mind and logic. Some people ridiculed him for this by saying, "How can he deny authentic Ahadeeth?" Some people went as far as accusing him of apostasy because he denied a few "authentic" Ahadeeth. I affirm that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly never denied the Sunnah. On the contrary, he defended it in many of his books, such as in, Fiqh of the Seerah and Un-Islamic Practices. I included in my book quotes of where he defends the Sunnah. He is a man who is defending Islam. But he is a caller who wants to present Islam in a logical, acceptable and sensible way. If a single chain of a Hadith were to contradict with simple facts, he would reject it, even if it were termed authentic.

His rejection of questionable Ahadeeth should never be a reason to discredit Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. During the days of the companions, `Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, refuted some Ahadeeth that some companions claimed to have heard with their own ears. She said, "No, they either did not understand or changed the wording by mistake." She simply saw that these Ahadeeth were contradictory to the Qur'an. And in such situations she would reply to the companions saying, "How can you narrate this while Allah says so and so…."

There are several books that were written on what `Aisha discarded of the other companions' narrations. However, no one ever said that Aisha was an apostate because she rejected those Ahadeeth. In fact, there is not a single Imam who did not reject some Ahadeeth for some reason or another, and for example, Malik and Abu Hanifa. So, it was simply logic that propelled Sheikh Al-Ghazaly to develop his own opinions on many issues. And certainly when he chose an opinion over another, he did not do this out of personal whims. He had, as Dr. Al-Sawwa illustrated, a well-defined methodology and fixed fundamentals. He used common sense, but it never caused him to reject revelation. For instance, when he chose the opinion that the blood money for a woman is equal to that of a man, some people blamed him because they said that his opinion went against the four schools of thought. It is correct that this is not the opinion of the four schools of thought. But it is not a matter of consensus (Ijmaa). Al-Assamm and Ibn Aleya have different opinions, as mentioned by Shawkani. Moreover, all the Hadiths that were cited to support the claim that blood money for a woman is half that of a man's are not authentic. This is agreed upon by top scholars of Hadith. This is the thinking of Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. And it was a useful way of thinking when he used his arguments to counter Communists' attacks.

He always thought that belief is love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah. I would like to name this soul a soul of a poet. Sheikh Al-Ghazaly said:

In 1951, the young Indian Islamic caller, Sheikh Abu Hassan Al-Nadawi, visited Egypt. He brought with him several letters that had written. One of them is titled, From the World to the Arabic Peninsula and From Arabs to the World. The world was asking the Arabic Peninsula about its mission it was to carry out. These were very strong and emotional words. Then the Peninsula answered the world. By Allah, no one can serve this Islam unless he/she has the soul of a poet.

I wasn't aware that Al-Ghazaly wrote poetry. But his son, Dr. Alaa, mentioned a while ago that he did write some verses. In any case, he was not a poet. But he had the soul of a poet. His emotions were always flooding out of his heart. A caller must have a lot of emotions. He or she cannot be rigid. Al-Ghazaly reproached some people for "not having a heart." These are people who only cared about the literal meaning of words. These rocks are not capable of calling for Islam. The call for Islam is not rigid. It is a nice and sweet emotion. That is why everybody who knew Sheikh Al-Ghazaly well loved him - even those who held different opinions to his. He was a tolerant, gentle, and witty person. There is not a single time one would sit with him without hearing a joke. He would even sometimes use jokes in Da`wah. Once he was asked if a man could direct his own destiny or if his future was predestined. He answered: "In the West a man directs his own destiny. But in the East one's life is predestined." It is obviously a tough question that is eternally asked. So, he solved the whole problem with this joke. That is how he was.

There is one more tool, with which I will end my talk. It is Sheikh Al-Ghazaly's tremendous spirituality. He had a heart of a Sufi. However, he never joined any Sufi group. I invited him a few years ago to be a visiting professor in Qatar. He stayed three happy years with us. One brother came to visit him, who was a Sufi and previously an Ikhwan, and said: "Oh respected Sheikh, I want you before the end of your life to give a covenant to my Sufi Sheikh." He asked him, "Is there a Sheikh after Hassan Al-Banna? I have taken from Hassan Al-Banna the Islam with all its comprehensiveness, balance, and depth." Yes, Al-Ghazaly learned from Hassan Al-Banna the all-inclusive Islam and lived it. Moreover, he had this tremendous spirituality that anyone who knew him would feel. Whoever reads what he wrote becomes moved by his words. I think he was sincere. I never listened to him without becoming emotional. The man was talking from his heart and expressing his inner thoughts. He never pretended in his speeches or faked his emotions. He acted quite naturally and never mixed the Islam with anything else. In his book, The Spiritual Side of Islam, he explained a part of a book, Words of Wisdom, written by Ibn Ataa Al-Sakandari. This contemporary explanation was wonderfully eloquent.

A conflict once took place between Al-Ghazaly and Ustaz Hassan Al-Hudaybi, which was later resolved. Al-Ghazaly later praised Al-Hudaybi greatly. When Al-Ghazaly discovered that Al-Hudaybi requested in his Will that he be buried in the charity graveyard, he was moved him to write the following:

Hassan Al-Hudaybi (the second general guide of the Ikhwan) died a few days ago. In his will he requested that he be given a quiet funeral and to be buried in the charity graveyard. I was amazed when I heard the latter request. I know Hassan Al-Hudaybi. I reconciliated with him two years before he died. He was a man of dignity and if he believed in something he would give his life for it. I was puzzled why he chose the charity graveyard. I reached a conclusion. He was a well-established judge in a high court. If he had spent his life attacking the Islamic Shari`ah, he would have been given the highest State Award. And if he had served secularism he would have become rich. However, he spent his life serving Islam. This is why he gained nothing but hardship. He was stabbed; just in the same way that Islam was attacked. He was humiliated, also in the same way that Islam was put down. He wanted all this to appear in his record when he meets Allah. Therefore, let him be buried in the charity graveyards with the wretched - those who nobody cares about. Let him be buried with people who died from torture in the military prison. The truth is: The Egyptian nation and the Muslim Ummah in general should revise their actions carefully before the Day of Judgment.

One day a man came to him and said, "Oh Sheikh, I have committed a sin and would like to repent." He replied: "Who knows, maybe this man is closer to Allah than I am. Maybe because he feels guilty towards his sin, he is closer to Allah than I. Who knows. Maybe my actions are insincere." Sheikh Al-Ghazaly had a tremendous spirituality. He would read a poem that Ibn Al-Rumi wrote on night prayers. He would read this poem crying. My dear brothers and sisters, this is Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. He lived his life to call for Islam, defend Islam, and attack the enemies of Islam. His books are either a defense of Islam or attacks on the enemies of Islam. He attacked the Zionists in his book, The Harvest of Pride. He attacked the missionaries in his book, A Cry of Warning from the Missionaries. He attacked orientalists when he replied to Gold Zahir. He also attacked Communists in his book titled, Islam and the Red Invasion, as well as the onslaught of western ideas in Darkness From the West, Imperialism with his Imperialism: Envy, and Greed, and finally national secularism in The Reality of Arabic Nationality and the Myth of the Arabic Revival.

All his books were either an attack or a defense. This was Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. Brothers and sisters, I cannot give him his due credit in just a few words. We are talking about a great leader of thought and a great Imam of Da`wah and Islamic revival. We are talking about a completely distinct school of Da`wah, thought, and reform. We need several research studies to define this school's characteristics, positions, and effects. Al-Ghazaly does not belong to a group or a nation. He belongs to the whole Muslim Ummah.

We are talking about a thinker and scholar, who dedicated his entire life to Islam, and nothing else. He gave Islam his thoughts, heart, tongue, pen, Jihad, and hard work. He struggled all his life under the banner of Islam. His slogan was: "My Prayers, My Rituals, My life, and My Death are for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. He has No Partner. This I am commanded, and I am the first of those who surrender"(Al-An'Am: 162, 163). Allah was his only friend, judge and Lord.

He lived with a feeling that always filled his heart – that he was a guard for this Deen, and that he should never allow Islam to be attacked. He thought that he should always be on guard from internal and external enemies. He believed that he should not only defend, but attack as well. Attack would be the best means of defense. He never rested, because the fight for the Qur'an and Islam is continuous. He was concerned because Muslim blood was becoming cheap and most of the other guards were asleep, or otherwise; too busy arguing about trivial issues.

It was the Sheikh's destiny to fight on two fronts:

The front of the enemies of Islam; those who hate to see the spread of its light and dislike its return to lead the world. Some of those were international forces that fear or hate Islam. Examples include Zionists, Crusaders, Communists, and Idol worshippers. They have different religions and ways of thinking, but they are unified in their mission to attack Islam and put obstacles in its way. Allah said about them: "And those who disbelieve are protectors of one another" (Al-Anfal: 73) and "And the oppressors are friends to one another" (Al-Jatheyah:19).

Some others, unfortunately, are Muslims carrying Muslim names, like Mohamed, Ahmed, Hassan, Hussain, Omar, and Ali. However, their intentions are evil towards Islam and its callers. They, furthermore, deny its Shari`ah. Islam is their enemy because it teaches against their sinful lusts, their wild oppression, their hidden agendas, and their excessive greed.

The front of the ignorant friends; the ones who harm Islam while they believe that they are serving it. It is those that crush Islam's face in their attempts to swat a fly that settles on its face. They are named, "the misguiding callers." They make people busy with branches and not the fundamentals, with particulars and not the entirety, the controversial and not the agreed upon, and the works of the organs and not the works of the hearts.

He complained about callers, most of who cause disaster and harm for Islam. They never read or struggle. The few facts they know are not put into their correct contexts. The pains of the Ummah do not affect them. They continue to debate historical events. They do not recognize what is happening in the world; nor do they learn of the incredible leaps of change occurring within life on earth.

The body that is depleted of blood cells will fall. Similarly, the mind that is void of knowledge cannot fulfill the obligations of Jihad or truth.

The danger to the future of Islam, its nation, and its revival is those, who the Sheikh addressed in his final books. He hoped that they would learn and wake up. He wished that they would become less proud in their opinions and cease despising others they consider below them. He wished that they would learn to be humble with the believers, to respect the elderly, and to be kind to the younger ones.

I would like to say that Sheikh Al-Ghazaly was not flawless. He was a normal human being. Nevertheless, he was a man of Islam. He lived for Islam and he died for Islam. He remained in the battlefields until the very end and died with his sword in his hand. This was Sheikh Al-Ghazaly. If people wish to dwell on his mistakes, this does not discredit him. In the Hadith: "Water more than two Qullas (a measurement) can never be dirty." What if it were a sea?

You might have a different opinion from him in minor or major issues, and in few or many issues. However, if you got to know him well, you could not help loving and respecting him. You would certainly feel how sincere he is to Allah, how honest and how straightforward he is, and how keen he is to defend Islam.

He became quickly upset when somebody attacked Islam. When he was upset he was like a sea that floods and a volcano that burns. He hated oppression against himself or against any human being. He could not tolerate deviation, especially if it is disguised in a cloak of piety and religion. Therefore, if he witnessed oppression or deviation, from his point of view at least, he could not remain silent or permit his pen to be idle. He would angrily attack, regardless of the consequences. The Sheikh, however, never overstepped his boundaries in his enmity. He would also never slander his enemies or wish them harm.

The Sheikh was at the same time able to quickly cool down. He would return to the truth upon realizing the extent of his anger. He would not be ashamed to announce his errors made in any particular issue. This is a kind of bravery that is very rare.

May Allah bless Sheikh Al-Ghazaly's soul and gather him with the pious of His servants. May Allah reward him with the best reward He gives to knowledgeable leaders. May Allah reward him for what he did for this Ummah and this Deen with the highest reward. May Allah take care of his family and children the best way He does with sincere people. I ask Allah to guide us to follow the Sheikh in his footsteps, to adhere to the truth, to resist falsehood, and to call to Allah. "Who is best in speech than he who calls to Allah, does good deeds, and says I am among Muslims."

Finally, I ask Allah to forgive you and me and to bless our master, Mohamed, his family, and companions. And may the peace, blessings, and mercy of Allah be upon you.

This speech was delivered at a workshop held in `Amman, Jordan on Thursday 4th Safar, 1417 H (June 20th, 1996)




Alija Izetbegovic

Published Wednesday June 14, 2000

By Ismail Royer

"Our goal: the Islamization of Muslims. Our methods: to believe and to struggle."—Alija Izetbegovic, "Islamic Declaration," 1970

"O' Alija, O' honored! You drive America crazy!" –Line from Arabic poetry sung by foreign mujahideen during Bosnian war

Last week, Alija Izetbegovic announced his decision to step down as president of Bosnia. The man Bosnians affectionately call "Deedo," or Grandpa, will leave office in October. In a speech announcing his resignation, Izetbegovic cited health problems as the main reason for his decision—but tellingly, he added, "The international community is pushing things forward in Bosnia...but it is doing it at expense of the Muslim people. I feel it as an injustice," he said. "These are the things that I cannot live with."

Izetbegovic's resignation is an event upon which Muslims around the world should reflect. He is one of the few Muslim political leaders of our time who demonstrates real love for Islam, and his career contains lessons in the way the West views Muslims in Europe and deals with Islamic movements in power.

"Do we want the Muslim people to leave their going-around-in-circles, their dependence, backwardness, and poverty?" Izetbegovic once wrote, "Then we show clearly which path will take us to that goal: establishing Islam in every field in the personal life of the individual, in family and society…and the establishment of a unique Islamic community from Morocco to Indonesia."

For Izetbegovic, these were not just words; they were a plan of action that he acted upon his entire life.

In 1940, at the age of 16 he co-founded the Young Muslims, a religious and political group modeled on Egypt's Ikhwan al-Muslimeen. Six years later he and his friend Nedzib Sacirbey were jailed by the communist government of Yugoslavia for helping publish the journal "Mujahid." After their release, the Communists again cracked down on the young Muslims and in 1949 sentenced four members to death and jailed many more for their Islamic activism. In 1983 Izetbegovic was arrested again for disseminating "Islamic propaganda" and sentenced to 14 years in prison and was released in 1988.

It would seem unthinkable that such a man would ever become president of a European country. But in 1990, Izetbegovic was elected president of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the eve of that country's descent into a David-and-Goliath war with Yugoslavia and Croatia. Instead of packing up his family and fleeing his country as it was overrun, as the leaders of one Persian Gulf nation recently did, he stayed to lead his people throughout the war from his sandbagged office and his modest apartment. In doing so, he became for the world the face of the Bosnian people's struggle for survival in the face of genocide.

Izetbegovic led an army that managed to beat back vastly superior Croatian and Serbian forces. But he leaves another crucial legacy: for Bosnians, he took the shame out of being a Muslim. In Yugoslavia, regular visits to the mosque meant being snubbed for jobs in the Communist Party-controlled economy. Islam was demonized in history books, and practicing Muslim students could expect vastly lower grades regardless of how much they studied. Even the Arabic and Turkish words and expressions that enrich the Bosnian language were systematically removed and derided as "uncultured."

But "Alija Izetbegovic succeeded in organizing Muslims as a nation in Bosnia," Dr. Zuhdija Adilovic, a professor at the Islamic Pedagogic Academy in Zenica, told in an interview. "This was the first time that Muslims had come to power in Bosnia."

With that power, the president embarked on a policy of reaffirmation of Bosnians' cultural identity. Today, children study their religion in public schools. Government employees, businessmen, soldiers, and university students can openly practice Islam with a sense of dignity. A worshipper in one of Sarajevo's packed mosques today might find a street sweeper praying on his left side and the city's mayor praying on his right.

Izetbegovic's unapologetic approach to his religion and his political power made the West uneasy. Amid warnings of a "fundamentalists Islamic state" in Europe, America and the EU stood by for three years facilitating the genocide of the Bosnian Muslim people. In 1995, when Islamic brigades of the Bosnian army launched a massive assault on Serb forces and seized thirty percent of Serb-controlled territory in a few days, it dawned on the West that Muslims might actually be victorious. America and Europe suddenly demanded peace.

A "peace plan" drawn up and imposed by the United States and enforced by NATO military occupation rewarded Serbs with their own state on half of Bosnia's territory, while Croats received another twenty-five percent. The US plan left Muslims, which make up approximately half of Bosnia's population, quarantined and landlocked on one quarter of their country.

The US peace plan imposed a system of government on Bosnia that guarantees perpetual economic and political stagnation and weakens Muslim political power. Serbs, Muslims, and Croats each have an equal voice in a three-member "presidency" in Bosnia, even though Muslims make up the majority of the population. If the country were a "real" democracy, with each citizen having an equal voice, Bosnia would be virtually guaranteed Muslim leadership by virtue of demographic. And under the current system, the government only takes action by consensus. With Serbs and Croats determined to undermine Muslims at every step, consensus never occurs, and in practice, the real power in Bosnia is wielded by the European Union. asked Nedzib Sacirbey, Bosnia's ambassador-at-large and Izetbegovic's friend and cellmate from his youth, what Izetbegovic meant when he said, "the international community is pushing things forward in expense of the Muslim people."

"The number one obstacle is that the international community did not use its power to return refugees, which would create a multi-ethnic society," Sacirbey said. "And for example, in Banja Luka, the Serbs leveled all mosques, but now 5 years after the war, there is still no permission to build one single mosque. It is the same in Croatian part."

The European Union's failure to return Muslim refugees to their homes in occupied areas of Bosnia enforces the war's ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, for the most part, Serbs and Croats travel to and live in Muslim areas freely. On a recent trip to Mostar, a city divided in half with Muslim and Croat areas, spoke to residents on both sides of the fault-line. Asked whether she would feel afraid to travel to the Muslim side, a Croat woman said, "No, I go there all the time to shop and visit my daughter." On the other hand, several Croats said they did not want Muslims on their side, and many Muslims said they faced harassment and threats of violence whenever they crossed the river separating the two communities.

The United States and the EU do, however, use their power to actively undermine Izetbegovic and his Party for Democratic Action (SDA) and to promote the former Communist Party of Bosnia, which was renamed the Social Democrat Party (SDP). Fed up with a lack of economic progress, a large number of Bosnian Muslim voters shifted support to the neo-communists in the most recent elections. The fact that the US State Department provided SDP with crucial logistic support for its campaigns didn't hurt either.

At the same time, Wolfgang Petritsch, the head of the European Union's civil authority in Bosnia, urged voters to dump "the leaders from the war," of which Izetbegovic is the only one remaining. And the EU ran advertisements on the television network it operates urging viewers to vote for "change"—in other words, change the leadership of the communist opposition.

With characteristic doublespeak, the, US State Department describes the result of its efforts as a victory for "political pluralism…at the expense of the ruling national parties." Sacirbey, as would most rational observers, calls it interference in the democratic process. "We expect them to say, 'Use your voting rights, vote for the best candidate,' not, 'Vote for or against so and so'," said Sacirbey.

Muslims have plenty to worry about with regard to the SDP. At an outdoor rally in Tuzla two months ago, SDP members feasted on barbecued pork chops to demonstrate their "secularism." They have announced their intention to rename the main road in the Muslim stronghold of Zenica, after Yugoslavia's communist dictator. Additionally, a group of party activists reportedly hurled stones at a mosque recently.

So many of the problems of the Islamic world that we typically blame on others are fundamentally the fault of Muslims, but not so in Bosnia. In the face of this internationally organized quagmire designed to paralyze and underdevelop Muslim progress in Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic decided he didn't have the strength to continue. "Somebody must come who can deal with such problems," he said.

The tragedy of Bosnia is not only that 350,000 men, women, and children died because their neighbors hated them for their religion, or that thousands of women were raped, or that hundreds of mosques were razed. What does it say about our civilization, that politicians in Europe and America had the power to intervene, but chose not to? It suggests not only that for the West, the lives of Muslims are not worth the trouble. The failure to stop the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims, along with the behavior of the West in post-war Bosnia, suggests that genocide will be tolerated for the sake of a political goal; in this case, the prevention of a European Muslim state. The lesson for Muslims deluded by our era's lofty talk of "democracy" is that for America and Europe, the stated goal of "promoting democracy" will be overridden by their pathological fear of Islam.

But in the face of the tragedy of genocide and betrayal by the West, Izetbegovic triumphed. He led Bosnia to freedom from Yugoslavia as an independent, sovereign state. He raised an army to defend his people. He led the renaissance of Islam in Bosnia, while protecting the rights of Christians in the areas under his control. For this, we should thank him, and wish him well.






Bediüzzaman Said Nursi

The Risale-i Nur collection is a six-thousand-page commentary on the Qur'an written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in accordance with the mentality of the age. Since in our age, faith and Islam have been the objects of the attacks launched in the name of so called science and logic, Bedizzaman Said Nursi therefore concentrated in the Risale-i Nur on proving the truths of faith in conformity with modern sciences, through rational evidence and by manifesting the miraculous aspects of the Qur'an that relate primarily to our century. This collection now has millions of readers both in and outside Turkey. Thanks to the Risale-i Nur, the Turks managed to maintain their religion despite the most despotic regimes of the past decades; although its author faced unbearable torments, prisons and exiles and no effort was spared to put an end to his service to faith, he was able to complete his writings comprising the Risale-i Nur and raise a vast group of believers who courageously opposed the oppression and preserved the dominance of Islam in the country.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born a century ago, in 1873, in a village in eastern Anatolia, Nurs, from which he received the name Nursi. He received his basic education from the best-known scholars of the district. The extraordinary intelligence and capability of learning that he showed at a very early age made him popular with his teachers, colleagues and the people. When he was sixteen years old, he silenced the distinguished scholars who had invited him to a debate (debate was then a popular practice among scholars). This later recurred several more times with various groups of soholars, and he thereby began to be called Bediuzzaman (Wonder of the Age).

The time he spent in education paved the way in his mind for the thought that at a time when the world was entering a new and different age, where science and logic would prevail, the classical educational system of theology would not be sufficient to remove doubts concerning the Qur'an and Islam. He concluded that religious sciences should be taught at modern schools on the one hand, and modern sciences at religious schools on the other. "This way," he said, "the people of the school will be protected from unbelief, and those of the madrasa from fanaticism."

With this idea, he twice went to Istanbul-once in 1895, the second time in 1907-where he sought to convince the Sultan to establish a university in Anatolia, one that would teach religious and modern sciences together. But the sharp words in his conversation with the Sultan caused him to be court-martialed, and during his trial too he did not hesitate to use the same sharpness. Alarmed by this, the military judges thought it best to send him to a mental hospital, but the phisician who examined him reported, "If there is a grain of insanity in Bediuzzaman, then there must be no sane person in the whole world"


To be the object of accusations contrary to his aim and intention was, in fact, an invariable feature of Bediuzzaman's fate. When the uproars of March 31, 1909, took place, he was arrested and court-martialed on the charge of inciting the uproar, although he had tried, and to a degree managed, to calm down the events. While the hanging bodies of the convicts executed were seen through the windows of the court-martial room, Bediuzzaman made a heroic defense and in the end was acquitted.

After the first of a series of acquittals, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi returned to eastern Anatolia, visited the remote proviences and explained to the people that the movement freedom that was beginning to emerge in the country was not contrary to Islam. He told them that all kinds of dictatorship were rejected by the Sacred Law, which would be nourished and would manifest its virtues in a free atmosphere. Her later collected these speeches in a book entitled the Debates.

In the winter of 1911, Bediuzzaman went to Damascus and gave a sermon at the Umayyad mosque to an audience including one hundred well-known scholars, explaining that the true civilisation contained in Islam would dominate the modern world. Afterwards he went to Istanbul once again, to continue his efforts to have a, university established in eastern Anatolia. As the representative of the Eastern provinces, he escorted Sultan Reþad on his journey in Rumelia and, when they were in Kosovo Metohija, where the Sultan was planning to establish a university, Bediuzzaman told him, "The East is in more need of a university, for it is the centre of the Muslim world." He thus convinced Sultan Resad to earmark a sum of nineteen thousand gold liras, and then went to Van and laid the foundation of the university. Unfortunately, the construction was not completed because of the World War which soon broke out.


In World War I, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi served as a commander of a volunteers' regiment on the Caucasian front and in eastern Anatolia. The heroism he demonstrated in battle was highly admired by the generals of the Ottoman army, including Enver Pa=FEa, Minister of Defense and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Armed Forces. Together with his volunteers known as "the Felt Caps," he struck terror into the Russian and Armenian forces. In the meantime, he wrote his celebrated commentary on the Qur'an in the Arabic language, sometimes on horseback, sometimes on the front line and sometimes in the trench. This commentory, entitled the Signs of Miraculousness; received immense appreciation from eminent scholars.

In one of the battles against the invading Russian forces, Bediuzzaman and ninety other officers were captured. He was sent to a prisoners' camp in Kostroma, Northwestern Russia, where he spent over two years and once appeared before a firing squad, as a result of his insulting the Russian general Nicola Nicolaevich, the Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasian front and the Czar's uncle. One day the general came to the camp for inspection and, as he passed by Bediuzzaman, he did not stand up before the general. When asked, Bediuzzaman explained the reason why he had not stood up in these words:

"I am a Muslim scholar and have belief in my heart. Whoever has belief in his heart is superior to the one who does not. I cannot act against my belief."
He was court-martialed, sentenced to death, and, when the sentence was to be executed, he began his last duty, prayer, in front of the firing squad. The general witnessed the scene and came to Bediüzzaman, this time with an apology. He said that he had now realized that the act of Bediuzzaman was the result of his adherence to his faith; and that the sentence was withdrawn, and apologized to Bediuzzaman because he had bothered him. Sadly, this virtuousness of a Russian, the long-standing enemy of the Muslims, was never shown to him in his homeland by those who caused him a life full of torments of all kinds.


Amid the uproars caused by the communist revolution, Bediuzzaman found a way of escaping and, after a long iourney, came back to Istanbul in 1908 He was rewarded with a war medallion and Enver Paþa, Minister of Defense, offered him some positions in the government. He refused all these offers; however, upon the suggestion of the army and without his knowledge, he was appointed to Dar-al-Hikmat al-Islamiya, the religious academy of the time. He did not object to this appointment, as it was a pure scientific position.

When the country was invaded by imperialist forces after the defeat in World War I, Bediuzzaman challenged the invading British in Istanbul with bitter attacks that almost cost him his life. He addressed them in his articles in daily newspapers with phrases such as, "O dog doggified from the atmost degree of dogness!" and "Spit at the shameless face of the damned British" These attacks made him the target of the British, but, with the help of God Almighty, he escaped all the plans against him and ran toward the new services that were awaiting him. In 1922, upon the invitations of the government that recurred eighteen times, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi went to Ankara and was received at the Grand National Assembly with a ceremony. However, he could not find in Ankara what he had anticipated; rather he saw the most of the representatives negligent in their religious obligations. On January 19, 1923, he issued a declaration to the representatives. Upon this declaration fifty to sixty of them began prayer.

Bediuzzaman spent eight months in Ankara and then left for Van. For two years he lived there in seclusion and was occupied only with meditation and prayer. Meanwhile the unfortunate events known as "the Eastern rebellion" broke out. The rebels sought Bediuzzaman's help, as he had a strong influence over people, but Bediuzzaman refused their requests, saying, "Sword is to be used against the outside enemy; it is not to be used inside. Give up your attempt, for it is doomed to failure and may end up in the annihilation of thousands of innocent men and women because of a few criminals." But once again Bediuzzaman was charged falsely and sent into exile in Burdur, western Anatolia. There he was kept under strict surveillance and oppression, but this did not prevent him from teaching the truths of faith to the people around him and from collecting his writings secretly in a book. His activities were reported to Ankara , and then a plan was prepared to silence him. They sent him to Barla, an out-of-the-way place in central Anatolia surrounded by mountains, with the thought that Bediuzzaman would eventually die there from impotence and loneliness.


In reality, the dissemination of the truths of faith was nothing to be alarmed about, nor was it a crime that would be the cause of plots against a man's life. However, it was an unforgiveable crime under the circumstances of the time! For those were the days when despotism had fallen down over the nation with all its darkness and awesomeness; a ban had been put over adhan; hundreds of mosques were being used for nonreligious purposes; the plans to cut off all that connects the nation with its past and its moral values were in process; and the mere mention of religion was a matter of great courrage. The head of the press department of the government could order the editors of newspapers to cut within ten days all the serials that directly or indirectly. mentioned religion, as "it was considered harmful to lead to the emergence of the concept of religion in the minds of youths."

Such were the circumstances under which Bediuzzaman Said Nursi entered the second part of his life which he called the New Said and which was dedicated to the waiting and dissemination of the truths of faith. Taking as the aim the revival of faith, which is the first and most important truth of the cosmos, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, "I will demonstrate to the world that the Qur'an is a spiritual sun that shall never set and shall never be extinguished." And indeed so he did. Bediuzzaman did not die in Barla, where he had been sent to die alone, but a new Said emerged there, and with it emerged a sun over the world of science and culture, .one that has since been illuminating millions. In Barla too, an awesome oppression and surveillance were waiting for Bediuzzaman. It appeared that his enemies had not yet come to know him, who, in the World War had been the fear of the Russians, in Istanbul had spat at the face of the British who were in his pursuit, and had several times returned from the gallows. Nevertheless, they later had enough time to know him and in the end found themselves having to say, "Despite all we have done in the past twenty-five years, we have not been able to prevent Said Nursi from his activities." During the eight years and a half that he spent under absolute oppression in Barla, Bediuzzaman wrote three quarters of the Risale-i Nur collection: The treatises were being multiplied by handwriting, as neither the author nor his students could afford the printing costs. Even if they had been able to, then again they did not have the freedom. Handwriting was also a dangerous task, for the scribes were being tortured in prisons and police stations, and every attempt was being made to prevent people from contact with Bediuzzaman.


Here it must be noted that at that time the writing or dissemination of even a single religious treatise was not anything that anybody dared try, let alone the firm, courageous and continuous struggle that Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and his students carried out. When these circumstances under which the Risale-i Nur was written and spread all over Anatolia are taken into consideration, one cannot find difficulty in realizing how right was Maryam Jameelah, the well-known American Muslim writer, when she said, "It is no exaggeration to claim that whatever Islamic fait h remains in Turkey is due to the tireless efforts of Bediuzzaman Nursi." Indeed, those instructed by the Risale-i Nur in lessons of the faith of realization strengthened, in so doing, their beliefs and attained an impregnable Islamic courage and heroism. With Bediuzzaman, who represented in his person the spiritual personality of the Risale-i Nur, as their leader, those hundreds of thousands-now millions-of students of Nur set a pattern for other Muslims and constituted a support for them in those perilous days like brave commanders encouraging an army with their states. The strength of their beliefs and their continuous struggle against irreligion had wide effects on people, and they thus removed the fears and misgivings from the hearts, rallied the morale of the nation, brought about hope and relief and delivered the Muslims from desperation.

Bediuzzaman was arrested in 1930 with 125 students of his and tried at the Eskiþehir Criminal Court. In Eskiþehir prison where they spent eleven months during the trial, they had to put up with unbearable torments. They were released the next spring but not Ieft in peace. This time, ,again escorted by gendarmes, Bediuzzaman was sent into exile in another city , Kastamonu. There he spent the first three months at a police station, then was transferred to a house opposite to the police station.

Bediuzzaman lived in Kastamonu for seven years and countinued to write and disseminate the Risale-i Nur. Because he and his students were deprived of almost all kinds of freedom, they therefore formed their own postal organization called the "Nur postmen." Through the "Nur postmen," 600,000 copies of treatises were multiplied by handwriting.
In 1943, he was arrested again and tried at the Denizli Criminal Court together with 126 students of his. The main reason for this was that Bediuzzaman had recently had a treatise concerning the existence of God printed secretly in Istanbul. In prison too he did not shrink from continuing his service, just as he never did when he was in exile. He was now reforming the criminals who were considered lost for society. He was also writing new treatises.
Paper and pen were not allowed into the prison, so the treatises were written on small pieces of paper torn from paperbags and smuggled out in matchboxes: This way Fruits from the Tree of Light came out. The trial ended in a unanimous acaquittal. But that did not mean that Bediuzzaman would be given back his freedom-upon an order from Ankara, he was sent to another town, Emirdað.


For him Emirdað was just the same as it had been elsewhere again pursuits, pressures and plots, and despite these, a continuous, tireless service of faith... This period, in the usual fashion, ended in arrest. Together with fifty-three students, Bediuzzaman was sent to Afyon Criminal Court and spent twenty months in Afyon prison. The cruelties they encountered there were even worse than all those before. Bediuzzaman was then seventy-five years old and suffering from various illnesses. Yet he was isolated in a cell with broken windows where he spent two severe winters. And, as if it were not enough to leave him to die alone, he was poisoned too. When he was suffering from the effect of the poison, the students of his who dared to approach him in order to help him were ruthlessly bastinadoed. The sentences given were annulled by the Supreme Court; the court, however, took its time in deciding whether to withdraw the sentence or not. After Bediuzzaman and his students had spent in prison the terms specified in the annulled conviction, the court finally made up its mind and decided that they should be released. And eight years later came the final decision in 1956, the court announced that those who had under unbearable conditions spent almost two years in prison had now been found innocent!

When the first free and fair elections were held in Turkey in 1950 and the multiparty system was established, the despotism of the Republican People's Party which was known, and still is, for its hostile attitude toward religion-ended, and thereby freedoms began to be recognized. Thus a new era opened in the history of the Turkish Republic in the very first session of the new parliament, the ban over adhan was lifted. During the years that followed, Bediuzzaman had only one trial-the only one in which he was not arrested in Istanbul and was acquitted with a unanimous decision.


And, after completing a lifetime of almost a century, with every minute spent in the service of faith, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi departed from this world on the morning of March 23, 1960, with complete honor, dignity and victory, leaving behind him a work that would illuminate this and the forthcoming centuries and a love that would be handed over from generation to generation until eternity.

taken from



El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

By Sulayman S. Nyang, Ph.D.

El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, or Malcolm X as he is better known among countless non-Muslim Americans, was a man of great intelligence and charisma. His life story goes back to his days as a young man. The son of a Garveyite (a follower of Marcus Aurelius Garvey) who remembered throughout his life the brutal manner in which White racists killed his father. Mr. Shabazz was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925, the fourth of eight children of Rev. Earl Little, a Baptist preacher from Georgia, and his wife, Louise, a West Indian woman who was light skinned enough to pass for White. Because of his background Malcolm Little imbibed much of the rage of suspicion of White America which his father felt before his murder. Condemned to live in a hostile American society without wealth or effective parental direction, Malcolm Little got lost in the wilderness of sin and crime. He got involved in a number of illegal activities which eventually landed him in jail. In his now famous autobiography, ghostwritten by Alex Haley of Roots fame, Mr. Shabazz paints a gloomy picture of life for a Black youth in those days of racial bigotry and Black victimization in American society. He tells us in the book that his life changed after his brother had introduced him to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. The message from this leader of the Nation of Islam was designed to de-inferiorize Blacks in the US who had been told repeatedly that their color and race condemned them to eternal damnation in America’s social system. According to Ron Karenga, the prominent African-American activist and essayist during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, there are six aspects to the doctrine of the Nation of Islam, as advocated by Elijah Muhammad. The first and most fundamental "is the posing of Islam as the true religion of Black people and Christianity as the religion of their opposite and enemy, the White people." The second "is the contention that Allah (God) is in reality a Black man and the Black man is God." The third is that Black people "are a Chosen People who are righteous by creation and righteous by nature." The fourth is that "the White man is the devil himself." The Fifth is that "separation on the social and political level from White was a divine imperative." The sixth aspect of Elijah Muhammad’s theory stresses "the need for racial and Islamic solidarity throughout the world." He argued that, inspite of Euro-American machinations, people in the developing countries are destined to unite because they all belong to the Original People.

In an attempt to understand the spiritual journey of Malik Shabazz, we must examine how he related to these ideas of Mr. Muhammad and the manner in which his life changed following his encounter with the orthodox Islam.

Malcolm Little, the convert to the Nation of Islam, changed his name to Malcolm X and became a strong and forceful champion of Mr. Muhammad’s philosophy. His efforts at proselytization took the message of the Nation of Islam to every nook and corner of the Black community in the United States. Malcolm X, as the national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, was perhaps the most potent force behind the publicity of the Black nationalist religious body in the United States and overseas. His speeches in colleges and universities and on television and radio galvanized a large number of young Blacks in American ghettos. Many of these Blacks would later embrace the NOI philosophy and become active defenders and promoters of their adopted faith. Malcolm X’s activities on behalf of the NOI created a tense atmosphere in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At the time in US history the civil rights movements was bent on desegregating American life and society. In order to do so a coalition of Blacks and Whites was needed. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference formed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, were the advocates of change. They had earlier scored a victory over the segregationists when the US Supreme Court struck down racist laws which mandated separate educational facilities for 40 percent of US school children located primarily in the southern states. Entering the field of struggle around this time, Malcolm X taught Black Americans his master’s message: "Blacks and Whites cannot live together and agitation for integration is suicidal." This message reverberated in the firmaments of Black debates throughout the lifetime of Mr. Muhammad. Although the followers of the NOI were not prominent in Black leadership circles, the visibility and dynamism of Malcolm X gave the NOI more attention than its members warranted at the time. Many analysts of the civil rights movement saw the message of Malcolm X and the NOI as an alternative to Dr. King’s message of change without violent struggle. Infact, on many occasions the White liberals reminded conservative Whites of the ominous future of American should the two races settled their differences violently. This perception of the NOI and its national spokesman, Malcolm X, gave the followers of Mr. Muhammad a bad name and a bad press. The liberal White press such as The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post dismissed Malcolm X as a "hatemonger," and a "troublemaker."

This image of Malcolm X underwent a change only in the last two years of his life. In November 1993, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X made a statement which soon drove a wedge between him and Mr. Muhammad. He was reported in the US press as saying that the slaying of the US President was a clear case of "the chickens coming home to roost." To Malcolm X the US was a violent society and violence had for long been unleashed against Blacks. When the President himself could be gunned down in cold blood by an assassin you have nothing else to say in defense of America.

Although Malcolm X tried to clarify the meaning of his statement, the NOI leadership saw it as an act of disobedience to their supreme leader, Mr. Muhammad. A 90-day suspension was imposed on Malcolm X and the conservative elements who disliked his style of operation saw this penalty as a way of bringing him down. Much speculation has centered on the factors responsible for the conflict between Malcolm X and his teacher, Mr. Muhammad. Some analysts like Karenga have attributed Malcolm X’s break with NOI to jealousy and rivalry in the higher echelon of the movement. These analysts believe that the "chickens coming home to roost" statement of Malcolm X was used merely as a pretext to eliminate him; that the US authorities were mindful of these internal rivalries and they used this weakness to heighten tensions in the ranks of NOI. Regardless of one’s interpretation of events around this time, however, the fact remains, that Malcolm X’s future in the NOI was doomed because Mr. Muhammad was no longer sure of his loyalty, and his aides in Chicago who were opposed to Malcolm X, took advantage of their proximity to the supreme leader to separate them from each other.

From the perspective of a student of Islam in the US, this development in the relationship between Malcolm X and Mr. Muhammad set the state for the emergence of a new Malcolm X; that is to say, the break with Elijah Muhammad resulted in Malcolm X’s reexamination of the entire NOI philosophy. Several major changes in Malcolm X took place during the time.

After his break with Elijah Muhammad, he changed his name to Malik el-Shabazz. The Muslim honorific title El-Hajj would later be added to his name after his trip to Makkah to perform the Hajj. The new Malik Shabazz also chose the mainstream Sunni Islam as his religious creed. In doing so he became the vocal denouncer of his former master and his teachings. He confessed to several audiences around the US and abroad that his activities and speeches gave greater visibility to the heretical teaching of the NOI. He told his audiences that now that he has seen the light of true Islam, he would do everything to teach, elucidate and pass on the true teachings of Islam to African-American. This new mission of Mr. Shabazz endeared him to the small minority of African-American Sunnis who had previously seen him as an agent of a diabolical movement and a perpetrator of the greatest sin in Islam, shirk (associating partnership with Allah). By traveling to Makkah for Hajj and by perceiving the collective legitimization of the leaders of the Muslims on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. Shabazz developed a new image in the Muslim world. He, in turn, also provided greater visibility to orthodox Islam in the United States. Although orthodox Islam was know to many African-Americans who embraced Islam because of Mr. Shabazz’s teachings and lectures, one could argue that the transformation of Malcolm X into a veritable orthodox Muslim leader created the atmosphere for the development of the various African-American Muslim groups. Three of these groups that have embraced Mr. Shabazz as a brother and a hero of orthodox Islam in America are the Darul Islam Movement, the Islamic Brotherhood, Inc., and the Islamic Party of North America. In its tow publications al-Jihadul Akbar and al-Taqwa, the Dual Islam Movement defended Mr. Shabazz from the vitriolic attacks of the NOI and other Black nationalist groups who saw Mr. Shabazz’s decision to join the international Muslim community as a deviation from the real problems of Black people in the US. Several articles appeared also in al-Islam, a mouthpiece of the Washington-based Islamic Party of North America, and The Western Sunrise, an organ of the Islamic Brotherhood, Inc. based in New York.

The transformation of Mr. Shabazz not only put orthodox Islam in the public eye, it also heightened the subterranean conflicts that were raging in the small community of African-Americans who called themselves Muslim. Mr. Shabazz’s embrace of orthodox Islam and the lectures he gave in his last years, together built a bridge between the tiny fraction of Sunni Muslims inside the African-American community and the emerging immigrant Muslim community. Before Mr. Shabazz’s trip to Makkah, the immigrant Muslim community was neither well organized nor assertive about its faith in Islam. It consisted essentially of two main groups, namely the assimilated early immigrant families from the Middle East, Southern/Central Europe and South Asia on the one hand, and the international students from Muslim countries on the other.

Indeed the early 1960s served as an important benchmark in the history of Islam because it was during this time that Sunni orthodoxy went public through Mr. Shabazz’s mosque in Harlem, and the international students from the Muslim world began to build up the Muslim Student Association. It was the progressive development of these two ideas that has led to the present situation. Today the ideas for which Mr. Shabazz is known have become concretized in the efforts of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Elijah Muhammad’s son and successor. Since 1975 Warith Deen Mohammed has transformed the organization of his father into a veritable Sunni Muslim body of believers. This act of restructuring of beliefs and practices within the NOI has led to fragmentation among the old members. There are several successor groupings to the NOI. The first and most important is the one under the leadership of Warith Deen Mohammed himself. Its position on religious and secular matters is stated in the group’s publication, Muslim Journal. The next most important group is the restored Nation of Islam under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan. The rest of the breakaway groups are led by Silas Muhammad of Atlanta; John Muhammad of Detroit and Khalifa Emmanuel Muhamad of Baltimore. A New York group called Five Percenters is also a competing organization. Each of these successor groups to the original NOI is now represented in one or more US cities. The followers of Warith Deen Mohammed are the main link between African-American Sunni Muslims and the growing body of immigrant Muslims in the US.

Having said it all, there are several remarkable things about Malik Shabazz that come to my mind as we commemorate his assassination nearly 25 years ago.

He was a bold, articulate and charismatic speaker and was a good example of a man determined to get himself out of the mire of poverty and illiteracy that condemns a majority of American Blacks to a life at the bottom of the society.

He was an African-American whose discovery of Elijah Muhammad’s teachings channeled his pent-up hostilities towards Whites in a manner which led to his self-discovery; and he was a man courageous enough to accept his mistakes, as reflected in his self reversal on the NOI view that the White man is the devil



Hasan Al-Banna

Guilain Denoelcx

Hasan al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood or Society of the Muslim Brothers, the largest and most influential Sunni revivalist organization in the 20th century. Created in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass-based, overtly political movement to oppose the ascendancy of secular and Western ideas in the Middle East. The brotherhood saw in these ideas the root of the decay of Islamic societies in the modern world, and advocated a return to Islam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies. Al-Banna's leadership was critical to the spectacular growth of the brotherhood during the 1930s and 1940s. By the early 1950s, branches had been established in Syria, Sudan, and Jordan. Soon, the movement's influence would be felt in places as far away as the Gulf and non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Driving this expansion was the appeal of the organizational model embodied in the original, Egypt-based section of the brotherhood, and the success of al-Banna's writings. Translated into several languages, these writings have shaped two generations of Sunni religious activists across the Islamic world.

Like many of the Islamic leaders who followed in his footsteps, Al-Banna enjoyed the benefits of a modern education, but had been raised in a traditional Islamic environment. He was born in 1906 in Mahmudiyya, a small town in the Nile Delta. His father, a watch repairman who also served as prayer leader and Qur'anic teacher in the local mosque, had been educated at Al-Azhar. Author of a few works on Islamic jurisprudence, he instilled strong religious values into Al-Banna. Even as a primary school student, Al-Banna joined several religious societies dedicated to the promotion of Islamic standards of moral behavior. It was also at that young age that he became a member of the Hasafiyya Brothers' Sufi order. His early participation in dhikr circles and avid reading of Sufi literature help explain why he always saw the moral reform of the individual as a precondition to the Islamization of society.

In 1923, at the age of 16, Al-Banna moved to Cairo to enter the famous Dar al-'Ulum college. The four years that Al-Banna spent in Cairo exposed him to the political ferment of the Egyptian capital in the early 1920s, and enhanced his awareness of the extent to which secular and Western ways had penetrated the very fabric of society. It was then that Al-Banna became particularly preoccupied with what he saw as the young generation's drift away from Islam. He believed that the battle for the hearts and minds of the youth would prove critical to the survival of a religion besieged by a Western onslaught. While studying in Cairo, he immersed himself in the writings of the founders of Islamic reformism (the Salafiyya movement), including the Egyptian Muhammad 'Abduh (1849-1905), under whom his father had studied while at Al-Azhar. But it was 'Abduh's disciple, the Syrian Rashid Rida (1865-1935), who most influenced Al-Banna. Al-Banna was a dedicated reader of Al-Manar, the magazine that Rida published in Cairo from 1898 until his death in 1935. He shared Rida's central concern with the decline of Islamic civilization relative to the West. He too believed that this trend could be reversed only by returning to an unadulterated form of Islam, free from all the accretions that had diluted the strength of its original message. Like Rida at the end of his life — but unlike 'Abduh and other Islamic modernists — Al-Banna felt that the main danger to Islam's survival in the modern age stemmed less from the conservatism of Al-Azhar and the ulama (which he nevertheless criticized) than from the ascendancy of Western secular ideas.

Al-Banna urged the rejection of all Western notions, emphasizing instead the need to return to the foundations and original purity of Islam. Indeed, through the organizational skills he would soon demonstrate, Al-Banna did more than any other thinker during that time to contribute to the eclipse of Islamic refornism and modernism by Islamic fundamentalism. Upon graduating from Dar al-'Ulum in 1927, at the age of 21, Al-Banna was appointed as a teacher of Arabic in a primary school in Isma'iliyya. At the time, Isma'iliyya served as the capital of the British-occupied Canal Zone and hosted the headquarters of the Suez Canal Company (SCC). British military camps and the homes of the SCC's foreign employees were as much a part of this rapidly expanding new town as the wretched conditions in which the majority of the SCC's Egyptian workers lived. Al-Banna's first assignment thus heightened his resentment of what he saw as Egypt's military occupation, economic exploitation, cultural domination, and loss of dignity. It strengthened his determination to rid Egypt of British and, more generally, Western influences.
From the moment he arrived in Isma'iliyya, Al-Banna involved himself actively in the life of the community. He made an effort to become acquainted with the town's notables while reaching out to the broadest possible public. He conducted night classes for his students' parents and led informal discussions in the mosque, coffeehouses, clubs, and private homes. His basic message was that Egypt had lost its soul; it had become politically sub-servient and economically dependent because it had strayed from the path that had been laid down by God. The only remedy to the decadence of state and society was to reassert Islamic values and ways of life.

It was to spread this message that Al-Banna launched the Society of the Muslim Brothers in March 1928. At first, the society was only one of the numerous small Islamic associations that existed at the time. Similar to those that Al-Banna himself had joined since he was 12, these associations aimed to promote personal piety and engaged in charitable activities. By the late 1930s, it had established branches in every Egyptian province. A decade later, it had 500,000 active members and as many sympathizers in Egypt alone, while its appeal was now felt in several other countries as well. The society's growth was particularly pronounced after Al-Banna relocated its headquarters to Cairo in 1932. The single most important factor that made this dramatic expansion possible was the organizational and ideological leadership provided by Al-Banna.

He endeavored to bring about the changes he hoped for through institution-building, relentless activism at the grassroots level, and a reliance on mass communication. He proceeded to build a complex mass movement that featured sophisticated governance structures; sections in charge of furthering the society's values among peasants, workers, and professionals; units entrusted with key functions, including propagation of the message, liaison with the Islamic world, and press and translation; and specialized committees for finances and legal affairs.

In anchoring this organization into Egyptian society, Al-Banna skillfully relied on pre-existing social networks, in particular those built around mosques, Islamic welfare associations, and neighborhood groups. This weaving of traditional ties into a distinctively modern structure was at the root of his success. Directly attached to the brotherhood, and feeding its expansion, were numerous businesses, clinics, and schools. In addition, members were affiliated to the movement through a series of cells, revealingly called usar (families). The material, social and psychological support thus provided were instrumental to the movement's ability to generate enormous loyalty among its members and to attract new recruits. The services and organizational structure around which the society was built were intended to enable individuals to reintegrate into a distinctly Islamic setting, shaped by the society's own principles.

Rooted in Islam, Al-Banna's message tackled issues including colonialism, public health, educational policy, natural resources management, Marxism, social inequalities, Arab nationalism, the weakness of the Islamic world on the international scene, and the growing conflict in Palestine. By emphasizing concerns that appealed to a variety of constituencies, Al-Banna was able to recruit from among a cross-section of Egyptian society — though modern-educated civil servants, office employees, and professionals remained dominant among the organization's activists and decisionmakers.

As the society expanded during the 1930s, it quickly changed from a movement for spiritual and moral reform into an organization directly active on the Egyptian political scene. Concurrent with that transformation, radical tendencies asserted themselves within the organization. A "secret apparatus" (al-jihaz al-sirri) was formed that engineered a series of assassinations of enemies of the brotherhood.

Between 1948 and 1949, shortly after the society sent volunteers to fight in the war in Palestine, the conflict between the monarchy and the society reached its climax. Concerned with the increasing assertiveness and popularity of the brotherhood, as well as with rumors that it was plotting a coup, Prime Minister Nuqrashi Pasha disbanded it in December 1948. The organization's assets were impounded and scores of its members sent to jail. Less than three weeks later, the prime minister was assassinated by a member of the brotherhood. This in turn prompted the murder of Al-Banna, presumably by a government agent, in February 1949, when Al-Banna was still only 43 and at the height of his career.

Though the society never fully recovered from the loss of its charismatic founder, it survived. Since then, the brotherhood has remained a significant force in the politics of several Arab countries, either directly or through the movements it inspired. It appeals most to cultural conservatives who want their government and society to reflect and defend certain basic Islamic values and principles, and who favor a pragmatic and incremental approach to achieve these goals. The legacy of Al-Banna is thus still present, and will continue to shape the destiny of Arab societies in the new millennium.




Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah

"Through patience and poverty one attains leadership in religion. The seeker of Truth needs the will that inspires him and pushes him upward and knowledge that leads and guides him."

These words sum up the personality of this great man Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr who is better known as Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah. Ibn Qayyim was born in 691 A.H one year after the liberation of Jerusalem by Saladin.

Our hero began his long journey on the road of learning early in his life, moving from one teacher after the other to quench his thirst for knowledge. At the age of 21 (in 712 A.H) Ibn Qayyim met his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah, another great hero of Islam and a revivalist of the faith. Their companionship lasted to the end of the teacher's life. Our hero kept close company to Ibn Taymiyyah with whom he suffered the pains of prison and flogging many a time. Apparently, it was from Ibn Taymiyyah, that our hero learnt many special qualities such as frankness and courage, in defiance of the wrath of others including the authorities. For, to both truth had to be said regardless of the consequences. But, unlike his teacher, our hero was less fierce in his attacks (in words or action).

The 8th century after Hijra witnessed the Muslims community in a state of ignorance and feuds. Muslims were fighting other Muslims, each trying to impose his authority in everything, including religious leadership and scholarship that suffered from stagnation. For, the majority of religious scholars acted more like recorders and stores of knowledge, rather than true scholars and teachers. To them their teachers were the main, if not sole, source of knowledge and the schools of thought they blindly imitated were the only acceptable ways.

Like his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah, our hero spent life attempting to correct the wrong course the community was following. He fought the exaggerated reverence for the tombs of the pious, despite the resistance he met with from the masses. He tried to show the errors committed by the misled sects and their blind followers. For, ibn Qayyim considered that the disputes and fights among the Muslims of his time were caused by their sectarian attitude and practices, each one considering himself and each sect or school of thought the only right one, and claiming that everyone else was on the wrong path.

So our hero spent a great portion of his time and efforts trying to unite the people, pointing out to them the dangers of blind imitation of predecessors. He explained that a Muslim should be open-minded, accepting what is right and good regardless of the teacher, unless it was inconsistent with the Quran and Hadeeth (Prophetic traditions) and the general spirit of the faith. To him imitation was wrong in the following cases:

1) If it entails violation of diving teachers.

2) If it represents an act of blind following of people, we are not sure of their knowledge.

3) If it is in defiance of truth after finding it.

But imitation is acceptable if it means that we follow someone who knows something we could not learn about ourselves. For it was blind imitation that caused stagnation in scholarship and difference among people. Some so-called scholars, he pointed out, were not really scholars but simple propagators of others' opinions. To those people the words and vies of their teachers or leaders were the only correct way of understanding the faith, to the extent that they subjected even the interpretation of the Quran and prophetic teachings to the views of their teachers, which they wrongly took for the ultimate criteria. Ibn Qayyim considered that the sources of the religious knowledge were to be taken in the following order:

1) The Quran

2) The Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad's (S.A.W.) teachings

3) The teachings of the companions of the Prophet.

To these one could add consensus and analogy. Bigotry and prejudice were, to him, the enemies of learning. To propagate his views our hero wrote scores of books besides direct teachings.

In his own private life ibn Qayyim was a very pious and devout worshipper who spent most of his time in prayers and recitation of the Quran. He was in fact an ascetic and a sufi of the orthodox type. For, he rejected the unorthodox practices of some Sufis who claimed that religious teachings had external and internal sides, meaning that religious obligations did not apply to them. As pointed out earlier, our hero was a man of courage and frankness to whom the truth was the ultimate goal. His open-minded attitude is reflected in his views on the correct understanding of religious laws (Shariah) and that these should be interpreted in the light of the circumstances of time and place, because Islam is intended of all mankind at all times. Many books were written by Ibn Qayyim to explain this invaluable principle and many of his views find their application taken in the legal system of modern nations, more than six centuries after his death in 751 A.

Taken from "Muslim Heroes"



Khurram Murad

Khurram Murad was born in Bhopal, India in 1932, and migrated to Pakistan in 1948. He studied civil engineering at the University of Karachi (BEng. 1952), securing 1st place in the University, and went on to study in the University of Minnesota (USA) (MSc. 1958), he worked as a leading consulting engineer in Karachi, Dhaka, Tehran and Riyadh. Associated Consulting Engineers Ltd., with which he worked as a chief engineer and resident director, was responsible for the initial design and electrification of the extension of the Masjid al-Haram, Makkah and Khurram Murad played an important role in the formulation and implementation of the plans for extension of the Haram.

Khurram Murad's whole life, from early boyhood to his last moment, was dedicated to the service of the Islamic movement . He was initiated in the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bhopal, as a student and joined Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, Pakistan, immediately after his arrival in Karachi in November 1948. In the Jamiat he served as the President of the Karachi unit (1949-50) and as its Nazim-e-A'la (All Pakistan President) during 1951- 1952. After the conclusion of his student career, he joined the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan and served as its Amir at the important cities of Dhaka (1963-71), and Lahore (1987-89), as a member of Central Shura (working Committee) and 'Amila (Executive Committee) (1963-1996) and as its Naib Amir (Vice-President) (1987-1996). In 1992, he was appointed editor of the monthly Tarjumanal Qur'an, Lahore, the journal founded by Mawlana Abul A'la Mawdudi in 1932 and which has been the chief pace- setter for the Islamic movement in the Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Khurram Murad occupies a place of distinction in the intellectual firmament of contemporary Islam. A thinker, an orator and a prolific writer, he has been one of the architects of current Islamic resurgence. While his da'wah activities began in Pakistan, he has been involved in the promotion of the Islamic movement in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. As a teacher and a da'iyah his speeches and thoughtful orations have inspired thousands of young men and women all over the world. As chief of the training departments of the Jamiat, the Jamaat and as an active resource-person in training programmes in the UK and America, he played a key role in the character-building of the youth in the Islamic Movement.

He also served as the Director General of the Leicester-based Islamic Foundation ( and was a household name among British Muslims throughout the seventies and eighties.

An author of over thirty works in Urdu and English, his thoughts have
influenced two generations of Muslims all the world over.

"Inter-Personal Relations in an Islamic Movement" (Urdu),
"Way to the Qur'an,"
"Islamic Movement in the West: Reflections on Some Issues,"
"Lam'at-e-Zandan," (Urdu),
"Shari'ah: The Way to God" and "Shari'ah: The Way to Justice,"
"Key to al-Baqarah",
"Quranic Treasures,",
"Gifts from Muhammad," (forthcoming),
"Who is Muhammad" (forthcoming),

are some of his major works. As a translator and interpreter of Mawlana Mawdudi, Khurram Murad has made his mark.

"Let us be Muslims,"
"Islamic Movement: Dynamics of Values, Power and Change,"
and "The Islamic Way of Life," (with Khurshid Ahmad)

are his major contributions. He also edited Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi'spioneering work, "Muslims in the West: Message and the Mission." Khurram also wrote over half a dozen books for children, edited and directed a video on "The Life of the Prophet Muhammad," and contributed dozens of scholarly articles to different journals and magazines. Over four hundred audio and video cassettes of Khurram Murad are in circulation in Pakistan and different parts of the Muslim World.

Khurram Murad was involved in Islamic da'wah and inter-faith dialogue in the West for the last twenty years. In this connection, he addressed dozens of conferences and seminars. His contributions in initiating and promoting strategic thinking on da'wah issues in Muslim countries as well as in countries where Muslims are in a minority have been immense.

As a leader of the Islamic Movement of Pakistan, which struggled for the democratic rights of the people, he was detained in prison without trial in 1964 in Dhaka for three months and was also a Prisoner of War for almost three years in India after the fall of Dhaka in December 1971.

His death came on Thursday 19th December 1996 (9th Sha'ban 1417 AH) at the Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.

Courtesy: Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester

Sayyid Qutb

By Ahmed El-Kadi, MD

Sayyid Qutb, the doyen of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun, had a very profound impact on the Muslim Arab youth coming of age since late 60s. Western writers in recent years have focused on him as one of the two most influencial Muslim thinkers of this century, the other being Sayyid Maududi. Qutb’s writings prior to 1951 are more of a ‘moralist’. It was after he was introduced to Maududi’s ideas, especially his emphasis on Islam being a complete way of life, and establishment of Allah’s order on earth as every Muslim’s primary responsibility that Qutb changed into a revolutionary. His two years sojourn (1948-1950) in the US opened his eyes to the malise of the western culture and non-Islamic ideologies.

After his return to Egypt he resigned his job in the Education directorate and devoted himself to the idea of bringing a total change in the political system. Ikhwan gained ideological vitality when Sayyid Qutb in his jail cell wrote a book in which he revised Hassan al-Banna Shahid’s dream of establishing an Islamic state in Egypt after the nation was thoroughly Islamized. Sayyid Qutb recommended that a revlutionary vanguard should first establish an Islamic state and then, from above impose Islamization on Egyptian society that had deviated to Arab nationalistic ideologies.

His subsequent 11 years behind prison walls gave him an opportunity to confirm what Maududi’s writing made him aware, and that is what convinced the secular Nasserites to condemn him to death on false accusations.

Other than Prophet Muhammad (s), the contemporary men who had great influence on me were my father, Imam Hassan al-Banna, and Shaheed Sayyid Qutb. The first two Islamic books that I studied as teenager were "Dirasat Islamiyya" (Studies in Islam, or Lessons in Islam) and Aladalah Alijtima’eyyah Fil-Islam (Social Justice in Islam) both by Sayyid Qutb. Although I have never met or seen Sayyid Qutb, I knew him (as most other Muslims involved with Islamic work) through his many books, like the two mentioned above, his great commentary on the Qur’an, Fithilal-el-Qur’an (in the Shades of the Qur’an), and other books.

Sayyid Qutb was born on 8 October 1906, in a village called "Musha" in the township of Qaha in the province of Assyout in Egypt. He entered the elementary and primary school of Musha in 1912 and finished his primary education in 1918. He dropped out of school for two years because of the revolution of 1919. His father was Haj Qutb, son of Ibrahi, and a well-known religious person in his village, and his mother was also a religious lady from a well-known family who cared about him and his two younger sisters, Hamida and Amina, and a younger brother, Muhammad. After completing his primary education in Musha, Sayyid Qutb moved to Cairo for further education where he lived with his uncle, Ahmad Hussain Osman. This was in 1920, when he was 14 years old. It should be noted that he memorized the Qur’an when he was about 10 years old in his village. He lost his father while he was in Cairo, so he convinced his mother to move with him to Cairo, where she died in 1940. After the death of his mother, he expressed his loneliness in several articles (Ummah, My Mother) published in the book, "Atatiaf Alarbaa" (The Four Lights), which his sisters, brother and he wrote.

In Cairo, he completed his high school education and enrolled in the teachers’ college, Darul Oloom, in 1929. In 1939 he qualified as an Arabic-Language teacher and received a Bachelor of Arts degree then joined the ministry of education. Very soon (about six years), he left his ministry job as a teacher and devoted his time to freelance writing. A factor leading to his resignation from the teaching job was his disagreement with the ministry of education and many colleagues regarding his philosophy of education and his attitude towards the literary arts.

From 1939 to 1951, an obvious switch in his writing towards the Islamic ideology was noted. He wrote several articles on the artistic expression of the Qur’an, as well as two books titled "Expression of the Qur’an" and "Scenes from the Day of Judgement." In 1948, his book "Social Justice in Islam" was published. In it he made it clear that true social justice can only be realized in Islam. In November 1948, he went to the United States to study educational curricula. He spent two and one half years moving between Washington DC., and California, where he realized the materialistic attitude of the literary arts and its lack of spirituality. He interrupted his stay in the United States and returned to Egypt in August 1950. Sayyid Qutb resumed his job as a teacher and inspector in the ministry of education before he resigned in October 1952 (again because of his repeated philosophical disagreements with the minister of education and many of his colleagues).

The period from 1951 to 1965 included his joining the Ikhwan (The Muslim Brotherhood). His ideas were quite clear about the fallacy of many of the prevailing social and political/economic injustices and the need for Islamic reform, and he became the chief editor of the newspaper of Ikhwan. During his period, several of his books appeared on Islamic ideology and Islam as a complete way of life. He was arrested when the Ikhwan was accused of attempting to overthrow the government in 1954 and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor. He remained in Jarah prison near Cairo for about 10 years after which due to his health condition, he was released when the Iraqi President, Abdul Salam Arif, intervened.

In 1965 he published his famous book, Mallem Fittareek (Milestones), which led to his re-arrest with the accusation of conspiracy against the Egyptian President, Abdul Nasser. He was tried and rapidly sentenced to death based upon many excerpts of his book, Milestones. There was quite an international uproar and protest in various Muslim countries with appeals to President Abdul Nasser to pardon Sayyid Qutb. In spite of several demonstrations and many objections in various Muslim countries, Sayyid Qutb was executed by hanging on August 29, 1966. He left behind a total of 24 books, including several novels, several books on literary arts’ critique, on the education of adults and children, and several religious books, including the 30 volume Commentary of the Qur’an.

Sayyid Qutb will always be remembered for his legacy of clearly defining the basic ideas of the Oneness and sovereignty of Allah, the clear distinction between pure faith and the association of partners with Allah (Shirk) overt and hidden, and the only hope for salvation of humanity. Sayyid Qutb was smiling when he was executed, showing his conviction of the beautiful life to come in paradise – a life he definitely and rightfully deserved.



Sheikh Abdullah Azzam

Dr. Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Palestinian. Assassinated on 24 November 1989 in Peshawar, Pakistan, Aged 48.

Time Magazine wrote about him that ' he was the reviver of Jihad in the 20th Century'. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was born in the village of Ass-ba'ah Al-Hartiyeh, province of Jineen in the occupied sacred land of Palestine in 1941 CE. He was brought up in a humble house where he was taught Islam, and was fed with the love of Allah, His Messenger (SAW), those striving in the Way of Allah, the righteous people and the desire for the Hereafter.

Abdullah Azzam was a distinguished kid who started propagating Islam at an early age. His peers knew him as a pious child. He showed signs of excellence at an early age. His teachers recognized this while he was still at elementary school.

Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was known for his perseverance and serious nature ever since he was a small boy. He received his early elementary and secondary education in his village, and continued his education at the agricultural Khadorri College where he obtained a Diploma. Although he was the youngest of his colleagues, he was the cleverest and the smartest. After he graduated from Khadorri College, he worked as a teacher in a village called Adder in South Jordan. Later he joined Sharia College in Damascus University where he obtained a B.A. Degree in Shariah (Islamic Law) in 1966. After the Jews captured the West Bank in 1967, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam decided to migrate to Jordan, because he could not live under the Jews' occupation of Palestine. The sin of the Israeli tanks rolling into the West Bank without any resistance made him even more determined to migrate in order to learn the skills necessary to fight.

In the late 1960's he joined the Jihad against the Israeli occupation of Palestine from Jordan. Soon after that, he went to Egypt and graduated with a Masters Degree in Shariah from the University of Al-Azhar. In 1970 and after Jihad came to a halt by forcing PLO forces out of Jordan, he assumed the position of teaching in the Jordanian University in Amman. In 1971 he was awarded a scholarship to Al-Azhar University in Cairo from which he obtained a Ph.D Degree in Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usool-ul-Fiqh) in 1973. During his stay in Egypt he came to know the family of Shaheed Sayyed Qutb.

Sheikh Abdullah Azzam spent a long time participating in the Jihad in Palestine. However, matters there were not to his liking, for the people involved in the Jihad were far removed from Islam. He told of how these people used to spend the nights playing cards and listening to music, under the illusion that they were performing Jihad to liberate Palestine. Sheikh Abdullah Azzam mentioned that, out of the thousands in the camp he was in, the number of people who offered their Salah in congregation were so few that they could be counted on one hand. He tried to steer them towards Islam, but they resisted his attempts. One day he rhetorically asked one of the 'Mujahideen' what the religion behind the Palestinian revolution was, to which the man replied, quite clearly and bluntly,

"This revolution has no religion behind it."

This was the last straw. Sheikh Abdullah Azzam left Palestine, and went to Saudi Arabia to teach in the universities there.

When Sheikh Azzam realised that only by means of an organised force would the Ummah ever be able to gain victory, then Jihad and the Gun became his pre-occupation and recreation. "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences and no dialogues," he would say. By practising what he was preaching, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was one of the first Arabs to join the Afghan Jihad against the communist USSR

In 1979, when he learned about the Afghan Jihad, he left his teaching position at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and went to Islamabad, Pakistan, in order to be able to participate in the Jihad. He moved to Pakistan to be close to the Afghan Jihad, and there he got to know the leaders of the Jihad. During the early time of his stay in Pakistan, he was appointed a lecturer in the International Islamic University in Islamabad. After a while he had to quit the University to devote his full time and energy to the Jihad in Afghanistan.

In the early 1980's, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam came to experience the Jihad in Afghanistan. In this Jihad he found satisfaction of his longing and untold love to fight in the Path of Allah, just as Allah's Messenger (SAW) once said, "One hour spent fighting in the Path of Allah is worth more than seventy years spent in praying at home." [Authentic, At-Tirmithi and Al-Hakem].

Inspired by this Hadith, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam immigrated with his family to Pakistan in order to be closer to the field of Jihad. Soon after, he then moved from Islamabad to Peshawar to be even closer to the field of Jihad and Martyrdom.

In Peshawar, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam founded the Bait-ul-Ansar (Mujahideen Services Bureau with the aim of offering all possible assistance to the Afghani Jihad and the Mujahideen through establishing and managing projects that supported the cause. The Bureau also received and trained volunteers pouring into Pakistan to participate in Jihad and allocating them to the front lines.

Unsurprisingly, this was not enough to satisfy Sheikh Azzam's burning desire for Jihad. That desire drove him finally to go to the front-line. On the battlefield, the Sheikh gracefully played his destined role in that generous epic of heroism.

In Afghanistan he hardly ever settled in one place. He travelled throughout the country, visiting most of its provinces and states such as Lujer, Qandahar, Hindukush Heights, the Valley of Binjistr, Kabul and Jalalabad. These travels allowed Sheikh Abdullah Azzam to witness first hand the heroic deeds of these ordinary people, who had sacrificed all that they possessed -including their own lives - for the Supremacy of the Deen of Islam.

In Peshawar, upon his return from these travels, Sheikh Azzam spoke about Jihad constantly. He prayed to restore the Unity among the divided Mujahideen commanders; called upon those who had not yet joined the fighting to take up arms and to follow him to the front before it would be too late.

Abdullah Azzam was greatly influenced by the Jihad in Afghanistan and the Jihad was greatly influenced by him since he devoted his full time to its cause. He became the most prominent figure in the Afghani Jihad aside from the Afghan leaders. He spared no effort to promote the Afghan cause to the whole world, especially through the Muslim Ummah. He travelled all over the world, calling on Muslims to rally to the defence of their religion and lands. He wrote a number of books on Jihad, such as Join the Caravan and Defence of Muslim Lands. Moreover, he himself participated bodily in the Afghan Jihad, despite the fact that he was in his forties. He traversed Afghanistan, from north to south, east to west, in snow, through the mountains, in heat and in cold, riding donkeys and on foot. Young men with him used to tire from such exertions, but not Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.

He changed the minds of Muslims about the Jihad in Afghanistan and presented the Jihad as an Islamic cause which concerned all Muslims around the world. Due to his efforts, the Afghani Jihad became universal in which Muslims from every part of the world participated. Soon, volunteer Islamic fighters began to travel to Afghanistan from the four corners of the Earth, to fulfil their obligation of Jihad and in defence of their oppressed Muslim brothers and sisters.

The Sheikh's life revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah's Rule on earth, this being the clear responsibility of each and every Muslim. So in order to accomplish his life's noble mission of restoring the Khilafah, the Sheikh focused on Jihad (the armed struggle to establish Islam). He believed Jihad must be carried out until the Khilafah (Islamic Rule) is established so the light of Islam may shine on the whole world.

Sheikh Abdullah Azzam made Jihad in every possible way, responding to the call of Allah:

"Go forth, light and heavy, and strive with your selves and your wealth in the path of Allah. That is better for you, if only you knew." [Quran, 9:41]

He reared his family also, in the same spirit, so that his wife, for example, engaged in orphan care and other humanitarian work in Afghanistan. He refused teaching positions at a number of universities, declaring that he would not quit Jihad until he was either martyred or assassinated. He used to reiterate that his ultimate goal was still to liberate Palestine. He was once quoted as saying,

" Never shall I leave the Land of Jihad, except in three circumstances. Either I shall be killed in Afghanistan. Either I shall be killed in Peshawar. Or either I shall be handcuffed and expelled from Pakistan."

Jihad in Afghanistan had made Abdullah Azzam the main pillar of the Jihad movement in the modern times. Through taking part in this Jihad, and through promoting and clarifying the obstacles which have been erected in the path of Jihad, he played a significant role in changing the minds of Muslims about Jihad and the need for it. He was a role model for the young generation that responded to the call of Jihad. He had a great appreciation for Jihad and the need for it. Once he said,

" I feel that I am nine years old: seven-and-a-half years in the Afghan Jihad, one-and-a-half years in the Jihad in Palestine, and the rest of the years have no value."

From his pulpit Sheikh Azzam was always reiterating his conviction that:

"Jihad must not be abandoned until Allah (SWT) Alone is worshipped. Jihad continues until Allah's Word is raised high. Jihad until all the oppressed peoples are freed. Jihad to protect our dignity and restore our occupied lands. Jihad is the way of everlasting glory."

History, as well as anyone who knew Sheikh Abdullah Azzam closely, all testify to his courage in speaking the truth, regardless of the consequences. He always bore in mind the command of Allah to: "Proclaim openly that which you were commanded, and turn away from the polytheists ( Mushrikeen)." [Quran, 15:94].

On every occasion Sheikh Abdullah Azzam reminded all Muslims that,

"Muslims cannot be defeated by others. We Muslims are not defeated by our enemies, but instead, we are defeated by our own selves."

He was a fine example of Islamic manners, in his piety, his devotion to Allah and his modesty in all things. He would never adulate in his relations with others. Sheikh Azzam always listened to the youth, he was dignified and did not allow fear to have access to his brave heart. He practised continual fasting especially the alternate daily fasting routine of Prophet Dawud (SAW). He strongly counselled others to practice fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. The Sheikh was a man of uprightness, honesty and virtue, and was never heard to slander others or to talk unpleaasently about an individual Muslim.

As the Jihad in Afghanistan went on, he was succeeding in uniting together all the various fighting groups in the Afghani Jihad. Naturally, such a pride to Islam caused great distress to the enemies of this religion, and they plotted to eliminate him. In 1989 CE, a lethal amount of TNT explosive was placed beneath the pulpit from which he delivered the sermon every Friday. It was such a formidable quantity that if it had exploded, it would have destroyed the mosque, together with everything and everybody in it. Hundreds of Muslims would have been killed, but Allah provided protection and the bomb did not explode.

The enemies, determined to accomplish their ugly task, tried another plot in Peshawar, shortly after this in the same year When Allah (SWT) willed that Sheikh Abdullah Azzam should leave this world to be in His closest company (we hope that it is so), the Sheikh departed in a glorious manner. The day was Friday, 24 November 1989.

The enemies of Allah planted three bombs on a road so narrow only a single car could travel on it. It was the road Sheikh Abdullah Azzam would use to drive to the Friday Prayer. That Friday, the Sheikh, together with two of his own sons, Ibrahim and Muhammad, and with one of the sons of the late Sheikh Tameem Adnani (another hero of the Afghan Jihad), drove along the road. The car stopped at the position of the first bomb, and the Sheikh alighted to walk the remainder of the way. The enemies, lying in wait, then exploded the bomb. A loud explosion and a great thundering were heard all over the city.

People emerged from the mosque, and beheld a terrible scene. Only a small fragment of the car remained. The young son Ibrahim flew 100 metres into the air; the other two youths were thrown a similar distance away, and their remains were scattered among the trees and power lines. As for Sheikh Abdullah Azzam himself, his body was found resting against a wall, totally intact and not at all disfigured, except that some blood was seen issuing from his mouth.

That fateful blast indeed ended the worldly journey of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam which had been spent well in struggling, striving and fighting in the Path of Allah (SWT). It also secured his more real and eternal life in the gardens of Paradise - we ask Allah that it is so -, that he will enjoy along with the illustrious company of "those on whom is the Grace of Allah, the Prophets, the Sincere ones, the Martyrs and the Righteous. The Best of company are they." [Quran, 4:69].

It was in this way that this great hero and reformer of Islam departed from the arena of Jihad and from this world, never to return. He was buried in the Pabi Graveyard of the Shuhadaa' in Peshawar, where he joined hundreds of other Shuhadaa'. May Allah accept him as a martyr, and grant him the highest station in Paradise. The struggle which he stood for continues, despite the enemies of Islam. There is not a Land of Jihad today in the world, nor a Mujahid fighting in Allah's Way, who is not inspired by the life, teachings and works of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam (May Allah have Mercy on him).

We ask Allah (SWT) to accept the deeds of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam and bring him to the Highest Part of Paradise. We ask Allah (SWT) to raise up for this Ummah more Sheikhs of this calibre, who take their knowledge to the battlefield rather than confining it in books.

With this article, we record the events of Islamic history which took place in the ten years from 1979 to 1989, and continue to happen. As Sheikh Abdullah Azzam himself once said,

" Indeed Islamic history is not written except with the blood of the Shuhadaa', except with the stories of the Shuhadaa' and except with the examples of the Shuhadaa'. "

"They seek to extinguish the light of Allah by their mouths. But Allah refuses save to perfect His light, even if the disbelievers are averse. It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion, in order that He may make it prevail over all religions, even if the pagans are averse." [Quran, 9:32-33].





Syed Abul Ala Maududi

By Prof. Anis Ahmad, Ph.D.

The roots of Islamic reawakening in the twentieth century are often traced in the Muslim response to the western colonialism in Asia and Africa. While it may be one contributory factor in the case of a few Muslim countries, a global Islamic reassertion, we notice as a phenomenon even in countries, which were not colonialized by the western imperialists. This calls for search of more important reasons other than the often-repeated reactionary thesis. The interpretation of Islamic reawakening as a reaction to the European colonialism though, recognizes Islamic reawakening as historical reality, at the same time marginalizes the existence of Islamic reawakening in its own rights.

A serious study of the Islamic sources, the Qur’an and the sunnah will show that Islam as the way of life and a total system has an innate tendency to activate and reinvigorate from within, the process of Islamic re-assertion. The dynamic principle responsible for these phenomena is mentioned in the prophetic hadith as ijtihad (systematic and innovative thinking). Whenever the Muslim ummah faced periods of depression, and decline it was with the help of ijtihad or sometimes jihad that a new life in the ummah was infused. Indeed Nineteenth Century was a pend of political, economic, and intellectual decline in the ummah. Nevertheless, we cannot think of a century in which at least a few towering Islamic personalities did not emerge to lead the ummah out of its temporary crisis with the help of ijtihad.

The crisis the ummah faced in the 20th century was encountered in a profound manner by the great exegete Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979). He pioneered a movement ijtihad at the level of thought and institution building and offered an ideological alternative to the modern world. Aware of the impact of ideological challenges of the Capitalist, Marxist and Fascists ideologies of the 19th century Europe, Sayyid Maududi encountered the challenge at three different levels. First one was at the level of ideology. The capitalists and Marxist ideologies, claim to have ultimate answer to the man’s economic, social and political problems. The rise of Europe as a political power was also interpreted as its ideological supremacy on the other systems. Nevertheless the capitalist and the Marxists ideologies within the Twentieth Century saw this failure in realizing their utopian heaven on earth. First important contribution of Sayyid Maududi relates with his articulation of the Islamic vision of a society, economy, and state. While offering a critique of the European ideologies Sayyid Maududi, also offered at a positive level an alternative Islamic ideological framework. Meeting the challenges of modernity, perhaps no other Muslim intellectual in the 19th and 20th century offered such elaborate ideas on political, economic and social dimensions of Islam as we find its in the writings of Sayyid Maududi.

Sayyid Maududi apparently holds the views that western ideologies can only be defeated at an intellectual level. This is why with a deep understanding and first hand knowledge of the Capitalists, Socialists and Fascists ideologies, he highlighted Islamic system of thought in his remarkable works entitles Sud (usury or interest), Islamic civilization it genesis and principles, Tafhimat, al-Jihad fi allslam and Tanqihat. While understanding the applied aspects of Islamic political, economics and social system, he offers a critical evaluation of the Capitalists and Socialists Ideologies.

In order to introduce and elaborate on the basic Qur’anic concepts he produced a monumental exegesis of Qur’an entitled Tafhimul Qur’an while further elaboration was done on certain basic Qur’anic themes in his books Four Basic Terms of the Qur’an and Islamic Ibadat par aik Tehqiqi Nazr. The purpose of his Tafseer of the Qur’an is not to go in academic and historical discussions but to use historical background and contextual analysis for discovering relevance of the Qur’anic instructions with contemporary situation.

The ideological contribution made by Sayyid Maududi appears to be one of the major factors behind the global Islamic reawakening. While he produced his work essentially in Urdu his ideas wee translated into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, english, French and German languages within first two decades of his establishing the movement for Islamic revival in the Pakistan sub-continent. By late 1950s he was already an internationally known spokes person for Islam as the ideology of future. It was due to his clarity of thought and systematic approach in presenting Islamic system that young intellectuals in Sudan, Iran, Middle East with their given situations.

The second major contribution made by him was launching of a movement for Ishah in the sub-continent Pakistan. With an humble beginning in 1941 the movement soon spread all over the sub continent and was able to attract mostly educated class among its membership. The primary objective of the movement was transformation of the individual through social action program leading to a change in the institutions of society economy and state. He developed an integrative approach for this institutional change in society. Unlike the traditional approach of self-purification, acquiring spirituality, or causing a popular movement for change the Islah movement founded by him focused on an comprehensive change in society. This indeed included political program. Nevertheless the political program was not its one and only objective. It was a part of the total social change for which ideological roots were provided through a deep study of the Qur’an and the sunnah. It is remarkable that no other Muslim intellectual in the 20th century was able to articulate Islamic political system as pragmatically as was done by him. His books Islamic State, Islamic law and Constitution, Khilaft-o-Mulukiat, How to establish an Islamic State, and many other articles he wrote on applied aspects of Islamic political system provide an evidence to this observation. While people like Iqbal, Afghani, and Khomeni did talk about the need of Muslim political unity, or obligation of Muslims to establish political authority. Non of them was able to provide a blue print for Islamic political change. Sayyid Maududi on the other hand was able to outline step by step process for social and political change leading to a just social order.

Another remarkable contribution of Sayyid Maududi is the development of a climate in the movement of Jamat-e-Islami, in which the personal charisma of the leader was practically marginalised while talent of critical thinking in the membership was elevated. Through his writings and institutional development of a movement of islah he removed from minds of his followers. The reverence and intellectual infallibility of the leadership, which is normal in the movements, found by towering personalities. This aspect also lead to marginalization of any tendency for extremism or fundamentalism within the movement and in its auxiliaries developed under influence of his thought.

It is rather unfortunate that people who have never taken time to study the thought, the person and the movement of Sayyid Maududi draw a haste judgement that his call for ijtihad based on the Islamic sources namely the Qur’an and the sunnah lead to what has been termed fundamentalism by several Christian scholars. The term fundamentalism has great relevance with the Christian theology. Particularly in the early 20th century Christian thought the movement of literalism and going back to Bible for the personal salvation of the individual, lead to extremism and a dogmatic attitude among its followers. On the other hand, it has no relevance with a system of thought in which the call to go back to the Qur’an and the sunnah requires rational exercise of iftihad, in solving contemporary problems. This process can best be interpreted as a dynamic systematic approach in meeting the challenges of modernity thus cannot be interpreted as "fundamentalism."

Sayyid Maududi pioneers through his intellectual and institutional contribution a movement for ijtihad in economic, political and social sectors. It is unfair to brand his ideas and the movement, due to his call to go back to the Qur’an and the sunnah certain others groups, as fundamentalist. These groups when they call for going back to Qur’an and the sunnah often mean observing strictly the ways of doing things by the salaf. The movements which call for formal conformity with the way of the living of the salaf may lead to a fossilization of though, while movement which calls for islah and ijtihad lead to progress, development and modernity.

Islam essentially is a movement of social change and realization of social justice for the whole of mankind. It is not a backward looking movement. Qur’an and the sunnah provide guiding light for the structuring of future through the system of shariah, Islamic thought, and Islamic state. Therefore, movements for islah and ijtihad due to their concern for future role of Islam, substantially, cannot be categorized as backward looking or fundamentalist. The intellectual and institutional contribution of Sayyid Maududi in the Islamic thought, is sometimes compared with the contribution made by some secular scholars in the European intellectual tradition such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. However, Maududi was not a person who confined his ideas to one discipline. He covered a larger spectrum of knowledge than any one of the above scholars, who did play a remarkable role in shaping the mind of modern Europe. Sayyid Maududi’s contribution to the global Islamic reawakening is yet to be properly evaluated and understood in the light of the emergence of movements of re-assertion in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

The task calls for an institute to be devoted to the study of his and two hundred works translated in on twenty-eight languages. The most appropriate time for founding of such an institute may be the beginning of the new century when we also complete one hundred years of his birth in September 2003.



Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi


Examplar of IslamicLiving, Exponent of Islam, Defender of Islamic Identity (1914 – 31 December, 1999)

During the twentieth century, Muslim India has produced great Islamic theologians,interpreters of the Quran, scholars of Hadith, Islamic jurists, historians, propagators of the faith, social reformers and educationists, but one cannotname another Islamic scholar whose concerns covered the entire spectrum of the collective existence of the Muslim Indians as a living community in thenational and international context, who, for decades, enjoyed universalrespect, and who was accepted by the non-Muslims, at the highest level, as the legitimate spokesman for the concerns and aspirations of the entire community.

Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi was indisputably one of the greatest exponents ofIslam in the second half of the twentieth century and because of his commandover Arabic, through his writings and speeches, he had a wide area of influenceextending far beyond the Sub-continent, particularly in the Arab World.

His exposition of Islam was marked by moderation. He was not a fanatic in any senseof the term but he believed in Islam as a blessing for mankind and as apositive and creative factor in human history. In a sense Islam was perceivedby him as a civilizational force which retained its relevance in the modern ageas a viable counterpoint to the Western civilization with all its excesses.

The Maulana’s forte was his extraordinary grasp of Islamic history. It is thishistoric sense of the rise and fall of Islam in different ages and regions,which prompted him ever to take a long-term rather than a short-term, a broadrather than a narrow, view of the problems the contemporary community faced.

The Maulana was the very anti-thesis of the media image of the fire-eating, narrow-mindedMullah. Orthodox as he was, he was far from being conservative in his approach.Umma-conscious as he was, his love for the motherland knew no bounds. He neverpreached ‘Jihad’ to restore Muslim dominance; He stood for mutual respect, forpeaceful coexistence, for human values, for establishing a social ambiencebased on tolerance and harmony in India and in the world at large.

The Maulana understood the spirit of the age. He appreciated the role of Democracyand Nationalism. With his deep insight into the Quran and his understanding ofthe personality of the Holy Prophet, he understood the implications of amulti-religious world, a global village divided into multi-religious States.

Scion of an illustrious family which has produced scholars and spiritual preceptors likeShah Alamullah Naqshbandi and Syed Ahmad Shaheed, the Maulana’s father, HakimSyed Abul Hai, was an eminent scholar of his time, immortalised by hisencyclopaedic work, Nuzhatul Khawatir, (in eight volumes) containing about5,000 biographical notes on Muslim scholars, theologians, jurists, etc. ofIndia, apart from other notable works.

Syed Abu lHasan Ali was born in 1333 A.H. (1914 A.D.). Having lost his father at the ageof nine, he was brought up by his elder brother, Dr. Syed Abul Ali Hasani whopractised medicine at Lucknow. He specialised in Arabic literature at NadwatulUlema, Lucknow, studied Hadith under Sheikh Husain Ahmed Madani at Darul Uloom,Deoband and Tafsir under Maulana Ahmad Ali of Lahore where he came in touchwith Iqbal whose poetry left an abiding impression on him. Besides literary andtheological studies, Maulana developed keen interest in Islamic history andalso learnt English in order to keep himself abreast of contemporary thought.He taught Arabic literature and Tafsir at the Nadwatul Ulema for ten years.

After the demise of his elder brother, he became the Secretary of Nadwatul Ulema andsubsequently as Rector he supervised both its academic and administrativemanagement.

In 1947,the Maulana could have followed his mentor Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and migrated toPakistan but he did not.

In hisformative years, the Maulana was associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami for a fewyears after its establishment by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. Then he turned tothe Tablighi Jamaat founded by Maulana Ilyasi’s. But the Maulana’s geniusdemanded a wider horizon for its unfolding.

Spirituallya disciple of Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri, the Maulana belonged to the SufiSilsila Qadiriya Naqshbandia.

Apart from his long association with Nadwa (as student, teacher, Secretary andNazim), he served on the Shura of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, chaired theManaging Committee of Darul Musannefin, Azamgarh and established the Academy ofIslamic Research and Publications at Lucknow.

A prolific writer his works have been prescribed in the courses of study in anumber of Arab Universities. His notable Arabic work Maza Khasera al-Alamb’inhitat-il-Muslimeen was not only widely acclaimed but also carved out aplace for him in the literary circles of the Arab world. Several of his workshave since been translated into Arabic, English, Turkish, Bhasha Indonesia,Persian, Tamil and some other languages.

Karvaan-e-Zindagi,his autobiography in 8 volumes, and Purane-Chiragh (life sketches ofcontemporary personalities), his biography of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, his biographyof Hazrat Ali (KW) and his Tarikh-e-Dawat-o-Azimat are his permanentcontribution to Urdu literature.

He was anHonorary Member of the Academy of Arts and Letters, Damascus and Academy ofArabic Language, Amman and served as Visiting Professor in a number of Arabuniversities.

Internationally recognised, he was one of the Founder Members of the Rabita at-Alam-al-Islami,Makka, (1963), and served on the Higher Council of the Islamic University,Medina, the Executive Committee of the Federation of Islamic Universities,Rabat, and as the Chairman of the Board for the Centre of Islamic Studies ofthe Oxford University. The lectures he delivered at Indian, Arab and WesternUniversities have been highly appreciated as original contribution to the studyof Islam and on Islam’s relevance to the modern age.

In 1980,he received the Faisal International Award, followed by the Brunei Award andthe UAE Award in 1999.

A greatscholar, the Maulana was not confined to the cloister. Not involved in activepolitics, he never participated in party or electoral politics. He did not evenjoin the All India Muslim Majlis, established by his protégé Dr. A.J. Faridi in1967, as it took to electoral politics. The Maulana was one of the founders ofthe All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (1964), the All India Muslim PersonalLaw Board (1972) and the All India Dini Talimi Council. He presided over theMilli Convention in 1979. He also extended his patronage to the Islamic FiqhAcademy and the All India Milli Council when they were established.

Topromote communal harmony, the Maulana became one of the founders of FOCUS whichwas later transformed into Society for Communal Harmony. He also established amovement ‘Pyam-e-Insaniyat’ to preach the gospel of universal love andbrotherhood.

TheMaulana valued the Constitution and the secular order as a guarantor of theIslamic identity of the Muslim community and of non-discrimination against themin various spheres of life. But he clearly saw the historic process ofassimilation at work in India and the long-term objective of Hindu Nationalismto absorb the Muslim Indians into the Hindu fold. That explains his firm standon the question of Muslim Personal Law against any interference throughlegislation or through judicial pronouncement and on introduction of SaraswatiVandana in Schools in UP.

The greatpolitical battles of the Muslim community during the last decades of thecentury were fought under his guidance. The A.I. Muslim Personal Law Boardlaunched in 1985 the movement for legislative nullification of the SupremeCourt judgement in the Shah Bano Case which the Muslim Indians saw as the thinend of the wedge for interference with the Shariat and for distorting theIslamic identity of the community. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights onDivorcees) Act, 1986 was its fruit; though it had several inbuilt flaws whichhas landed the community subsequently in endless litigation.

With theMaulana’s consent in 1986, the AIMMM and the AIMPLB took up the question ofrestoration of the Babari Masjid when the unlocking of its doors in January1986 for regular darshan and puja converted it into a de-facto temple. Thoughhe did not directly involve himself in the Babari Masjid Movement (whoseCoordination Committee was later split to form the A.I. Babari Masjid ActionCommittees), he guided it at all critical points and participated innegotiations with the government as well as Hindu representatives. Subsequentto the Demolition, the AIMPLB, under his presidentship took the question in itsown hands including the direction of the proceedings in the title suit, thecriminal case and the inquiry.

In thelast decade of his life the Maulana served as the final arbiter, the last word,the Marja’, the ultimate point of reference, on any intra-communal differences,even if he did not play any active role in resolving them. He counselledcommitment with patience and wisdom, movement within the framework of democracyand rule of law, and dignity and not rhetoric in utterances.

With hisoff-repeated commitment to the principles of Democracy, Secularism andNon-violence as the only viable foundation for the Indian polity, his constantendeavour for inter-religious dialogue and for reconciliation and harmony, hecommanded universal respect for his moderation, learning and integrity, for hisinfluence in the Muslim community and for his outreach in the Islamic world,

Assiduouslysought by eminent political personalities from Indira Gandhi to Atal BehariVajpayee, the Maulana acted as the bridge between the government and thenational parties, on one hand, and Muslim community, on the other.

TheMaulana, it has been correctly observed, stood for social reform, religiousrevival and political awakening but not for Islamic Revolution. He wasrealistic enough not to chase mirages or instant solutions. He saw clearly thatthe destiny of Muslim Indians was intertwined with that of the Indian people asa whole and that, in the age of democratic pluralism, an Islamic Revolution orthe restoration of Islamic power was out of the realm of possibility but it waspossible for the Muslim Indians to lead an Islamic life and at the same time participatein managing the affairs of the country and contribute to its progress anddevelopment. This was the basis of his efforts to reduce the distance betweenthe Muslims and the Hindus, to demolish the wall of distrust between them andto create bonds of understanding and cooperation in rebuilding relations on theterms of common moral values of the society which he saw as being engulfed bydark forces of hatred and violence.

All hisactive life, with Lucknow as his base, he wandered ceaselessly, not only withinthe country but in the Arab-Islamic world and the West, in a constant search,it seems to me, for reconciliation between Islam and the West, between rivalideologies in the Arab-Islamic world, between India and Pakistan and betweenthe Hindu and Muslim Indians. Cautious in taking positions, he always lookedbeyond the turbulence of the time, through the flames of the currentcontroversy. Even when he took part, his role was that of a mediator, ofcounselling patience, of avoiding confrontation, of appealing to reason.

A man whopersonified Islamic values, soft-spoken, cultured and courteous to the core,humility and modesty, patience and tolerance, moderation and balance,generosity and compassion – all Islamic values – marked his personality. Neithera politician, nor a publicist, essentially a scholar, a man of religion, aspiritual person, a modern Dervish, a Mard-e-Momin who combined in himself thehighest values of the Shariat and the Tariqat, of orthodoxy and Sufism and whocommanded respect for his transparent sincerity, for his simple living and forhis selfless devotion to the common cause of the Community and the Nation, aman who lived for Allah alone and who wanted nothing but the good of all is nomore.

Hisdemise is the end of an era in the history of the Muslim India and has createda void impossible to fill in the foreseeable future.

May hissoul rest in eternal peace, Ameen!