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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 `
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' honored! You drive
Last week, Alija Izetbegovic
announced his decision to step down as president of
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
"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
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
It would seem unthinkable that
such a man would ever become president of a European country. But in 1990,
Izetbegovic was elected president of
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.
But "Alija Izetbegovic
succeeded in organizing Muslims as a nation in
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
approach to his religion and his political power made the West uneasy. Amid
warnings of a "fundamentalists Islamic
state" in Europe,
A "peace plan" drawn up
and imposed by the
"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
The European Union's failure to
return Muslim refugees to their homes in occupied areas of
At the same time, Wolfgang
Petritsch, the head of the European Union's civil authority in
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
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
The tragedy of
But in the face of the tragedy of
genocide and betrayal by the West, Izetbegovic triumphed. He led
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
WONDER OF THE AGE
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born a century ago, in 1873, in
a village in eastern
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
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
In the winter of 1911, Bediuzzaman went to
THE FEAR OF THE RUSSIANS
In World War I, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi served as a
commander of a volunteers' regiment on the Caucasian front and in eastern
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
"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.
AGAINST THE BRITISH FORCES
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
Bediuzzaman spent eight months in
THE EMERGENCE OF THE RISALE-I NUR
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
600.000 COPIES WRITTEN BY HAND
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
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
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
THE ACQUITTAL THAT CAME TOO LATE
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
WITH HONOR, DIGNITY AND VICTORY
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.
By Sulayman S.
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
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
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
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
From the perspective of a student
of Islam in the
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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 was
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,
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
He also served as the Director General of the Leicester-based Islamic Foundation (www.islamic-foundation.org.uk) and was a household name among British Muslims throughout the seventies and eighties.
An author of over thirty works in Urdu and English, his
influenced two generations of Muslims all the world over.
"Inter-Personal Relations in an Islamic Movement"
"Way to the Qur'an,"
"Islamic Movement in the West: Reflections on Some Issues,"
"Shari'ah: The Way to God" and "Shari'ah: The Way to Justice,"
"Key to al-Baqarah",
"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)
major contributions. He also edited Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi'spioneering
work, "Muslims in the West: Message and the
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
His death came on Thursday 19th December 1996 (9th Sha'ban
1417 AH) at the
Courtesy: Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, The
By Ahmed El-Kadi,
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
After his return to
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
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
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
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.
Dr. Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Palestinian. Assassinated on 24 November 1989 in
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
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
In the late 1960's he joined the
Jihad against the Israeli occupation of
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam spent a long
time participating in the Jihad in
"This revolution has no religion behind it."
This was the last straw. Sheikh
Abdullah Azzam left
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
In 1979, when he learned about the
Afghan Jihad, he left his teaching position at
In the early 1980's, Sheikh
Abdullah Azzam came to experience the Jihad in
Inspired by this Hadith, Sheikh
Abdullah Azzam immigrated with his family to
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.
Abdullah Azzam was greatly
influenced by the Jihad in
He changed the minds of Muslims about the Jihad in
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
" Never shall I leave the
" 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
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,
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
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
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'
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].
By Prof. Anis
The roots of Islamic reawakening in the twentieth century are often
traced in the Muslim response to the western colonialism in Asia and
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
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
The second major contribution made
by him was launching of a movement for Ishah in the sub-continent
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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!