from...Crisis in the Muslim Mind
by AbdulHamid A. AbuSulayman
The objective of this study was to describe the overall condition of the Ummah and then place it before Muslims so that they may discuss the problems of society and seek the means of relief for individuals, the Ummah, and all of humankind. The most that can be expected from this effort in the direction of achieving these higher goals is that it may help to promote inquiry into Muslim thought and impel the Muslim mind toward objective consideration of the reasons for the Ummah's backwardness.
It Is clear that the Ummah is in no real need of resources, opportunities, or values. Rather, what it is lacking Is a methodology for sound thinking. Indeed, the problems of the Ummah are clearly connected to confused thinking, obscured social vision, Improper and Inadequate education, and the decline of its Institutions In general. The result is that it is divided and has begun to resemble an enfeebled and cringing slave.
It Is hoped that Islamization in general and the Islamization of knowledge In particular become the most important issues on the Ummah's agenda in the coming decades. It may also be hoped that the leadership of our contemporary Islamic movements will not look on Islamization as in any way depreciative of or detracting from the value of their own efforts. Rather, political action and mobilization without sound ideas or people capable of delivering them is surely wasted.
It is essential to understand this problem as the Ummah's problem, and as a preparatory stage for it to pass through before it can take its rightful place as a leader of world civilization. Thus, the issue is not one of coming to power, or ruling over a locality, or establishing a political party. Thought is an element that works at a. more fundamental level, one that qualifies any undertaking or program for producing real results.
It Is also essential that the efforts being undertaken in different fields become coordinated so that they complement and support one another. Giving priority to one matter over another, it should be remembered, does not mean that one of those matters should be ignored and forgotten. So, along with whatever political efforts are being made at the present time, academic and intellectual efforts must also be made. In fact, political efforts can be understood as defensive in nature and aimed at allowing the Ummah to develop itself and its resources for the reform of its mental and intellectual strength.
Another matter to clarify is that academic work has its own levels and scope. Among these are the fundamental, or those having to do with methodology, epistemology, philosophy, etc. Among these too are the practical, applied, strategic, and dynamic levels. The problems of the Ummah, it should be emphasized, are related to the more fundamental and complex of these. The success of the practical and applied levels hinge almost entirely on the soundness and depth of the methodological matters at the fundamental level. This may explain why the strategic ideas of 'Abd al Rahman al Kawakibi in his book Umm al Qura, which was written nearly a hundred years ago and explained in the clearest possible terms how a contemporary Islamic revival might be brought about, never amounted to anything other than a few localized achievements that changed nothing of real significance to the Ummah as a whole.
Rather, It Is hoped that efforts will be increased so that work toward Islamic reformation may be carried out as a challenge at the International level.
Undoubtedly, If this much of the Issue has been clarified for the thinkers and scholars of the Ummah, and if they are sincerely determined to pass the message on the Ummah at large, then the matter will catch on and spread like a spark in kindling. The lessons of history In this regard are perfectly clear. Nations possessed of sound ideas and clear thinking are those which burst forth like spring floods with new and greater achievements. But with the passage of a relatively short time, the situation always changes.
The thinkers and scholars of the Ummah must focus their determination and attention first of all on the reform of Muslim thought and the clarification of Its vision for the Ummah and Its leadership. Thereafter, should it be the will of Allah, the Ummah will take over with the work of building for the future and progressing toward new horizons.
To close: May Allah give us wisdom and guidance, deliver us from the rubble beneath which lie the ruins of the Ummah and humankind, and make us righteous workers who heed the call and follow the best of it.
All praise to Allah, Creator of the Universes.