The Role of the Muslim Ulama in the Subcontinent

There are fifty-seven Muslim countries in the world, and none of them possess veto power, autonomous political status, and a strong economy. The comity of all Muslim countries is called Muslim Ummah and the galaxy of Islamic religious scholars is called Muslim Ulama. Being one Ummah means believing in one God, one Prophet (PBUH), and one Book. Despite being one Ummah, there are umpteen reasons for their failure in leading the world. The main cause for their failure is untimely interference in political affairs. The historic decline of the Muslim empires in the subcontinent is the worst example of Muslim Ulama’s epoch-destroying blunder – untimely interference in politics. Indeed, religions are for career building rather than a government building.

In fact, Muslim Ulama’s first duty is to make society from the bottom, but not from the top. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) started preaching Islam, Makkans offered him (PBUH) Makka’s leadership, providing he (PBUH) would leave preaching Islam, but Muhammad (PBUH) refused to do so. Prophet (PBUH) better knew the fact that he and his teachings would not be accepted by Makkans because he (PBUH) had not prepared the society from the bottom. After preaching for almost fifteen years, Muhammad (PBUH) not only became a political leader but also a religious Prophet for half of the world.

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There are no two ways in saying that, nowadays, when Muslim Ulama amplify their voices for the cause of Islam, they are offered “Chairs” and they accept it unthinkingly; that is where the shoe pinches. Before the departure of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he advised that Hazrat Abu Huraira, Hazrat Hassan bin Sabith and Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (May God Be Pleased With Them) would not interfere in politics, in order to educate the society from the bottom; while Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique, Hazrat Umar Farooq, Hazrat Usman Ghani and Hazrat Ali (May God Be Pleased With Them) would run political affairs. This advice is interpreted that before governing from the top, it is necessary to prepare the bottom well. It means it is wiser to educate the masses to a degree that they themselves demand Islamic laws willingly than to be imposed forcibly.

The glorious period of Rightly-Guided Caliphs, the contentious era of Umayyad, and the tenure of Abbasid were the times for Islamic development and Muslim advancement. Despite internal conspiracies and external bloody wars, they developed in the fields of science, politics, and economy. They adopted the very formula of “Specialization” a special person for a special job. This formula kept Muslim Ulama away from politics. According to Maulana Waheeduddin Khan, the basic rule of “Specialization” was first broken by Mughal Emperor Aurangzaib Alamgir, by killing his brother Dara Shikoh and taking over the kingship. Basically, Shah Jahan had trained his son Dara Shikoh for political leadership and Aurangzaib for the cause of Islam, but the plan ended in smoke. Maulana suggests that if Aurang Zaib visited Europe, rather than Deccan, it would be better. At that time, due to the Spain incident, Muslim scholars had sought refuge in non-Muslim countries. Had Aurangzaib accepted the rule of “Specialization” and invited foreign Muslim scholars to the subcontinent, today, the subcontinent would have become the Europe of the time. Prohibiting Muslims from the use of Gutten Berg’s printing machine pushed the Muslim world three centuries back in the field of science. The non-Muslim world used Berg’s printing machine for the purpose of their religious preaching. That is why Christianity spread by leaps and bounds and the dissemination of Islam came to a halt. When Caliph Abdul Hameed ll (1876-1909) in Turkey tried to avail steam engine-possessed ships for economic and transport purposes, the then Muslim Ulama opposed the plan by arguing that there should be the recitation of whole Bukhari Sharif over the ships before navigating. What a bizarre demand was that. The then-educated scholars started making fun of them by saying that ships are run by Bukhar (steam) rather than Bukhari (a holy hadith book). Such irrational and odd stories speak volumes about the economic backwardness of the Muslim world.

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In the period of three hundred and thirty-one years, neither Mughal rulers did build a single modern school, college, or university, nor did they develop Islamic teachings in the region. Except for Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and a handful of his contemporaries, the rest of the religious scholars lacked a scientific approach and peace-based vision. Sir Syed wanted Muslims to be educated and modernized. However, seventy-three years before the demise of Shah Waliullah, Newton’s book “Principia” had been published. Shah Waliullah’s books are worth reading in terms of studying Islam but lack scientific reasons. It means Muslim Ulama were completely unfamiliar with scientific advancements taking root in the world. Thanks to Lord Macaulay for providing the subcontinent with modern scientific and time-friendly English education, but Muslim Ulama rejected it and got up in arms against the British and Hindus as well. Going against English education proved another blunder and created a language gap between the Muslims and non-Muslims of the world. English was the language of mutual conversation, economic needs, and political affairs, but they could not avail themselves of the opportunity and preferred mutiny. The language gap proved detrimental to the preaching of Islam as well. Similarly, Hijrat Movement displaced around 30,000 Muslims and the Hindus started buying their lands and property at throw-away prices. The decree (Fatwa) of 500 Ulama declared the Non-Cooperation Movement religiously lawful, which left hundreds of thousands of Muslim students uneducated.

However, later they somehow managed 1340 local-based small religious schools but proved short-lived. The role of Muslim Ulama in the subcontinent has been anti-science and disappointing. Muslim Ulama of the subcontinent has been culturally superstitious and politically irrational. They believe in metaphysics and myth. Muslims, generally, believe that the earth, the sun, the stars, and the universe have been created by Allah Almighty and move according to His command. It’s Ok, but they are thoroughly unaware of the divine scientific strategy lying behind the creation of the world. However, Georges Lemaitre’s theory of the Big Bang; Newton’s theory of Gravity; Darwin’s theory of Evolution; Copernicus’s theory of the Solar system; Marx’s theory of Capitalism, and such other prominent theories presented by the non-Muslim scientists have jolted the out-dated, irrational and bizarre logics of the Muslim Ulama regarding the creation of the universe and its secrets. Muslim Ulama has to seek scientific reasons and rational answers to contemporary questions. Quran and Hadith are replete with scientific reasoning, but who will interpret Islamic teachings in the line with modern scientific perspectives?

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Indeed, the Muslim world is lagging far behind in the field of science and rationality. Muslim countries are only consumers and depend on remittances and imports economically. The majority of Muslim countries are rich in natural resources, but due to the lack of proper scientific knowledge, they cannot utilize their own resources well. In addition, natural resources-rich Muslim countries are suffering from the monster of terrorism, illiteracy, political chaos, economic instability, social mayhem, and religious fanaticism. In fact, the world is home to more than 1.9 billion Muslims, which make 26pc of the world’s population. The total area of all Muslim countries is 29.13 million sq km. The literacy rate of the Muslim world is only 40pc, whereas the non-Muslim world has over 90pc literacy rate. There are only 1840 universities in all Muslim countries, while only the US has approximately 5300 colleges and universities. The Muslim world has fewer than 10 scientists, but the non-Muslim world has approximately 1750 scientists worldwide.

The Muslim world is also on the verge of collapse due to the Shia-Sunni confrontation. In the Muslim world, such fatal religious factions are the product of ill-educated or gullible Muslim Ulama. Non-Muslim countries keep the foundations of their foreign policies on economic possibilities, while the Muslim world is still busy with faith-based local skirmishes. On the other hand, the Muslim world has become an arena of internal ethnic strife, racial differences, and linguistic divisions. Every Muslim country interprets Islam according to its national interests. “Paigham-e-Pakistan” is considered a milestone in discouraging and fighting against terrorism and extremism, but Afghanistan does not consider it a universal message. While the Muslim Ulama are not on the same page on the Yemen crisis, Kashmir issue, Palestine cause, Afghanistan dilemma, and so forth. In this scenario, the term “Muslim Ummah” has become a nightmare; otherwise, the unity of Muslim countries would be an antidote to all problems faced by them.

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In fact, the Muslim world is the best amalgamation of various ethnicities, races, languages, and sub creeds. In this regard, Islamic teachings are the only source to bring whole the Muslim world together internationally and Muslim states internally as well. By adopting Islamic teachings in letter and spirit, the Muslim world can solve their problems and will remain united; but who will educate the world? This responsibility lies on the shoulders of Ulama. It is the dire need of the time for Muslim Ulama to part ways with politics and equips themselves with modern scientific education. Until and unless they prepare a society equipped with science and Islam simultaneously, it is impossible to materialize the dream of making a developed Ummah. In this regard, Ziaul Haq, religious political leaders, and now Imran Khan have failed to make Pakistan “Riasat-e-Madina” by imposing Islamic teachings from the top. Perhaps secularism may part religion with politics, but as of now — Delhi is a far cry. Maulana Maududi considered secularism as an attempt to depoliticize Islam. To him, politics was inherent in the theology of Islam. However, secularism is not religionlessness, rather it is religion-neutral. On the other hand, Maulana Maududi was against the traditionalist Ulama and called them “frozen minds.” Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah used to say: “Religion has nothing to do with state affairs.” “Martin Luther accused the Church and the Pope of exploiting their power to grow rich.”

Undeniably, in all Muslim countries, religious political parties are in opposition and trying to topple installed governments. According to Maulana Waheeduddin Khan, toppling an installed government was first of all introduced by Khawarij (religio-political party in Islam). Throughout the Muslim world, religious sections are against women empowerment, social reforms, scientific approach, and Ijthehad. Maulana Waheeduddin Khan states that religious seminaries (Deeni Madaris) are good and pro-poor residential Islamic learning system, but unfortunately lacks a scientific approach, cannot comply with modern needs, and produce non-productive graduates. The wish to eradicate all kinds of evils from society by adopting the way of protests and sit-ins is not wisdom, rather it needs the assumption of key administrative posts on merit.

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In a nutshell, the role of Muslim Ulama in the subcontinent has been disappointing. Muslim Ulama is responsible for the backwardness of the Muslim world in general and the subcontinent in particular. Muslim Ulama is on the path of exclusion and aggression. They have been problem-creators rather than problem-solvers. Muslim Ulama has to keep up with the modern world. They have to accept science and treat women with respect by allowing them to attend schools, colleges, universities, parks, and entertainment facilities. Only educated, mainstream and moderate Ulama can play a constructive role in the making of a developed Muslim world.

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The views expressed in this are the writers. They do not reflect on the opinions and beliefs of Baaghi TV or its affiliates.

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