It is an irony of history that although the ideological foundations of the French Revolution of 1789 were laid down by a number of writers and thinkers – the most well-known among them being Rousseau and Voltaire – these intellectuals neither led nor even played any active role in the actual revolutionary struggle. Similarly, even though the intellectual basis of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was provided by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels while working in Prussia (now Germany) and later in England, they were unable to start any movement on their own; indeed, no popular voice favoring Marxism was ever raised in the two countries where they lived and worked. The Communist Revolution, when it did happen, was brought about in Russia by the efforts of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, and under the adventitious leadership of Lenin. Even in the Muslim history following the age of the Companions (RAA), we see that those who became prominent in intellectual and scholarly fields usually lacked the ability of political and military leadership, the only exception to this rule being the versatile personality of Imam Ibn Taimia (RA). Thus, although Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) – the greatest scholar and jurist of the second century A.H. – did provide moral and monetary support to the revolutionary struggle of Hadrat Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (Al-Nafs Al- Zakkiyya), he did not participate on behalf of the latter in the actual armed conflict. Similarly, in the beginning of the second millennium of Muslim history, two great sages and mystics arose in the Indian subcontinent, i.e., Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi (RA) and Shah Waliyullah Dehlvi (RA), but the efforts of both were limited to either literary and scholarly endeavors or mystical and spiritual pursuits.
In the same way, if we find that the achievements of Allama Iqbal were limited to the theoretical reconstruction of the Islamic revolutionary thought, and that he neither started any revivalist movement nor joined any existing one, then this is not at all surprising, and does not lower his exceptionally high status in any way. As a matter of fact, just as the great Mujahideen movement, launched by Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi (RA) in the 19th century, was actually a manifestation of the revivalist efforts of Shah Waliyullah, in the same way the 20th century Islamic revolutionary and revivalist movements are actually based upon, and are a direct result of, the efforts of Allama Iqbal vis-à-vis the reconstruction of Islamic revolutionary thought. Although the conditions prevailing presently in Pakistan are rather disappointing, if Almighty Allah (SWT) so wills and if this part of the world becomes the cradle of Islamic Renaissance and the starting point for the global system of Khilafah, then this would represent the ultimate triumph of Iqbal’s contribution in reviving the revolutionary teachings of Islam. To comprehend and appreciate this fact, however, it is necessary to place the personality of Iqbal in the proper historical background.
Allama Iqbal was born in 1877, the same year in which the M.A.O. College was founded in Aligarh by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, the architect of a fresh intellectual and political tradition in Muslim India. (The latter had already established the “Scientific Society” in 1863 and the M.A.O. High School in 1875). Sir Sayyid died in 1898, and by that time Iqbal was already gaining fame and becoming a celebrity for his poetic endeavors. Although Iqbal became popular in the literary circles of Lahore as early as 1895, the poem which made him known throughout India was Himala, published in the inaugural issue of Sir Abdul Qadir’s Makhzan in April 1901. His Asrar-e-Khudi appeared in 1915, Rumuz-e-Bekhudi in 1918, and Payam-e-Mashriq in 1923, all in Persian. Then, in 1924, Iqbal’s first collection of Urdu poetry called Bang-e-Dara was published. The preface was written by Sir Abdul Qadir, who quite rightly divided Iqbal’s poetry in three distinct phases.
The first phase of Iqbal’s poetry extends from the beginning up to 1905, the year he went to Europe for higher studies. During this period, Iqbal is seen emulating the English poets – in style as well as in subject-matter – and chanting the song of Indian nationalism. In the second phase (1905-1908) he is more occupied with the traditional subjects of Urdu poetry. Iqbal finally found his own unique stance after his return from Europe, and, as soon as the fourth decade of his life started, he began to express his penchant towards pan-Islamism and his grief over the decline of Muslim Ummah. He did this in continuation of the traditions set by Altaf Hussain Hali and Maulana Shibli Naumani, both of whom had emerged from the Sir Sayyid school of thought. However, in addition to these lamentations and mourning, there is something unique in Iqbal’s poetry: He gave the good news of the coming age of Islam’s renaissance and Muslim Ummah’s revival, something which is lacking in the poetry of Hali and Shibli.
We have already pointed out that Iqbal was essentially a philosopher, an ideologue, and an intellectual, and, as expected, he was not a man of action. Thus, Iqbal’s practical achievements appear almost insignificant when compared to the eminence he reached with respect to his philosophy, his poetic imagination, and his prophecies regarding the future of the Muslim Ummah. However, it must be admitted that just like Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi’s earlier efforts in preserving the separate identity of the Muslims in India (by means of his struggle against Akbar’s Deen-e-Ilahi and his refutation of the pantheistic interpretations of Wahdat al-Wajud), Iqbal too revived the sense of a separate national identity among the Indian Muslims, and, in this respect, there is a lot of resemblance between these two great personalities. On top of this, Iqbal’s presidential address of 1930 provided the Indian Muslims with a definite goal, a vivid and clear target to aspire for. Moreover, the way in which he participated in the freedom movement, i.e., as a common worker of the All India Muslim League, provides ample evidence that he was not totally lacking in practical achievements, and that his share in the establishment of Pakistan is by no means less than any other leader of the freedom movement.
Irrespective of Iqbal’s role in the Indian politics, we believe that his real achievement lies in the forceful and clarion call he gave for the revival and renaissance of Islam, and it can hardly be doubted that all of the various Islamic revivalist movements, which are active in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, owe their existence and dynamism to Iqbal and his moving and poignant poetry.
Responding to Iqbal’s call for the revival of Islam, a number of personalities initially came forward with the slogan of establishing “God’s kingdom.” However, all of these efforts failed, either as a result of the prevailing unfavorable circumstances or lack of perseverance in the leaders themselves. Thus, we find that some of these leaders disappeared from the stage pretty soon, like the forgotten Khairi Brothers (i.e., Dr. Abdul Jabbar Khairi and Dr. Abdul Sattar Khairi), and some managed to remain on the scene for quite some time, like Allama Inayatullah Mashriqi, but the one person who laid down the foundation of an altogether unique and novel tradition – which continued even after his own retreat – was none other than Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
Maulana Azad never admitted that he owed anything to Iqbal, and it is obvious that his disciples and supporters would never entertain this idea either; however, considering this issue in an impartial manner, it appears quite clear that Maulana Azad was only 20 years old in 1908, the year when Iqbal’s fame as an ideologue of the Muslim Ummah was beginning to spread, and it is simply impossible that a prodigy like Azad, during this most receptive period of his youth, would have failed to receive any inspiration from the most influential poet of his time. The inspiration that Maulana Azad received from Iqbal becomes all the more obvious when we consider the role played by Allama Shibli Naumani in the training and guidance of Azad.
We do not want to go any further into the debate of whether the idea of establishing “God’s kingdom” was a result of Maulana Azad’s own thinking or whether it occurred to him under the influence
of Iqbal. The fact to be noted here is that if we consider the personality and endeavors of Maulana Azad between the years 1912 and 1920, we can divide them into two distinct categories, i.e., his lamentations over the pathetic conditions of the Muslim Ummah and his vehement call towards the Holy Qur’an on the one hand, and his struggle to launch an Islamic movement by forming a party – Hizbullah – on the other. It is clear that as far as the first category is concerned, we can easily place Azad and Iqbal together, and that the only difference here is one of style and approach. Iqbal incorporated the call towards the Qur’an in his exceptionally moving poetry, and Azad made it a theme of his equally thrilling prose. Where Iqbal seems to stress more on the intellectual side of Islam, Azad is more concerned with deep Islamic sentiments and da’wah. Here we cannot avoid expressing our deep conviction that, when it comes to the appreciation of the glories of the Holy Qur’an, there is none who can even come close to Iqbal. As for the second category, i.e., the actual struggle for Islamic revival, it is equally obvious that the first step towards the fulfillment of this duty was taken by Maulana Azad, and it is this endeavor that became the starting point of a novel tradition, as alluded to earlier.
Maulana Azad directed the attention of the Muslims, through his writings and orations, to such forgotten obligations as “Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”, and “establishing the Deen of Almighty Allah (SWT)” – which he described as the establishment of Hukumat-e-Ilahiyyah – and the need to struggle in this path (or Jihad fi sabeel lillah). Two great contributions of Maulana Azad, with respect to all future revivalist movements, include his emphasis on the facts that: a) the goal of establishing the Deen of Almighty Allah (SWT) is not possible without a highly disciplined party, epitomizing the Islamic tradition of “listen and obey”; and b) the “Islamic Revolution” of the future can be brought about only by
striving on the same lines as were adopted by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) during his struggle to bring about the revolution in the 7th century Arabia.
Concerning the first of these facts, Maulana Azad referred to a tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which is reported by Hadrat Harith Al-Ash’ari (RAA) and which is included in Mishkat Al- Masabih, Musnad Ahmad, and Jame’ Tirmidhi. According to this tradition, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said: “I declare obligatory upon you five things; Allah (SWT) has commanded me to do so. They are: organization, listening, obeying, making Hijrah, and making Jihad for the cause of Allah.” The significance of these five obligations vis-à-vis the aims and functions of an Islamic state or the system of Khilafah is quite obvious, i.e., if an Islamic state is in existence then it means that, by definition, all the five duties are being fulfilled. Thus, as long as the Muslims had there own governments in various countries of the Islamic world – that these were not true examples of pristine Islam is beside the point – we find that the above mentioned five duties were being fulfilled in one way or another. However, with the arrival of Western Imperialism and the establishment of governments by non-Muslim, these obligations slowly disappeared from the Muslim consciousness, so much so that no one could see the methodology of re-establishing an Islamic state in the above quoted hadith, that is, no one except Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Thus, when in 1912 he reminded the Muslims of this highly significant tradition of the Prophet (SAW) while writing in Al-Hilal, his readers were suddenly faced with the realization of their obligation as Muslims; this was as if they were awaken from a deep slumber. Maulana Azad not only reminded the Muslims of their duty concerning the revival of Islam, he also took the initiative in 1913 to practically launch a movement on the basis of bai’yah – by organizing an Islamic party, the Hizbullah.
Concerning the methodology of the envisioned struggle, Maulana Azad referred, again while writing in Al-Hilal, to a saying of Hadrat Malik Ibn Anas (RA), who is reported to have said: “the latter part of this Ummah will not be reformed except by following the same process through which its initial part was reformed.” It may be pointed out that this saying is actually based upon a very similar remark of Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique (RAA), which he made during the course of his last speech (the one in which he had nominated Hadrat Umar Farooq (RAA) as the second Caliph), and this saying has, therefore, the status of a hadith.
The establishment of Hizbullah in 1913 was, in our analysis, the first step towards the practical execution of the Islamic revolutionary thought as propounded by Iqbal. Unfortunately, Maulana Azad was able to persevere for only eight years before deciding to undergo a total metamorphosis. After 1920, Maulana Azad gave up the mission of establishing Hukumat-e-Ilayyiah and, from then onwards, devoted his energies in the nationalist politics of India and in the freedom movement. The main reason for his withdrawal was, in his own words, the opposition he encountered from the majority of traditional scholars. The ulama in Muslim India were largely trapped in their own narrow cocoons, and – due to the twelve hundred years of decline and degeneration of the Muslim Ummah – they were simply unable to look beyond the minor issues of rituals, marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Because of their influence on the common Muslims, it was a very arduous and uphill task to achieve anything without their support. However, it may be noted here that others have argued against this being the sole reason for Maulana Azad’s retreat, and some of his supporters have even accused him of being a coward who could not stand up against the opposition. We cannot decide this issue one way or another; what we do wish to point out, however, is that even though the spirit of Islamic revival unleashed by Iqbal could not materialize in the form of Maulana Azad’s Hizbullah, it was too strong to disappear and very soon it found another embodiment in the shape of Maulana Abul A’la Maududi and his Jama’at-e-Islami. That Maulana Maududi was deeply influenced by Iqbal is almost a palpable fact, and a historical proof in this regard – that Iqbal was the one who invited Maulana Maududi to migrate from South India to North India – is incontestable.
We have already emphasized the fact that the credit for reviving the Islamic Revolutionary Thought in the 20th century goes entirely to the efforts of Iqbal; he, however, restricted his practical endeavors to the task of supporting the national struggle of the Indian Muslims, a movement which had started under the influence of the Sir Sayyid school of thought. Iqbal was no doubt cognizant of the need to launch a true Islamic revivalist movement, and, as we have pointed out earlier, he came very close to starting such a movement himself, though it could not take off due to various impediments. We must also keep in mind that, through the famous presidential address of 1930, Iqbal had given a definite goal and a clear destination to the national struggle of the Indian Muslims, and, in this way, he had added the elements of “ideology” and even “revivalism” to their struggle. In this epoch-making address, Iqbal presented the idea of the distinct national identity of the Muslims in his unique philosophical style and predicted the establishment of a separate Muslim state in the North-West of India. He asserted that the creation of such a
state would mean “for Islam an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilize its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times.” It is obvious that Iqbal was referring to the revival of pristine Islam before it’s corruption due to kingship and feudalism, that is to say, the Islam of the age of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Rightly Guided Caliphs (RAA). It was precisely this ideological appeal and revivalist sentiment, infused by Iqbal into the national struggle of the Muslims, which caused the Indian Muslims in the post-1940 period to unite under the banner of the Muslim League, and which led to the miraculous establishment of Pakistan even though the circumstances at that time were most unfavorable.
But these were later developments. The fame of Iqbal’s ideological poetry had started to spread as early as 1908, as mentioned earlier, and the revivalist urge that it created among the Indian Muslims first manifested itself in the personality and endeavors of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and, after his retreat, in the form of Maulana Abul A’la Maududi and his Jama’at-e-Islami. Maulana Maududi was born in 1903, which means that he was 26 years younger than Iqbal and there was a gap of one full generation between the two. On the other hand, Maulana Maududi was only 15 years younger than Maulana Azad, but since the latter had become famous quite early in his career, there was a hiatus of almost 20 years between the appearance of Maulana Azad on the scene and the rise of Maulana Maududi.
At a time when Maulana Maududi was an impressionable young man, the intellectual climate of Muslim India was already vibrating with the ideas of Iqbal – his philosophy of khudi, his emphasis on strengthening one’s own self, his advice to dissolve one’s ego into the broader compass of the Ummah, and his stress on the need to obey and follow the Prophet (SAW). Simultaneously, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was also at the zenith of his career – as the Ameer of Hizbullah, founder of Dar-ul-Irshad, and a da’ee towards Qur’an and Jihad fi Sabeel lillah. The young Maududi not only learned a lot from these prominent personalities of his time, but was also deeply influenced by their ideas, adopting their mission as the goal of his own life.
Following the pattern set by Iqbal, Maulana Maududi challenged the dazzling manifestations of the dominant Western civilization and culture, criticizing its principles and refuting its foundations in a most confident manner. Simultaneously, he also explained the fundamentals and ideals of the Islamic way of life in an easy to comprehend and perspicuous style. His celebrated works on the social, economic, and political dimensions of Islamic teachings include, respectively, Purdah, Sood, and a small pamphlet entitled Islam ka Nazaria-e-Siyasi, all of which are still widely read by the educated Muslims. By writing extensively on these and other related topics, Maulana Maududi succeeded in elucidating, in a rational and logical manner, the ideas and themes which were previously expressed by Iqbal in his poetry.
Also following in the footsteps of Iqbal, Maulana Maududi vehemently defended the separate existence of the Muslims as a community in their own right, distinct from all other nations. In this way, the writings of Maulana Maududi proved instrumental in strengthening the national struggle of the Indian Muslims. Since, in those days, the idea of a united Indian nationalism was being advocated by the religious scholars belonging to the Jami’yat-e-Ulama-e-Hind as well as by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who had, by that time, joined the Indian National Congress, and since Iqbal himself was in the background due to his illness, it was only the writings of Maulana Maududi which played the decisive role in refuting the idea of a united nationalism and in promoting a separate and ideological Muslim nationhood. Thus, the works by Maulana Maududi – including Mas’ala-e-Qoumiyat and Musalaman aur mojuda Siyasi Kashmakash (vols. I & II) – became the strongest weapons in the national struggle of Indian Muslims. It was on the basis of the influential writings of Maulana Maududi that Iqbal chose him to lead the Muslim Ummah’s revivalist struggle at the intellectual plane, just as he had chosen Muhammad Ali Jinnah to lead the national and political struggle of the Indian Muslims. Thus, it was Iqbal who asked Maulana Maududi to migrate from Hyderabad (Deccan) and to settle in the more responsive and congenial environment of the Punjab.
Quite early in his career as a religious activist, Maulana Maududi wrote a detailed and highly impressive book, Al-Jihad fil Islam, which was essentially a thorough and in-depth presentation of the ideas previously expressed by Maulana Azad through his Al-Hilal and Al-Balagh. The issue of Jihad was a controversial subject in British India, as most Muslim writers had adopted an apologetic attitude in this regard. The most extreme form of this phenomenon was the idea of abrogation of Jihad as propounded by Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani, although, on a less extreme level, we find some of the sincere Muslim writers – like Allama Shibli Naumani – taking a defensive position in this regard only to appease the Western critics of Islam. The stance of Maulana Maududi in his above mentioned book, however, is an assertive one, and
he explained the teachings of Islam vis-à-vis Jihad in a clear and positive manner, without resorting to apologies of any kind.
Also following in the footsteps of Maulana Azad, Maulana Maududi reminded the Muslims of their obligation to establish the domination of the Deen of Almighty Allah (SWT). In this regard, Maulana Maududi also referred to the hadith mentioned above, according to which Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said: “I declare obligatory upon you five things; Allah (SWT) has commanded me to do so. They are: organization, listening, obeying, making Hijrah, and making Jihad for the cause of Allah.” Maulana Maududi was cognizant of the need to establish a disciplined party in order to start a struggle for Hukumat- e-Ilahiya, and he wrote forceful articles to motivate the Muslims in this regard. The climax of this series of articles, which were later published in the form of Musalman aur mojuda Siyasi Kashmakash (vol. III), was the one entitled Aik Saleh Jama’at ki Zarurat. On the basis of the ideas expressed in this article, the Jama’at- e-Islami was established in August 1941, which was, in fact, a continuation of the mission abandoned by Maulana Azad and his Hizbullah around 1921. This was precisely the reason why a number of those persons joined the Jama’at who were previously members of Maulana Azad’s Hizbullah. Prominent among these were Misteri Muhammad Siddique, Malik Nasrullah Khan Aziz, and Sheikh Qamruddin.
After Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi joined the Jama’at, a number of Qur’anic terms were introduced in its literature, including Iqamat-e-Deen and Shahada ala al-Naas. Concerning the methodology for the establishment of Islam’s ascendancy, the most important landmark was a speech delivered by Maulana Maududi in 1941 in the Aligarh Muslim University. This speech – entitled Islami Hukumat kaisay Qay’m hoti hai? – contained his views regarding the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state and the conditions and prerequisites for an Islamic Revolution. In this speech, Maulana Maududi proved that a purely national struggle may produce a nation-state for the Indian Muslims, but it is impossible to establish a true Islamic state by following this methodology. It was at this point that the gulf between Jama’at-e- Islami and the All India Muslim League started to widen. Two segments of the Muslim society began to go in different directions – one passionately involved in a national struggle for independence and the establishment of a separate homeland, and the other struggling for the domination of pristine Islam as a complete way of life. Although the position adopted by Maulana Maududi was, to a large extent, quite correct, he was soon carried away rather unproportionately in his opposition to the national struggle of the Indian Muslims. An element of extremism got injected in this debate, leading to a lot of bitterness and malice between the supporters of the Muslim League and those of the Jama’at. This was especially unfortunate in view of the fact that the two ideals were closely linked together, as the achievement of independence from foreign rule was only an initial step towards the renaissance of Islam, as propounded by Iqbal.
In spite of this, we believe that the efforts by Maulana Maududi, whether they concerned his writings and speeches or his da’wah and organization of a party, actually constitute the second phase in the execution of the Islamic Revolutionary Thought as propounded by Iqbal. Maulana Maududi took up the unfinished mission of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and, like the second runner in a relay race, he continued the struggle for the revival of the Ummah and the renaissance of Islam after the latter’s retreat. It may be pointed out that, after the termination of prophethood, the mission of the prophets has been shifted on to the shoulders of the Ummah as a whole, and this implies that the second era of the domination of Islam – as predicted by the Prophet (SAW) – will arrive only as a result of the efforts by a number of imperfect and less-than-ideal leaders. We know that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) brought about a complete revolution in Arabia in a short span of 20 years; what we must also remember is that it is simply impossible for any one of us to repeat this extraordinary feat in a single life-time. This means that the domination of Islam will have to be achieved after a long struggle which must pass through a number of stages and phases. Since reaching the top in a single leap is out of question, the mission will have to be accomplished in different phases, like going up a ladder one rung at a time. Since no single leader can achieve the final goal on his own, a number of leaders will have to come one after the other, each bringing the task one step closer to completion. All sorts of defects and imperfections are likely in these interim leaders – whether in piety, perseverance, intensity of faith, or in their comprehension of Islam itself. The overall process of revival, however, will continue in spite of the imperfection of the interim leaders and the consequent temporary setbacks. This is what happened in the case of Maulana Azad and later in the case of Maulana Maududi.
The case of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is a rather simple and uncomplicated one. He was like a person who calls people for the ritual prayers, and when, hearing this appealing and powerful voice, people do respond and a congregation is formed, they are asked to disperse again. Maulana Azad did not write much, and his works are limited to a number of speeches and some journalistic articles (his Tarjuman-ul-
Qur’an appeared quite late in his career). Moreover, when he decided to retreat from his mission he did so in an open and candid manner, blaming opposition from the ulama for his action. Thereafter he invested all his energies and talents in the freedom movement, or, to a lesser extent, in his personal study of the Qur’an, and he never referred again to either the Hizbullah or the Dar-ul-Irshad.
On the other hand, the case of Maulana Abul A’la Maududi is very different from his predecessor; the party he founded in 1941 is still active in the areas that once comprised British India, i.e., Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Kashmir. The Jama’at is regarded by the entire Muslim world as the only genuine Islamic movement of the Indo-Pak subcontinent and by the non-Muslim world as a formidable force representing Islamic fundamentalism. But even today, more than half-a-century after the formation of Jama’at-e-Islami, there is no sign of any success in the foreseeable future. Of course, there are a number of external reasons for this nonsuccess, but here we are concerned only with the inherent defects in Maulana Maududi’s thought and actions that are, in our analysis, responsible for the failure of the Jama’at to achieve what it set out to do in 1941. It must be noted that our intention in the following analysis is neither to disparage and discredit the founder of the Jama’at, nor to show any irreverence or insolence towards him, but only to learn from the efforts of our predecessors and to pinpoint their mistakes so that these can be avoided in the future.
The most significance lapse in Maulana Maududi’s thought concerns his failure to emphasize the esoteric and spiritual dimension of Islam. It is clear that a number of ideas and practices that are prevalent today in the Muslim society under the banner of Tasawwuf have nothing to do with the teachings of the Qur’an and those of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and to reject and criticize such un-Islamic features is an unavoidable duty of any sincere religious reformer. However, the subject-matter of Tasawwuf is purification of soul (or Tazkiyyh) and the attainment of the highest level of faith (or Ihsan), both of which are legitimate and authentic ideals as presented by the Qur’an and the Hadith. The need to develop an unshakable faith in the unseen realities, not on the basis of blind following of the ancestors but on the basis of personal inner experience, has been repeatedly emphasized by Iqbal in his poetry as well as in the first three lectures of his Reconstruction. An Islamic movement cannot be launched on the pattern of a secular or humanist movement. The workers of an Islamic revivalist movement must have a high degree of faith in the immanence of Almighty Allah (SWT) and in the inevitability of the Hereafter; they must feel that their Creator is nearer to them than their own jugular vein, and their only motivation should be a strong desire for the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) and success in Al-Akhirah. Maulana Maududi’s virtual indifference to the spiritual side of Islam meant that this vital element was conspicuously low in his movement from the beginning, and, in our opinion, it was this very shortcoming which later proved instrumental in the degeneration of the Jama’at from an ideal Islamic revivalist movement to a mere political party.
Secondly, whereas Maulana Maududi fully realized the menace of monetary riba and forcefully explained its prohibition in Islam, he failed to grasp that absentee landlordism or Mazare’at is also a disguised form of riba, the only difference being that it concerns agricultural land rather than money. Maulana Maududi went one step further and even wrote a book in favor of feudalism and absentee landlordism. This shortcoming in Maulana Maududi’s thought may be due to his upbringing in the feudal environment of Hyderabad (Deccan) where the landlords were Muslims and the peasants were largely Hindus, or it may be that after joining the electoral politics he realized the need to appease and reassure the Pakistani feudals. Allah (SWT) knows best. However, irrespective of the cause of this mistake, the fact is that it resulted in the elimination of the much needed revolutionary spirit from the Islamic movement in Pakistan. Of course, if neither the overall politico-socio-economic system was going to undergo any essential change, nor the condition of the common man was going to improve, then all this talk about “revolution” was likely to be treated as empty rhetoric.
Thirdly, Maulana Maududi made the mistake of adopting a semi-democratic constitutional system rather than the traditional Islamic model of bai’yah as the basis of organization in the Jama’at. It is common knowledge that the only basis for organization in Islam, from the time of the Prophet (SAW) to the beginning of 20th century, is that of bai’yah, i.e., a pledge of allegiance to a leader. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) took a number of such pledges from his Companions (RAA) on various occasions, the most famous among them was the Second Pledge of Aqabah which played a decisive role in the fulfillment of the prophetic mission. After the Prophet (SAW), the system of Khilafah was established on the basis of bai’yah. When it started to decay into kingship, all reform movements – in the form of armed rebellions, which were the only possible form these movements could take in those days – were launched on the basis of bai’yah. When the system of kingship entrenched itself firmly, the kings used the same institution of bai’yah to
legitimize their rule. Side by side, numerous orders of mysticism (or Sulook) were established in the Muslim society, also on the basis of bai’yah. All of the Jihad movements launched during the previous century – including the Mujahideen movement in India, the Sanussi movement in Libya, and the Mahdist movement in Sudan – were also organized on the basis of bai’yah. We have already mentioned that Maulana Azad’s Hizbullah was similarly organized; it may be noted in this regard that in the second annual convention of Jami’yat-e-Ulama-e-Hind, held in November 1920, Sheikh-ul-Hind Maulana Mehmood Hassan Deobandi (RA) had appealed to the ulama to accept Maulana Azad as their leader and to give him their pledge of allegiance, a proposal which later failed due to the lukewarm response from the traditional religious leadership. It may also be noted that the movement to deal with the menace of Qadianiyat, launched in the 1930’s in Lahore, was organized on the basis of bai’yah to Maulana Ataullah Shah Bukhari (RA), and those who gave their pledges of allegiance included such eminent scholars as Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA) and Maulana Ahmad Ali Lahori (RA).
As far as Maulana Maududi’s mind is concerned, it is quite clear from one of his letters which was written to Maulvi Muhammad Younis in March 1941, that he was fully aware of the significance of the institution of bai’yah as the basis of organization. In this letter, Maulana Maududi has described three types of pledges: a) one that is given at a specific time for a particular purpose, like the bai’yah al-Ridwan; b) one that is given for the purpose of purification of the soul, called bai’yah al-Irshad; and finally c) the bai’yah that is given to the “Ameer or Imam of the Islamic jama’at.” According to Maulana Maududi, the bai’yah that is repeatedly emphasized in the sayings of the Prophet (SAW) is that of the third kind, and to forsake or remain indifferent to this bai’yah is tantamount to damaging the mission of the Prophet (SAW). The words used by Maulana Maududi – “Ameer or Imam of the Islamic jama’at” – are highly significant: If an Islamic state is in existence, then the Muslims are required to give their pledge of allegiance to the “Imam”, i.e., to their khalifah, but if there is no Islamic state then they are obligated to struggle for its establishment, and to do so would require the formation of a party, and they would then be required to give their pledge of allegiance to the “Ameer” of that party.
Why did Maulana Maududi adopt a Western style constitutional framework as the basis of organization in Jama’at-e-Islami, even though he was aware that the pattern of organization that is truly in conformity with the Islamic traditions is that of bai’yah? The only reason that we can think of is as follows: When Maulana Maududi called for the establishment of a Saleh Jama’at, in addition to several young people, a number of heavy-weights – like Maulana Manzoor Naumani and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi – also gathered around him, and Maulana Maududi found it difficult to ask such people to give him their pledge of allegiance. He, therefore, adopted a semi-democratic framework. However, since Maulana Maududi himself was inclined towards the system of bai’yah, this contradiction in the Jama’at’s organizational structure led to a continuos tension for a period of 15 years, ultimately erupting in the crisis of 1956-57 and causing a great deal of damage to the whole movement. Had Maulana Maududi taken a firm decision to adopt the system of bai’yah, as outlined in his above mentioned letter, the number of people joining the Jama’at may have been quite low in the beginning, but this would have avoided the crises of 1943 and 1957. This is our opinion, but Allah (SWT) knows best.
The fourth lacuna in Maulana Maududi’s thought concerned his description of the methodology of an Islamic Revolution. He was fully cognizant of the need for calling people towards Islam, establishing a disciplined party, and then training its members. But what is to be done after going through all these stages? How is the party going to challenge the status quo? What would be the form of the final blow (or putsch)? It seems that either Maulana Maududi did not really thought about this question, or, if he did, he considered the disclosure of his ideas inappropriate. In his speech, Islami Hukumat kaisay Qayam hoti hay?, Maulana Maududi described in detail the initial stages and prerequisites of the Islamic Revolution, but somehow avoided mentioning the fact that there must be an actual confrontation, a conflict, between the revolutionaries and the guardians of the status quo. We are of the opinion that Maulana Maududi was not sure about the final phase of the revolution – he was not clear about how his Jama’at will bring about the actual change – and it was due to this very gap in his plans that, immediately after independence, he entered into Pakistan’s political arena in the hope that a success in elections will lead to the establishment of an Islamic state. As it turned out, this hope was a naïve one, and the involvement of the Jama’at in the electoral politics led to its degeneration from an ideal Islamic revolutionary party into a right-wing political party, along with the adoption of all the practices that may be objectionable form an Islamic point of view but which are unavoidable for running a purely political group. This degeneration has been so vast and comprehensive that it is difficult to find any resemblance between the Jama’at-e-Islami of the pre-partition period and the Jama’at-e-Islami that now exists in Pakistan.
We are not claiming that this degeneration in the Jama’at was a result of any deliberate planning; instead, what we are trying to bring to the fore is that, since there was no clear picture of the final phase of the revolutionary movement in his mind, Maulana Maududi thought that participating in the elections may be a quick way of bringing about the envisioned change in Pakistan. In his haste to establish the Islamic system of life, Maulana Maududi even ignored the obvious fact that elections can never change the entrenched politico-socio-economic system in any country, and that they are held only to properly run the given system. As far as changing the system or bringing about a revolution is concerned, this is possible only by means of a direct conflict; whether this conflict takes the form of a bilateral armed confrontation or a non-violent resistance movement is another matter.
Thus, whereas Maulana Abul A’la Maududi was mainly following the footsteps of Allama Iqbal and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, there were a number of shortcomings too. He fell short of Iqbal in three significant matters: lack of emphasis on the spiritual side of Islam, lack of awareness about the prohibition of absentee landlordism, and the failure to realize that a revolution cannot be brought about without an actual confrontation with the forces of taghut. There was one issue in which Maulana Maududi fell short of even Maulana Azad: He could not take the bold decision of establishing his Jama’at on the basis of bai’yah.
It was the reconstruction of the Islamic Revolutionary Thought, as accomplished by Allama Iqbal more than half-a-century ago, that led to the Iranian revolution of 1979. This is because many of the ideologues of this revolution, especially Dr. Ali Shari’ati, were deeply influenced by Iqbal’s thought. However, despite the fact that a considerable number of the Pakistani Muslims have been involved in the revivalist struggle, no real change could be brought about in our own country towards the establishment of an Islamic order. We believe that this is due to a lack of awareness of the fact that an Islamic revolution is possible only by adopting the methodology of the Prophet (SAW).
This, however, does not mean that all these undertakings have been in vain. Instead, the caravan of Islamic renaissance and revival is going forward step by step. The fact has now been established beyond any doubt that Islam is a complete way of life which presents the most balanced system of social justice. Millions of Muslims have been motivated to strive for the establishment of an ideal Islamic state, or the system of Khilafah. Thus, throughout the present century, we see a number of attempts being made towards the achievement of this goal, and despite the failures or setbacks suffered by them, and despite minor deviations here and there from the right path, the overall process of revival is indeed progressing in the right direction. What we need now is a firm resolve to rectify the mistakes committed by earlier leaders and to continue the struggle with the heart-felt belief that, in view of the predictions of the Prophet (SAW), the second phase of the domination of Islam is bound to come. Insha Allah.
(The Qur’anic Horizons: October-December, 1996)
Dr. Israr Ahmad
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