InsightJanuary February 2005

A Critique of Mawdudi’s view on Islamic Change as a Systematic Process

Irfan Ahmad

By Irfan Ahmad

1.  Islamic Change as a Change in the Leadership of the Human World

What is Mawdudi’s view of “Islamic Change”? What is, according to him, the nature of transformation brought about by Islam in the individual as well as in the society? These and such other questions will be discussed in the following pages. Due to the radical nature of Islamic change, Mawdudi sometimes calls it “Islami inqalab” 1 or “The Islamic revolution”. But he holds that this revolution is altogether different from all other revolutions2. Removing the misunderstanding of his people who seemed to view formation of an Islamic State as merely a political change, Mawdudi emphasized repeatedly that Islamic change is much deeper than a mere political change3. Mawdudi always underlined the significance of political power 4_ as will be clear from the following lines. Still according to him, in its own nature, a political change as such, remains a superficial change5. Likewise, Islamic revolution is in no way similar to a political revolution6. Just as blood revolution can never be a way of bringing Islamic change. In fact, Mawdudi uses the word “inqalab” (“revolution”) in this context, only to underline that a whole new world is born out of this radical change7.

However, as founding President of Jamaate-e-Islami, Mawdudi made it repeatedly clear that the ultimate goal of the strivings of his party was “Change of Leadership in Today’s World.” The human world is full of corruption and oppression because corrupt and unjust people run its affairs. People, who do not fear God and thereby have no sense of responsibility concerning their moral obligations in human affairs, have the leadership of the world in their hands; and the remedy lies in bringing about the leadership of conscientious and responsible people9. He, therefore, stands for the leadership of the pious or salihin10. But it does not mean a mere change of hands11. Mawdudi’s interest lies mainly in change of hearts and minds. In fact, he aims at a change in the affairs of the world, and a change of the social reality as a whole, which is brought about through a revolution in people’s ways of thinking and behaving12. Even before the formation of Jamaate-e-Islami, Mawdudi had been emphasizing that “Islam is, in fact, a revolutionary ideology and way of life. This revolutionary ideology wants to change the prevalent social order of the world. Muslims are, in principle, that revolutionary party which Islam organizes to attain its desired revolutionary program13”. However, Muslims will have to change themselves in order to be able to change the world. This revolution will first come in the lives of the Muslim people themselves.

2. Total Change in Outlook and Behavior

According to Mawdudi, religious transformations are attitudinal changes, which emerge from changes in one’s outlook in life14. He repeatedly emphasizes that one can not avoid answering fundamental questions, the Religion (al-Din) raises concerning the purpose and destiny of human life. Intentionally or unintentionally, one has to decide for oneself: “What is the purpose of my life15? ”Am I responsible to someone or am I free to enjoy the life my own way?” Where do I go after my death? ”  Or “Is the death the end of everything for me?

” Three Basic Attitudes Based on Three Worldviews*

According to Mawdudi there are basically three attitudes in this concern, which are based upon three worldviews. He also discusses three epistemic approaches leading to these different worldviews.

(i) The mistake of treating our sense-perception as the only source of knowledge and thereby rejecting any reality which lies beyond our observation in this life, necessarily leads to the misunderstanding that there is no life after death and that humans are not responsible for their actions to God. One may even believe that God does not guide human life or that He does not even exist. Mawdudi calls it the way of pure ignorance (Jahiliyah) because it is devoid of Divine Guidance, which is the only source of knowledge concerning the Hidden Part of Reality or Ghayb. Mawdudi explains that this worldview necessarily leads to irresponsible behavior, which causes corruption, mutual exploitation and arrogance. It fills the world with oppression and injustice in social and economic life and causes extravagance and misuse of the earth’s resources16.

(ii) While mischievous people with the above Jahili (devoid of Divine guidance) outlook, thus control the worldly affairs, people of good nature develop another extremist attitude, which is again based on mere whim or conjecture and not on knowledge.

*In fact, Mawdudi counts four worldviews. But he says that in their practical life and social dealings  there is not much of a difference between i.e. polytheists (holders of mushrikana jahilyat) and materialists who believe in atheism. According to him polytheism is the doctrine of the weak-minded people who are otherwise materialistic in their approach.

(iii) These people would retire from social life and consider worldly pleasures as illusions which take us away from higher and more valuable, spiritual pursuits. The worldly life is considered by them as a prison for the human soul. Therefore, they follow ascetic ways of life, suppressing their bodily needs and comforts and looking for spiritual progress17.

(iv) According to Mawdudi, the above mentioned questions are related to the Hidden Part of Reality (or Ghayb) where the only scientific (or knowledge-based) approach is that of the prophets of God18. Mawdudi brings the following reasoning in support of his assertion that the prophetic approach alone is scientific in this context19:

The prophets of God who are honest and sensible persons claim a special relationship with Ghayb. Whatever they say does make sense. They pass the pragmatic test,  i.e. when their approach is put into practice by a community of believers; it works very well in human life and bears really good fruits.

The above approach of the prophets of God leads to a responsible attitude in human life.  According to the prophets of God the earth’s resources are for the benefit of all servants of God and those who possess or manipulate these resources have to account to Him on the Day of Judgement20. Likewise we have to account for the use of our abilities and skills. Ultimately, we all return to God. By giving us some freedom to act the way we choose, God is only testing us21. He wants to see  how we conduct ourselves in this life and how we do our duty to Him and his creations. He has given us reason or ‘aql i.e. ability to think and make moral judgement. He has been revealing His guidance to His prophets and messengers. To be able to account for both of these blessings of God we must act wisely _ following the Divine Guidance and trying to make this world a better place.

The above clearly suggests what kind of change would be involved in following the path of the prophets of God. Enjoyment of worldly pleasures is no more the sole concern of the people. Of course, their most important concern is the pleasure of their Lord. To be able to do their duties, the believers have to involve themselves in the worldly affairs. They share its pleasures and pains with other servants of God. At the same time they are looking forward for the everlasting pleasures of the Hereafter which their sincere efforts to make this world a better place is expected to bring. When they undergo hardship (e.g.) in the doing of their duties to their fellow human beings, they are sure that God who knows their intentions and who is fully aware of their situation, will fully appreciate their efforts and they will be doubly rewarded.

3.  Prophets of God: Their Mission and Their Tawhidic Message

The above description should have given some idea of the nature of revolution brought about by the prophets and messengers of God. The prophets of God liberate the people22 from the slavery of other than God and from all domination of Man over Man. They call humans to become servants of One God, Who alone is the Lord of all human beings. The prophetic movement is, in fact, a fight against shirk (lordship of Man over Man) and thereby against all corruption, mutual exploitation and all social and economic injustice that is deep rooted in a shirk-based system. Thus the efforts of the prophets of God are directed toward making their people One Community23 (what The Quran calls Ummah Wahidah as opposed to an ummah mutafarriqah or divided community) of the fellow servants (or co-‘ibad) of One God. When the people thus become truly one family, the class struggle is replaced by mutual concern and cooperation. Those who are well off are concerned with the downtrodden and share their resources with them. This is unlike a shirk- based system in which the wealthy use their wealth to suck more blood out of the poor and where ‘might is right’. According to the tawhidic approach, on the other hand, it is the duty of the strong to protect and support the weak and they themselves feel responsible for it. In a system based upon lordship of Man over Man even the priests and religious leaders, instead of educating their illiterate masses and making them free _ which is the main purpose of Religion _ teach them ways of blind following in order to be able to exploit them24.

The prophets of God invite their people to the tawhidic message and organize those who say a “yes” to their call. They take care of believers’ spiritual and moral training and their self-purification25. Mawdudi repeatedly emphasizes that the routine program of prayer and worship and other religious customs and rites, aim at preparing the believers individually as well as collectively, to carry on the tawhidic mission in a world which fails to be truly tawhidic and in which  zulm (injustice and oppression) operates26.

The tawhidic movement of the prophets of God is a threat to the unjust shirk-based system27. Quite naturally, the unjust people, whose vested interests are threatened by the tawhidic call to economic and social justice, rise against the tawhidic movement28. The prophets of God and their followers are advised to be tolerant and, preferably, return good for evil29. In short, the patience, steadfastness, wisdom, forgiveness and courage, which the believers display during this conflict, helps further in these people’s spiritual and moral growth and development30. The same is true of the conflict that arises today when, under the impact of Islamic Movement, a common man or woman is spiritually and morally transformed. He or she faces problems at the job or at home because his or her thinking is altogether changed. And the people who are accustomed to some corrupt ways fail to appreciate the honesty, truthfulness and such other beauties of a transformed character. Mawdudi points out that he is always waiting for reports of such conflicts. He is very eager to know how wisely they are dealt with.  And when there is no such news he is inclined to conclude that the tawhidic message has not yet reached out to the people31.

4.  Mawdudi’s Tawhidic Movement and the Prophetic Movement

The above is not an exact statement of Mawdudis’ description of the tawhidic movement of the prophets of God. Instead of presenting a true copy of Mawdudi’s description, I have filled up some blanks from the Qur’an and left out a large number of details from his owns description for the sake of brevity. What is important, Mawdudi identifies his movement with the tawhidic movement of the prophets of God32. It is important to note that there are not many prophetic movements. It is the same tawhidic movement that was initiated by Noah, when the original ummah wahidah,33 with which human family started its journey in the very beginning, was divided. And it is the same movement that was again and again revived by Abraham, Moses, Jesus and so many other prophets of God throughout the world. It is the same movement which is finally revived by the Prophet Muhammad. But as the Prophet himself underlined, his own ummah (community of followers) will have persons who will do the revivalist job at the end of every century34. Mawdudi is doing this tajdidi (that is revivalist’s) job without claiming to be a mujaddid. He does not care for the title; nor does he think that in order to be a mujaddid one has to claim to be a mujadidd. Of course some mujaddids informed their people about their status as such. Mawdudi’s work “Tajdid wa Ihya-e-Din” gave him a golden opportunity to review the work of earlier revivalists (mujaddidin) and to point out what kind of revivalist work is needed in future35. Mawdudi also briefly discusses the hadith reports related with the coming of an ‘imam mahdi’ (or ‘a guided leader’36). We will not go into all these details. What is important from our perspective, Mawdudi is quite clear in the concept of Islam as a movement37. With great clarity and courage, Mawdudi invites the world to join his movement which, as he sees it, is an effort to revive the movement of the prophets of God38. (To begin with his focus is the Muslim Community of Indian Sub-continent.) Mawdudi asserts that his own movement and the prophectic movement are one and the same because they both share the same tawhidic mission39 and there is a determination on his part to follow the methodology, the prophets of God followed. Leading a tawhidic movement involves striving that humankind becomes free of all domination of Man over Man _ free from all zulm (oppression and injustice) corruption and exploitation which is an offshoot of shirk or lordship of Man over Man. The scholars and historians of various religions can make their own judgement how far Mawdudi’s description of the prophetic movements is right. That is an altogether different story. However, in the following we will explain, in our own words, what is actually involved in seeing Islam as a tawhidic process. Later we shall discuss some difficulties which we face in light of some other affirmations which Mawdudi also makes.

However, before we proceed for the above task we will make some clarifications concerning Mawdudi’s use of “prophetic movement”40. It is well known that due to his strong support for the Movement for the Finality of Prophethood, Mawdudi was sentenced to death by the Martial Court of Pakistan on May 11, 195341. The judgement was revoked immediately before his being actually punished to death. It was due to a huge reaction from the Muslims of Pakistan, and Muslims throughout the world42. The question arises, if Mawdudi so strongly believes that there will be no more prophets, what is his point in using the term ‘prophetic movement’ in this context. Obviously through it, Mawdudi wants to emphasize the identity of the movement of the Prophet Muhammad with the movement of all the prophets. This helps in the development of better relationship between Muslims and the rest of the world’s religious people. Muslims would feel (e.g) concerning many religions that, in spite of very obvious wide differences, our origin is the same. Likewise, the believers of the other religions would feel good when they would find out that some of their heroes and great religious leaders are held by Muslims in such a high esteem43. We are well aware of the growing emphasis in the global interfaith* movement on sustainable society, social and economic justice, and preservation of Earth’s resources as well as other critical issues of prime importance to the prophetic movement44. Mawdudi’s work prepared the ground for cooperation from Muslim communities for such a growth of future interfaith movement which is the only hope for our plural world, which otherwise seems to be moving fast toward self-destruction.

5.  Islam as a Tawhidic Process

It is due to the impact of Sayyid Mawdudi that the writer of this paper sees Islam as a tawhidic process. ‘That there is no god but One God’ is a realization and a commitment which initiates a systematic social change liberating humans from all slavery of other than God _ as if a chain-reaction has started, if we were to take an analogy from the world of chemistry.  This principle is directed toward making all humans One Community of the servants of One God, the Lord of all humankind45. Tawhidic movement has an epistemic dimension, what Mawdudi calls ‘liberating human minds from the mental slavery’ of their tradition and from the blind following of their scholars and leaders and making people think with their own minds46. In its social and economic dimension, the tawhidic movement is directed against all domination of some humans upon others as well as against their mutual exploitation. The Qur’an has a way of cutting roots of mutual hatred, envy and division which arise among human groups 47. It is against discrimination but not against distinctions. It is against hatred and mutual exploitation but not against coexistence and plurality48. Tawhidic approach creates mutual respect and mutual concern among humans turning them into what I call “co-‘ibad” or “fellow servants” of God who mutually share their resources, virtually behaving as one family. They become Ummah Wahidah (One, undivided, community) as the Quran calls it, in which mutual conflict and class struggle is replaced by cooperation and concern, and in spite of various kinds of differences a strong feeling of being one binds them together49. Thus shirk or lordship of Man over Man divides and tawhid unites50. Unlike tawhidic community in a shirk-based system, the rich instead of sharing their resources with the poor further suck their blood, the strong instead of giving their support to the weak use their power to keep them in control if not even crush them. In the epistemic dimension of tawhid, it is the Revealed Guidance in Divine Words that works as an instrument of liberation. It makes the minds of the believers (who are now the readers of the Book) free from rigid human-made legal systems and from blind following of their religious leaders51 as well as form their slavery of other authorities. The Book continually liberates the Ummah Muslimah (the Muslim Community), as its believers keep receiving a  fresh enlightenment through its readings _  leading to an authentic creative thinking (ijtihad).

6. The Present Tawhidic Movement as a Process of Understanding and Living the Qur’an

It is important to note that in its Quranic descriptions the epistemic dimension of tawhid precedes its social dimension52. In fact, the Qur’ an repeatedly describes Islam as a tawhidic process and in doing so underlines its epistemic dimension. Consider ayah 39:22, which tells the story in which a person’s  heart opens to the Tawhidic Truth and thereby he/she starts walking in the light of the Qur’ an. But it could very well be the history of a community of believers. The individual could be the Prophet himself or any believer whose heart opens to the Tawhidic Truth. What is important, after tawhidic realization (and thereby commitment) the later life of this individual (or community) becomes a journey in Divine Light _ understanding and thereby receiving inspiration from the Quran,  as he/she (i.e the Quranic Community) lives it or applies its guidance to life. While the later part of the ayah expresses sorrow on the terrible deprivation of those who remained blind to the Tawhidic Truth, the following ayah further underlines the epistemic as well as the spiritual value of the Book which was earlier named “Divine Light” or more literally “Light of his Lord”. Or consider ayah 6:122 which introduces a new metaphor, that of “life”. Realization of the Tawhidic Truth by an individual (or even by a people) is, in fact, a dead body’s becoming alive. The Quran repeatedly speaks of Revelation as “ruh” or “spirit” which is the essence of that higher form of life, which humans share. Revelation contains immense possibilities of enlightenment. These may lead to unlimited growth and development in human life and thought.  It is very interesting to note that the ayah underlines the Quranic Community’s (or that of the individual reader of the Quran) interaction with the rest of the world _   as “an-nas “or “the people” signifies. The preceding literary context is related with the legislative role of the Revealed Guidance in Divine Words and the following ayat further highlight the epistemic role of the Book in the context of a shirk-based society, where criminal and corrupt leadership dominates.

7.  Mawdudi on the Place of Reason (‘Aql)

We hope the tawhidic epistemology implicit in the above will not be unclear to an intelligent reader. This follows from the Qur’anic postulate that God creates as well as guides53. ‘Aql or reason is innate guidance. God has given human beings reason,  to think and to find their way. It is a great blessing of God. It is expected that if humans use their ‘aql _ against temptations, they should not loose their way. *However, out of His Mercy God also reveals guidance. Its most important form is Revealed Guidance in Divine Words e.g. the Qur’an, Injil, Torah, and  scriptures revealed to Abraham. But then the prophets of God lived the Divine Guidance (revealed to them in Divine Words)  in their own lives and explained it to their people in their own words, under Divine Supervision. It is also a revealed guidance in an extended meaning of the word* . (Obviously Hadith and Sunnah do not meet that high standard of authenticity which the Qur’an does but that is an altogether different consideration.) Now in the methodology of knowledge in Islam, which is to be furthered worked out; reason and revelation would work together. However, the Epistemology in Islam which was supposed to be in a continuous process of development is still not in a very good shape. Mainly in the second quarter of the twentieth century, Mawdudi is the person who saw the need for fresh thinking and ijtihad more than any one else. Obviously the need for the development of methodology of knowledge in Islam in the contemporary perspective should be at the top of the issues which need our immediate attention. We need more clarification concerning how reason and revelation work together in Islamic Epistemology. In his address to Student’s Association of Nadwatul ‘Ulama, Lucknow, on January 5, 1941, Mawdudi emphasized that Islam can not regain its leadership of the world, without having a lead in knowledge, fresh thinking and research54. However, as we pointed out in the above,   Mawdudi himself has been so much involved in some* matters of his immediate concern that not much progress was made in this direction. On the other hand, Mawdudi’s style of dealing some subjects of great importance to him some times creates misunderstanding about his whole approach. We will discuss only two examples in the following:

In his polemic against rationalists (‘aql prasts), Mawdudi is interested in establishing that reason alone is not sufficient to guide human life, Divine Guidance or Revelation is also needed. Mainly in his lecture “Din -e- Haq”55 (or “The Religion of Truth”) he seems to be very forcibly arguing against reason or ‘aql56 which the Qur’an honors so much. The Qur’an always speaks of ‘aql (use of reason) as something desirable. According to the Quran the believers share the habit of using the ‘aql and the disbeliever’s fail to do so. And for this reason the Qur’an severely criticizes the disbelievers57.

The disbeliever’s who fail to use ‘aql, thereby fail to receive guidance58. The Qur’an underlines that humans are answerable for the use of their intellectual faculties i.e. for the use of sam’ah (the faculty of gaining knowledge from others e.g. through hearing), basar (observation or experience) and fu’ad (faculty of thinking, reflecting or intuiting)58. But Mawdudi’s point in Din-e-Haq should not be misunderstood. He is not arguing against those who believe in using reason (or ‘aql), On the other hand, he is arguing against those who reject Revelation and who seem to believe that reason is sufficient, therefore, revelation is not required. Therefore, Mawdudi shared his line of argument with most Islamic scholars who would say: reason is not sufficient, therefore revelation is required59. It is very similar to the argument of those who say that Qur’an is not sufficient, therefore Hadith is also required. As we consider in the following, Mawdudi also shares this line of reasoning with some other Muslim scholars . The writer of this paper does not appreciate this way of arguing which very much looks like the sign of a weak- mind.

Obviously it is due to the failure in the understanding of the Qur’an by some of the so-called scholars that in spite of Qur’an’s repeated emphasis on Hadith and Sunnah, they do not see that Hadith is required or that Hadith is necessary60. They should be taught the method of understanding the Quran and should be given training in the art of understanding the Quran61; rather than confusing the whole issue by arguing from insufficiency of the Quran to the need of Hadith and Sunnah. Likewise, due to the lack of proper*development of philosophy some scholars very naively reject the belief in revelation as totally irrational. And some other thinkers due to the same deficient perspective readily conclude that reason is not sufficient for guidance, or even that philosophy is only a source of misguidance. At other places, Mawdudi himself emphasizes use of reason and severely criticizes people’s blind following of their religious leaders62. In fact, the above misunderstanding arises because we fail to see that Din-e-Haq is not a book of philosophy _ even though it seems to be discussing some, philosophical issues for the common readers of the Muslim world. And it has been quite successful in impressing them. However, the book achieves its objective at a very high cost. A student of Western Philosophy is shocked when he sees that great schools of philosophy like “Rationalism” and “Empiricism” are being dealt with in such an unphilosophical fashion and then rejected so hurriedly63.

However, it is true that Rationalism is sometimes understood in the West in such a way that it develops an inner contradiction. According to this conception of Rationalism, if a believer in reason also believes in revelation, then he/she fails to be a rationalist.  But suppose a person’s thoroughgoing rational approach leads this thinker to revelation, then should that thoroughgoing rationalist, in the wider sense of the word,  irrationally reject his/her finding or should he/she get rid of this irrationally conceived rationalism?It is quite obvious to us that this person’s rational inquiry has brought him/her at a point, after which reason and revelation will work together as two genuine sources of  knowledge and guidance. We hope, this is exactly where Mawdudi stands.

8.  Mawdudi on the Place of Sunnah

However, in his polemic with those who accepted the authority of Revelation, Mawdudi’s concern is to establish that both, the Quran and the Sunnah are needed as sources of guidance64. Here his fight is directed against those scholars that advocate that the Quran is sufficient for guidance and that Hadith is not required as a source of gaining knowledge or guidance in Islam. This apparently shows Mawdudi’s acute interest in the methodology of knowledge. However, despite his interest in the two primary sources of knowledge in Islam, he did not give sufficient attention to the study of the difference in the nature of the two sources of guidance and knowledge. Likewise, he did not work out in detail the nature of mutual relationship between these two basic sources65 _ as something of value in the methodology of knowledge in Islam. He does not even seem to care much about how these two basic sources actually work together in a well-defined methodology of knowledge, with the help of a third, even more basic source (or instrument) of guidance, knowledge and understanding in Islam, i.e. reason or ‘aql.  As we know, the Qur’an gives to the reason, the status of innate guidance66. It is hard to believe that Mawdudi was not concerned with the development of a comprehensive methodology of ijtihad and fresh creative thinking in the contemporary perspective. The only reasonable interpretation is that Mawdudi left this job for future generations of Islamic scholars in the field of Islamic Philosophy of knowledge. We do not doubt that he had intense involvement in matters of his immediate concern that had priority for him and this kept him away even from such an important job.  However, future progress in the epistemic dimension of tawhid is blocked unless we seek further clarity concerning these matters. The work done by earlier scholars of jurisprudence (usul al -fiqh) and fiqh has its limits. No creative thinking and fresh discoveries are possible through a logical approach, even that of qiyas (analogy). Therefore, Hermeneutics should acquire the most central place in our intellectual work. Thus the key to the progress of Islamic thought lies in a fresh but authentic understanding of the Revealed Guidance in Divine Words. As we know ”its wonders or its treasures will never be finished67.” But for this purpose, the methodology of understanding the Qur’an is to be further developed68.

It is very important that the contemporary scholars of Islam fully understand how the method of understanding the Qur’an is different from that of understanding the Sunnah . In nutshell, the Quran is to be understood afresh, through its direct contact with our minds and hearts, in changing human situations and  with our  growing abilities to understand.

In the process of understanding the Qur’an, both its individual as well as collective modes should receive our full attention.And what is most important, piecemeal understanding of the Divine Text (I mean, of an ayah of the Qur’an or even a part of an ayah) must stop now69! The Qur’an must be viewed as containing 114 Divine Discourses or surahs70 arranged in order. Each of these is highly organized and has tremendous continuity in its linguistic expressions. Therefore, any understanding of a piece of Divine text is valid only if it fits its (of this piece) literary perspective.

On the other hand, Hadith and Sunnah should be understood with the minds of the Prophet’s immediate addressees,and in the light of the human situation *in which the Prophet worked out this tafsir of the Qur’an _ explaining the Divine Text to his people and applying Qur’anic guidance to human life under Divine Supervision.

And what is the most important consideration, we should see words and  works of the Prophet as explaining the Qur’anic text and working out Qur’anic expression’s practical implications.

This implies that in order to be valid an understanding of a hadith report has to justify itself as such.

Before we close, we will make one more point. The concept of Islam as a tawhidic process is a very basic inspiration from Mawdudi. It is essentially from this basic concept that the concept of Islamic Movement as a tawhidic movement, which is in a way a continuation of the movements of the prophets of God, is derived.

It seems Mawdudi himself was not unclear about this view of Islam as a process. It emerges so forcibly from the original Islamic sources! However, Mawdudi had also inherited a diametrically opposed view of Islam _ that of a perfect and complete, fully (as if  Divinely) made, well-organized system of life. Most of us also have a view of Islam as an already made system; even if it is not so clearly perfect and finished as the one in the mind and writings of Sayyid Mawdudi. However, we should not forget that such a “system of life” would always remain a man-made system of thought. Unlike the Quran which is, as every Muslim believes, a Book written by God Himself, and unlike the Sunnah which is the totality of the words and the works of the Prophet, Islamic system of life as understood and explained by Mawdudi is a creation of Mawdudi’s eclectic genius*. He had a great command over our intellectual heritage of more than one thousand years and had such a skill to integrate this great treasure of Islamic scholarship! And Mawdudi also possessed the ability to modernize it. I mean, he had the ability to present it in terms understandable to Muslim graduates of modern colleges and universities. When Mawdudi presented Economic or Political system of Islam through his speeches broadcasted through National Radio of Pakistan he is trying to display only a part of his Islamic System of Life.

In fact, it is possible to view Islamic thought as well as Islamic life as a whole _ vertically when you watch its growth and development through time, or horizontally when you just focus your attention at a point of time on various fully grown aspects of Islamic life or Islamic thought. When you view Islam horizontally, you can view it as a fully organized, perfect system of life, in its completed form. Now in spite of the fact that Mawdudi was very much interested in change and he did not fail to see that Islam is, in fact, a movement, in the later part of his leadership he is so much involved in his encounter with the human situation, he faces that he is almost totally lost in his horizontal views of Islam*.This is why, Mawdudi sees Islam, mostly as a system of life rather than a movement; and he deals with Islam, mostly as a system of life rather than a movement. Instead of seeing Islam as something in the process in the making, he sees it as a complete system _ as if is all of it is given over there,  all at once, in its perfectly complete form, somewhere in a far off past or iman imaginary future. Or somewhere in the world of his own ideas!

In fact, Mawdudi is so much overwhelmed by his own horizontal view of the Islamic System of life, that he would say with great authority to his skeptic addressee if he/she shows some hesitation to accept the whole of his view as fully true: It is a Divinely Formulated system. You are not permitted to make any amendment in it: ‘Either take the whole of it or reject the whole of it’.

Anyway, according to the Islamic system approach, has its benefits as well as disadvantages. , all we have to do at this time is to focus our attention on the establishment of an Islamic State. Mawdudi has a very refined and well-balanced view of the process which leads to forming an Islamic State. However,  he does believe in closing our eyes to the critical issues which humanity faces today. He also believes that once we have  (e.g.) established the Islamic State, it will take care of the rest of our problems. On the other hand, the Islamic movement approach would not permit any postponement of our Tawhidic responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the Quranic Community to be concerned with the critical issues that humanity face _ and to do its best by itself and in cooperation with other people who also seem to be concerned with social, economic, and political justice and believe in a sustainable society.

Tawhidic action as well as tawhidic thought proceeds individually i.e. through every individual as well as collectively. The tawhidic process moves in every dimension _ social, economic, as well as political etc. At every step it makes a progress toward what Mawdudi should see as an ideal Islamic State.

* As compared to intrafaith which is confined to people of one faith, an interfaith movement is one in which people of different faiths are working together

* The Qur’an repeatedly discusses this point. Just consider 17:15 and 28:59.

*  Should we call it ‘revealed guidance in human word and human action’?

*  Perhaps after the formation of Pakistan, Mawdudi’s Islamic Movement always faced one or the other   situation of emergency in which matters that needed long term planning became very difficult.

·         Obviously this lack of proper development is due to, otherwise, some right minded people’s turning away from philosophy. Let me say, it is due to this negliggency revelatiomists, anti-revelatiomists

And it is due to their hard work (ijtihad) that today it looks as is most people believe that in order to be rational, you have to reject revelation as a source of knowledge.

* In this concern, the consideration of the stage of development of human society is of utmost importance.

Note: All references from Sayyid Mawdudi’s work are from his original Urdu writings which I have translated in my own English.

1    Mawdudi’s lecture on “Striving (Jihad) in the Way of God”, April 13, 1939 on  Iqbal Day; published in  booklet form. See Mawdudi, Striving in the Way of God  (New Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami)
2    Mawdudi made this point very clearly at a number of places. Consider Mawdudi’s paper at Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh September 12,1940.  Mawdudi, The Process of Bringing about an Islamic State (Lahore: Islamic Publications) |
3    Ibid.,  3-10
4    See Mawdudi, The Reality of Jihad (Lahore: Idara Tarjumanul Qur’an)  Also consider Mawdudi’s lecture, “Moral Foundations of Islamic Movement”  in Jamaat-e-Islami All India Conference on April, 21,  1945 in Darul Islam near Pathankot, Punjab, India in   Mawdudi,  Islamic System of Life and its Fundamental Concepts   (New Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami)
5    Mawdudi even called the political revolution of 1947 an artificial revolution. See Mawdudi, Jamaat-Islami: Its Purpose, History, and line of Action (Lahore: Jamaat-eslami Pakistan Department of Publications)
6    See Mawdudi’s paper ” Process of Bringing about an Islamic State”
7     Ibid., 23-39
8     Consider Mawdudi’s lecture “Moral Foundations of Islamic Movement”.
9     Ibid.,  261-264
10   Mawdudi uses the term “imamat-e-salihah” or “the pious leadership” as opposed to fasidah or corrupt.  He says “The establishment of the leadership of the pious is the real objective of  the Religion”  265
11   In “Moral Foundations of Islamic Movement” Mawdudi discusses at length, how in the Islamic Movement, an step by step moral and spiritual progress of its people takes place. 295-312
12   Mawdudi, The Process of Bringing about an Islamic State. 30-36
13  “Striving (Jihad) in the Way of God” Mawdudi’s lecture on Iqbal Day April 13, 1939 in Mawdudi, Islamic System of Life and its Fundamental Concepts  368
14   Mawdudi first developed this point in Mawdudi, A Short History of Revivalism in Islam   (Lahore: Islamic Publications), 1940  And then also presented it in a paper read at Islamic Association of Islamic College Peshawar, Feb 23, 1941. See Mawdudi, Islam and The Way of Ignorance   (Lahore: Islamic Publications)
15   Islam and The Way of Ignorance 5-7
16   Ibid.,  11-18
17   Ibid.,  18-22
18   Ibid.,  22-38
19   Ibid.,  22-24
20   Ibid.,  29
21   Ibid.,
22   It is interesting to note that the Qur’an underlines this negative aspect of tawhid, i.e. coming out of  slavery of others than God. Just see    4:36; 7:59, 65, 73;  2:83, 256
23  The theme of Ummah Wahidah (One Community) occurs in the Qur’an at the following nine places: 2:213; 5:48; 10:19; 11:118; 16:93; 21:92-93; 23:51-53; 42:8; 43:33    For a detailed discussion of the theme see Irfan Ahmad Khan, Insight into the Quran: Reflections upon Divine Signs (New Delhi: Gunuine Publications 1999) 541-553
24   See Mawdudi, Khutubat (Lahore: Islamic Publications)
25  Spiritual and moral training always remained an important part of Mawdudi’s Islamic Movement. For a  detailed study of this topic consider the officially published reports of All India and All Pakistan  Conferances of Jamaat-e-Islami, by the Publication Department of Jamaat. Or  see  Khalil Hamdi’s  selection:  Mawdudi, Movement and the Worker    (New Delhi: Markazi Makaba Islami) Also see Mawdudi, Directions (Lahore:Islamic Publications)
26   See Mawdudi, Khutbat (Friday sermons) (Lahore: Islamic Publications) Also see the Qur’an, 2:75-78, 165-176 And 9:31-34
27   It is interesting to note that, in the Qur’an, the prophets of God address all  of their people.  However, the negative response comes mainly from the al-mala’ or their chiefs, who had their vested interests with the prevailing unjust system. See 7:60, 66, 75, 88.
28   The Qur’an discusses at length and at many places, how the opposition of the prophetic movement by the unjust people, grew stronger and stronger. Just consider the Qur’an, 14: 9-19
29   The Qur’an, 13:22; 25:63;28:54-55; 41:33-36
30   Mawdudi was very particular about reminding his people concerning this natural way of receiving  moral and spirtual training. Just consider Mawdudi, Movement and the Worker 101-104
31   Mawdudi, Movement and the worker  91-103
32   Mawdudi, The Objective, History and Line of Action Page 8
33   For the Quranic description of the Prophetic Movement see 7: 59-158; 10: 71-93; 11:25-97;  26:10-196  And see 3:33-60; 19:1-58      And also see Surah Yusuf no.12
34   Mawdudi mainly quotes the report from Abu Hurayrah in Abu Daud “God will keep raising for this  Ummah at the head of every century such persons who will renew (refresh) for the Ummah  its  Religion.”  Mawdudi discusses the hadith briefly. See Mawdudi, A Short  History of Revivalism in Islam      (Lahore: Islamic Publications)
35    Ibid., 47-54
36    Ibid., see mainly 49 – 54 and 162 – 173
37    According to Mawdudi “Nation” or  Qawm” are Jahli  (of the Way of Ignorance) terms and should not be used for the Ummah. He would rather use the Quran’ic term “Hizb”  or  “Party” for  what the people were calling Muslim Nation. Mawdudi, “The Problem of Nationality” (Delhi: Markazi Islami)
38    The Qur’an makes it very clear that the message and the mission of all the prophets was the same. The Qur’an tells the Prophet to inform the people that he is not some new kind of messenger (46:9),           with a different message. The Muslims should declare proudly that they believe in all the prophets and messengers of God. (2: 136; 3: 84)  Still it was not customary among the  Muslims to start a movement saying repeatedly that objective, mission and method of their organization would be the same as that of  the prophetic movement.
39    Mawdudi defines the Objective and the Mission of his organization, Jamaat-e-Islami, as “Establishment  of the system of life as a whole, according to the guidance of the prophets, on the basis of the servitude   (‘ibadah)  of  One God only.  Mawdudi, The Islamic Movement: Its Objective, History and Line of Action  (Lahore: Department of Publications, Jamaat-e-Islami)
40    It is interesting to note that when Mawdudi is asked to write on The Achievement of Shah Wali-Allah  of Delhi, he determines the place of this great Islamic scholar and revivalist, in the history of the revivalist movement in Islam. But even before doing this, Mawdudi explains the mission of the movements of the prophets of God. Thus Mawdudi sees the revivalist movement as an off-shoot of the prophetic movement.  See Mawdudi: A Short History of Revivalist Movement  P.g 9 Also consider Mawdudi’s cocluding speech on Nov.13,1951, in Jamaat’s Conference.  Reminding  the    people concerning ‘their relationship with God’,  Mawdudi says that it is the first item,  which the prophets of God, the guided caliphate, and all pious people of the ummah, underlined in their advice to their people. He thus underlines the identity of his Islamic Movement with that of the prophets.
41   Abdur Rahmad Abad, Syyed Mawdudi Faces The Death Sentece (Lahore: Islamic Publications) 25
42   Ibid., 32 -38
43  See above the end notes no.33 on prophetic movement. Also consider Quran’ic assertion that it mentions the names of only some of the prophets. The Qur’an 4:164 and 40 :78 To see Mawdudi’s broad-based approach and to see how he shares his ideas with people of other  religions, Consider his address to a mixed gathering of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims on May 1940 in the State of Kapurthala.  Mawdudi, Way to Peace (Lahore: Islamic Publications)
44   In Chicago 1993 Parliament of World’s Religions about two hundred leaders of world’s religion Signed Global Ethic pledging to work together to save the world. In Capetown 1999 Parliament of World’s.
45   The very first ayah of the Quran 1:1 points to the fact that God is above all divisions of nations, tribes, etc.  He is the Lord of all humans and the Qur’an suggests to the readers that we praise him as such. The Qur’an further elaborates its point through its description of the mission of prophets of God. Moses  Says to Pharoah “I am the messenger of the Lord of all humankind”.  Moses was above the division which Pharoah was trying to create see 7:104.  Abraham criticized that worship of tribal gods and goddess’s is dividing you (29:25).
46   Those whom these religious people follow blindly are named “andad” (“or equals of God”)  by the Qur’an. Those who develop such a bias, the Qur’an criticizes them as loving their authorities, religious  or otherwise, the only way was God should be loved. To see Qur’an’s severe criticism of people’s un-critically following their authorities etc. , just consider 2:165-176. According to the Qur’an,  if you follow someone (or his words) the way you should follow only God’s Words, you are making that person or authority an equal of God.
47     Mainly consider the following surahs of the Qur’an: 49,  89, 90 ,98, 102, 104, 107
48    Consider the discussion related with the study of Surah al Kafirun   in Irfan A. Khan, Insight in the Qur’an  432-434
49    It is the oneness of which the ayah 3:103 reminds. The Prophet’s reminder in his Final Pilgrimage _ when he emphasized that the believers should not be  divided after he leaves _ is also related with the same.
50   The Quran suggets that the efforts to divide humankind and making them fight each other are from their  enemy Satan. Consider the Quran 2:208 and also 5:64  On the latter referances, notice the Divine   remarks “every time they kindled a fire for war, God extinguished it.” and also  3:103 And 41:34-36
51   Through the Qur’an, The Prophet liberates the people from rigid laws which religious leaders had  concocted to turn their followers into their mental-slaves: See 7:157  the way the prophet Jesus liberated the Children of Israel through Injil, : see 3:50   To help the the Revelation in achieving its liberating function, it is prhibited that during the period of Revelation, the believers ask unnecessary theretical questions. The Quran’ic response to such questions May turn the simple Quranic Law into a more complicated one: see 5:102
52   For example in al-Baqarah 2:21-23 precedes 2:27  2:63 precede 2:83-85  2:159-176 precede 2:177
53   See the Qur’an, 20:50, 96: 1-5 and 87 :2-9
54  See Mawdudi, Education   ((Lahore: Islamic Publications)   66 – 100
56   The Quran uses ‘aql at more than forty places mostly as verbs, but always as  desirable action.
57   The Quran 21:67; 36:62; 2:71
58   Consider the Qur’an 67:10 It sounds un-Qur’anic to my ears. Qur’an would rather argue: it is not reasonable of the people to not to believe in revelation. Just consider, 6:91and6:38.
60   For example, the Quran repeatedly says, “Obey God and obey the Messenger”. And obviously  “obeying  God” means following the Book, and “obeying the Messenger” means following the Sunnah. Consider 3:32; 3:32; 4:59; 8:20; 8:46
62     Mawdudi, Khutubat  (Lahore: Islamic Publications)  74 – 78
63     Mawdudi, Islamic System of Life of Life and its Fundamental Concepts          189 – 192
64     Mawdudi, Legal Status of Sunnah   (Lahore: Islamic Publications)
65But Mawdudi agrees in Principle”It is he (the Prophet) who explains by his words and deeds these commands and directions (from God in the Qur’an).  See Mawdudi, Caliphate and Kingship (New Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami)
66   The Qur’an makes this point in a number of ways. Just consider the following two ways:32:79; 17: 36, 90:10-17; 91:7-8
67  Se the hadith reported by Abdullah ibn Abbas in al-Tirmidhi and al-Darmi.

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