by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 1, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1431)
In the rest of the Muslim world, barring Islamic Iran, the ruling elites have accepted defeat and humiliation as their permanent condition. One can find striking lessons of such behaviour related to Bani Israel described in the noble Qur’an.
People that refuse to surrender can never be enslaved. Slavery is first and foremost a state of mind. Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid struggler paid with his life but he became immortalised in the minds of millions for refusing to surrender. He had said, “The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” In battle, psychological defeat precedes physical defeat. When the mind accepts defeat, physical factors cannot reverse the tide. The opposite is equally true: those who refuse to surrender regardless of their disadvantage in material terms can never be defeated. Thus, we know that while the Afghans are no match for the firepower of the Americans and their allies, they have been able to force the Americans to admit there is no military solution to the problem in Afghanistan. The Americans are now talking about a negotiated settlement. The same is true in Lebanon. Unlike the Arabian regimes and their well-stocked armies, Hizbullah has refused to surrender to the Zionists. The result is clear. The Zionists have been defeated not once but twice in the last decade. The same scenario is beginning to emerge in Palestine where Hamas has refused to accept Zionist supremacy regardless of the odds.
In the rest of the Muslim world, barring Islamic Iran, the ruling elites have accepted defeat and humiliation as their permanent condition. One can find striking lessons of such behaviour related to Bani Israel described in the noble Qur’an. In one case, Bani Israel confirming their mental defeat, refused to enter a territory when Prophet Musa (a) asked them to do so as commanded by Allah (Â). Prophet Dawud (a), on the other hand, refused to be intimidated by the size of Goliath and killed him.
The Muslim ruling elites display all the characteristics of the Bani Israel of old. Their commitment to Allah (Â) is superficial, not sincere. While the Muslim world is endowed with great material resources, these are not utilised to improve the condition of the people. Instead, the elites have become accustomed to an easy lifestyle and are not prepared to face the hardships that come with struggle for truth and justice. They feel more comfortable as slaves of the West than living a dignified existence as servants of Allah (Â), the Creator and Master of the universe.
How did this situation arise? Muslims did not always display such cowardice. In the early period of Islam, small numbers of Muslims repeatedly overwhelmed much larger enemy forces. Muslims did not do so through the superiority of weapons; what they lacked in swords and spears, they made up for in iman (faith-commitment to Allah — Â), secure in the knowledge that whether they survive in battle or fall fighting, they will be victorious. Such people can never be defeated.
The slave mentality is the product of colonialism. While direct colonialism ended with the departure of European colonialists from Muslim lands, indirect colonialism has continued. People who assumed the reigns of power in the so-called independent Muslim societies were already mental slaves. They had imbibed the values, culture and mannerism of the colonial masters. They adopted the colonial master’s language and displayed the same contempt for ordinary people that the European colonialists did.
Even these may be considered minor compared to the mental slavery that is so pervasive in Muslim societies. The Muslim elite — and Pakistan is a typical example — cannot imagine life without the deathly embrace of Uncle Sam. The Pakistanis can be forgiven for such servile attitude because they do not have much wealth. How does one explain the slave mentality of the Saudis that have billions — nay trillions of dollars yet they behave as slaves of the Americans? If the Americans think jihad is bad, the Saudis immediately say “Amen”. If the Americans order removal of Qur’anic passages from textbooks that condemn certain behaviour, the Saudis immediately comply. They have bought into the propaganda that the US is all powerful.
It is far easier to overcome physical colonization but much harder to surmount mental colonization. The mind itself must be willing to break out of such a state. A lion’s natural habitat is the jungle where it roams free. A lion in the circus, however, has accepted mental defeat. Even when let loose, it does not run away to return to the jungle. The Muslim elite behave like circus lions jumping at the crack of the ring master’s whip. Nothing good can be accepted from such people; they are happy living in a cage to be fed dead meat.
The first step towards liberation is the process of liberating the Muslim mind.