Interview with Maulana Maududi

Developing Just Leadership

Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi

Jumada' al-Ula' 23, 1440 2019-01-29

by Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi

Maulana Maudoodi, founder of the Jamaat Islami and a leading Muslim reformer and activist of the Twentieth Century, was interviewed by The Muslim's editorial board at the home of the late Rashid Ahmed Siddiqui in Tottenham, North London in December 1968. The interviews were published in the February and March 1969 issues of the magazine. The magazine's editor-in-chief at the time was Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, with AbdulWahid Hamid the mainstay of its four-man editorial board. The meeting occurred during a period of world unrest: the student demos in Paris, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the overthrow of Col. Arif by the Baathists in Iraq, the emergence of a polical movement to remove the army general Ayub Khan from power in Pakistan - and, in the months to come, the Muslim world was also to witness an army coup in Sudan, bringing Numeiri to power and Col. Gaddafi's coup in Libya.

With this background, The Muslim's editors were much exercised by the question whether an Islamic state could be established by armed revolt. The question was among those put to Maulana Maudoodi, and he took the opportunity to present his strategy of political engagement to bring about societal reform.

Maulana Maudoodi's writings and political activism were inspirational for young Muslims in the 1960s. A decade earlier, concerned with the lack of vision of Pakistan's political elite in the shaping of the nation's constitution and the centralisation of power in an non-elected Executive, a famous declaration was issued by the Jamaat-e Islami. It read:

We Demand

That the Constituent Assembly do frame, before the close of the year 1952, the new constitution of Pakistan wherein it must be specifically provided:

  • that Islamic Shariat shall form the law of the land
  • that there shall be no such legislation as would contravene any dictates of principles of Shariat
  • that all such laws as are in conflict with the dictates or principles of Shariat shall be abrogated
  • that it shall be incumbent upon the state to eradicate the vices which according to Islam should be eradicated and to uphold and stablise the virtues which according to Islam should be upheld and stabilised
  • that none of the civil rights of the people (security of life and property, freedom of speech and writing and freedom of association and movement) shall be forfeited except when a crime is proved in an open court of law after affording the opportunity of defence
  • that the people shall have the right to resort to a court of law against transgression on the part of the legislature or the executive machinery of the state
  • that the judiciary shall be immune from all interference by the Executive
  • that it shall be the responsibility of the State to see that no citizen shall remain unprovided for in respect of the basic necessities of life, viz: food, clothing, shelter, medical aid and education; and
  • that the Qadianis shall be included in the list of non-Muslim minorities and their seats shall be reserved according to their population, through separate electorates.
  • AND we shall not accept any Constitution which fails to incorporate the above points.

On 12th May 1953 Maulana Maudoodi and colleagues were arrested for their part in pressing the Qadiani issue referred to in the last of the demands listed above. Maudoodi was sentenced to death by a Martial Law court. He did not seek clemency but declared "if the time of my death has come, no one can keep me from it; and if it has not come, they cannot send me to the gallows even if they hang themselves upside down in trying to do so". Under strong public pressure both from within and outside Pakistan, it was commuted to life imprisonment and then cancelled. Maudoodi's steadfastness and courage was a significant factor in defining the nature of the the first Constitution of Pakistan, promulgated in 1956. This unilaterally ended Pakistan's status as a dominion and the country was declared the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It included a provision known as the 'repugnancy' clause - that no law repugnant to Islamic injunctions would be enacted and that all existing laws would be considered and amended in light of this provision. A military coup, led by the US-backed army general Ayub Khan, cancelled this constitution and declared martial law.

The leading Muslim thinker and statesman, Maulana Sayid Abul A'ala Maudoodi (b. 1903) was recently in London for four months (25 August-26 December 1968). Although he was on a medical visit, his presence in London had been a boon to all Islam-loving elements in general and the students in particular. He was available to the many who came to visit him and spent hours with them discussing almost everything. The members of the Editorial Board of THE MUSLIM also had some sittings with Maulana Maudoodi. A set of questions was put to the respected leader. The translation of Maulana's answers has been done by Khurshid Ahmad, who has also added explanatory notes wherever necessary. The answers to the remaining questions would be published in the next issue, insha Allah.

YOUR HEALTH

First, a question to which many are anxious for an answer: How is your health now after two major operations?

It is too early to say anything precise and definite, about the condition of my health. I am, by the grace of Allah, feeling better as far as general health is concerned. The removal of the stones has relieved me of the unceasing agony and strain under which I had to work. But I am feeling quite weak and it may take three to four months or even more to recover fully. Arthritic pain is still there in the knee and the hip; there has been no tangible improvement in respect of that. However, I hope that insha Allah, things will improve. If Allah wants me to work any more in His Path, he shall give me the opportunity, health and capacity to do that. It is to His Will that we submit and it is His Help that we solicit.

MAINLY PERSONAL

It is really remarkable that you could have kept up such a pace of work despite the strain of four imprisonments including a death sentence, in such a poor state of health. Personally speaking, what practices, do you think, have helped you acquire and sustain such a level of 'IMAN', and what is your advice to the eager youth?

I have never felt that I possess any extraordinary IMAN or one of a very high stature. Similarly I do not harbour the illusion that I have really done something great or big in the sixty five years Allah has given to me. Frankly speaking, the fact is that whenever I do sincere heart-searching I feel rather ashamed that I have wasted quite a bit of my time. There is only one thing which I do find in myself-and this again is not a result of any effort of mine, but is simply a blessing from Allah-that when I accept something as my duty, then I dedicate myself to it entirely. My whole being gets engrossed in that; all my faculties are devoted to its realisation. Nothing else could distract me from that goal. As long as I had not discovered a sense of purpose in life, I used to read and write and participate in multifarious activities. But once I made my choice and set a definite task before me, I have never read or written anything not related to my objective. Even when as a diversion or in moments of relaxation, I read things of a light nature, my mind is always busy in picking up things that are related to my objective in life.

Which has been the most active period of your life so far?

I think that the most strenuous and arduous period of my life was the one between 1932 and 1946. That was the period when I saw the Muslims of India (undivided India of course) faced with the most dismal but decisive hour of their history. There was confusion and disintegration everywhere. Forces of evil were surging like floods. Muslims saw no hope-there was hapless submissiveness, a loss of goal and ambition and a bleak despondency that could see no way out of the impasse. I found myself alone in a wilderness. Till there was none to share my agony and give me company in my desperate efforts to bring the Muslims to the Path of Islam-of accepting Islam as their way of life and the arbiter of destiny. In 1941, the solitary struggle fructified, by the Grace of Allah, into a small movement.

The Jamaat [1] was formed, but during the early years of its existence it was hardly clear whether or not it would be able to grow into an effective movement and a force to be reckoned with. In such a situation I was making an all-out effort to do whatever I could to serve the cause. I was met at all concerned with the results. I was working with the belief that whatever be the consequences I have to spend every iota of my energy in preparing the soil and in laying the foundation, if nothing more, in the hope that perhaps future generations may be able to build something worthwhile on those foundations. When the organisation of the Jamaat began to lake a definite shape and the movement began to inspire confidence that it was becoming capable of carrying on the mission, some of my worries began to be lessened. Now in 1968 I feel confident in the depth of my heart that the Jamaat, has, by the Grace of Allah, attained a stature from where it will successfully continue the mission, which has engaged me throughout these years and whose fulfillment is my only ambition in life.

ON ISLAMIC ENCYCLOPEDIA

For the non-Arabic speaking, essential books on vital aspects of the faith have not been translated or have been translated dishonestly by the enemies of Islam-the Orientalists. What is your opinion about preparing an Islamic Encyclopedia by genuine Muslim Scholars, and, how should it be approached? What can be done now?

I feel that we lack adequate resources to compile, from our own viewpoint, a truly representative and comprehensive encyclopedia of Islam. The project demands resources in men and money which we simply do not possess at the moment. There can, however, be a lesser project which may, on the one hand fulfill pressing need of today, and on the other hand act as a stepping stone to the bigger project of compiling a real encyclopedia of Islam. What the Muslims may launch at the moment, provided resources can be mustered for that, is to compile and edit something similar to an encyclopedia from the material that is available in different languages of the world. It would be something more than an exhaustive anthology and less than an encyclopedia with original contributions. The idea is to have a team of about ten or twelve persons, well-versed in Arabic, Urdu, Persian,

Turkish, English, German, French and Italian languages. These persons should be well versed also in Islamic literature and should have correct attitude and approach to Islam. They should be engaged on a whole-time basis, given handsome remunerations and be provided with, as far as possible, all the literature available in these languages. They should also be provided with the work of the orientalists and other writers, however antagonistic that may be.

This team should work at one Centre and start its work with preparing an exhaustive list of topics to be covered in the proposed encyclopedia-something to act as a working basis, which would continue to be improved with the progress of work. It would be the task of these persons to scan the Islamic literature thoroughly and select there from those writings which could be presented as the best possible exposition of a given topic. If there are many such writings on a particular topic, the best amongst them can be included in the proposed encyclopedia and complete reference for others can be given at the end of such entries. The source or sources from which a contribution has been taken should be given and supplementary readings suggested. That is how a digest-type encyclopedia can be prepared to begin with. This work should initially be prepared in English but arrangements should be made to translate it in all other languages. If such an encyclopedia is compiled it will serve a useful purpose and will pave the way for a new original work to be prepared by Muslim scholars of tomorrow. This intermediary project too can be implemented only if proper persons and sufficient monetary resources can be procured. I am not very sure about the financial cost of such a project but I am afraid it may be something about a quarter of a million pounds.

MUSLIM NATIONALISM AND THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT

There are many who worship the idea of a Muslim State and you have coined the phrase of `Muslim Nationalists' for them. How can they be changed or failing that how can the Muslim Society be saved from them and a real Islamic State be established?

Those who have mentally reconciled themselves to such contradictory positions and are not prepared to realise the opposite and conflicting demands of Islam and Nationalism, have often turned out to be a difficult case. `Those amongst them, who are sincere about Islam, can be definitely won over and once the dust of political romanticism settles down, they begin to see the reality in its true colour. But there are many who in fact do not want to live as real Muslims and they take to Nationalism as an alternate ideology and if they add the appellation "Muslim" to it, that is not for soothing their consciences but to mislead the people; their case is very different. Our experience shows that we have not been successful in winning over more than five per cent of such persons. Their double-standard comes in the way of their mental and moral transformation.

As to the problem of protecting the Muslim Nation from the leadership of such people, it is my firm opinion that this can be done only through organising in every Muslim country a movement consisting of sincere, intelligent and dedicated persons, working openly for the cause of Islam. They should contact the Muslim people openly and directly and invite them to the message of Islam as an ideology, a way of life and a movement for social reconstruction. They should be prepared to court every risk and brace every opposition and persecution. Undeterred by these, they should carry on their activities, so much so, that a general awakening in the people is realised. They have to bring about an intellectual and moral revolution and for this they will have to work in every group of the society, create in them an understanding of the message and mission of Islam and an urge to establish the Islamic Order. They should have the patience and perseverance to carry on this struggle even if it takes years and decades even a century-and should not be misled into any short-cuts that may, in fact, spoil the entire effort. They should be intelligent and prudent enough to formulate a realistic strategy for their work and to plan proper steps for every situation, seizing every opportunity in the best possible way and preparing the total climate of the society for the realisation of their objective. They should have the determination and the idealism to continue their struggle, come what may-to face prisons and gallows with unflinching faith in their Lord, never to abandon their mission. If properly organised Islamic parties carry on the movement for Islamic re-vival and take every step with proper planning and foresight, I have every faith that one after the other the Muslim countries will, insha Allah, be converted to the Islamic Way. The establishment of the Islamic Order in one country will pave the way for Islamic revival in others, and thus inaugurate a process culminating an over-all Islamic revival. The conditions that I have stated above are, however, indispensable during the early phases and once a group resolves to work on these lines, the roads will gradually open up for the final victory of the forces of Islam. This is only a basic outline of the programme. Keeping this in view the workers of Islam should, through mutual consultation and careful analysis of their situation, work out details for every country. In the present phase what is needed is an Islamic movement in every country. I do not think it is possible to have an international organisation at this stage. We should try to work intelligently, dedicatedly and realistically. This is my advice to my younger brothers.

ON ARMED REVOLT

Do you think that the Islamic State can be established by an armed revolt?

I think that this is not the right road to pursue and such a policy may, instead of producing anything good, prove to be highly harmful.

A lasting and perennial Islamic revolution cannot be brought about in any society unless the people amongst whom such a revolution is being achieved are generally prepared, intellectually and morally, to imbibe it and live up to it. In a nation where this preparation has not been done, efforts towards armed revolution can serve no purpose. The idea is not just to have a change, but a change for which the society has been prepared. There is no short-cut to it. It is to be achieved on the lines I have suggested in reply to your earlier question. Mere Coup d'etat cannot serve that purpose. But that is only one aspect of the matter; there are many others from which such an effort may be positively harmful. I refer to a few points in this respect:

(a) The forces that are opposed to the Islamic movement possess control over armed forces, police and administration and keeping in view gigantic resources of a Modern state, it is not possible for you to muster up sufficient strength and have armaments in such a quantity and of such a quality as to meet them on this plane. A clash in such a position can only lead to the destruction of the movement, and not to destruction of our foes.

(b) Even if control over the organs of this is achieved through an armed revolution, it would not be possible to run the State and carry on its affairs in accord with the Islamic way, for the simple reason that the society and its different sections have not been properly prepared for moral transformation that Islam. And if the un-Islamic ways persist and continue to pollute the society in its multifarious aspects, while the Islamic Movement holds the reins of power, this may disillusion people from the Movement and even from Islam as such.

(c) Armed revolution as a means to power would be open to others as well-rather the chances of their using it are greater. This would mean that despite resort to it, you would never he in a stable position. Instead, the danger is that the Muslim countries will remain ensnared in a vicious circle of revolutions and counter-revolutions and of conspiracies and counter conspiracies, as they are caught up to-day. Resort to this method cannot bring an end to this unwholesome process. The difference, in that case, would be that now this process is being peddled by the un-Islamic elements and the people, within and without, are fed up with them. In that case the Islamic Movement would also become a party to this unwholesome game amid would have to shoulder her share of people's wrath and hatred.

(d) If you want to bring about an armed revolution, it is indispensable that you will have to organise your movement on the pattern of secret societies. Secret movements have a temperament of their own. They admit of no dissent or disagreement. The voice of criticism its silenced in them. Weaknesses and loopholes have a way of their own to appear and grow in such societies. Free, fair and frank discussions are conspicuous for their absence and there is no built-in mechanism to set the things right. Those who lead and run such movements become, through the internal logic of this method of work, cruel, intolerant and despotic. They have to elicit unstinted obedience from their followers. On slight suspicions they do not hesitate to drive bullets in the chests of their associates. And this is what the nature of this type of work demands. The result is that by the time such persons succeed in bringing about revolutions, they themselves have turned into tyrants, sometimes even greater tyrants than the ones they have been trying to remove.

(e) Similarly another demand of the inner logic of this technique of work is to permit its workers to resort to deceit, lies, forgeries, frauds, bloodshed and many other things which are forbidden in Islam-they are not only allowed to do so, but, if success is really contemplated, they are trained to do all that. This, in fact, makes them a believer in the dictum that 'ends justify means'-that to achieve some good purpose, any methods, however dirty or foul they may be, are permissible, even necessary: Once the workers are trained in these methods, they become a part and parcel of their character and personality. Is it really reasonable to expect that such persons, when they come to power, will honestly and scrupulously follow the principles of Islam and run the entire society according to the Islamic code of moral behaviour?

(f) It is also in the nature of revolutions brought about by the bullet, that they can be maintained only through the bullet. This produces a climate where in peaceful switch-over towards an Islamic Order becomes virtually impossible. One despotism is replaced by another despotism. Hands change, but the system persists. While the objective of the Islamic movement is to change the system as such, and not merely to change the hands.

I would invite all those who are interested in establishing an Islamic order to seriously reflect and ponder over these aspects of the problem. I think they cannot avoid the conclusion that the Islamic revolution can be brought about in its own way, and not by falling prey to the 'short-cuts' which can, in fact, only cut short the poise and tranquility of society.

ON IMMIGRANTS

The movement of Muslim people from Muslim to non-Muslim countries is unprecedented. How can the challenge arising from this new situation be faced?

If the Muslims who are now pouring in non-Muslim countries in quite sizeable numbers sincerely and honestly live in accordance with Islam and scrupulously represent their faith through word and deed, then the prospect of Islam's far-reaching influences on these non-Muslim countries are immense. Is it not a fact of history that Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and many African countries were influenced by Islam in a similar way. It was through population movements that Islam was introduced to these countries and as the Muslims presented a noble example of life and informed the people of the simple and life-giving teachings of Islam, these new lands entered the ambit of Islam. If the Muslims in these non-Muslim lands play a similar role, very encouraging results will ensue. On the other hand if they act to the contrary, God forbid, they may lose their distinct entity and be dissolved into an alien culture. In this latter case I am afraid their future generations may even be lost to Islam altogether.

The situation as it stands today holds both possibilities- inauguration of a new career for Islam in these lands and the threat of gradual disintegration of the Muslims. Now it is the responsibility of the leaders of the Muslim communities in these countries, particularly of the Islam-loving elements, to consciously and systematically work for the fulfillment of the above-stated opportunity and the avoidance of the latter calamity. They should, through nutual consultation and deliberation, prepare detailed programme for these objectives and I have enough hope that if they rise to the occasion, they shall, by the Grace of Allah, succeed. As far as I am concerned, at the moment my health does not permit me to chalk out any such programme but if the Muslims in different European countries begin to apply themselves to this task, I hope they will be able to work out necessary details and I would always be available for consultation and discussion.

What future do you see for Muslim children here, the majority of whom are Pakistanis?

The Muslim children are faced with a real threat of disastrous dimensions. If proper and adequate efforts are not made for their religious education and moral teaching and for preservation of their language and culture, there is every danger that they may gradually be cast with the moulds of British society and culture and would be lost to the Muslim ideology and society.

ARMCHAIR INTELLECTUALS

Concerning the actual work to be done in the Muslim community it seems that many leaders are no more than `armchair' intellectuals, having no idea of doing the 'dirty work' of administration, maintaining contact with the people and so on. How can this problem be solved?

I am not aware of any ready-made cure for such 'leaders'. Instead of trying to reform such leaders, it is far better for the educated and talented persons from among the Islam-loving elements to step ahead and work on their own lines. Once they enter the field and present a better example, a new leadership will automatically emerge and the days of the 'do-nothing' leaders would be numbered.

One can detect a great amount of frustration among workers for Islam because there are not many results to show. Does it mean that the nature of the extent of these efforts have not been good enough?

If frustration and disappointment ever overtake the workers of Islam, it is so because they must have begun to expect that their efforts should bear fruits before their own eyes. We do hope that the things will change, but a Muslim is always motivated by one and only one consideration- seeking the Pleasure of Allah. Our eyes are riveted only to the reward that comes in the Hereafter. Whatever results are produced here are only in the nature of by-products. Our real objective is to fulfill the will of our Creator. Those who are looking to the products of their efforts here and now should reflect over the examples of those who laid their lives in the battles of Badr and Uhud. They spilled their blood to fulfill this mission, but did they see any fruits of their sacrifices? They looked only to the results that come in the Hereafter, not the ones that you can see with the eyes under your brows.

Had they not watered the Islamic movement with their blood and had they not offered those sacrifices, future generations would have never witnessed those changes that transformed the course of human history. But they never worked to see those results, they never lived to observe the fruits of their efforts- their real ambitions were to fulfill their duty. This is the attitude which must be cultivated by the workers of Islam.

ON STUDENT POWER

We have seen a remarkable growth of "student power". What for you is the significance and importance of all this?

I am afraid the 'remarkable growth' in "student power" to which you are referring is a growth of the evil- and is being used as an instrument for the propagation of evil. Students occupy a very important position in the society and their role as leaders of tomorrow is very great. But the expression of the untamed, unbridled and reckless 'power' that one finds in the western society can hardly be called a movement for the better. I do not blame the students for that. This is the natural result of the faulty foundation on which man in the western society has for a long time been organising his social life. This has robbed the new generations of all moral norms and values.

The new attitudes it has generated are nihilistic - nothing is left to be looked upon with respect and reverence. Freedom is degenerating into license. Co-education and disintegration of the family home tear asunder all codes of social ethics. Pursuit of the sensual has become the order of the day. Younger generations have been alienated from their society and whatever they are doing is in the nature of protest against the social order which has reared them. The maltraining to which they have been subjected for long has also made them volatile- they are prepared to respond to any cry for revolt and invitation for destruction. They are the products- or you may say victims - of this system. Now the tree cannot refuse its fruits, however bitter they might be.

Should students arrogate to themselves an exclusive role and responsibility? What should be the attitude of Muslim students in the light of recent developments?

Students have a right, rather it is their duty, to prepare themselves to replace the older generation and shoulder the responsibility of the future. It is also part of their moral duty to remain vigilant and keep an eye upon the developments that are taking place around them. But it would be an act of folly on their part to plunge into the arena before properly preparing themselves for the task. If vital decisions are made with an immature mind and uncompleted training, what good can come out of it? And if, at the instigation of a few trouble-mongers, such decisions are imposed on the society under threat of disturbances, this would be highly unfortunate.

Muslim students should not be a party to such irresponsible play. Instead of participating in such activities, they should try to launch a counter-movement through which those who are studying in the educational institutions should be persuaded to act more reasonably and responsibly. They can play their role in a more admirable way and prove themselves better than the older generation only if they prepare themselves more seriously and thoroughly and not otherwise. The role I visualise for the Muslim students is that they should work in a constructive way and create such a strong opinion in favour of their healthy approach to the problem that the chances the success of their being misled by the other group are reduced infinitesimally.

SOCIALISM AND PAKISTAN

Extreme capitalism in Pakistan indicates that people due to lack of correct guidance find socialism inevitable. Is there any political party which can provide,cogent opposition to this?

Pakistan is faced with the threat of socialism. Her economic conditions, ignorance of the people in general and the 'learned ignorance' of the educated classes are factors which may drive towards socialism in Pakistan. And the presence of powerful socialist states along our border enhances the dangers of this threat. Perhaps I am not exaggerating when I say that the organised-movement of the Jamaat-e-Islami has been the greatest deterrent to the progress of socialism in Pakistan. Had this movement not been there, the country might have been painted red. But the Jamaat is working amongst the people and is presenting Islam as a socio-economic programme of life-a programme far superior to capitalism and socialism alike. And I am confident that by the Grace of Allah, the Jamaat will, by mobilising all Islam-loving forces, succeed in establishing a real Islamic State in Pakistan.

LEADERSHIP

Why has the Muslim World always had leadership problem?

I find it difficult to subscribe to so sweeping generalised a statement. However, as far the contemporary situation is concerned there are many historical factors responsible for them. Whatever be he internal weakness of the contemporary Muslim society, the situation with which we are beset today is, inter alia, the result of an all out effort to impose on the Muslim countries a leadership that has come up in the natural way. As a result of, and through, the direct and indirect influences of Western Imperialism, which till very recently ruled over most of the Muslim countries, the political leadership in these countries has fallen to persons who are not the real leaders of the society. They mostly come from the class of vested interest or of services, administration or military, and can never become the natural leaders of the Muslims. The other part of this tragedy is that those who can be natural leaders of the Muslim society are either incapable of acting as political captains of the country, or, if they are capable of playing this part have been denied the opportunity of coming to the helm of offices. One of the reasons of dictatorship in the present-day Muslim world is that the political leadership is not the natural one, and can remain in power, only if people are bridled into some kind of "controlled" or "guided" policy and also that this is the only effective albeit artificial way to check the natural leaders from coming to the helm of affairs.

This state of affairs is bound to produce a leadership vacuum, and we are faced with that. This vacuum can be filled only by continuous, sustained and unceasing efforts. The struggle it calls for is really uphill, but the future of the Muslim world depends on that. This situation is a challenge for all right-thinking persons and I hope that the Muslims will strive hard to put their house in order.

RAMADAN AND THE MOON

Do you think Muslims the world over should celebrate Eid on the same day, or should it be according to Moon-sightings in a particular country? Or should timezones be accepted ?

To celebrate Eid on the same day all over the world is neither necessary according to the Shariah, nor is it practically possible or beneficial in any significant way. The moon cannot be sighted on the same day all over the world. This is an astronomical impossibility. Ramadan and Eid have been associated, according to the Shariah, not with the 'birth of the new moon', but with the sighting of the moon. The moon can be sighted only 25 to 30 hours after its 'birth'. If this 'sighting' of the moon takes place in any eastern country, it must also take place in all the countries to its west. But if it is sighted in a country in the western region, it does not mean that sighting becomes possible in countries which are in the eastern direction. And if sighting is astronomically impossible in the western countries how can any credence be given to the claim of any eastern country that the moon has been sighted there. Any declaration that goes against the established facts can carry no weight, even if it comes from the mouth of any Mufti (juris-consult) of a Muslim country.

There are certain persons who assert that the beginning and the end of Ramadan should be made uniform all the world over and when the moon has been sighted in any one country, all should follow. I am afraid these people do not take into view the facts of geography and astronomy and are, therefore, making an unsound suggestion. The earth is a big planet where differences between sunrise and sunset vary from a few minutes to 24 hours. How is it possible to expect simultaneous sighting of the moon all over the world, or to make others, however distant they may be geographically, act on the basis of the sighting of the moon in a particular country. From the practical viewpoint also, this is bound to create new problems and difficulties. If one sighting is to be followed all over the world, then every year in almost half of the world people will begin their fast in good faith and will have to break that after the so-called sighting. Will this reduce confusion or increase it? If one sighting is to hold valid for the whole world, how would this decision be communicated to people scattered throughout the length and breadth of the world. Have we assumed that those who are in deserts and mountains do possess a radio or transistor to follow the said declaration. The Shariah does not discourage us to use these and other communication-media, but the injunctions of the Shariah are not dependent on or associated with their availability. Ramadan was observed long before these discoveries and is observed today by those persons also who do not possess them. We are talking of 'Eid on the same day' because we have access to certain mass media. But during the last thirteen centuries when people did not even have access to telegraph and telephone how could this have been possible? If the Shariah really wanted to have 'Eid on the same day' then this injunction must have remained impracticable for many centuries and its implementation could take place only after certain discoveries of our own times. This is not the approach of the Shariah and we must not try to impose this upon it. We are free to avail from all beneficial discoveries of our times, but the simplicity of the Shariah is not to be marred in any way.

One thing that should be kept in view is that 'Eid' in Islam is an act of worship and not merely a social function or festivity. We should not look upon it in the same way as others look upon their social functions. The spirit of the ibadah (act of worship) must be jealously guarded.

(The Muslim, Jan-Mar 1969)

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