by Sayyid Qutb
This 'letter' was sent by Martyr Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian writer of renown, to Ayatollah Kashani of Iran as a confirmation of the emerging unity of the Muslim Ummah. It was published by the journal al-Risalah (No. 951, Dhu al-Hijjah 24, 1370/September 25, 1951) nearly 38 years ago from Cairo . As an active member of Iran's National Assembly, Ayatollah Kashani had waged a heroic struggle against the despotic rule of Reza Khan, a British stooge.
To Martyr Sayyid Qutb the call for Islamic unity and Islamic government was "the voice of the heavens descending once again onto the earth". In the encompassing darkness and gloom of his generation, he saw the promising signs on the horizon. These signs were never so clear as they are today, after the emergence of the sun of the Islamic Republic over the dark horizon. The blood of the martyrs has lent its reddish and golden glow to the horizon, and as the sun continues to rise by degrees, spreading its light over the dark earth and sending the quivers of awakening into the bodies of the slumberers wrapped in the shadowy covers of sleep, we get nearer to the goals of the martyrs.
There are promising signs on the horizon these days, despite the encompassing darkness and gloom of a return to the sanctuary of Islam, being manifested in all parts of the Islamic world. The return of the remnants of a defeated, fugitive and scattered people, weakened by exhaustion while panting after banners alien to their spirit andhistory, aims and objectives. They are returning slowly these days, to the sanctuary whose sanctities were violated when they separated themselves from it, and to the banner whose majesty ceased when it was abandoned.
They return to Islam calling out its name in every place, seeking from it power and honour and security. These are hopeful times in the Islamic world. Today, those who call for the Islamic world to unite into a bloc, and to make Islam the ruling force of this bloc, are not only the propagators of religion and those who are of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nor are they only those individuals whose thinking is guided by Islam. These days, they are not only such people. There are also parties and personalities whose distinctive characteristics and fundamental objectives are not that of Islamic da'wah. This is an indication that the Islamic Ummah has found itself, after being lost and having gone astray, and that it is echoing one call emitted from their innermost being without dissimulation or pretence.
Imperialism played a great game the day it tore up the Islamic world and turned it into petty states with the stamp of nationhood, depriving it of its greater Islamic nationality. It destroyed the unity created by Islam in which nationalities and races were dissolved, and colors and languages melted away, and everyone called out with a single cry from hearts united in a brotherhood before Allah. Imperialism was compelled to play this game for it was incapable of swallowing whole this large bloc while it was united and cohesive.
But when the deceiving bugle of 'nationhood' was blown, the bloc broke up and scattered, becoming a palatable morsel for all, easy to swallow. Then each petty state faced its internal problems, isolated from the flag under whose protection it stood and from the qiblah it turned to. Each state began confronting the united imperialist bloc on its own, sometimes in the Security Council in the U N. and at other times in the Court of Justice. Each time it would return defeated and disappointed, for the imperialists stood united here and the "nationhood" by which the oppressed of the East had been duped had not made them forget the ethos of the Crusades which confronted all Islam!
Each state began confronting its internal oppression and social injustices by solutions and concepts followed in other lands and other environments. Sometimes they used the name democracy, sometimes socialism, and other times, communism. All of these were desperate efforts, created by circumstances different from those of the Islamic world, natural extensions of the concepts of materialism espoused by Western civilization, and whose roots can be found in Greek and Roman cultures. There can be no justification for its emergence in an Islamic environment and in Islamic thinking.
What was the outcome?
As we can see, the outcome abroad was the disintegration of the Islamic world and the uniting of the Christian world. It was the weakness; of the small Islamic states and the power of European imperialism. It was the vicious circle in which these petty states revolve around the imperialist states. It was the distribution of the plunder between Britain, France, Holland and America. It was the feeble stand taken by the governments of the quasi-independent states, such as Egypt and Iraq, advancing a step forward and retreating a step backward.
The final outcome was contusion in confronting the oppression and social injustices. Among us there are those who confront it in the name of Islam, others who confront it in the name of socialism, and yet others who call secretly for communism, while feudalism and capitalism stand brazenly in a row on the opposite front, striking each of them against the other, and causing dissension and hatred between them. Now and then, feeble voices emerge which, parrot-like, caution us against the call of Islam and the banner of Islam, warning us of the hostility of the Western world if we call out with the name of Islam and gather under its banner, as if that world will, one day, offer us a drink from the cup of friendship! They warn us of disunity and feuding in the state as if, today, there is one front, without parties or factions!
They warn us of much worse, of the tyranny of Islamic rule. They warn us of this tyranny, as if today, we are blessed with freedom. They caution us against becoming playthings, of the professional men of religion as if now we are not experiencing great hardship. These are vain justifications which serve only the imperialists, terrified of the idea of Muslims gathering under the banner of Islam. They realize, as Queen Victoria and Gladstone realized, that the banner of the Quran must be tom to pieces before the white man can rule the Islamic lands, and that the authority of imperialism will wane the day this banner is raised again.
The Western imperialist is well aware of the massive force it can face on the war front and on the political and economic fronts if the Islamic world unites. It is well aware of the massive human and material resources which can be mobilized, and of the change of course that will occur the day 400 million people gather under one banner, with one faith and one social system. Both capitalism and communism tremble at the aspect of that day capitalism, because it knows that the economic foundations of usury monopoly and capitalist exploitation that it has authorized, will all collapse the day Islam begins to rule and establishes its distinctive economic basis which drives out usurers, monopolists and exploiters, and does, not permit them to carry out their unjust and sinful activities.
The day that this vast world extending from the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific ocean escapes from its economically exploitative clutches and from its capitalist conspiracies, just as the eastern bloc countries escaped through communism, then 'the earth will become strait for them, for all its breadth' (9:118). What remains then, for Western capitalism, when the whole Islamic world escapes from its grasp! with the communist world having escaped previously? On that day, it will choke to death and fall, a lifeless corpse. That is what the imperialists fear from the banner of Islam and Islamic government. What they fear is more than armies and regiments which the Islamic world will unleash to annihilate them.
And communism trembles at the aspect of that day because it knows that the sole opportunity it has in the world is where social and economic imbalances exist. There is no place for communism in a balanced and just society, where there is no amassing of wealth and no great disparity; where usury, monopoly and capitalist exploitation do not prevail; where there is no antagonism between employees and employers because there is no possibility of acting arbitrarily with the employers or of cheating the employees. The society created by Islam, when founded on the correct principles, is a classless society, because the interests of the workers do not differ from the interests of the employer. The workers themselves have a right to half the profits and a right to convert all or part of their share into shares in the workplace.
There is no extravagance in the society, nor is there hardship, for both of them are reprehensible (makruh) or forbidden (haram). It is a society where wealth is not amassed because it forbids usury, hoarding and unfair wages. It is a balanced society, because the state is committed to redistributing wealth whenever there is an imbalance, and is obliged to take preventive measures to fore stall all that may lead to this imbalance.
A society in which all public utilities are nationalized, or are jointly owned, and where there is no monopoly. When there is such an Islamic society, then the opportunity for communism to make inroads into it is unlikely, or rather, impossible. The endeavour of communism like capitalism, is to attack the idea of Islamic solidarity and Islamic government, and to blow its sirens to arouse fear of this idea, or to belittle its value, or to refute the possibility of its practical application, the making the same efforts in this direction as the capitalists.
Amidst all this, one united cry echoes in all parts of the Islamic world, calling to the banner of Islam, crying out for Islamic unity and Islamic Islamic Government. It is not the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimin) alone who is making this call. Neither is it only the Islamic thinkers, writers and propagators of the religion. It is, in fact, a call coming from the inner most being of this Islamic Ummah, from quarters expected and unexpected. It comes from the government of Pakistan, calling for an Islamic economic conference to regulate the economies of the Islamic world of an Islamic basis. It comes from Ayatollah Kashani the spiritual leader of Iran, telling the British dogs to get out, not from Iran, but from the Islamic world, sending his encouragement and guidance to the Egyptian prime minister, and launching demonstrations on the streets of Iran in support of Egypt in her predicament.
It comes from 'Allaal al-Fasi and Muhammad Hasan al-Wazani, the leaders of Marrakesh, which waged war against France in 1931, on religious grounds, along with its Berber supporters, because France despaired of subjugating it without shattering its religious unity.
It comes from the Muslims of Malaysia in Asia, and of Somalia in Africa, turning to the countries of the Islamic world. It comes from Ahmad Husain, leader of the socialist party, in an impassioned letter in the socialist newspapers directed to Ayatullah Kashani and Mosaddeq, Prime Minister of Iran, who attacked the petroleum monopoly with the dagger of Islam and caused it to bleed!
It comes from Ahmad Abu al-Fath in his book, Hikayat li Misr calling for liberation through Islamic rule and justice. It is the awakening; It is the guidance; It is the light. It is the conscience of all this Ummah which awakens and is guided and illuminated. It is no longer the call of an individual or of an organization. It is the voice of the heavens descending once again onto the earth. There are promising signs emerging on the horizon, despite the encompassing darkness and gloom.
Courtesy: Al-Tawhid, A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Thought and Culture, Vol. VII, No. 1, Muharram - Rabial Awwal 1410