2. Sayyid Abu-l-A’la Mawdudi, Muslim Cleric You were born on September 23, 1903, in the Deccan plateau of southern India, but your family traces its roots to Delhi, where your ancestors played a significant role in the Mughal dynasty. Thirteen years ago, in 1932, you wrote that you belonged to a family “that has a 1,300-year history of guiding, asceticism and Sufism.” Your family apparently worked for Mughal rulers—a source of your own fondness for the Mughal era—and when the British supplanted the Mughals, your ancestors were exiled from Delhi and they made their way to South India. Your father isolated you from other children, lest the purity of your Urdu be corrupted. Mostly you were home-schooled, where you also learned Arabic and the foundations of Islamic thought. As you recalled, Since I had originally been kept secluded, in this there existed benefits as well as drawbacks for me, such that when I became involved in society I was conscious and aware. My father in his talks and education had taught me how to distinguish between good and evil. My early education at his hand had left an indelible mark upon me such that I would not easily fall under the sway of various influences. In 1915 your family moved to Hyderabad, where you studied Islam at the local seminary. But soon after your arrival, your father had a stroke. Money grew scarce and you were obliged to leave school to care for him. You nevertheless persisted in reading and writing, and soon perfected a spare style: “I believe that every thought has its own vocabulary and each thought has to be expressed in the proper balance of words. Therefore, I believe it is enough to choose the right words, and there is no need for unnecessary entanglements. I was able to economize on writing,” you wrote. You were impressed by the writings of Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), the foremost Islamic writer of the younger generation, but you also read Western writers, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Goethe, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, and Lenin. You did not agree with them; indeed, you even “abhorred” Western and modernist perspectives. But you realized that one must understand one’s foes. You also learned English so that you could better appreciate writers from the West. India, you believed, must cast off its British overlords. While still in your teens, you were drawn to the independence movement—and thus to the Indian National Congress (INC). In 1919—you were only 16!—you wrote a supportive biography of Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement. The work was confiscated by the police. (Their highhandedness infuriated you at the time; but now you’re glad it was never printed: you have come to regard Gandhi with contempt; his self-sacrificing words conceal the overweening ambition of a Hindu politician.) Your first job was working for an editor of an INC newsletter. You especially promoted the Khilafat movement—an attempt by Muslims worldwide to defend the caliph, the worldwide leader of Muslims whose position in Turkey was being undermined by the British and other victors of World War II. In 1921 you edited and Islamic newspaper, entitled Muslim. The British closed it 1923. You continued your religious studies and in Muslim League, Page 16 of 39
1926 received your certificate to teach religion. By the late 1920s you had concluded that Hindus had all but taken over the INC. In 1929, you broke with Gandhi when he told Muslims: “We will win freedom with you or without you, or in spite of you.” Democracy, you increasingly realized, posed a formidable challenge to Muslims in India. The passions of the unlettered Hindus intensified your skepticism of democracy; your early defense of the Mughals helped persuade you that elites should shape political sentiments; and in 1928 you wrote a favorable biography of an earlier Nizam of Hyderabad. Those political movements that grew out of mass passions—such as those espoused by Gandhi, the Communists, and the Hindu Mahasabha—you treated with scorn. Your opposition to Communism intensified when you learned that their agents in Hyderabad were organizing Hindu peasants into Communist cells.
From nearly every corner, politics was crowding into Indian life. This realization pushed you into your lifelong goal: to create a political movement that would result in an Islamic state. You base this on your understanding of the Qur’an: Muhammad, when confronted with the idolatry and selfishness of the Qurayshi leaders of Mecca, built a Muslim community, the umma. And when they emigrated en masse to Medina, Muhammad became their leader: The Muslims in Medina, the Muslim umma, were the first Muslim polity; and they were led by Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. The Qur’an is filled with similar proofs that Allah sought to join state and the Muslim community. You watched the growth of the Muslim League with interest. Perhaps the Muslim League could become the instrument to create such a state. After all, the Muslim League had channeled Muslim energies during the Khilafat. You agreed with the argument of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League: “Organize yourselves, establish your solidarity and complete unity,” he told Muslims. “[A]s a well-knit, solid, organized, united force [the Musalmans] can face any danger, and withstand any opposition.” But a Muslim nation is not necessarily a good one if it is not built upon the principles of the Qur’an. This point was rammed home during the decade of the 1920s after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, Britain and France had occupied much of the country and reduced the powers of its caliph, the spiritual leader of Sunni Muslims worldwide. In 1923 Mustafa Kemal, later called Ataturk, established the Turkish Republic. The next year he embarked on a campaign to secularize Turkish society; his first action was to abolish the caliphate, a blow that stunned you and other Muslims. Then Ataturk dropped Islam as the state religion, closed Islamic courts, and shut down religious schools. A secular Muslim government was in many ways worse than foreign rule. During the 1930s you worked to ensure that a future nation for India’s Muslims would not resemble secularist Turkey. You had been impressed with how Lenin’s small band of wellorganized leaders had imposed its will on Russia; you saw further evidence of this power in the Communist party’s organizational work in Hyderabad. In 1934, you advised India’s Muslims: “The erection, endurance and success of a social order requires two things: one, that a jama’at (party or society) be founded on that order’s principles. . . and second, that there be patience and obedience to that jama’at.” Islam, without a political foundation, could not prevail; and a Muslim political entity, without Islam, was a contradiction in terms. Islamic ideals would create a new type of nation-state. From 1938 to 1941, you laid the foundations for the Jama’at-i Islami (Islamic Party). Muslim League, Page 17 of 39
In 1941, at the initial meeting of the Jama’at-I Islami, its members elected you its first amir, or leader. But when you invited the fifty senior Indian ulama (Islamic legal scholars) to join the Jama-at, all declined; they claimed that you were breaking with Islamic customs; however, you did succeed in recruit over a dozen younger members of the ulama; and now some 224 ulama members belong to your organization. Nevertheless, you have been sorely challenged by conservative Islamic leaders. In addition to the conservative clerics, the Muslim League constituted another challenge. Under Jinnah’s able leadership, the League has mobilized Muslims in support of the goal of partition. This fact infuriates you. The Muslim League, you believe, gains political power by evoking the shared community of religious Muslims; and yet the League itself, and especially its highlysecularized and westernized leader, Jinnah, have little evident interest in Islam. Your party is the more sensible political entity. The Theology of an Islamic State You have put aside your immediate concerns with the Muslim League, if only because your shortterm goals coincide with those of the Muslim League—to create a state for Muslims. But you now must use this opportunity to imbue this state with Islamic principles. To that end, you have devised a theological system in opposition to that of conservative clerics.
Your call for an Islamic state rests on several principles. The first concerns obedience. The Qur’an, you have written, makes it clear that one’s devotion to Allah must be complete; one cannot be a good Muslim by adhering to the Qur’an most of the time. To put it simply, Islam is a complete way of life. “Islam,” you wrote, “is nothing but man’s exclusive and total submission to God.” “True religion,” you added, “means total obedience and submission to God.” (Let Us Be Muslims, date?). Elsewhere you write, “Man in this kingdom is, by birth, a subject. That is, it has not been given to him to choose to be or not to be a subject. . . nor is it possible for him, being born a subject and a natural part of this kingdom, to swerve from the path of obedience followed by other creations. Similarly he does not have the right to choose a way of life for himself or assume whatever duties he likes. (Let Us Be Muslims ) And: Even the word “Islam”—which means, variously, peace, submission, surrender, obedience— reaffirms this truth. By contrast, traditional Islamic scholars maintain that Islam provides personal knowledge and guidance; without Islam, a person is lost. The Qur’an is the vehicle for that personal Muslim League, Page 18 of 39
Islam does not consist merely in bowing, prostration, fasting, and pilgrimage [hajj]; nor is it found in the face and dress of a man. Islam means submission to God and the Messenger. Anyone who refuses to obey them in the conduct of his life-affairs has a heart devoid of the real Islam —“faith has not yet entered their hearts.” His Prayers, his Fasting and his pious appearance are nothing but deception. (Let Us Be Muslims) knowledge, they insist, a knowledge that leads to spiritual growth. This type of thinking, you believe, leads to the grave error of assuming that Islam shares the fundamental principles of most other religions: namely, the need to transcend the vicissitudes of this earthly existence. Maulana Kalam-Azad, the Muslim who presides over Congress, thus argues that “the prophets who rose in different times and parts of the world to deliver the message of divine unity had to adapt their message to the particular peoples to whom they were addressing.” He cited the Qur’an: “Men were at first of one religion only: They then fell to variance” (10:9). Azad adds, “The divine truth is a universal gift from God.” Azad even suggests that the transcendence that constitutes the central principle of Hinduism, especially as propounded in the Bhagavad Gita, is consonant with the Qur’an. You disagree emphatically. God commanded obedience not to promote human transcendence but to ensure that people obeyed. Why else did God fill the Qur’an with so many demands, commands, and threats? The God of the Qur’an did not, like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, counsel transcendence; the God of the Qur’an demanded obedience. God did not desire that his followers be granted salvation; rather, God demanded that his laws be obeyed and his will be done. A person, having obeyed Allah's will, can rest in the comfortable assumption that God would look upon him with favor in the afterlife. The Prophet’s injunction--“There is no compunction [compulsion] in religion”—does not mean, as Azad and others suggest, that God perceives the commonalty of all religious faiths; rather it means that those who convert to Islam, having perceived its greater truths, are now obliged to adhere to its greater demands, the foremost of these being obedience. Traditional Islamic clerics challenge you on this point, too. They say that God conferred on all mankind a free will: To deny people the choice to make decisions—even to err—is to deprive them of a God-given and this Godly right. These clerics believe that your formulation deprives Islam of its subtlety and complexity and transforms it into a rigid political program. Islam, the
traditionalists maintain, is a spiritual journey rather than an implement to effect political transformation. Moreover, political activism was a foolish delusion; all that happened was the will of God. If God sought to change political regimes, He would do so. To such arguments, you cite the body of the Qur’an, which sets forth laws and obligations; clearly God intends that man do as God intends, or else God would have had no reason to send the Prophet. The conservatives also argue that Islam has long upheld the principle of separation of church and state. The Prophet was succeeded by caliphs, spiritual leaders; and these have, for many centuries, guided the spiritual development of the faithful. The caliphs have not been responsible for governmental administration. You disagree emphatically with this mode of thinking. The Prophet himself ruled in Medina; and the first four caliphs to succeed him possessed immense powers. These four men, collectively called the Rashidun caliphate (A.D. 632-661) commanded armies and ruled governments. Under their leadership, Muslim warriors conquered much of North Africa and the Middle East. But over the past centuries, caliphs have functioned solely as spiritual leaders; sultans and other monarchs have directed the affairs of state—and in consequence Islam has been in a state of decline. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire portended the more general advance of secularization in Turkey; the decline of Mughal rule in India has precipitated a weakening of Islam there as well. Islam lost is vigor once caliphs surrendered temporal powers. Conversely, the revival of Islam requires the revival of Muslim League, Page 19 of 39
Islamic states; and Islamic states can succeed only when they embrace Islam as their governing foundation. Islam, you understand, is a way of life; a devout Muslim must adhere to its often demanding rules, which are subsumed under sharia—Islamic law. But it is difficult if not impossible to do so if the state in which Muslims live fails to hold to these principles. “A very large part of the Islamic system of law,” you wrote, “needs for its enforcement in all its details the coercive power and authority of the state.” [Editor’s note: you think this idea now; however, you do not set these exact words down on paper for another ten years, in 1955.] Traditional Islamic clerics not only cling to a wrong understanding of Muslim history, but they cling as well to the past. They view scientific advances with terror; you do not. You see scientific truths not as a challenge to Islam but as value-neutral elements of the modern world. For example, some mullahs refuse to use loudspeakers—“Muhammad never used them”—and thus thousands of Muslims cannot hear the Islamic God’s truths. But you disagreed with the mullahs. Science and technology were “pure” in origin; what was “impure” was the way they were used by “Western rebellious civilization.” are fascinated by science and technology; such forms of knowledge are not themselves bad, but, like any other forms of knowledge, they can be used for bad ends. You propose to use them to promote your faith. Islam is not against modernization; the Jama-at-e- Islami embraces modernism. “The approach of the Islamic movement,” you wrote, “is to . . . modernize without compromising on Islamic principles and values. . . . It says ‘yes’ to modernization but ‘no’ to blind Westernization.” You do not oppose Modernity; you wish to Islamize modernity. At first, the Jama-at did not take a stand on the creation of Pakistan, partl kistan would be run by the Muslim League and Jinnah, a secularist. More recently, however, you have agreed on Pakistan without explicitly endorsing the Muslim League as the organization that will supervise its governance. You indict Western thought, chiefly, for the following three errors: women’s emancipation, secularism, and nationalism. A selection of your actual writings and speeches follow. At the end of the ML packet is also a section containing Azad’s commentary on the Qur’an. Interview with Mawdudi
Question: In “Pakistan versus the Jewish State of Israel,” an essay you published in 1944, you outlined the reasons why a “Pakistan,” as proposed by the Muslim League, was a legitimate state while Israel was not. You also explained that while peoples are free to constitute a state as they see fit, the fact of the matter is that Pakistan is the offspring of the brotherhood of Islam. That state is, at once, a community of peoples who are cemented by a common ideology, and one of transcendent power and significance. Muslim League, Page 20 of 39
Mawdudi: “I don’t think that the demand for Pakistan is analogous to the world Jewry’s demand for a national homeland in Israel. As the Jews emigrated from that land two thousand years ago, they cannot now claim it to be their national home land. It can be regarded as their homeland only in the sense that Central Asia is the National Homeland of the German race that belongs to Aryan stock. The dinned of the Jews does not actually demand that there is a certain country which already constitutes their national homeland. Their actual position is that they have been brought from the four corners of the world to Palestine to be settled there and that the country should be recognized as their national homeland. “The basis of the demand for Pakistan on the other hand is that the areas of the Indian subcontinent where the Muslims happen to be in a majority are at present in their homeland, and that as the political status of this homeland of theirs will be jeopardized by remaining attached with the rest of India under the existing democratic system, they want to have an independent government of their own. They demand that instead of establishing a single government of United Free India, two independent governments should be formed—one of Hindu India and the other of Muslim India. In other words, all they want is that their separate national homeland which already exists should be given the choice to have its own independent government. “This is what every nation of the world desires. Now if the Muslim League wants to create a nation—Pakistan—that does not adhere to Islam, they are of course entitled to do so. We believe that every nation has the right to determine its own political and economic system. Thus the Muslim League can demand Pakistan and constitute it as seems right. However, there is one major flaw to this notion. The Muslim League seems content to call for a Muslim state—Pakistan —in blatant disregard for the fact that the foundation of this state is a brotherhood of people united by an ideology—Islam—the most comprehensive system of life the world has ever known. Had the League maintained the real and original position of theirs, the question of a national homeland for them and its independence would have been absolutely immaterial. In fact it would not have arisen at all. It sounds ironical that in an age when their numbers have swollen to millions, they have stooped below the goal of establishing a state within the bounds of a small territory. If they return to their original position of upholding the Islamic system, a single Muslim can claim for himself or rather for the system he upholds the right to rule over the entire world. If he strives to achieve this goal on the right lines his efforts can be crowned with success.” Question: In “Formal and Real Islam Differentiated,” a sermon you gave on April 20, 1945, you distinguish between those who profess a belief in Allah, and those who live their lives as true Muslims. Although this sermon had no explicit allusions to contemporary politics, the implication was clear: Muslims who imagine that they can go to work (and, by implication, enter political life) without regard for their religious beliefs deceive themselves. They do not deceive Allah. Mawdudi: “Brothers in Islam! “Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an: Muslim League, Page 21 of 39
Say, O Mohammad ! my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds; no associate has He and this is am commanded and I am of those who firs of all submit to Him. (6.162-163) “The verse of the Holy Book in the light of the following words of the Prophet (S.A.W.) of Allah: Whoever has made a friend and has done so for Allah; who ever has made enemies and has done so for Allah; whoever has given alms to anyone and has done so for Him; whoever has withheld alms from anyone and has done so for Him alone, has made his faith perfecta and has become faithful to his fingers’ tips. “According to the above verse of the Quran, Islam demands that man devote his life and death exclusively to Allah. Man should not associate anyone with Him. The Prophet’s explanation of the verse emphasizes that the essence of the faith is in that believers must love and conduct all their world’s affairs for Allah alone. In other words he can be Muslim in the real sense of the word only when his services, life and death, are intended exclusively for Allah. Unless he surrenders himself completely to Him, he cannot ever claim to be a true Muslim, leaving aside the possibility of his attaining to higher degrees of spiritual and moral perfection. The less dedicated he is to Allah, the less perfect he is as a Muslim. Some people think that complete surrender to Allah is needed only to open up the vistas of spiritual and moral excellence, but to be simply faithful or a believer in Islam, total surrender is not absolutely essential. Now, this is a misunderstanding created by the People’s inability to distinguish between formal Islam that conforms to Islamic law, and real Islam that alone is recognized by Allah. “In formal Islam the heat of the believer is not probed nor can it be probed. If he professes by word of mouth his belief in Allah, His Apostle (S.A.W.), the Qur’an and the life hereafter, he is admitted into the folds of Islam and will be treated as a Muslim. But it needs to be made clear that the foregoing formalities are meant for the affairs of this world only. The be-all and end-all of this is that those who profess belief in Islam acquire legal, social, and moral rights in the Islamic social set-up that entitles them to intermarry, inherit property, and establish other cultural bonds. But mere legal and formal profession of belief does not ensure one’s salvation and inclusion among Allah’s favorites in the life hereafter. What counts in that life is the acceptance of Islam with all one’s heart and complete surrender of one’s self to the Will of Allah. To Allah the entire inner self of man is open. What matters to Allah is the fact that you devote to Him only all that He gives you. When you do this you will enjoy the privileges reserved for His loyal servants. But if you exclude anything from His service you will falsify your profession that you have surrendered completely to the will of Allah. By such a false profession you can deceive the people of the world, continue to get yourself admitted to the Muslim society and acquire all those rights to which Muslims are entitled; but Allah cannot be taken in by your false profession of faith and will never give you a place among His faithful servants. “If you ponder over the distinction I have drawn between real and formal Islam, you will find that it would, in effect, make a lot of difference not only in the life hereafter but also in this world. There have always been, as there still are, two groups of Muslims. One group comprises those who profess belief in Allah and His Apostle and acknowledge Islam as their religion, but would keep their religion separate from other activities of life. Muslim League, Page 22 of 39
In this isolated realm of religion, they believe in Allah, offer their prayers to Him, solemnly tell their beads in praise of Him, partially abstain from what is forbidden and from entering into social relations disallowed by Islam. In short, they will do everything regarded as religious. But outside this realm, they would lead a life that has no smack of religion whatsoever. Their likes and dislikes, daily transactions, business activities, social relations and treatment of their families all are based on personal considerations and self-interest. Even the wars they wage are motivated by the prospects of material gains. They wish to have a distinct position of their own in all
capacities. As rulers, landlords, merchants and soldiers, their lives have nothing to do with Islam at all. “The other group of Muslims consists of those who are completely immersed in Islam. All their positions in life are submerged in their identity as Muslims. They play their different roles of fathers, sons, husbands, wives, merchants, landlords and workers as Muslims only. Their services, desires, ideas, opinions, likes and dislikes are all governed by the tenets of Islam only. Islam exercises complete control over their heads and hearts, their bellies and private parts, their life and limbs and their body and soul. Nothing that they claim to be theirs is independent of Islam, including their love and hatred. Their associations and conflicts, their acts of giving and withholding are all determined by Islam. Their Islam-oriented conduct is not confined to individuals alone but their entire collective life is based on Islamic principles. They exist as an entity for Islam and Islam only. “There is a world of difference between these two groups of Muslims. “Although the term ‘Musalaman’ legally applies to both of them, the first group has accomplished nothing in the history of Islam to be proud of. It has not a single achievement to its credit that might have made an indelible mark on the world history. In fact the Muslims of this very group have been responsible for the downfall of Islam. The predominance of such Muslims in the Islamic society led to the domination of the infidels over the affairs of the world and the Muslims, reduced as they were to an inferior position, had to be content with the freedom of belief. Allah never needed such Muslims. “This is not true of Islam alone. It holds good in case of other creeds as well. The standard bearers of every religious system have always been those who strictly adhered to its principles and lived and died to uphold them. Even in this modern age the true followers of a system or ideology are those who are faithful to it in all sincerity, are completely steeped in it and love it more than their own children. Every creed and every system needs such adherents who can alone ensure its success in the world. However, there is a difference between Islam and other creeds. Other systems that demand loyalty and devotion from their followers have actually no right to do so; for none of the things for the sake of which they require complete surrender of man’s life is not worth any sacrifice at all. Islam, on the contrary, has the rights to demand loyalty and dedication of its followers, for the sacrifices it calls for are all for the sake of Allah to whom alone is every sacrifice due. Everything in heaven and earth including man himself belongs to Him only. He is the Lord of whatever man possesses, whatever he has within him and whatever he makes use of. Any sacrifice man makes for others, for himself and for the gratification of his sensual desires in effect a breach of trust—except, of course, it is permitted by the Lord of the worlds, and whatever sacrifice man makes for Him is just the fulfillment of his obligation. Hence reason and justice demand that whatever belongs to Allah must be reserved for Him exclusively. Muslim League, Page 23 of 39
“I want you to do some self-searching to judge yourselves by the criterion faith has laid down in the Quran and the Hadith cited above. You claim that you have accepted Islam from the core of your heart. Just try to evaluate your lives by this criterion and see if your life and death are exclusively for Allah, you are living for Him and Him alone and all the powers of your head and heart, body and soul, and time and energy are being used to carry out His will and if you are busy performing the task He wants the Muslim Ummah to accomplish. Have you really devoted your services exclusively to Him? Have you shaken off the yoke of several desires, the love of your family, your community, society, and government? Have you subjected your likes and dislikes to the pleasure of Allah? Is your love and hatred for anyone because of Him alone? Is it for him that you give or withhold anything and for no one else? If you are sure that you have attained this height of moral and spiritual perfection, you should thank Allah for enriching you with all the requisites of faith. But if you find that you are still lacking in this respect, then you ought to think out ways and means to remove the deficiency and concentrate all your efforts on making it up for
your salvation in this life as well as the life to come hinges upon the perfection of your faith. The greatest success and the most outstanding achievement in the world cannot make amends for this deficiency and the loss resulting therefrom.â€? (Proceedings of Jamaat-e-Islami, vol. 3)