Here are my comments on the new article by Dr. Javed Akbar Ansari

My disagreement with him is on purely a practical level, and not on an ideological level. He suggests a strategy that might lead to success. I believe that, in the current configuration of powers, the forces aligned against this strategy are too heavy and chances of successes so slim, that I would consider it as a waste of energy. To make an analogy, suppose someone has a 100 dedicated soldiers, while the enemy has an army of 10,000. It would be grave mistake to go into a frontal attack in this situation. This is the situation where guerilla tactics are called for. We must capture uncontested areas. Alternatively, if there are many gates in a city, and a few of them are unguarded, while the majority are heavily guarded, then it would be mistake to attack the heavily guarded gates — instead, a wise commander would sneak in via the unguarded gates. 

I agree that all contemporary institutions of modern society are geared to promote capitalistic goals in an integrated and harmonious fashion. The biggest problem is not these institutions, but the capitalist values that have taken root in the hearts of Muslims. This is something which cannot be avoided when we live in an environment like this. Nothing can be acheived without doing Tazkiya, cleansing our own hearts. However, Islam is unique in that it does not require us to withdraw into a cave and meditate in order to achieve Tazkiya. Syed Ahmed Shaheed told his soldiers that their military drills were their Zikr — even though he himself was a great Sufi and well trained in the spiritual dimensions. Similarly, we can achieve Tazkiya by engaging with the world in the right manner. This requires many different re-conceptualizations. Unfortunately, in my own engagements with people of political Islam, I have found that they have only a shallow understanding of the message of Moulana Maudoodi, which is far deeper. I find that followers think in a two stage way. They think that GHALBA is the first and primary goal, and that this must be achieved at all costs. Only ONCE this GHALBA is achieved would be possible to work on other aspects of Islam, like spirituality Tazkiya etc. This is also close to what Dr JAA suggests, saying that without GHALBA nothing can be done. Tazkiya is wasted efforts without GHALBA because one cannot maintain a clean heart in a dirty environment. 

There are TWO IMPORTANT points on which I would differ from this analysis. 

1- Islam teaches us PROCESS oriented thinking rather than OUTCOME oriented thinking. Our job is to be aligned with the forces of the good, to struggle in the best possible manner — it does not matter whether we win or lose. This requires re-conceptualizing the battlefield. Our real struggle — the greater Jihad — is with our own Nafs, and not with external forces. If we carry out the struggle according to rather complex rules described in the Quran and Hadeeth, then this struggle to (apparently) achieve power, will actually lead to purification of the soul. This is a rather subtle point which I have found escapes most people, especially those involved in active struggles for power. TO illustrate it consider the Quran which says that you should give in charity to purify yourself (of the love of wealth). Now most people mis-interpret the Quran and think that the order of Charity is about helping the poor (and not about Tazkiya). In this case, we can FORCE people to give in charity, which would acheive the goal of helping the poor, but NOT the goal of TAZKIYA. Now there is a lot of evidence that TAZKIYA is the more important goal, while helping the poor is only secondary — so forcing people to give is to sacrifice the greater goal to achieve the lesser goal.  PROCESS oriented thinking taught to the Sahaba by Islam lead to a radical change in actions. Those who strive for VICTORY — the apparent purpose of Jihad — would never ask to become Shaheed — that would be counterproductive, leading to loss instead of victory. They would instead make dua to be able to kill a lot of Kafirs and to achive victory. 

2A-Their is a TWO-STEP mentality where often the first step is in the wrong direction, and cannot get us to where we want to go. One example is this that first we get GHALBA by any means possible and then later we will practise Islam. This means we can compromise on the principles of Islam to get Ghalba. Actually the goal is to achieve closeness to Allah, and that is something directly experienced — so if we carry out the struggle for the Deen in the right spiritual manner, we will see the success in the battlefield of our own heart, and that will motivate us to carry on  — as opposed to this, if we look for success in the external battlefield then we will be discouraged by failure and give up. Instead of a two step approach, we need to carrry on both struggles simultaneously, and give primacy to the spiritual struggles.

2B- I believe that struggles carried out at the NATIONAL level — again a two step approach, first we make Pakistan Islamic and THEN we turn to the Ummah — cannot succeed. Because Nations are a poisonous Western invention designed to divide and conquer the Muslims. As Iqbal said — in Taza Khudaon main bara sab say Vatan hay, jo pairhan iska hay wo mazhab ka Kafan hay. If you look at history you that feudal landlords were defeated by cities, which were defeated by nations. An organization at a higher level achieves a strength which cannot be matched by a lower level organization. If we aim to create something ENTIRELY NEW (like the West created the NATION) namely a united Ummah which acts in harmony — this would again require RE-CONCEPTUALIZING the goals of our efforts and how to achieve this unity. No one is thinking about it currenlty because we have fallen into the two step trap laid by the Shyateen of the West. To think about the Nation is to think about strengthening the forces which are dividing the Ummah.

These are my thoughts, but Allah T’aala knows best. 

Asad Zaman 

Vice Chancellor, PIDE

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