Sunday, December 16, 2012

Post-Colonial Muslim Mind & Qur’an

When Islamic ummah encountered modernity in 19th-20th century, it 'fragmented into disunited pieces', with profound and far-reaching consequences for their relation with Islam as a world-view, affecting all aspects of traditional Islamic societies, from education to politics, from governance to family systems. According to Burhan Ahmed Farooqi [1], this created two classes of mind-sets with distinct world-views: a Traditional Islamic mindset that traced its roots to divine revelation of Islam; and, a modernized mindset, trained in modern educational systems, which felt more at home with all things with Western. Modernized Muslims ascended to the ranks of power and rule Muslims masses with aspirations to westernize their countries in totality. Traditional Islam, and its political elite, lost its sway with the replacement of Shariah Law with Roman or English or French law; although cultural aspects of Muslim societies continued to survive, albeit with constant losing battles with the monoculture of West.

Leadership was transferred to modernized-Muslims who were completely hopeless of Quran as a source of minhaaj, a way of solving problems both at individual and societal levels [2]. With their utter hopelessness in Qur’anic worldview, modernized Muslims looked up to knowledge produced by human capacity as a way of solving all of their problems. The root cause of this hopelessness may be explained as a result of trauma that Muslims went through after their political subjugation at the hands of West that resulted in disbelief in the power of their own Tradition. During this process, Muslims developed deep sense of inferiority complex, which according to many scholars is the root problem of Muslims which stops them from realizing potential of being a Muslim and final revelation from Allah.

What led to this state of affairs? Syed Abu Hassan Nadvi (r.a.) argues [3] that following were main reasons that led to Westernization of many Muslim countries, especially India, Egypt and Turkey:

Western educational system which indoctrinated in a more subtle way superiority of Western civilization as a poison that led to death of authentic worldview of Islam

Orientalism modernized Muslim scholars relied a lot upon research and analysis done by Orientalists to understand Islam and its history – those eyeglasses were also contaminated that blurred the vision of Muslims

Decline of Muslim Intellectuality Muslims, largely, failed to respond proactively to the change in their surroundings and could not respond to challenge of modernity.

We can understand that these factors are pertinent and relevant today, since these at work creating more hopelessness in Muslims from Qur’an, as being a way of solving our problems. We only need to reverse this process through a (maybe unending) intellectual struggle, and to take Qur’an as a minhaaj to solve our individual and societal diseases and challenges of modernity.
[1] See, Minhaaj-ul-Quran, by Dr. Burhan Ahmed Farooqi
[2] Ibid
[3] Nadvi, Syed Abu Hassan. Muslim Mumalik mein Islamiat aur Maghribiat ki Kashmakash (1980) – "The struggle between Islamization and Westernization in Muslim Countries." Karachi: Majlis-e-Nashriyate Islam


  1. Mr Toor,
    Islam is the most modern religion, but the irony is modernists don’t seem to realise its true value.
    The religion of Islam upsets all other “isms” because the isms are “man-made,” whereas Islam is the Divine truth beyond doubt.
    The Qur’an being the true and final word of GOD needs to be properly understood and practised.
    No hypocrites please!
    And, the Westerners should be looking at it with open mind.
    I am sure if they let them be familiar with the logic seen throughout the noble Qur’an, they would be certainly be more than convinced about the logic and sense of the most modern word of the Creator.

    Let’s not allow Deen-e-Islam to be seen as ‘man-made,’ because it’s absolutely not.

    The Muslims should free themselves from inferiority complex.
    As, Islam is a way of life for the most intelligent and modern people.
    Islam teaches moderation as a way of life, where everything is based on genuine foundations of TRUTH.
    Thus; those who have seen Islam with contaminated eye glasses, must go for a rapid change of their misperception otherwise they would remain losers.
    Nevertheless, the Muslim intellectuals are morally obligated to sincerely educate those ill-informed about the true information of Islam.

  2. Thanks a lot for the illuminating reply.

    It's Muslim intellectuals top duty today. Situation is getting better. Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who waged this war against Western ideologies and philosophies from Islamic point of view at the highest philosophical, scientific and metaphysical, says:

    Q. Do you see new intellectual minds emerging in the Muslim world?

    Definitely! Fifty years ago there were only two types of intellectuals in the Islamic world. One were those traditional ulama — great scholars of Arabic, theology and Islamic law — and the other type of intellectuals were totally Westernized intellectuals, but God does not figure in Western scientific thought. But 50 years later, now, we have a number of younger intellectuals in Turkey itself, in Malaysia, in Indonesia, in Iran, in Pakistan — mostly in these five countries. Even when they write about Derrida and Heidegger, they try to speak from the perspective of a Muslim tradition. This is a very, very good sign. We didn’t have that 50 years ago. I have a lot of hopes for the future, and I spent all my life trying to create that. InshaAllah [God-willing] something will come out of it.