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To the Defence of the Islamic Movement and the Pioneers of Islamic Renaissance

There seems to be an attempt in the local press here to put the whole Islamic movement in bad light and distort all the relevant facts in order to discredit and taint the image of the Islamic Renaissance. The whole process of Islamisation appears to at risk at least in the arena of media and mass communications. Articles, reports and letters and press announcements are made in a build up to attack the credibility and favourable public standing of the Islamic Movement and its leaders. The despicable accusations posted as is familiar with secular circles anywhere range from being labelled as misguided or strayed from true Islamic teachings, being foreign agents to being religious extremists bent in some sort of menacing way. Unfortunately, all of this is done just promote and extend the political life of someone who deems himself indispensable.

They have the gall to slander reformers and great modern Muslim thinkers like Jamaluddin Al Afghani, Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Ridha. If they had criticised or tried to analyse to rebut arguments , it would be true to the traditions of healthy Islamic debate. But, it was not so for it was plain baseless untruth. They even undertook to hurl vile accusations and lies against Imam Hasan al Banna and the pioneering Muslim movement of the present century, the Ikhwan al Muslimoon and the Jamaat i Islami. By the very meaning of its name, the Muslim Brotherhood or the Jamaat is a cause to bring about Muslim fraternity and collective spirit. None of its teachings ever advocated violence, disorder or rebellion. It promoted truth and justice. It premiered education and training as its major feature. It advocated the call to righteousness and good deeds and opposed evil and oppression. It showed valour in the fight against the Zionist usurpers of the holy land of Palestine.

More importantly, the past sages and the movement that followed them brought the idea and consciousness for reform - islah and tajdid - reform and renewal. Change to revitalise faith and practise of good deeds in Islam to reaffirm taqwa and transform society into a more righteous, equitable and civil community where the principles of tawhid and the guidance of the Al Qur'an and the Sunnah, way of the Prophet Rasulullah (peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) are cherished and followed. Renewal in rejuvenating subservience, Iman and taqwa - belief and God consciousness in Allah the Almighty . These are modes of reform required for the revival of the ummah as according to the standards of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

The movement Islamic revival is the most positive aspiration of the Muslim community to re-establish itself in the midst of resisting the dominance of materialism and narrow minded nationalism. The names given were sahwatul Islam, wa'yul Islam, nahdah al islam, futuhatul Islam or others such as Islamic renaissance, Islamisation, rise, resurgence, reawakening and the like. The revival seek to enlighten the world and the ummah on the greatness of Islam and its solution for a present world which is becoming devout of reason and direction. The movement offered an alternative not an ultimatum for the Islamic movement only had to offer the teachings of Islam, the noble guidance of the Qur'an and the way of the final Messenger of Allah. It wanted to express itself in the present conditions of society being participative in all social, economic and political fields. It suggested to the ummah to reflect upon itself as their own civilisation and upright culture with morals par excellence. Instead of being on the receiving end of society and importing all things to come in terms of knowledge, politics, literature, science and technologically etc, the ummah can offer itself, built upon its own heritage and treasures, selectively developing, extending relations and networks on a multi cultural-civilisational plane and engaging in equal dialogue without fear, humility or ignorant rejection.

To lead such a movement needs its thinkers, the leaders, the workers, the support and the will of the ummah to be with it and also to allay the fears of the national leaders who are wary of political challenges due to their own ignorance of their culture and past or their secular bringing up and the circumstances which are distant from reform and had tied them up politically. The movement has all the while tried to impress upon national leaders to accept it as an integral part of society and to be partners in nation building or to compete fairly and honourably in the democratic process for the agenda of the movement is the agenda of the ummah.

The movement also faces the phobia and the prejudice of the West. This is of no wonder because as Muhammad Abduh once said, the good of the religion is hidden by the bad conduct of its adherents, in this case the Muslims' own national leaders. This suspicion has been based on a historical past continued throughout the era of colonisation and impounded by the conflicts in Palestine and other areas where Muslims bear the brunt of injustices and oppression. To the dominating trend of Western thought of Islam, they look upon it mystifyingly but always try to reduce it to terms that fit in to their logic of things and what is politically right. The domination of information systems and the mass media allows them to continue to propagate slander towards the intentions of the Islamic movement though some of their academics and researchers are more open in their thought. Such slanted remarks and association with terrorism and extremism earns high marks in the Israeli circles and also is generalised as acceptable fare to the American and the European notwithstanding that the biggest terror on earth of the present century were brought about by Hitler of Fascist Germany, Stalin of the Communist Soviet Union, the Israelis in Palestine and the Serbs of Bosnia Herzegovina. This does not mean that the list is limited for if we take into account the records of the USA, Japan, Britain, France, Dutch, Belgian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italy and the other colonial powers, we would clearly see who it was that perpetrated such terror at will upon subjugated subjects. Nowhere in the Muslim world did such massive atrocity occur and no Muslim movement ever perpetrated such viciousness.

Of course, the Islamic movement supported the struggles for liberation and freedom from domination, imperialism and aggression. For the Muslim movement itself is the movement for thought, freedom and justice. It has always tried the approach of dakwah, dialogue, calling and extolling itself and its supporters as a model, as an example as in dakwah bil hikmah and dakwah bil hal. It cannot seek dialogue with aggression but it has never started any wars or violence, no matter how hard its detractors tried to frame it with far fetched and far flung incidences..

The present century started and carried with it the names of thinkers and leaders, reformers of the Islamic movement whether by direct involvement or their influence or presence. They were to name a few but the list maybe endless too if there were more research and publicity: Jamaluddin al Afghani, Rashid Ridha, Hasan al Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Muhammad Iqbal, Abul Ala Mawdudi, Abul Hasan An Nadwi, Malik Ben Nabi, Ibrahim al Jazairy, Ali Shariati. Khomeini, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi. They were not perfect but they struggled valiantly to become inspirations for the younger generation of the ummah.

Let us start the new millennium by commemorating their achievements and contributions and renewing the movement of reform if only to seek the pleasure and grace of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

Next: Islamisation and the Islamic Movement in Malaysia: an Overview. (to be continued)

Hamdan Muhammad Hassan

30 March 1999.

[Currently, he is a Senior Civil Engineer at the University Science of Malaysia. He is involved in youth activities with the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia. He is also the President for the Muslim Staff Association in his university.]

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