Lumière pour le peuple



Les remparts


In addition to the confusion caused by the bamboozling terminologies and jargon, the economic issue of mankind has become more complicated because it has been removed from the main body of the greater issue:

“The greatest issue facing man in his life is how to acquit himself well of the responsibilities set heavily upon his shoulders as deputy to his Lord and His viceregent on earth. These responsibilities devolve on him as an individual member of a family, of a society and as a citizen of a state. The multi-dimensional nature of his obligations has been categorised broadly as Rights of Allah and Rights of His subjects. Whatever one has by way of the life-span given to him, health, physical strength, intellectual faculties and personal assets and resources are gifts from the All-Merciful. He is not the master but the custodian of each and everything he has been blessed with and will have to account for it on the Day of Reckoning:

Then, on that Day, you will be called to account for all the bounties you enjoyed (102:8).

This is the biggest challenge before man and the greatest issue for which he is required to carefully plan his multifaceted life and satisfy himself, before anybody else, that he has acquitted himself well to the best of his capabilities and has no dues to settle either of the Lord or His subjects.”

This higher issue of life concerns the morality of human beings therefore attempts have been made to handle it in isolation as an independent question; such an approach has gradually led to the economic question being viewed as the main issue of life in its entirety. This is a mistake even greater than ignoring other issues of human life, as a result of which the confusion has become even worse. The paradox can be better understood if we take as an example the case of a specialist physician trying to treat his patient’s infected liver by focusing his entire attention on the diseased organ without caring to check at the same time its role, functions and impact on other parts of the anatomy. Similarly, one can easily understand the effectiveness, or otherwise, of attempting to solve all the problems of human health by treating just one infected limb. The economic problem is just one of a host of complex issues facing human beings, and any attempt to resolve it independent of the multifarious other issues of human life, in the narrow context of economics alone, is bound to result in nothing but chaos, confusion and desperation.

Specialisation may be a blessing in certain cases, but it has generally led today to an unfortunate tendency to compartmentalise life and an inability to take a holistic approach towards the issues facing mankind. It has actually added to the complexity of these issues. The human being today has been reduced to a plaything in the hands of the one-eyed experts of different sciences, arts and crafts. For a leading physicist, the mysteries of the universe can be resolved only through physics; while one who specialises in psychology seeks to formulate his entire philosophy of life on the strength of his perceptions and experiments in his own field. To somebody who is focused exclusively on the gender dimension, human life would appear to revolve entirely around the issue of sex. In the same way, those devoted to economics would like to assure humanity that its sole problem is how to earn a living, and everything else is only a peripheral matter. The fact remains, however, that all of these are some of the various facets of human life. Each one has its own place and role and is part of the same SINGULARITY. The corporeal frame of man is governed by the laws of nature, and as such he is the subject of physics. And yet he consists not just of his body, which could be handled entirely under the laws of physics in order to resolve his problems. He is also a living being on whom the biological laws apply and is therefore part of the subject matter of biology. But he is not simply a biological substance, governed entirely under the terms of biology or zoology, as he needs food, clothing and shelter to survive. Hence, economics covers an important part of his social existence; but he is not merely a social animal whose life can be confined to the domain of his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Mankind is compelled to rely on procreation for continuing the species, and for this there is an instinctive attraction towards sex. As a result, sexology and genealogy assume a significance for life, but he is not simply a breeder intended exclusively to propagate his progeny. He is endowed with a psyche as well, and is thus gifted with powers of perception, discernment, feelings, emotions and ambitions. Viewed from this backdrop, psychology would appear to encompass a major part of life. But the psyche is just a little part of the whole self and, therefore, the entire scheme of life cannot be laid out on the basis of psychology alone. Man is also a social being with a civilisational legacy that impels him to live with his fellow humans, and as such many aspects of life are governed by the rules of sociology. But even this is just one aspect of a human’s multifaceted life, making it impossible for sociologists to work out a comprehensive plan for life. A human being is also a rational being, and has an urge for logic and reasoning beyond the realms of feelings and emotions. From this perspective, logic occupies an important place in life. However, a man is not reason reincarnate, able to lead his entire life on the basis of logic and reasoning alone. He is also a moral and spiritual being who has within himself the instinctive capability to distinguish between good and bad, and an unending urge to scry into realities beyond the realm of the known and visible facts. Morality and spirituality are thus two other vital facets of human being’s personality; but no one is simply a personification of these two segments, so that they could base the entire scheme of their life on the twin foundations of morality and spirituality.

In fact, a human being is a happy blend of all these and much more at the same time. In addition to the various facets of personality mentioned above, there is yet another equally important aspect: a human is also part of the cosmic order’s grand scheme. A code of conduct for life must also, therefore, be necessary in order to determine mankind’s position in that ORDER and how one must discharge his responsibilities as a component. Man must also identify his goal in life and reflect on how to achieve that goal. These are in fact the two fundamental issues facing a human being, and a philosophy of life emerges from these, which then leads all the sciences concerning mankind and the universe to offer the relevant data that eventually help to develop a plan of action in the grand scheme of things.

Evidently, a person who desires to understand the issue of life should not concentrate simply on that area, or to look at the whole spectrum of life with a definite bias in favour of that particular issue. For a clear perception and understanding, one has to look at each issue in the broader context of the entire life and without a blurred vision. Similarly, if someone notices a tilt somewhere in the harmony and balance of life and is keen to remove that tilt and restore the balance, it is more risky for him to tackle that problem and focus his attention entirely on one piece, rather than attempting to treat the malaise in a holistic manner. The correct way to REFORM is to focus on the entire spectrum of life, without any bias or tilt, comprehensively keeping in view each minutest detail and then pinpointing the afflicted part and the actual nature of the disease.

The difficulty that is being faced in achieving a correct diagnosis and treatment of the economic problem is a result of this partial approach. There are those who believe that it is a problem that only concerns economics. There are others who tend to overstress the significance of this aspect, and believe it is the very problem of life; while yet others hold that the life’s basic philosophy, manners and morals, indeed the entire social set-up, need to be remodeled on the foundations of economics. The fact remains, however, that overstressing the importance of economics ignores the fundamental difference that is there between a man’s goal in life and that of the cattle, whose sole objective in life is nothing more than feeding on lush green grass and keeping their stomachs full. It is this goal that determines the cattle’s actions in the pastures and meadows of the world. The pre-eminence of the economic approach in the realms of morality, spirituality, logic, sociology, psychology and other human sciences is bound, therefore, to create a great imbalance, because economics offers no basis for those facets of human life except when spirituality and morality are allowed to degenerate into materialism and self-aggrandisement, when the power of reason turns into the power of the palate, when the entire realm of the social sciences recedes into commercialism and psychology starts to treat man merely as a

-social animal-



Le château


The Muslim contribution to ethics stressed the necessity of inner integrity. Since mysticism is concerned with the disciplines of personal purification, training the will and the attitudes, the emphasis is more on INNER states than on conforming to external norms or patterns of behaviour.

Mystics tend to emphasize practice rather than abstract theory.

From the mystical point of view, self-knowledge and self-purification are necessary preconditions to a more perfect knowledge of God. The self has to be cleansed of false pride, anger, and greed; the required virtues are patience and sobriety.

The mystical writer al-Ghazali presented his stance as follows:

“First examine your own condition and if you find there one blameworthy thing then be tolerant of what you see in your brother. So do not be too heavy on him on account of one blameworthy trait – what man is completely upright? Wherever you find yourself lacking in your duty to God, do not expect as much from your brother in his duty to you, for your right over him is not greater than God’s right over you. Second, you know that were you to seek for someone free of all blemish you would exhaust the entire Creation without ever finding a companion. For there is not one human being who does not have both good qualities and bad, and if the good outweigh the bad that is the most that can be hoped for. The noble believer always keep present in himself the good qualities of his brother, so that his heart may be the source of honour, affection and respect. As for the hypocrite of low character, he is always noticing misdeeds and faults. This is why the Prophet said: Seek refuge with God from the bad neighbour who sees some good and conceals it, sees some bad and reveals it.

There is no-one at all whose condition cannot be improved in some respects, or made worse. The source of deficiency in veiling another’s shame, and of striving to display it, is a hidden disease of the Inner, namely rancour and envy. For the rancorous and envious has his inner full of dirt, but keeps it imprisoned in his Inner, conceals it and does not show it has long as he lacks a pretext. But when he finds an opportunity the restraint is released, the reserve is abandoned, and the Inner sweats with its hidden dirt.

Ibn Abbas reported the Messenger of God as saying: Do not dispute with your brother-in-faith, do not mock him, and do not go back on your promise to him. He also said: You will not win people with your wealth. What will win them is a cheerful face and a good character.”

The phrase -for your right over him is not greater than God’s right over you- is a very important instance of Muslim ethical seriousness. The individual’s personal, emotional reactions to the behaviour of others, his hurt feelings, his jealousy, should be disregarded as much as possible. From this mystical perspective, the well-being of others takes priority over the needs of the individual. The reason is that the individual is to trust in God and not to be overly preoccupied with his or her own condition. The virtues are thus seen to flourish as part of an on-going process whereby the intentions of the individual are increasingly directed away from preoccupation with self. Religious development is a process of maturation. The virtues flower as the self develops. Therefore the structures of society are to be ordered so that all possible obstacles to the full blossoming of human potential can be removed. The end of existence is to bear witness to the attributes of God.

Ethical thinking for Muslims thus ranges over many kinds of concerns. It includes perfecting one’s self and an interest in moral training. It also covers the intellectual procedures of the scholars concerned with principles of jurisprudence and the interest of theologians in discussing the relationship between reason and revelation.



La tour


Mawdudi’s position on such key Islamic doctrines as jihad was more conservative than those of other revivalist thinkers and limited revolutionary activism. In 1948 he rejected the validity of a jihad declared by the government in Kashmir during a ceasefire with India. Pakistan had let it be known that the jihad was declared by local religious leaders and was undertaken by volunteer fighters. Mawdudi rejected the validity of a jihad so declared, stating that it could only be proclaimed by a government. Nor did Mawdudi accept purely political or revolutionary readings of the doctrine of jihad. He argued that it must not denote:

“a crazed faith, blood-shot eyes, shouting God is greater; decapitating an unbeliever wherever they see one, cutting off heads while invoking there is no god but Allah – the very terms in which jihad and its revivalist advocates are seen today.”

Jihad, Mawdudi went on to explain,

“is not war, but a struggle – a struggle not in the name of Allah but along the path set by Allah”.

There is little here to distinguish Mawdudi’s position from that of the learned, who divided jihad into a greater and a lesser struggle, the former against one’s soul and the latter against Islam’s enemies.

Over the years, Mawdudi’s position softened further. In 1939 he declared the military jihad to be a weapon of last resort when it pointed to a path of victory for Islam. In 1954 he told Justice Muhammad Munir and the Court of Inquiry into the Punjab Disturbances that jihad could only be declared when the country was actually, and not potentially, at war, and then only if the war was against the Abode of Non-Muslims.

Mawdudi was more or less oblivious to the socio-economic issues that are generally at the heart of mass support for a revolutionary movement. More often than not, he even seemed to swim against the current. In the 1950s, when he openly opposed Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan’s land reform in the Punjab, he went so far as to justify feudalism by pointing to Islam’s protection of property rights and to caution the government against punishing all property owners for the excesses of a few. Mawdudi later moderated his defense of feudalism by arguing that the issue should be dealt with in full compliance with Islamic law and the protection for right to property, thus shifting the emphasis from the merits of feudalism to the Islamicity of government actions. Then, however, he again cautioned the government not to tamper with lawful Feudalism; this was hardly an attitude in keeping with a popular revolutionary agenda.

The ambiguity inherent in Mawdudi’s use and misuse of Western terms also caused confusion among his coterie. Kaukab Siddiq, a onetime Jamat stalwart and translator of Mawdudi into English, understood him in clearly Marxist terms, and Siddiq’s translations of Mawdudi bear the imprint of that bias, possibly confusing what Mawdudi actually meant. In an interpretive extrapolation from Mawdudi’s ideas, Siddiq wrote that the Islamic state would be,

“a society in which everyone is a Caliph of God, and an equal participant in this caliphate, (and) cannot tolerate class divisions of birth and social position. All men enjoy equal status and position in such a society”.

The differences between Mawdudi and Siddiq on that point finally led to a parting of the ways. Mawdudi did not like Siddiq’s openly Marxist rendition of his views, and Siddiq realised that in his search for revolution he had entangled himself in the wrong movement. The ambiguity caused by the use of the term revolution continues to generate contradictory formulations and actions to this day.

After the revolution in Iran and, later, the advent of the war in Afghanistan between its people and the Soviet Union, in 1980-1981 the debate over REVOLUTION sharpened. The Iranian revolution broke out the year Mawdudi died, so the debate that followed was based on various interpretations of his teachings. By virtues of its success, the Iranian revolution put the Jamat’s passive notion of Islamic revolution in question, as did the Afghan war that followed. Qazi Husain Ahmad, leader of the Jamat since 1987 and formerly a liaison of the Jamat with the Afghan mujahidin, argued that

“the Afghan case stands as the only tangible victory for Islam; the Jamat can boast no such victory”.

Jamat members today seem to talk of revolution more than they once did, reflecting the greater visibility of the debate over the issue in the party’s ranks. Still, references are often qualified by the explanation that revolution does not necessarily involve cataclysmic social upheaval, only a drastic change in society’s conception of religion and its aims.

Some of Jamat’s leaders, notably Sayid As’ad Gilani (the amir of Lahore), favor the Iranian model. Gilani believes that Mawdudi’s ideas should be reinterpreted to allow the Jamat to pursue real revolution. If the Jamat espouses an Islamic revolution, it should also commit itself to a revolutionary STRUGGLE.

The examples of Iran and Afghanistan have proven to this group that revolution works.

The difference with the Iranian and Afghan models is that they could require the Jamat to dissociate itself from the state and to reject an order it had recognised for the past four decades as sufficiently legitimate for it to support. The Jamat would have to emulate Sayyid Qutb and declare Pakistan a thoroughly pagan society. Not only is such an about-face difficult, but many Jamat activists think it would cause more damage than any gain it could generate. Abdul Ghafur Ahmad and his followers are committed to the political process in Pakistan. They believe that the Jamat has gained from its commitment to the electoral process and see no benefit in rekindling revolutionary fervor in a party that has already routinised its revolutionary zeal. The position of this group is strengthened by the ever-present power and influence of Mawdudi’s teachings among a great number of both the rank-and-file and the leadership.

Revolutionary action has time and again been placed before the Jamat’s Council and is also widely debated in the party ranks. Thus far, the Jamat has not been successful in any election and is unlikely to be so, so long as elections are controlled by the traditional elite – landlords and their patronage systems; therefore, the upshot of the debate has been that the Jamat is not yet ready to turn revolutionary but remains open to such a possibility. Its objectives are definite, argue the Jamat leadership, and its methods can remain open to interpretation and adaptation based on the exigencies of the moment. The issue underlines the uncertainty that surrounds the concept of revolution in the Jamat. More important, it attests to the fact that what Mawdudi meant by revolution is not the same thing as what many observers of Islamic revivalism have understood to mean.


It is clear from the foregoing that Mawdudi, despite his frequent use of the idiom and symbols of revolution, did not advocate socio-political change on the kind or scale that can be described as revolution in Western terms. It is also apparent that he imparted a particular meaning to the term. The question that arises, then, is if Mawdudi did not mean revolution as it is commonly understood in the Western world when he used the word, what did he mean? His Islamic revolution was to be a gradual and evolutionary process of cultural, social, and political reform, whose objective was to be Justice and Benevolence, understood not in socio-economic terms, but in ethical ones. The obstacles to Islamic revolution were not social consciousness, distribution of resources, or any other of the usual postulates of Western thinkers, but Immorality and Evil.

Mawdudi’s focus on the ethical nature of revolution, rather than the economic and political natures of it, flew in the face of conventional notions. Having appropriated the myth of revolution, he then eviscerated it by applying it to a utopian socio-political order that existed in some indefinite future. Action was no longer decisive; zeal was to be sublimated. This is in direct contrast with Iran, where Islamic revolutionary ideology appropriated all the paraphernalia of Western ideological movements and political religions, to which it added the promise of otherworldly SALVATION. Mawdudi’s discourse on revolution resembled the Iranian model in that it sought to produce an ideological outlook that utilised Western ideas, but instead of invoking revolutionary activism, his -promise of otherworldly salvation- suspended it. Their efforts on behalf of the Islamic state had not been in vain; they would be rewarded in the hereafter. It was more important that they stay the course:

“Even if the current methods of struggle takes a century to bear fruit, a nonviolent movement shall be our way”.

Hence, what Mawdudi meant by the term revolution was a process of changing the ethical basis of society, which should begin at the top and permeate into the lower levels. It was a process of cultural engineering based on definite criteria and postulates, which not only would shape the society in the image of Religion, but would also prepare the ground for an Islamic state. Other social dialectics or aspirations, such as changes in the social structure, were not central to this process and, at any rate, could be accommodated within the framework of the Islamic state.

If this message is directed at a specific class, or social stratum, it is to the society’s leaders.

Revolution, stated during a Jamat gathering in 1945, did not involve the society entirely; it is a,

Revolution in Leadership; انقلاب إمامة

“It is not the people’s thoughts which changes society but the minds of the society’s movers and leaders, societies are built, structured, and controlled from the top down by conscious manipulation of those in power”.

Inherent in this view is a greater emphasis on human resolve and volition than Western interpretations of revolution allowed:

“Strengthening the faith and moral ethics of Muslims is our primary concern and problem. Unless this task is accomplished no scheme of reform, regardless of how attractive it may look on paper, would be attainable.” Change in the hearts and minds of individuals from the helm of the society downward through an educational process – a Davah effort – and without any other socio-political catalysts would ipso facto culminate in an Islamic revolution.

This attitude probably arose from Mawdudi’s own change of heart and reconversion to Islam during the 1928 – 1932 period. It was first introduced by him during the convocation ceremonies of the Muslim Anglo Oriental College of Amritsar in 1940. His proposals at Amritsar were translated into policy guidelines during the Jamat’s first forum of education, held in Pathankot in 1944. It certainly predated the creation of Pakistan and was therefore not rooted in the vicissitudes of Pakistani politics.

Mawdudi used education not so much to rejuvenate religious observance as to train a cadre of dedicated and pious men who would be charged with initiating, leading, and subsequently protecting the Islamic revolutionary process. Mawdudi predicted that they would ultimately assume the reins of government and thenceforth oversee the process of Islamisation:

“An Islamic state does not spring into being all of a sudden like a miracle; it is inevitable for its creation that in the beginning there should grow up a movement having for its basis the view of life, the ideal existence, the standard of morality, and the character and spirit which is in keeping with the fundamentals of Islam”.

Education was a primary agent in Mawdudi’s conception of revolution; it gave shape to the leadership cadre and served as the impetus for the unfolding of the revolution from the apex of the society to its base. It lay at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary ideology and had to precede the revolution because it prepared the ground for the successful institution of the Islamic state.

“A state-system based on belief in sovereignty of God and in a sense of responsibility to Him requires for its successful working a special type of individual mass-character and peculiar mental attitude”.

It was also with a view to fulfilling this objective that the Jamat created its student union, Islami Jamiat Tulabah, to spread Mawdudi’s influence to Pakistan’s future leaders. There are interesting parallels here with fundamentalist Protestant movements and Catholic movements of re-Christianisation. The Jamat’s emphasis on education aims at permeating the power structure thus influencing future socio-political developments in the country.

Mawdudi’s demand that society first be educated in Islam and prepared for the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic state stood in clear contrast to the approaches of Ayatollah Khomeini and General Zia Haq, both of whom used state power to carry out Islamisation and therefore placed primary importance on the struggle for political power. Mawdudi did not sympathise with their enthusiasm for an only-political solution and saw Islamisation as an organic process that should emerge from the social culture and only then culminate in the Islamic state. In contrast to Khomeini, Mawdudi regarded the Islamic revolution as essentially a peaceful process. Education would guarantee greater adherence to Religon and harmonise society, thereby reducing the need for force in the revolutionary process. The Islamic revolution, Mawdudi implied, would become more, not less, peaceful as it unfolded; however, the SPECTRE of FORCE to guarantee Islamicity, especially after the success of the revolution, lurked in the background of this peaceful process.

By education, Mawdudi meant the process that would encourage revolution, a process whereby Muslims would be reconverted to true Islam – Religion – and develop firm loyalties to it. It was the means by which Muslims would be trained to produce a leadership cadre, a VANGUARD movement, and, eventually, a religiously conscious citizenry. For this reason, the Jamat invested heavily in producing and disseminating publications to facilitate a far-reaching program of cultural change.

But education was not merely the locomotive of the Islamic revolution or simply Missionary work “it was a process of learning, of filling minds with a particular body of knowledge, conveying a distinctive worldview”.

Education as cultural engineering lay at the heart of Mawdudi’s call; it was the primary vocation of the Jamat and a primary mechanism for instigating a revival of Islam. To this end, it had to combine Islamic learning with knowledge of modern subjects so that the religious, intellectual, and political leaders and, subsequently, the citizenry it produced, would be both culturally authentic and at home with modern scientific thought. Education therefore possessed both Islamising and modernising objectives. Mawdudi’s views here are close to the Nadvi educational model, which also began as an effort to relate Islamic and modern educational methods and subjects of study and to train a leadership equally versatile in medium between the traditional and the modern systems of education and as a representative example of what he had in mind for Muslim education.

Although the political enfranchisement of the Jamat that resulted from the party’s decision to participate in the Pakistani electoral process in 1951 was tantamount to resorting to political means to nudge society toward the Islamic state, at the doctrinal level the Jamat remained loyal to the idea of revolution through education – Islamising society by impressing Islamic values on its leaders and members.

Despite the Jamat’s departure from this position in practice, Mawdudi’s discourse on revolution was sufficiently compelling to be carried further by the rival revivalist movements that have emerged in Pakistan since the 1970s.

Israr Ahmad, a one-time member of the Jamat who left the party in 1957 in protest of the party’s decision to participate in national elections, has organised Tanzim-e-Islam on the pattern of the original Jamat and based it on an ideological outlook similar to Mawdudi’s. The Order differs from the Jamat only in that the former adheres strictly to Mawdudi’s doctrinal position of revolution through education and has thus far remained aloof from politics.

Muhammad Tahir Qadri founded the Minhaj-l-Quran (Path of the Quran) organisation and the Pakistan Awami Tahrik (People’s Movement) party in a different response to Mawdudi’s discourse on revolution. Qadri discerned a fundamental problem in the Jamat’s two-tier approach to revolution – advocating revolution through education at the doctrinal level and utilising the electoral process to hasten the advent of the revolution on the practical – and concluded that the inconsistency was sufficiently debilitating to inhibit the Jamat’s ability to attract support and cash in on its electoral potential. He decided to fill the void by forming two organisations to resolve the inconsistency. He separated education from politics and established separate organisations for each:


The Path reorganised as Davah CAUSE

People’s Movement reorganised as political PARTY


All these organisations attest to Mawdudi’s influence. Both Israr Ahmad and Tahir Qadri faithfully support Mawdudi’s VISION of revolution, which has withstood the challenge of the Iranian revolution and found roots in Pakistani revivalist thought.

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