Rumeurs de paix



Les remparts


The starting point of economic problems is selfishness that transgresses the boundaries of moderation. This ugly trait grows and develops with the active support of a corrupt social and political environment until it eventually pollutes the entire economic system and poisons other walks of life as well; there is nothing integrally wrong with private ownership or with some people enjoying a better position in life than others. If the intrinsic goodness of human character were given the opportunity to play a full part and there was a political system in place externally to enforce the rule of law and social justice effectively, then there would have been no room for corruption. The factor that is primarily responsible for the malaise, however, is the degeneration of those people blessed with a better economic position into selfishness, greed, stinginess, dishonesty, short-sightedness and self-rightetousness. The –Cain within– prompted them to believe that the correct and logical use of the means of sustenance available to them that went beyond their actual needs and of which they enjoyed full control was, first of all, to spend it on their own personal comfort, luxuries, enjoyment and self-aggrandisement; and then to EXPLOIT it to grab more and more economic resources and, given the opportunity, to perpetuate their supremacy as despots and tyrants.


As a natural corollary of the –trend of Cain–

the rich refused to accept the rights of those in the community who were deprived of their due share of the national wealth or who could get much less than they actually needed. The affluent class thought it logical to let the under-privileged suffer and go from bad to worse. They were too myopic to see how this attitude forced so many in the community to turn criminal, remain illiterate, degenerate morally, suffer physically and mentally and lack the ability to play their role in the society’s proper growth and development, thus causing greater damage to the social set-up of which they themselves were a part. These misguided people did not remain content with this, but continued to boost their ever-growing demands far beyond their actual requirements and diverted a major portion of the community’s human and material resources to serve their ends. The human capital that could very well have been used in the service of civilisation and culture was utilised instead to satisfy their lust and personal egos. They saw fornication as a need for which they recruited a class of professionals, like pimps and prostitutes. They believed they needed debauchery, and thus came into being a whole host of groups and bands of dancers, singers, vocalists, instrumentalists and those engaged in producing musical instruments. Their craving for recreation knew no bounds, and hence there emerged a variety of performers, actors, mimics, painters, sculptors, storytellers, etc. Slaughter was equally important for them, for which they engaged hundreds of men to trap the animals. They were fond of boozing too, and therefore wished to enjoy the pleasure of drunkenness, creating an army of men and women who were involved in the business of producing and serving them wine, powders, cocaine and other intoxicants. In short, these –Sons of Cain– were not content with callously allowing a large segment of society to suffer morally, spiritually and physically. Criminally, they even went on to divert a good part of humanity from the course of better and useful vocations so that they could indulge in futile, mean and harmful pastimes that led to humanity’s doom and destruction. Not only did they thus waste the human capital, but they also misused the material capital. These unfortunate people felt the need for villas, mansions, palaces, gardens, amusement parks, clubs and opera houses, as well as acres of land and impressive structures just to get buried in. This is how those acres of land, the construction material and the human labour, which could have sufficed for the housing needs and economic benefit of a large segment of society’s homeless people, were lost to provide shelter and a burial palace for every spendthrift. They also saw a need for attractive vanity, gorgeous costumes, sophisticated implements and household wares, decorative artifacts, luxury coaches and so on. Their doors and galleries required costly curtains, their walls precious paintings, their floors expensive carpets and their lapdogs cushions of velvet and collars of gold. This is how so much material and enterprise, which could have been used to serve the human needs for clothing and food, was instead consumed in satisfying the whims of a few self-willed tyrants طاغوت


This is the outcome of just one aspect of the misguided trend of indulging in luxuries and self-aggrandisement. The consequences of the other aspects is even more horrifying. It is obviously wrong for a person to use the resources he has accumulated beyond his needs to grab more resources and economic clout. The resources that were created by the Almighty are intended to fulfill the subsistence needs and essential requirements of all His creatures. If by some chance you have been able to gather more than you need, it simply means that the allotted portion that belonged to somebody else has reached you by default. Why should you then try to amass it? Why don’t you look at the many people around you who are unable or have failed in their efforts to get what they need from the means of subsistence, or have received much less than they require? This kind of soul-searching will convince you that it is the allocated portion from these people’s bounties of life that have somehow reached you. If they cannot get what should have belonged to them, why don’t you step forward and pass on to them what was their due? Instead of following this right course, if you exploit the resources at your command in order to multiply them further, your work will be counter-productive, because you will go on exceeding your limits and your riches will serve no purpose other than satisfying your lust for wealth. The amount of time, energy and potential that you spend in satisfying your genuine needs is being utilised rightly, in a reasonable and correct way. But once you overstep your limits in your quest for wealth, you have degenerated into an economic animal or a money-making fiend. You then become oblivious to the fact that there are much better uses for your time, energy and intellectual and physical faculties than in simply amassing wealth. The exploitative trend that is so glamourised by –Cain– to his sons and followers is, therefore, totally wrong rationally, logically and according to all the dictates of human instinct, and the measures evolved on the basis of this trend are so abominable and their consequences so horrific that nobody can realise their full extent.

Economic resources in excess of one’s needs can be used in one of the following two ways in order to grab more resources:

Their advancement on interest-based loans;

Their investment in commerce and industry.

These two methods, though somewhat different from each other, jointly lead to the division of the society into two classes: the moneyed class of a small group of privileged people, who own more than they need and use their riches to grow even richer; and the larger segment of the society who have just enough for their needs or may have nothing at all. This kind of situation is bound to give rise to class-conflicts and confrontation in society. This is how the system of economic management that nature has based on the principles of exchange and equity lapses into a system of antagonistic competition.



Le château


Sayyid Ahmad Khan is sympathetic to many aspects of the reforming movement. He had written about its leaders in his study of the religious personalities of Delhi, and had even referred to himself on occasion as one of the ahl-e-Hadith. He also voiced the concern to revive an Islamic pattern purified from medieval beliefs and practices that had no legitimation in the Quran or in the early practices of the Muslims. He differed from the ahl-e-Hadith more with respect to means than to ends. They tended to dislike rationality and to demand immediate action as some have written:

“He alone who reposes his sole reliance on God, and does not pursue any other course, is liked by Him, and is guided in the right path; thereby he derives that comfort and ease of mind which never falls to the freethinker; the entire career of the life of a rationalist is nothing but misery and distress; while that of the other is incessant comfort and happiness”.

Their notion of trust in God alone carried with it the implication that the believers were simple instruments of his will who should cast themselves on his mercy, as it were, and fling themselves into battle for his cause.

Sayyid Ahmad Khan is certainly well aware of the point of view that led those reformers into what some conceived as glorious martyrdom. His own rationality may be seen in part as a rejection of puritanical extremism as an effective instrument of reform. He rejected the hope for incessant comfort and happiness that might have come from casting his life into a battle conceived of being the will of God. He chose instead the more awkward and emotionally less comforting path of sustained thinking. He did not believe that intense emotional commitment was proof that one knew the will of God for a specific situation.

Sayyid Ahmad Khan had turned to a study of classical Muslim theology and philosophy for guidance. The understanding of nature he found there may be indicated by the following quotation:

“Nature is simultaneously the totality of material beings and the law that governs their motion, the active force that energizes them to growth and perfection. Nature is not material nor is it a function of matter. It is the lowest of all spiritual existence, the slumbering Soul, so to say”.

Although in accepting the conclusions of the astronomy of his age, necessarily rejected the hierarchical cosmos which underlay earlier world views such as this, he yet thought of nature, especially in ethical matters, in a manner very similar to many of those among his predecessors who had been concerned with ethical thinking. He, too, thought of nature in terms of potentiality, and this potentiality existed also in human mind and character. He saw this potentiality of nature as evidence of the goodness of God.

Nature had thus connotations for him of the innate potentialities of individuals, and also of the inherent characteristic of social institutions. An unnatural form of social organisation would not long endure because natural forces themselves would ERUPT and overthrow it. He saw little conflict between the Quran and nature as he understood it. In fact, he believed that the Quran taught that individuals had potentialities which could be realised and that corrupt societies would not long endure.

A good Muslim must thus be God-fearing, kind, respectful, humble, generous, thrifty, optimistic, chaste, just, responsible, law-abiding, accurate, meek, and iconoclastic. Fear and hope are the traditional attitudes preached by Muslims: a pious person is to live by walking the delicate line of harmonious balance

The Truthful Path صراط المستقيم

He must neither fall into the arrogance of autonomous pride (failure to fear the final justice of God) nor the folly of despair and disbelief (failure to trust the goodness and mercy of God); in the sense that his conviction about the importance of reason should not invalidate his recognition of the finitude of human efforts.

The Prophet Muhammad is normally understood by Muslims to represent the highest virtues because he was the man entrusted to deliver God’s revelation, and to lead the people in their efforts to work out the implications of that revelation in their political, social, and economic institutions. This utter moral goodness exemplified by the Prophet is the highest ethical ideal for Sayyid Ahmad Khan. The Quran, as he understands it, teaches the virtues that make such goodness possible and warns against the vices that militate against the development of such qualities of character.



La tour


The concept of the Islamic state, the end point and crowning achievement of Mawdudi’s discourse, tied his interpretation of Islam to the political exigencies from which his movement drew inspiration. The Islamic state was not so much a utopian order or a romantic conglomeration of disparate religious dicta as it was a model for governance, formed as a result of debate with the concept of the Western state. In his proposals and discussions, Mawdudi seldom made comparisons with the ethical teachings of other religions, but he did with various Western theories and systems of political organisation and government, from communism to democracy. The comparisons served as the locus for the formulation of an Islamic ideological orientation that above and beyond its nativist idealism incorporated concepts, values, and ideas from the corpus of thought with which it was in debate. It should not be examined, therefore, only as a means for putting Islamic teachings on society and politics into practice, but also with a view to gauging the efficacy of an ideology rooted in Islam but defined in contrast to the West.

Mawdudi understood the Islamic state not as territorial but as a cultural and ethical entity. Its boundaries, values, goals, and citizens were defined in Islamic terms. It was this emphasis on ethical and cultural factors that distinguished his conception of the Islamic state from the pan-Islamic formulations that preceded his ideas; formulations that had espoused a territorial unity of Muslim lands.

The ethical and cultural basis of the Islamic state also made its choice of leaders an issue of great concern. The Islamic state was anchored in the idea of Virtuous Leadership in place of the existing Leadership of the Corrupt and Godless political order. The nature of the leadership of the Islamic state was expected to confirm that it was based on the sovereignty of God. Those outside the Jamat regarded a state that vested sovereignty of God to be intrinsically authoritarian. Mawdudi and his followers went to great lengths to assure their audience of the democratic nature of the Islamic state. The results often revealed

-A dislocation between the outward argument and the inner train of reasoning-

The debate with the critics of the Islamic state was a serious effort at anchoring the state in democracy. This debate motivated the Jamat to define the concept of the Islamic state more clearly and to make it compatible with Western conceptions of the state in general and liberalism in particular. As a result, democracy found multiple levels of meaning in Mawdudi’s works, which coalesced to produce a complex definition of that ideal.

Mawdudi insisted that the Islamic state would be democratic because its leadership would be duly elected and bound by the writ of divine law. He captured the gist of this argument in the terms -democratic caliphate- and -theodemocracy- which he coined to describe how the Islamic state would work. At first glance, the synthesis between Islamic symbols and Western political ideals may seem to be a tactical ploy designed to manipulate the political sensibilities of educated Muslims by hiding unpalatable proposals behind a veneer of democracy. Mawdudi’s synthesis is more complex. His debate with Western political thought was antagonistic, but it also assimilated Western ideas into his interpretation of Islam and the Islamic state. Mawdudi was not concerned with liberal values but solely with a means for promoting and safeguarding an Islamic social order. Whether or not the state would be a democracy or a dictatorship was secondary. The preoccupation with democracy was a later development, the inevitable outcome of his debate with Western political thought and the Jamat’s involvement in electoral politics.

The complexity of Mawdudi’s treatment of democracy perhaps has to do with the context in which he first encountered it. Indian nationalism was emancipatory in its spirit and promised democracy in a pluralistic society. The Congress party, however, failed to convince Muslims that it would carry out its promise. Many Muslims saw Indian nationalism as a vehicle for Hindu supremacy. For example, the Muslim thinker Chaudhri Rahmat Ali argued that Indian nationalism was simply an effort by caste Hindus and the British to enslave the followers of other religions and cultures of India, Muslims in particular. This led many Muslim leaders to distance themselves from Indian nationalism, to envision a Muslim identity separate from Indian identity, and to demand communal and, ultimately, national rights. Muhammad Ali Jinnah left the Congress party to lead the Muslim League to Pakistan, arguing that for Muslims a secular state had no meaning except in a Muslim state; only in such a state would their social progress and political rights be divorced from their identity. Although Jinnah remained content with questioning the inclusive and secular nature of the Congress party, Mawdudi went further, questioning the wisdom and ethical basis of the emancipatory, democratic, and inclusive order that the party promised.

Although Islamic activists like Mawdudi never became as prominent as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, their Islamic discourse was of importance to the success of Muslim communalism. In fact, Mawdudi’s views on a host of issues was shaped by his communalist inclination. Because Islamic thinkers resisted Indian nationalism, emancipation and democracy were either irrelevant or dangerous to its aims. The victory of numbers would mean Hindu rule; in an Indian democracy, Muslims would be outnumbered and would have no power. Consequently, Mawdudi, who believed that Muslim power was justified by Islam’s moral superiority, was suspicious of democracy. He could not simply dismiss the much vaunted ideals of emancipation and democracy, however. The new Muslim identity had to have its own vision and then argue that it alone would bring true EMANCIPATION and true democracy; it had to reject democracy’s values and cultural foundations and promote its own vision of FREEDOM. It was therefore also anti-West, claiming that Western freedom would mean prostitution, decay, servitude, and extinction. Anti-Westernism thus was a function of the competition, first with Indian nationalism and its promise and then with the Muslims League’s Muslim nationalism, which had developed along similar although less collectivist lines than Mawdudi’s own. Mawdudi’s position on democracy therefore had its roots not merely in Islamic doctrine, but in Indian history. It reflected his disdain for Indian nationalism, which, needless to add, greatly complicated his accommodation of democracy. It also meant that for Mawdudi revivalism was less an expression of idealism and more the pragmatic use of faith for a political end.

Mawdudi conceived of the Islamic state in ahistorical terms as an ideal type, not because it produced the most efficient machinery for governance, but because it created conditions most conducive to living according to Religion. The state was neither democratic nor authoritarian, for it had no need to govern in the Western sense of the term. Concern for that kind of government was generated by crises of governability and legitimacy, which were in turn generated by demands for political participation and mass mobilisation and the need to manage the economic effectively. In a polity in which there were no grievances and both the government and the citizenry abided by the same infallible and inviolable divine law, there would be no problems with democratic rights and procedures. The question of democracy would not arise, for democracy and authoritarianism were defined as opposites. If the populace did not feel itself oppressed, it would not dream of democracy. The Islamic state was based on the society envisioned by Religion. The ideals of Religion would not only cure Muslim society of those maladies that produced cleavages in other societies, it would also distribute resources and power equitably. It would produce a society that would make both government fiats and individual rights unnecessary. Mawdudi’s conception was idealistic. It echoed German romanticism, which had defined citizenship in the context of its need to foster uniformity in its ethnonational community and, in turn, limited the scope of civil, political, and even social rights.

In Mawdudi’s writings, therefore, democracy was merely an adjective used to define the otherwise undefinable virtues of the Islamic state. The state was defined as democratic because it was an ideal state. Mawdudi used the term democratic to express the virtues of the Islamic state and embellish it because in Western political thought the term had positive connotations. Mawdudi later featured democracy in his discussions as a concern he had to contend with before the Islamic state was established. These discussions encompassed both the ideal state and the path leading to it; therefore, he had to deal with democratic rights because Muslims were concerned with them, especially once critics began to point to the authoritarian tendencies that were implicit in Mawdudi’s views on social organisation.

Mawdudi’s discourse on Religion and the Islamic state produced an image of society that blended the individual Muslim into a communal unit in which social interactions were rationalised and turned into contractual arrangements as determined by Religion. It was this modernisation of social structure through milletism; which would follow the institution of the Islamic state; that made both Western and traditional critics apprehensive about Mawdudi’s agenda. Those who remained skeptical about the democratic nature of the Islamic state were wary more of the authoritarian tendencies inherent in the kind of social modernisation that Mawdudi advocated than they were of its Islamic content.

As the debate over the nature of the Islamic state continued, Mawdudi began to target particular social echelon. Because Mawdudi was compelled to directly address the question of the nature of authority in the Islamic state if he was to win Westernised intellectuals over, he used democracy to deal with their concerns. He did so more as a concession to this audience than out of conviction, however, especially after the Jamat became involved in the political process in Pakistan and began to target the educated classes.

By becoming involved in the elections in Pakistan in the 1950s, the Jamat postponed its efforts on behalf of realising the ideal Islamic state, substituting pragmatic politics for the zeal of the movement. Earlier, Mawdudi had argued that the Islamic state could only be produced when particular religious, social, and political factors came together, at the right time and under the right circumstances. The determinism inherent in this view and the exact nature of the revolution that would bring it about precluded entrusting the fate of the Islamic state to the vicissitudes of a political process that was based on non-Islamic principles and over whose course the Jamat had no control. This kind of idealism had to give way to a more pragmatic and flexible approach to Pakistani politics, however, if the Jamat were to survive at all. As a result, practical decisions became more important than ideological discourse. Because Mawdudi’s idea of the Islamic state was relegated to a distant utopia as he became engaged in political debate and the electoral process, he had to concern himself with this question of democracy. Increased concern for democracy was also a function of the routinisation of the Jamat’s idealism, the politicisation of its program, and the replacement of outright revolution by incremental Islamisation. Throughout its existence in Pakistan, moreover, the Jamat had to contend with the government. As a consequence, Mawdudi’s interest in the protection of individual rights, due process of law, and freedom of political expression became a matter of personal concern. Democracy was no longer just a concession to those who were skeptical about the Islamic state, it was increasingly also the guarantor of the Jamat’s survival.

Mawdudi’s new focus on democracy also intensified the cycle of criticism and apologia reflected in the Jamat’s program. The more Mawdudi sought to depict his program as democratic, the more his critics found reasons to use democratic yardsticks to scoff at his plans for Pakistan. The democratic pretension made him vulnerable to criticism, which, in turn, intensified his apologetic attempts to assuage his critics.

Democracy thus was featured in different ways at different stages in the evolution of Mawdudi’s thought: first as part of an ideal type and then as part and parcel of introducing Islamic norms and values to the existing political order to which the Jamat committed itself in the 1950s. As a means of gauging the efficacy and allure of Mawdudi’s political program, democracy both obfuscated the actual dialectic of his discourse and revealed the influence of political imperatives on his ideological formulation. For Mawdudi, politics was as much shaped in the image of ideology as ideology was shaped by the needs of politics. Hence, despite Mawdudi’s clear logic and systematic argumentation, the so-called democratic goal and concept of the Islamic state had produced confusing directive for the Jamat.

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