The last few
centuries bear witness to a sharp decline in the individual as well as the
collective affairs of the Muslims. All over the globe, they seem to have lost
their identity. They appear to be dispossessed of the real spirit of Islam,
and have been stripped of the position of supremacy they once held in the
comity of nations. Though they have with them the last and final word of the
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, yet it no longer plays a vibrant role in
significant reason for this sorry state of affairs is the intellectual
stagnation which generally exists about religion. Two root causes of this
intellectual decadence and backwardness are apparent to every keen eye:
ailment of Taqli$d (blind following), both at the level of the religious
scholars as well as at that of the masses.
2) A complete
disregard of the role of human intellect in matters of religion.
elaboration of these two points, which are actually the two sides of the same
institutes all over the Ummah, which produce religious scholars, are actually
the source of this Taqli$d syndrome. Here, a student from the very first day
is labelled as an orthodox follower of a particular sect. His destiny seems to
be carved out beforehand as a devout denouncer of every other sect and an
ardent acclaimer of his own. He is made to believe that only his brand of
beliefs is in direct conformity with the Qur’ān and Sunnah. He is brainwashed
with the notion that only his sect has been divinely blessed with the true
version of Islam. An inference attributed to a highly revered scholar of his
sect stands supreme until the Day of Judgement. That it can be challenged by
explicit reasoning derived from the Qur’ān and Sunnah cannot be dared thought
of. On the contrary, it becomes part of his faith that such a scholar cannot
It is this
superhuman veneration that has actually given rise to the menace of religious
sectarianism. Differences in opinion have often developed into severe
conflicts. An atmosphere charged with lightning and resounding with thunder
prevails amongst the religious circles. Every now and then, a new episode of
defamation erupts form our mosques, which are unfortunately being used for
these malignant offensives. The intense disregard the various sects have for
one another has led them to violate all norms of decency. Even unethical
tactics are employed to safeguard their own views and interests. Like nations
at war, they continue their crusades against each other -- while, very close
to them, the forces of evil mock at them and continue to flourish.
concept of Taqli$d prevailing among the religious scholars, the common man
also has been led to associate himself with the scholars of a particular sect.
Instead of weighing the opinions of various scholars and accepting the one
which is the most convincing to their intellect they blindly follow an imam’s
directive however much they may be convinced against it. The greatest ill
effect of this approach is that following religion becomes a mechanical
process – it does not flow out from one’s heart and does not bring about a
change in one’s character and behaviour. Since using one’s intellect in
understanding religion has long been done away with, the Qur’ān is read but
not understood. Its greatest utility was providing guidance to mankind; now it
is mainly used for reciting for the dead.
If the above
mentioned thesis is correct, then there is a need to bring about an
intellectual awakening in the Muslims. The most effective way to do this
perhaps is to produce highly competent scholars of Islam who are able to
directly access and interpret the sources of Islam and thus are able to break
the shackles of Taqli$d. They should be groomed in a manner that they can face
the challenge of the modern era.
unless efforts are made to produce such scholars, there is a very little
chance that the Ummah can come out of its current state of deterioration.