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Random thoughts

March 19, 2018



The spirit of honesty

Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister of 22 million, or perhaps 20 million, people – but he acquired the office by securing only 1.47 million votes. The rest of the people didn’t or couldn’t vote; they were either underage or preferred another leader.

Even if he were the prime minister of every single Pakistani and had won all their votes, Nawaz Sharif would still not have been exempt from following the law. The recent Senate election is the writing on the wall for the PML-N. If they can lose seats in Punjab, they can certainly do so in the centre.

Someone sent me an interesting piece on Maulana Jamaluddin Afghani, a great leader who believed in Muslim unity. Allama Iqbal also paid rich tributes to this great scholar. Maulana Jamaluddin was born near the Afghanistan-Iran border but more famously came to be known as Afghani. His thinking processes and philosophies were free of nationalities and borders and he waged a struggle for the unity of all Muslims. He wanted to wake the Muslims up to the reality. He presented the true picture of Islam, that of brotherhood, unity, helping each other and following the divine edicts and Ahadees-e-Nabwi. To this end, he travelled to Iran, Egypt, Turkey, France and Germany among other places, to.try and understand various cultures and their positive and negative aspects.

During the 1857 war of independence, he remained in Delhi. Maulana Jamaluddin was hurt at seeing the British atrocities and massacres. From Delhi he went to perform Hajj, before returning to Afghanistan and becoming the adviser to King Amir Dost Muhammad Khan, and later to King Muhammad Azam Khan. He advised King Dost M Khan to cultivate relations with the Russians instead of the British. Afghanistan had a common border with Russia so the latter could help them more than the British could. The British came to know of this piece of advice and from then on they became his enemy and accused him of being a Russian agent.

In 1868, Sher Ali Khan took over the reins of the kingdom and Maulana Jamaluddin was forced into exile. In 1871, he went to Egypt where he started campaigning for Muslims to reforms themselves politically and unite. He spent eight years in Egypt. At that time, Cairo was the cradle of Islamic civilisation and culture, and Maulana Jamaluddin took full advantage of this and promoted his views.

He had many followers, the most notable of them being Muhammad Abduh. But the British, masters of working behind the scenes in Egypt, asked the king to deport him. He then travelled to a number of places including Istanbul, London, Paris, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Munich. In 1883, he started publishing a newspaper in Arabic that reflected his ideas and philosophy. He even raised the Palestinian issue in the short period the newspaper existed – it had to be shut down within three months since the permission to publish it was revoked. A vicious campaign against this great scholar was also launched.

Maulana Jamaluddin Afghani’s message was based on four points: 1) open criticism and resistance to Western domination and interference; 2) unification and alliance between Muslim countries; 3) the adoption of the latest Western technologies; 4) setting up an institution that could spread Islamic values. He considered all Muslim rulers to be stooges of the West – he was right; at that time it was definitely so. He made every effort to rid the respective countries of these stooges and replace them with patriotic rulers.

Being but a human, he made the mistake of misunderstanding and misjudging Caliph Abdul Hameed of Turkey. The caliph was very much aware of the plots and intrigues of the Western powers. Some scholars of Al-Azhar, Cairo, issued ‘fatwas’ against him.

At the time, similar dirty games were also being played by Western powers in Sudan against Muhammad Ahmad of Sudan. Anyone who preached true Islam was deemed an enemy by the West and their stooges, because their teachings did not always fall in line with the former’s philosophies.

Jamaluddin Afghani ultimately became the victim of the machinations of these anti-Muslim forces. He was declared a ‘Freemason’ and fake documents to implicate him in false cases were distributed and circulated. He died in Istanbul and was initially buried there, but King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan had his body brought back to Kabul and buried it there. The Ikhwanul Muslimeen parties in Egypt and Syria follow his teachings. May the Almighty rest his soul in peace. Amen.

In this story there is something we need to ponder over. We are a country where thousands of people attend ‘Tableeghi Ijtimas’; where thousands travel far and wide to preach Islam to others; where hundreds of thousands travel to Saudi Arabia every year to perform Umrah and Hajj and where a large number of people participate in the birthday celebrations of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

We are also a country of people wherein hundreds and thousands attend ‘Milad’ and take Quran lessons, where thousands gather and mourn the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), where mosques are overcrowded during Friday prayers, where hundreds of thousands get together to recite ‘Wazifa and Durood’, and also happen to have some of the greatest philanthropists in the world.

We belong to an Islamic republic, but are still ranked 160th among countries considered most honest. Why is this? Let us ponder over the benefits of all the nice things we learn about and pray for but lack the basic spirit of Islam, which is honesty, to avail them for ourselves.