By Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi
India is a vast country. Its population has surpassed one billion. According to a cautious estimate, about 20 crore among them are Muslims. To cater to their educational needs, there is a network of madrasas across the length and breadth of the country. Among them, small maktabs are more in number than the big madrasas and madrasas of the stature of Jamias are even less in number. According to the Sachar Committee Report, less than 2 per cent of the Muslim population is studying in these madrasas. But the number of students getting higher education is not even 10th or 20th part of that 2 per cent. Nevertheless, the number of students graduating from madrasas is not as small as can be ignored. If the madrasas affiliated to Deoband are considered, more or less 5 thousand students graduate every year and join the stream of population. This number is something to be reckoned with and can influence the thought-process of the Muslims. Even as the advance of globalisation has caused the dominance of the Western culture over oriental values so much so that a large section tries to avoid religion terming it as a liability, a considerable population of the Muslims desires to spend life in the spiritual comfort of religion. It is high time that the people entrusted with the task of dawah played their role to strengthen the relation of this section of Muslims with religion.
The first thing I would like to tell you that you have by the grace of God graduated from the madrasa but that does not mean that you have fulfilled your responsibility. The truth is that it is a mere beginning of life and it is now that you will be burdened with engagements and responsibilities. Until now, you had been under the supervision of your teachers and the safe boundary walls of madrasas were your home. You lived a life free of worries and hardships. The only work you had to do was write, read, acquire skills and develop your talent and aptitude and the only fear you had was of a handful of your teachers and authorities who were obviously your well wishers. Their rebukes, like your parents’ are laced with love and whose anger and annoyance is also for your training. Now the life you are going to start will be fraught with challenges and responsibilities. It is possible that you will get economic prosperity by the grace of God so that you live a life full of comfort and peace. But whatever step you take now will be with a lot of caution as you are an aalim-e-deen (a scholar of Islam). Allah has crowned you with religious leadership. Your incautious approach may strip you of this crown. Thousands of eyes follow you in whatever you do because some of them want to emulate you and some others do this with the sole purpose of finding your weaknesses. You should keep the fact in mind that you are a target of the communalists, atheists and revisionists. You have to face all of them and guard against those evil eyes. Yet another enemy which is lurching is media whose eyes follow you at every step. It has presented your picture as a terrorist who has created an atmosphere of violence, revolt and destruction in the whole world. If you see it in the context of India, you will find that whenever there is a bomb blast, the needle of suspicion points at the people wearing a beard and cap. At a time when the world is closing in on the ulema-e-deen and Islamic madrasas, you should fully realise your responsibilities and take stock of your character and deeds. The circumstances we are in or the atmosphere of fear we are living in today will definitely not last too long. If we maintained our character and deeds and did not compromise on our responsibilities at any cost, the evil forces will very soon bite the dust and the world will one day come to believe that the madrasas they declared the centres of terrorism were actually the axis of peace; the people who were branded terrorists were the real messengers of global peace and the religion they tirelessly called a religion of violence was in fact the inheritor of peace and security.
God has conferred us with the title khair ummat. We have not been honoured with this title for nothing. We have been honoured with this title only after carrying out the responsibilities entruted to us.
God says in the Quran: “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma'ruf and forbid Al-Munkar and you believe in Allah. And had the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Al-Fasiqun (disobedient to Allah - and rebellious against Allah's Command). “( Al Imran:110).
One of the reasons declaring this ummah khair ummah is that you enjoin Al Maruf (all that Islam has ordained) and forbid human beings from all that has been forbidden. Although this address has been made to all the general Muslims, the first people this verse was addressed to were the sahabas who were filled with the passion of Amr bil Maruf and nahi anil munkar. Gradually our hearts are losing this passion and we are gradually being deprived of the emotion of ordaining al maruf and forbidding from what is forbidden by Islam despite the fact that we have been very clearly ordained to do that:
“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.”(Al Imran: 104).
The verses before these two above-mentioned ones have two guiding principles for the successful individual and collective life of the Muslims: one is peity and the other one is holding firmly to Allah (following the Quran strictly). The two verses point towards the completion of the welfare system which says that the Muslims should not only strive for the reformation of their own character and deeds but also strive for the reformation of their brethren inviting them towards the path of Allah. There are numerous mentions of Amr bil maruf and nahi anil munkar. This has made the scholars to infer that God has ordained everyone to do the duty of amr bil maruf and nahi anil munkar according to his abilities and aptitude though this incumbency requires some detail. However, this is clear that God indeed wants a group that is always engaged in the execution of this duty. So what group is that? Obviously, people averse to the deen and busy in their worldly affairs cannot be the group. They can be the ones who are selected and consigned to the madrasas and have been bestowed with the mental and physical strength to acquire the knowledge of sharia from the real source of the deen. But regret to say that our ulema have gradually forgotten their main duty and have left the group that was called khair ummah by the Quran or the ummah inviting people to what is good. I agree that the madrasas have been imparting education and arts and sciences are being taught there, our scholars have a keen eye on the text and the explanations, syntax and grammar; we are acquainted with all the nitty gritty of logic and philosophy. We can speak on exegetical points and jurisprudential differences. But the only lesson we have forgotten is that of amr bil maruf and nahi anil munkar. Undoubtedly, the knowledge of all the other fields are also necesssary and these engagements are also commendable but at the same time we should re-learn the lesson we have forgotten.
I would like to make a request to the thousands of madrasa graduates: Please come forward for dawa ilal khair. The root of all our toubles is the fact that we are neither propagating deen among our own folk nor are we inviting others towards it. All our attention and struggles revolve round the madrasas only. Madrasas are being established one after another. But the general Muslims are not able to benefit from them because no organised efforts are being made for their reformation. On the other hand, the whole world today wants to understand Islam and there are many who wish to come into the fold of Islam. But we are not trying to bring them closer to Islam nor are we trying to impress them with our character and deeds. There cannot be a better gift than the Quran and Hadith that God has given to you. It is now your duty to prove it worthwhile by literally becoming khair ummah, the ummah endeavouring for dawah. Dawah should be your topmost priority in whichever field you are in. I believe that with this work, we can remove the misconceptions which have spread about the Muslims and Islam all over the world. Through this work we shall be able to transform our brethren the desired human beings of the Quran. Through this work we can salvage billions of human beings who have sunk deep into misbeliefs and ignorance due to our own neglect, carelessness and complacence. They will hold us -- and only us -- responsible for their eternal doom.
Source: Hamara Samaj, New Delhi