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Islamic D’awah in a Changing World

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The world we live in is changing from day to day.  The Soviet empire has crumbled. The US

is seeking to reduce the scope of its military dominance of various regions of the world.  The

Berlin wall has been demolished by the very people who built it.  The Cold War has come to

an end.  The superpowers have put their guns down, admitting that warfare is no solution to

human problems.         


Western thinkers have coined a new term -- `endism", which means that all `isms", all

ideologies, all systems, have exhausted their credibility as modern man"s ideal.         


Muslims generally see these changes as going against them, as danger, in fact, to Islam.  This

kind of thinking, as I see it, is quite wrong and is no doubt against the teachings of Islam. 

The Quran say: with every difficulty there is relief (94:6).  This means that difficulty and

relief inevitably coexist.  They have been ordained inseparable.          


Granted that modern changes have brought problem in their wake for Muslims, but these

changes have also created new opportunities.  And fortunately the opportunities far exceed

the problems.         


When we look at that matter from this angle we find many positive and hopeful aspects in

the situation, for although the modern world is witnessing great changes, those changes are

going mostly in favor of Islam.  This is the most important aspect of our new world.         


There are many examples which clearly indicate that the present changes greatly favor

Islam.  Here, we shall give just two examples, the one, theoretical, and the other practical,

which should suffice to make the point.         


At the beginning of the present century, a British scientist once gave a public lecture on

astronomy.  He described how the earth orbits around the sun and the sun, in turn, orbits

around center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.  At the end of the lecture, a little

old lady at the back of the room got up and said: What you have told is rubbish.  The world

is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.  The scientist gave a superior

smile before countering with "What is the tortoise standing on?"  " You"re very clever,

young man, very clever," said the old lady, "but it"s turtles all the way down."         


This picture of our world as an infinite tower of tortoises was seen by the scientists as

ridiculous.  But the alternatives presented by them were also a kind of infinite tower with the

difference that the tortoises were replaced by causes.  The scientists" assumption was that

there was always a cause behind every event, and so on.  Thus the chain of causes is infinite

in length.           


Then came the theory of the big bang.  With this, the theory of an "infinite tower of causes"

lost its validity, as this theory suggested that a sudden explosion had marked the beginning

of the universe rather than an infinitely continuing process of causes and effects.         


Stephen W. Hawking, a well-known scientist of modern times, has calculated the rate of the

expansion of the universe after the big bang.  Providing details of this calculation, he writes:         


"The rate of expansion would have had to be chosen very precisely for the rate of

expansion still to be so close to the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse.  This means

that the initial state of the universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot

big bang model was correct right back to the beginning of time.  It would be very difficult

to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God

who intended to create beings like us" (p.134).         


This means that the scientific study of the universe has strengthened religious belief rather

than weaken it.  Such discoveries have opened up opportunities for performing Islamic

d"awah with far greater effectiveness.         


Now take the practical aspect of the changes.  Here also we find clear indications that the

present changes are only paving the way for Islamic d"awah on an unprecedented scale.         


Let us see for instance, what is happening in the socialist world.  In one of his writings, Karl

Marx had said that religion was the opiate of the masses.  But today, the socialist Russians

are themselves saying that Marxism itself was the worst kind of opiate for the mind created

by Karl Marx.         


Just a few years ago, it was well-nigh unthinkable to carry a copy of the Quran inside the

Soviet Union.  But, today, Aeroflot has been engaged to airlift one million copies of the

Quran from Jeddah to Moscow.         


In its March 1990 issue, Time magazine gave detailed report on the religious position in the

Soviet  Union.  It said: "Some 55 million Soviet Muslims enjoy the fruits of new religious

tolerance."  The strange but meaningful title of this report was "Karl Marx makes room for



I do not feel the need to go into further details.  I should only like to say that the present

changes taking place in the world today have opened up for us great new scope for Islamic

d"awah.  But we must remain very alert in order not to miss these opportunities.         


The foregoing arguments suffice to show that the changes taking place in the present world

have opened up new vistas to Islamic d"awah.  These changes have made it possible for

Islam to be presented more forcefully and effectively to the world.  The most important task

ahead of us is to have a thorough understanding of these changes and then to avail of them in

an organized and disciplined way.         


I would propose for this the formation of a committee of scholars who would be entrusted

with going into the matter in depth, and then carving out a well-planned scheme.  All

possible resources should be utilized towards this end.         


This is undoubtedly a historic task.  History awaits the advance of certain dedicated

individuals towards this goal so that it can give them resounding credit for having spread the

message of Islam to mankind in this modern age.  Those who can prove themselves worthy

of such historic credit will be the most fortunate of men.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

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