Colonial and Post-Industrial Movements of Reform and Da’wah

Note: please read the beneficial footnotes too. Also, the word Islamist should be taken to mean “political activist”, whose methodological and ideological roots stem from socio-political situations, rather than being based upon clear motivations based upon the Islamic Creed.

The Colonial and Enlightenment period of Europe was a time of social, political, economic, scientific change, and the birth of the so-called “modernity”. The associated philosophies and ideologies (of Rousseau, Engels, Marx, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Heidegger, Sartre and many others) that accompanied these changes actually served as the driving forces behind these political, social and economic transformations across Europe. This was also the time of the colonial period in which non-Muslim nations vied with one another for control over the lands of the Muslims. It was in this period, from 1800 onwards, that whatever remained of the Islamic Sharee’ah, was slowly but surely removed by the non-Muslims and replaced by their own laws and legal systems, when they entered into the Muslim lands.

Observing these changes and advances being made by Europe, a series of thinkers and writers from the Muslim Ummah also emerged, and as a reaction to this phenomenon began socio-political discourses that would create a trend of writers, over the next two centuries, that would author in these affairs, formulating, theorising, discussing and debating reformative ideas, often revolving around the same concepts and ideas, or variants of them, that had been expounded by the 19th century Philosophers, but within the context of an Islamic framework. The only difference is that the European philosophers pushed towards secularisation, and the Islamist writers tried to restore Islam’s role, however, they attempted this using the same methods, that of intellectualism, theorising, philosophising, and their methodologies of reform actually turned out to be similar to those initially laid out by the European Philosophers (democratic, democratic-revolutionary, violent-revolutionary, ideological transformation, appeal to the masses, mass-oriented movements, populist, modernist, elitist top-down imposition, working people’s grass-roots upward revolution and so on).

Amongst them were the likes of Rifa’a Tahtawi8 (1801-73), Khairuddin at-Tunisi (1810-99), Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (1838-97), Muhammad Abduh9 (1849-1905), Abdurrahman al-Kawakibi10 (1849-1903), Rashid Rida (1865-1935), Hasan al-Banna (1904-49), Ali Abd Ar-Raziq (1888-1966), Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), Sai’d Hawwa, and Malik Bennabi (1905-73), Ali Shariati (-1977), Sayyid Mawdudi (1903-79)11, Rachid Ghannouchi, Hassan at-Turaabi12 and many scores of others. These reformative ideas varied between revolutionary modes of thought, mass populist movements, democratic processes, and discussions about governance, authority, role of the state and individual and the law, social justice and related affairs, and this resulted in major ideological shifts in political thought amongst Muslims. This would form the basis of all activist movements of the 20th century.

In reality, what these people – (Muslim intellectuals, writers, thinkers, theorists, reformers, who were far away from the Salafee aqeedah and Salafee manhaj to begin with) – fell into can be likened to what the Ahl ul-Kalaam fell into with respect to the Attributes of Allaah and the Aqeedah in general. They theorised, and speculated and allowed their intellects to proceed ahead of the Book and the Sunnah concerning the speech about Allaah and His Attributes. So they entered ‘aql and ra’i (opinion) into the domain of ‘aqaa’id (beliefs), especially after having been influenced by the philosophies of the Greeks at the end of the second century after Hijrah. Similarly, these individuals in more contemporary times, with respect to the manaahij (methodologies) of reformation, and restoring power and authority to Islaam and the Muslim lands, they were upon nothing but Philosophy and Intellectualism, and they were tainted by uncontrolled, unchecked reactions to the prevailing social, political upheavals of the time, as a result of which they entered into theorising and debating and discussing methodologies of reform, following the style and method of the European philosophers, giving precedence to their intellects, but not returning, fundamentally, to the Book and the Sunnah upon the manhaj of the Salaf. This would lead them to make great mistakes, in their theoretical formulations and their practical implementations of whatever ideologies and solutions they came up with. Let alone the fact that the vast majority of these people were not upon the Sunnah and the creed and methodology of the Salaf to begin with.

So just like the entry of people into the Ilm ul-Kalaam of the Philosophers would cause great misguidance, deviation, separating and splitting, over a few hundred years in the early times of Islaam, around the affairs of aqaa’id (beliefs) and the associated manaahij (methodologies) in that regard, then likewise, when there emerged these so called “reformers”, whose writings and doctrines arose in an environment plagued with theories of “social justice”, “government”, “law”, “rebellions, revolutions”, “democratic rights of the people”, and many of the momentous incidents during a large part of the European Colonial history (1800-1960), they entered into the subject of methodologies of reform, again by resorting to their intellects, and opinions, and they only drew upon the Book and the Sunnah to support these ideas and methodologies they had conceived of – and did not return back fundamentally, purely, to the Book and the Sunnah as the starting point, unlike the da’wah of Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhaab. The result was the chaos that you see today, and the hizbiyyah that is rampant, and the existence of so many methodologies of reform, and the existence of groups and parties, each one of them rejoicing with what is with itself of followers and of ideologies that oppose the Book and the Sunnah.

So you should know that what happened in the earlier times was corruption in the aqeedah, due to the corruption in the methods employed to arrive at the knowledge of the aqeedah (i.e. Greek Philosophy, ‘aql, ra’i, and doctrinal ideas taken from the Kuffaar), and likewise what you see in the past century is the corruption in the methodologies of the Book and the Sunnah in the fields of da’wah and rectification, due to the corruption in the methods employed to arrive at the knowledge of reformative methodologies, methodologies of da’wah and so on. These people wanted to bring back the role of Islaam into the lives of people and the running of the state, but they were influenced by the methods of the disbelievers, and unchecked reactionism to European dominance in arriving at their ideologies and solutions.13

Some of the occurrences within the Muslim lands can have their ideological roots traced back to the ideas of these philosophers.

Influences of These Ideas upon “Islamist” Reformative and Revolutionary Movements

To give an illustration, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was responsible for propounding the ideology of the need for a “violent revolutionary resolve” on behalf of the people, in order for them to break away from the yokes of enslavement (Capitalism, Democracy and the likes). Heidegger envisaged this in the Nazis, the socialist left, in Germany, though there were those before him (Voltaire, Rousseau) who espoused similar ideas. In fact, Rousseau’s ideologies actually led to the French Revolution in the 19th century. These ideas were then found in France with Jean Paul Sartre, who was a supporter of Stalinism and the revolution in China. The student of Sartre, Franz Fanon14 of Algeria, then carried these ideas. “Fanon believed that violent revolution is the only means of ending colonial repression and cultural trauma in the Third World. “Violence,” he argued, “is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect”.”15 Fanon’s book “The Wretched of the Earth” released in 1961, was called by its publisher “the handbook for the black revolution” and argued for anarchy and revolution, as a means to remove the oppressive authorities. This book was given an introduction by Jean Paul Sartre.

Ali Shari’ati16 who was the main inspiration behind the Iranian Revolution (led by the pagan and disbeliever, Ayatollaah Khomeini) had studied Frantz Fanon’s revolutionary ideas during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1960s Shariati developed a personal friendship with Fanon and began to translate some of his works. He also introduced the writings of Jean Paul Sartre and Fanon to the youth of Iran17. It was this nurturing that won popular support amongst the Iranian Shiite youth, to enable the revolution in later years18. The writings of Sayyid Qutb were also inspirational to the Iranian youth, in particular the revolutionary manifesto “Milestones”.19

The intent behind this is merely to illustrate that many of the reformative ideas of “Islamists” in the last century, have their roots in the 19th century philosophers, especially the revolutionary and democratic discourses. The only difference is that the ideas of the 19th century philosophers pushed towards secularisation, and thus, their ideologies effected certain methodologies to push towards that goal, and the Islamists, pushed towards “Islamisation”, and they merely borrowed the same style and method that lead to the emergence of those ideologies that subsequently effected the same methodologies to push towards their goal. Which is why you see that in the field of da’wah today, there is a strong, revolutionary, rebellious mindset (directed towards rulers in the Muslim lands)), and also a democratic, populist, mass-oriented mindset, which draws upon political and social involvement (in a variety of different ways) to effect change and to acquire authority by this method. These are just remnants of practical requirements of the ideologies of the 19th century philosophers.

8 Tahtawi considered Political diversity to be just like the diversity found in ideology and jurisprudence (i.e. aqeedah and fiqh) within the Ummah, and thus he spoke of the freedom of political practice using various routes, as long as good administration and justice was observed.
9 “Muhammad ‘Abdu (1849-1905), who was a proponent of parliamentary democracy, defended pluralism and sought to refute the claim that it would undermine the unity of the Umma. He argued that the European nations were not divided by it. The reason, he concluded, was that their objectives had been the same. What varied was the method they pursued toward accomplishing it”, (in the “Political Pluralism in Modern Arab Islamic Thought” of Azzaam Tamimi, an Ikhwani, who is a student of Rachid Ghannouchi, an Ikhwanee Innovator, Misguided Strayer).
10 Kawakibi “attributed the success of the Western nations in modern times to the adoption of logical and well-practised rules. Such rules, according to him, have become social duties in these advanced nations that are not harmed by what appears to be a division into parties and groups. Such division, in his assessment, is only over the methods of applying the rules and not over the rules themselves.” (in “Political Pluralism in Modern Arab Islamic Thought” of Azzaam Tamimi, an Ikhwani).
11 This list of names is taken from a paper written by an Ikhwaani from the UK called Azzaam Tamimi, in a paper discussing Democracy in the political thought of Islamists over the last two centuries. And the philosophies of some of these individuals (Mawdudi, al-Afghani, Abduh and others), in the context of the ideology of Sayyid Qutb has been discussed by Ahmad Bouzid in his PhD dissertation, “Man, Society and Knowledge in the Islamist Discourse of Sayyid Qutb” (April 1998, Virginia State University).
12 Shaykh Muqbil said about him “Kaafir, Murtadd” (in his book Iskaat Kalba al-’Aawee), due to his calling for a tajdeed (renewal) of the religion to suit modern times, and other affairs reaching the level of major disbelief.
13 Important Note: There is no distinction between affairs of aqeedah and manhaj, except from the angle that aqeedah is the belief that is held, and manhaj is more general and is the course of behaviour, a methodology that is employed in ones actions, or a collection of actions within a particular domain, or a particular methodology that is adopted with respect to a particular field of knowledge. There are beliefs and actions that constitute the foundations (usool) of the Sunnah, and thus we speak of usool (foundations), without differentiating between aqeedah and manhaj. There are foundations of the religion, foundations of the Sunnah, some of which are knowledge-based, which are believed (and they are referred to as aqaa’id, beliefs) and some of which are action-based (and they are referred to as manaahij, methodologies), and some of which relate to methodologies in particular fields of knowledge, such as tafseer, or fiqh, or deriving aqeedah and so on. And similarly, many of the knowledge based aspects of the religion also have underlying methodologies that pertain to them. So the foundations comprise knowledge, belief and action. This reveals the falsehood of those who claim they are “Salafee in aqeedah, but Contemporary in orientation”. Meaning, that they hold onto the Salafee aqeedah, but adopt, devise and invent methodologies of reform in their actions. In reality, these methodologies of reform oppose the Usool of the Sunnah, and hence those who are upon these methodologies are from the generality of the Innovators. In reality though, we see that many of those responsible for devising or employing some of these ideologies are also far away from the Salafee aqeedah to begin with, being Ash’arees, Mu’tazilees, Modernists, Raafidah and other than them.
14 FANON, Franz Omar, (1925-1961), African revolutionary. Born in Martinique Fanon served in the French army during World War II. He was head of the psychiatry department, Blida-Joinville Hospital, Algeria (1953-56) and in 1954 joined the Algerian liberation movement becoming editor of its newspaper “El Moudjahid” in Tunis in 1956. He was appointed ambassador to Ghana by the Provisional Government in 1960. Fanon wrote Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961, with a foreword by JP Sartre), Year Five of the Algerian Revolution (1959), and Pour la révolution africaine (1964). (Taken from an Internet source).
15 Taken from a short review of the thought of Fanon.
16 Iranian Thinker, Philosopher, Revolutionary Idelogist.
17 All of this is taken from the words of Shariati himself, which can be found on Internet websites dedicated to him. His publications are also available in English. Shariati was killed in 1977.

Richard Dreyfus, writing on the Iranian Revolution (in “Hostage to Khomeini”, pp 106-108 published by, New Benjamin Franklin House, New York 1980) writes,

“The word also went to Professor Ali Shariati to intensify his activity. More than anyone else, Shariati was the guiding light behind the Iranian students and intellectuals who brought about the Muslim Brotherhood revolution. Shariati’s special ability was to be able to cast the mystical, antiscience Sufi doctrines into terms that might be accepted by modern young people not trained in religious law. Iran’s youth could not be won over directly to Khomeini’s version of Shusm, so it was necessary to create Ali Shariati, who disguised the Sufi doctrines in a radical, almost Marxist cloak. Shariati is the originator of so-called Islamic Marxism.

So radically antimaterialist was Shariati that he saw a willing acceptance of death as the only legitimate “escape” from the material world! ‘Do you not see how sweetly and peacefully a martyr dies?” he once wrote. “For those not fully accustomed to their everyday routine, death is an awesome tragedy, a horrendous cessation of all things; it is becoming lost in nothingness. But the one who intends to migrate from himself begins with death. How great are those men who have heeded this command and acted accordingly: ‘Die before you die.’

Shariati’s father was Aqa Muhammad Taqi Shariati, who had been part of the British intelligence freemasonic movement and had started the Center for the Propagation of Islamic Truth in Mashad, Iran. Of his father, Shariati says, “He stayed in the city, and strove mightily to preserve himself with knowledge, love, and jihad in the midst of the swamp of urban life.” The elder Shariati, he said, was “in the forefront of efforts to bring the modern-educated youth back to faith and Islam, delivering them from materialism, worship of the West, and hostility to religion.” It was the battle cry of the Khomeini revolution.

Traveling often between Paris and Teheran, Shariati built up a cult following among the youth of Iran. He introduced Iranian students to the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Albert Camus, Jacques Berque, and Louis Massignon, all writers of the anticapitalist existentialist swamp, all funded and guided by the same Club of Rome networks that gathered at Persepolis.

Fanon’s book, The Wretched of the Earth, in which he argues for anarchy and revolution in the Third World directed against “the West” and violence for violence’s sake, hecame Shariati’s bible. “Come friends, let us abandon Europe,” wrote Shariati. “Let us cease this nauseating, apish imitation of Europe. Let us leave behind this Europe that always speaks of humanity but destroys human heings wherever it finds them.”

Through his writings and the publication of his Farsi journal, Shariati became something of a legend. In 1977, he was apparently murdered, and although his cult followers-like Ibrahim Yazdi blamed the Shah for his death, it is more likely that he was killed by his backers in the Savak in order to create a martyr that would spark a movement around his figure. Were it not for Shariati, few students in Iran’s universities would have followed the mad Khomeini.” End.

18 Then reflect carefully upon those people who praised the Iranian Revolution, and took it as a model for all other Islamic countries, as a methodology of reform, and of giving “glory to Islaam”, and then understand the realities!

Dr. Umar Abdur-Rahmaan (the Egyptian Takfiri, Khariji) says in his cassette, “Kalimatee Ilaa Hukkaam Misr”: “Why is there such an assault by our rulers against the Islamic State in Iran?… Is this voracity in assaulting (them) merely due to historical differences between the madhhab of the Shi’ah and Ahl us-sunnah??… And there is nothing to prevent the acknowledgement of their success in placing the first seed for the Islamic Khilaafah which will lead the world, and which will conquer the countries and will return the servants to Islaam??.. And instead of attacking the brothers in Iran, and accusing them of what is not to be found in them, and trying to bury the Islamic State in its own plains, then why do we not follow by their way and follow their tracks and try to bring closeness between the Shi’ah and Ahl us-Sunnah??… And why all these false accusations which are in reality nobility, such as bringing about the Islamic Revolution???… So if they were doing this, then welcome to them and to their revolution… And if they were to stretch out a helping hand to their brothers, then, a white hand is more worthy of being accepted, than mere reviling and abuse…”.

And he said in a lecture that he delivered in America, “And there is no doubt an end should be put to every opppressive taaghiyah (i.e. assassinated, taken out), just as Shaah was ended, and just as Anwar Sadat was ended. And it was actually from here that the Islamic Revolution in Iraan emerged, and manifested honour, power and glory. And indeed it spread the spirit of serenity and certainty in the souls of the Muslimeen, Mujaahideen in every place generally, and in Egypt specifically. And this revolution which put an end to the tawaagheet, and has not ceased to do so, then it is obligatory upon us, us Muslims, that we put an end to them (i.e. the tawaagheet), indeed their noses have been buried in the dust, and has made them speak about the strength of Islaam and has made them to fear it. This Islamic Revolution in Iraan brought about the light of hope, and sent forth happiness and joy, and it was a starting point for Jihaad in the Path of Allaah, and the Muslims in every place are emulating its way, and are rejoicing with the mighty assistance that came from it…” Quoted from the Book, Al-Qutbiyyah, Hiyal-Fitnah Fa’rifoohaa p.57-58.

Mawdudi stated, “Verily, the revolution of Khomeini, was an Islamic revolution, and those who were responsible for it were an Islamic Jamaa’ah, and the youth took their Islamic tarbiyah (nurturing, education) from Islamic movements. It is upon all of the Muslims, and Islamic movements specifically, to strengthen this revolution with every form of support, and to cooperate with them in all the various places.” (As occurs in Mawqif Ulamaa al-Muslimeen p.48, by way of the book “al-Qutbiyyah” p. 57).

Abbaasi Madani, the leader of the Algerian Salvation Front, behind the Algerian Revolution, stated, “Certainly, the lamp which was illuminated by Imaam Khomeini illuminated all of our hearts. We firmly believe that the Iranian revolution will save the Islamic Ummah, rather the whole of mankind…The Algerian people are prepared to stand by your side in a single row in order to raise the flag of “Allaahu Akbar” in the world”. As occurs in “As-Sunnah” Magazine (Vol. 11 p. 57), note that this is the magazine of innovation and misguidance, and is amongst the reference points of the neo-Khawaarij.

So you can see that what these individuals are praising and commending, then its roots lie with the Kuffaar, and their philosophies and their methodologies. So they lauded a so called “Islamic Revolution”, whose doctrinal and ideological foundations are traced directly back through Shari’ati, to Fanon, to Sartre, to Heidegger!
19 “The turning point came in 1970, when Khomeini, still in Iraq, became one of the very few Shi’ite religious authorities to switch from traditionalism to totalitarianism. Much like Mawdudi, he called for a revolution to create an Islamic state, and inspired by Qutb, he condemned all non-theocratic regimes as idolatrous. His followers in Iran were active in Islamist cultural associations that spread, among others, the ideas of Qutb and Mawdudi. Qutb’s ideology was used by Khomeini’s students to recapture for the Islamist movement a whole generation influenced by the world’s predominant revolutionary culture—Marxism Leninism.” (Terror, Islam, and Democracy, by Ladan Boroumand and Roya Boroumand).

Source: Historical Development of the Methodologies of al- Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen And Their Effect and Influence Upon Contemporary Salafee Dawah, part 1,

About islamtees

The Qur'an and Sunnah upon the understanding of the Salafus-Saalih (Righteous Predecessors).
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