Remind them for thou (O Prophet) art an admonisher. Thou art not at all a warder over them.
It [Jamaati Islami] is not a missionary organization or a body of preachers or evangelists, but an organization of God’s troopers.
Abu Ala Maududi1
The picture of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islamsa painted by nineteenth century orientalists has been examined in the previous chapter. It was a picture of a fanatical warrior riding out of the Arabian deserts with a drawn sword in one hand and the Quran in the other, offering his helpless victims a choice between the two. The harshness of this picture, popularized by Edward Gibbon2 has now been toned down by modern orientalists. Even the well-known Jewish scholar, Bernard Lewis, with his dry British humor, had to admit that the picture, “Is not only false but also impossible—unless we are able to assume a race of left-handed swordsmen. In Muslim practice, the left hand is reserved for unclean purposes, and no self-respecting Muslim would use it to raise the Quran.’3
But there is one ‘self-respecting’ Muslim, Maulana Maududi, who clutched his drawn sword in his right hand, irrespective of its lack of relevance to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the practices of the Holy Prophetsa.
The Maulana claims to be a loyal follower of the Prophetsa, and, as such, one would expect him to talk admiringly of his Master. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But how can he see defects in his Lord which even Islam’s modem enemies reject? There are three answers to this question.
1 That the Maulana’s claim to be a loyal follower of Islam is false. In view of what the Maulana wrote in AI-Jihad fil lslam and his other works, the reader may reasonably be led to believe that the author is not even remotely concerned with the teachings of the Holy Prophetsa and that his claim to be a loyal follower is false. That would be a very serious charge. Since I belong to a sect which has been falsely accused of showing disrespect to the Holy Prophet, I would be the last to doubt the Maulana’s loyalty to our Lord and Master, Muhammad—may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
2 That the Maulana’s sense of values has been confused, so he has as much difficulty in telling good from evil as a color-blind person does in telling red from green.
3 That the Maulana is obsessed—obsessed with a desire for political power and authority. Obsession has been defined as ‘A persistent or recurrent idea, usually strongly tinged with emotion, frequently involving an urge towards some form of action; the whole mental situation being pathological.’4
Pierre Janet found that an obsessive person was scrupulous, ever conscientious and stricken by a sense of worthlessness.’(5) Elton Mayo has summarized Janet’s and his own characterization of obsessive in these terms: ‘They are the experts in arduous rethinking of the obvious—they substitute an exaggerated precision in minor activities for that activity in major affairs of which they are or feel themselves to be incapable.6
The Maulana’s childhood memories and adolescent experiences in Hyderabad, as we have seen earlier, led him towards one source of behavioral control—political power. Kurt Lewin has observed that if an individual’s behavior is to be understood, it must be in terms of his life-space—one has to relate the individual to his environment over the course of time and at the particular moment. Lewin’s field of interest is thus: ‘the life-space, containing the person and his psychological environment.7 Woodsworth and Sheehan elaborate Lewin’s theory and say:
The psychological (or behavioral) environment is, of course, the environment as perceived and understood by the person, but more than that, it is the environment as related to his present needs and quasi needs. Many objects which are perceived are of no present concern to him and so exist only in the background of his psychological environment. Other objects have positive or negative ‘valence’—positive if they promise to meet his present needs, negative if they threaten injury. Objects of positive valence attract him, while objects of negative valence repel him.8
Psychology is not an absolute science and it is still evolving, but Maulana Maududi’s ‘obsession’ seems to fit the theory we have discussed. That is not to say, of course, that there might not be another explanation of his obsessive behavior. Whatever the explanation, the Maulana’s vision has undoubtedly been blurred by obsession. He trips and, at times, stumbles into paths which have been traversed before him by the enemies of God. It is this obsession which causes him to support capital punishment for those who switch religions.9 This punishment has always been demanded for prophets and their followers who change from their traditional religion. It is the same obsession which impels him to put a sword into the Holy Prophet’ssa hand and, in doing so, to support those enemies of Islam who paint a gory picture of Muhammadsa. Since persuasion and force are mutually exclusive, the Maulana adopts the sword as a means of reform and rejects reasoning as a method of conversion. Persuasion and reasoning are difficult tasks of which he is or feels himself to be incapable. They entail sacrifice and long suffering in the face of opposition, as the Prophet’ssaMeccan life showed. So the Maulana rejects them as objects of negative valence. Force through political power seems to meet his present needs, so he adopts it and relates it to the Holy Prophetsa a life with a process of arduous thinking.
When I refer to the Maulana’s obsession, I do not mean to show him any disrespect, although, by putting a sword into the hands of my Lord and Master Muhammadsa be has shown disrespect to the Prophetsa and all he stood for. Reviewing Israel Shenker’s book, Coat of Many Colors, a collection of essays on Judaism, Hugh Nissenden says: ‘Mr. Shenker dramatizes his obsession in a way that makes the history of his people accessible and illuminating to everyone.10 I only wish the Maulana could put his obsession to good use. Instead, he justifies force, not only as legitimate, but also as an essential method of reform. He says: ‘It is not possible that they [the enemies of Islam] would sacrifice their interests in the face of persuasion and reasoning. All that one can do is to acquire political power11 and force them to stop their mischief.12
This method of reform seems to be effective and also easier than persuasion, which requires patience and persistence in the face of ridicule, rebuffs and snubs. It is so easy to convert people by force. There is no comparison between the two methods. One is easy and quick; the other difficult and time consuming, requiring the patience of Jobas. All reformers have had to endure ridicule and rejection. This is how the Quran describes their lot:
Those who were guilty used to laugh at those who believed; and when they passed by them, they winked at each other. When they came back to their families, they exulted over them; and when they saw them they exclaimed: ‘These indeed are the lost ones.’ But they were not appointed keepers over them. (83.30–4)
The verses quoted above explain why the Maulana would not follow the path of the reformers sent by God. People laugh at reformers and say: ‘Look at these people whose only weapon is persuasion! They are so weak we can crush them whenever we wish; and yet they claim to win people over by their reasoning and advice.’ So the Maulana rejected peaceful argument and said instead:
Anyone who wants to uproot mischief and disorder from this world and wants to reform mankind should realize that he cannot do so by mere sermonizing and counseling. It is useless. He should rise against the government of false principles, he should seize power, remove the wrongdoers from authority and set up a government based on sound principles and just administration.13
But the Maududian method of reform, which is modeled on Marxism, is not the divine way of saving mankind. In God’s plan, persuasion is so important that, even in an age of general moral decline, only pious believers ‘who exhort one another with truth and steadfastness’ (103.4) will succeed. Even a cursory glance at history will reveal that for spiritual and moral revolutions God asks his servants to win over the people with truth and patience. Patience and prayer are the integral part of religious revolution and they should continue to be exhorted till God’s promise is fulfilled. It is foretold that ‘the [pleasing] end is for the righteous’. (7.129)
All God’s messengers have followed this method of religious reform, one which is totally opposed to the Marxist use of force. The Quran preserves the account of many prophets and evangelists. According to this divine account, Noah’sas instrument of revolution was persuasion and Abraham’sas was also. It was the instrument of Shuaibas and Salehas. Lotas was also sent as a counselor and so was Mosesas. Jesusas caused a revolution with his sermons. And, above all, the Seal of the Prophets, the leading reformer of all time, our Master Muhammadsa was sent to bring about a universal spiritual revolution with nothing but persuasion and reasoning. But the Maulana not only ignores this tradition of God’s holy messengers; he also contradicts it in the following words: ‘Anyone who wants to uproot mischief and disorder from this world and wants to reform mankind should realize that he cannot do so by mere sermonizing and counseling. It is useless.’
Let us compare this Maududian dictum with the unbroken tradition of God’s messengers. When Noah’sas people accused him of spreading ‘manifest error’, he replied:
O my people, there is no error in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of the world. I deliver to you the message of my Lord and give you sincere advice, and I know from Allah what you do not know. (7.62–3)
This is God’s account of Noah’sas ministry. According to the Maududian dictum, Noahas should have said: ‘I am the Messenger of God and I shall impose upon you, whether you like it or not, a body of righteous men who will take away your power.’
When the people of Ad told Hudas he was lost in foolishness, he did not say: ‘Do not be deceived and consider me a fool because of the harmlessness of the advice; you are not seeing the real me. In fact, I am an oppressor and one day I will seize power from the hands of those who have rebelled against God and give it to my own, righteous, people.’ Indeed, he did not. Instead, he followed the tradition of the prophets and said:
O my people, there is no foolishness in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds. I deliver to you the messages of my Lord and I am to you a sincere and faithful counselor. (7.68–9)
The people of Thamud, like those of Ad, rejected Salehas and accused him of all sorts of things. But, following Noahas and Hudas, he told them: ‘O my people, I did deliver the message of my Lord unto you and offered you sincere counsel, but you love not sincere counselors.’ (7.80)
And then God sent Lotas, whose followers also made no attempt to seize power from the misguided, and continued to reason with them till they were punished. Before the appointed punishment came, Lotas and his followers left their homes with God’s permission. And then came that morning about which tyrants have always been admonished: ‘Hopeless will that morning be for those who have been warned.’ (37.178)
The seventh chapter of the Quran continues with the story of the misguided people and the messengersas of God who tried to reform them. After telling the story of Lotsa, the Quran tells us how Shuaibas reasoned with his arrogant people and pleaded with his cruel tormentors. When all his advice was rejected, he turned away from them and said: ‘O my people. indeed, I deliver to you the messages of my Lord and give you sincere counsel. How, then, should I sorrow for a disbelieving people?’ (7.94)
The Quran, which for Maulana Maududi and all Muslims is the Word of God, tells us that all God’s messengers give sermons and advice and when these are rejected, they cry and pray before their Lord. They have an unshakeable belief in their message and, instead of seizing power from their enemies, they continue to offer love and kindness. They reason gently, impart advice with humility and leave the result to God. He alone is the Lord and He bestows the earth on whoever He pleases. The wishes of all His messengers are epitomized in Moses’as words: ‘O Lord, send down on us steadfastness and make us die as men who have surrendered to Thee.’ (7.127) Mosesas advised his people, ‘to seek help from Allah and wait in patience and constancy’ (7.129) and told them that the ‘Earth belongs to Allah; He gives it as a heritage to whoever He pleases’. (7.129) It is not for righteous men to seize power by force. All that we know is that ‘the end is best for the God-fearing’. (7.129)
After Mosesas, Jesusas, too, spent his life exhorting and counseling and never considered seizing power. Finally, the chief of all prophets, Muhammadsa was sent as an exhorter and counselor to invite the people to be virtuous, not as a kind of a policeman or a soldier. God named him ‘admonisher’ and said: ‘Remind them, for thou art an admonisher. Thou hast no authority to compel them.’ (88.22–3)
But the Maulana insists that he and his followers ‘are not a body of religious preachers and evangelists, but an organization of God’s troopers so that they “may be a witness against mankind”’. (2.144) The task of these ‘troopers’ is to use force to wipe out ‘injustice, mischief, disorder, disobedience and exploitation from the world’. (14)
God tells the greatest of his prophets: ‘We have not appointed thee a keeper over them, nor art thou over them a guardian’. (6.108) But Maulana Maududi reserves for himself and his followers not only the authority of a policeman, but also the powers of a magistrate. It is surprising that God did not give the Prophetsa, His greatest reformer, temporal authority over the hearts of unbelievers, but gave it instead to Maulana Maududi and his followers. The Holy Prophetsa—the embodiment of mercy and compassion—prayed hard that he should become instrumental in showing the path of righteousness to all mankind. But God answered: ‘Will thou, then, take it upon thyself to force people to become believers?’ (10.100) As far as believers are concerned, God told the Holy Prophetsa ‘And if Allah had enforced His will, they would not have set up gods with Him. And We have not made thee as keeper over them, nor art thou over them a guardian.’ (6.108)
In contrast to the established conduct of all the messengers of God mentioned in the Holy Quran by name or in general, Maulana Maududi gave himself the authority to oppress and compel God’s servants so that the Jamaat Islami could eradicate injustice, mischief, disorders, disobedience and exploitation from the world’.15
The Maulana’s ambition of seizing power knew no bounds: he would go to any lengths to achieve it. He was totally obsessed with political authority and considered that the worship of God had been prescribed to train Muslims to usurp power and rule the world. For him, worship had no spiritual purpose. It was not a religious experience, a meeting ground between man and his Creator, but a ritual of self-discipline. God says: ‘I have created Jinn and men that they may worship Me.’ (51.57) The world was created for the worship of God. Worship was not created for any other purpose. But the Maulana insists:
The prayers (salat), fasting, charity (zakat) and pilgrimage have been prescribed to prepare and train us for this purpose (Jihad). All the governments in the world give their armies special and specific training, their police and civil service too. In the same way, Islam also trains those who join its service—then requires them to go to jihad and establish the government of God.16
No religion in the world preaches such a materialistic concept of worship. But even the worship of God can become nothing more than an army drill for a person who is obsessed.
Ambition is impatient by definition, but of all ambitions power mania brooks least delay. So the Maulana would not take the straight path—it was too narrow and too long for him. And Marxism, too, will not take the long and hard route of democracy to liberate the oppressed. Instead, it adopts violence to try to overthrow the elected government of the day. The Maulana’s method of reform is no different from the Marxist ideology of violent struggle. The Maulana says: ‘Stand up to reform people wherever you can. Try to replace wrong principles with correct ones. Snatch away executive and legislative powers from those who do not fear God.’17
It is surprising that a journalist of Maulana Maududi’s long political experience could not understand the principle that governments should not be overthrown by force, whatever the reason. To break this basic rule is to destroy law and order. The fires of civil war would consume the very fabric of society.
Firstly, no party can be its own judge and decide its intentions are good. Secondly, even if those intentions are good, the opposition parties cannot be condemned out of hand. It is inconceivable that every member of the opposition is cruel, unjust or evil, while every member of God’s troopers’ is pious, God-fearing and free from greed and lust. The fact is that parties which start the work of reform with high-flying claims are the ones which soon become greedy for power, their good intentions burned up by the flames of greed. The Maulana himself explains how uncontrollable is the desire for power:
As everyone knows, power is such a dangerous demon that the very desire of it is accompanied by an all-consuming greed. Man eagerly looks forward to owning earthly treasures and controlling his fellow creatures so that he may exercise absolute power over them.18
One problem in uttering such uncontrolled rhetoric is that even an experienced journalist like Maududi forgets the inherent contradictions within his writings. If the very thought of power can bring a dangerous change of heart, what guarantee is there that the ‘upright’ members of the Jamaati Islami would not be corrupted by absolute power? No doubt these ‘upright’ men have undergone the ‘civil service training’ prescribed by God, i.e. Islamic worship (prayers, fasting and zakat), but this ‘service training’ is not restricted to the Jamaati Islami. Ahmadi worship is not accepted as Islamic worship, according to Maulana Maududi, but what about Brelvi and Deobandi worship? Is Shiite worship not Islamic worship? Would anyone say that the prayers offered by Ahli Quran are non-Islamic? If so, why should not these Muslim sects ‘rise against governments based on false principles, seize power, remove the wrongdoers and establish a government based on sound and just administration?’ ‘False’, ‘wrongdoers’, ‘sound’ and ‘just’ are relative terms. What is false according to the Jamaati Islami may not be false according to the Deobandis. What is sound and just according to the Deobandis may not be sound and just for theBrelvis. Then, what about non-Muslims? They, too, have their own views about what is right and wrong. If their views were no different from those of Muslims, they would have queued to join Islam. Would they also have had aright to overthrow the government of the day?
Good intentions or reform projects cannot become an excuse to overthrow governments. There are such vast differences in the definition of ‘uprightness’ between different political parties that if all these differences were accepted, no party could be considered ‘upright’. For instance, according to the Maulana, the Ahmadiyyah Movement has no connection with Islam; the British government created it to divide the Muslim umma so that Muslims would be dissuaded from jihad and their strength sapped. It is alleged that the movement was developed to act as a fifth column to destroy the Muslim umma from within.
But the Ahmadi self-image is very different from that of the Jamaat Islami. Ahmadis believe their movement was founded to establish supremacy and to bring about a Muslim rebirth. It was not the British, but God Himself, who planted its seed to fulfill a promise He made to the people of Muhammadsa. He promised to send a Mahdi for the reform of the umma and raise a Messiah who, with his irrefutable reasoning, would destroy the Cross, the Cross which inflicted suffering on Jesussa. It is that Mahdi and that Messiah who founded this community, now busy in the selfless service of mankind. On one hand, the community humbly counsels and advises people to change themselves, while, on the other, it fights and defeats Christianity on every front. How can one believe that the Ahmadiyyah Movement was set up by the British—themselves Christian? Does one expect the British to support, let alone found, a community which is devoted to eradicating the Trinity and planting the holy tree of the Unity of God? Wherever Ahmadis have gone, the weed of the Trinity has withered and the ever-beautiful plant of the Unity has flourished with fragrant flowers and sweet fruits. If that is the fruit of a plant sown by the British, then one only wishes they had sown a few more, so that the revival of Islam and the dissolution of Christianity had been accelerated!
What Ahmadis believe about themselves is exactly the opposite of the Maulana’s views about them. In the Ahmadiyyah view, the founder of their movement was deeply immersed in the love of the Holy Prophet, Muhammadsa. The following lines from one of his poems show the ecstasy of his love and the depth of his devotion for the Holy Prophetsa
My intoxication in the loving of Muhammadsa is second only to that of God
If this can be dubbed as disbelief, then God be my witness that I am the greatest of disbelievers
According to the Ahmadis, their belief is deeply rooted in the love of the Seal of the Prophet, Muhammadsa. But Maulana Maududi asserts that their roots go deep into the British soil of imperialism. The two views are entirely opposed.
Let us examine the converse view. The Maulana asserts that the Jamaat Islami has been founded to create a body of ‘upright’ men through a long discipline of Islamic worship. These people should reach such a point of readiness that Islam can say to them: ‘Yes, now you are the most upright servants of God on earth. Forward, Muslim soldiers, fight the rebels of God, dispossess them of authority and take the reins of government in your hands.’ Thanks to the Maulana’s efforts, that body of upright men is now ready and waiting to gain strength to overthrow the government of the day.
The Maulana really believes that this body of ‘upright’ men was created to reform mankind and raise Islam’s flag in the world. It will abolish everything ungodly and carve with the sword the name of Allah on every heart.
The Maulana’s claim that the members of Jamaat Islami are the most upright servants of God is believed to be baseless by the Ahmadis. As a matter of principle, everyone has the right to consider himself and his followers to be in the right. To be right is one thing. To be upright is quite another. We cannot claim we are righteous and upright. Man is lost in a maze of self-deception, delusion and outright hypocrisy, so that he is unable to describe himself with any accuracy. Who knows the secrets of the heart, the lust of the mind and the hidden desires, except God? Only He knows who is upright and who sins. There are exceptions, of course. Some people exhibit unmistakable and conclusive signs of their uprightness, so that the love of God is evident from their behavior. God talks with them as He talked with the upright people of the past. His light shines over them as it did over the great mystics and saints of the umma and His succor and support becomes manifest, both in words and deeds.
Therefore Ahmadis totally reject Maulana Maududi’s claim that the Jamaat Islami was founded to raise the flag of Islam. That is, in fact, a degrading and defaming of the religion which he professes to follow. The followers of Maulana Maududi can claim whatever they want within the safety of a Muslim country like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, but let them take their creed of ‘Islam by force’ elsewhere and just see what reception it gets. Can they convert Christians, with their belief in Jesusas living since his crucifixion in heaven, to Islam? Can they destroy the Cross? Can anyone raise the flag of Islam with these Maududian beliefs?
There is no doubt in an Ahmadi mind that the teaching of Maulana Maududi brings Islam into disrepute and makes it a target of ridicule. The Jamaat Islami is not only not a friend of Islam, but also it is a form of communism. Devoid of spiritual values, hungry for power, the Jamaat Islami is inspired by Moscow, not Mecca.
In short, Ahmadis censure the Jamaat Islami as greatly as the Maulana censures the Ahmadiyyah for supposedly being abusive and vituperative. Multiply these two opposing views among other sects and groups of the umma and you will see each of them tearing apart the other’s claim of uprightness. Who, then, should ‘Stand up to reform people and snatch away the executive and legislative powers from people who have no fear of God?’
Power obsession is the focal point of Maulana Maududi’s concept of reform. He sees the Prophet’ssa life in political terms, explains Islamic worship in military jargon and interprets the Quran as pure power politics. The Maulana knows he is incapable of reforming by persuasion, patience and humility, so he puts forward a policy of violence and disorder. The most generous interpretation of his aims is that his intentions were good. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Quranic verdict, however, is explicit: ‘When it is said to them: Create not disorder in the land, they retort: We are only seeking to promote peace. Take note—most certainly it is they who create disorder, but they realize it not. (2.12–13)
- Maulana Maududi, Haqiqat-i-Jihad (Lahore:
Taj Company Ltd, 1964), 58.
- Edward Gibbon,
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5, ed. J.B. Buey
(London: 1909–14), 332.
- Bernard Lewis, The
Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1983), 3.
- James Drever, A
Dictionary of Psychology , revised by Harvey
- Pierre Janet,Les Observations
et la psychasthenie (Paris: Alcan, 1903);
see Robert S. Wandsworth and Mary Sheehan, Contemporary
School of Psychology
(New York: The Ronald Press Company, 3rd ed., 1964),
- Elton Mayo,
Some Notes on the Psychology of Pierre Janet (Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1948); see Robert
S. Woodsworth and
Mary Sheehan, op.cit .,
- Kurt Lewin, ‘The
Conceptual representation and the measurement of psychological
forces’, Contributions to Psychological
Theory , 1, (4), 2.
- Robert S. Woodsworth
and Mary Sheehan, op.cit .,
- The conversion
of religion is called irtidad and treated as
apostasy by Maulana Maududi.
- Hugh Nissenden, ‘ Scripture
and Survival ’, The New York Times Book Review,
17 March 1985, 12.
- The Maulana’s
original Urdu word for ‘political power’ is iqtidar.
- Haqiqat-i-Jihad , op.cit .,
The original Urdu sentence is involved
and the Maulana has used the Urdu word hukumat twice in the
sentence in two different