Hist 405 MODERN HISTORY OF MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES 1948-2008 FORMAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE UNIVERSITY, LAHORE
Muhammad Umer Toor 12-10662
Mr. Khizer Jawad
“The Muslims of the world are passing through the most critical period in their history. The western civilization called modernism has dominated over all other civilizations with the forceful hammerings of scientific advancement ... Although the Muslims of all countries are trying hard to ward off the mighty blow dealt by modernism, they are losing ground against it. Even most of the Muslims themselves have welcomed it and are now gradually being absorbed into this universal civilization.”1
What Maryam Jameelah, an American-Jewish convert to Islam, has illustrated in preceding quote is the gist of this paper. This is from where we begin and end into a world of infinite possibilities only. According to Iqbal the challenges which modernity posed to Islamic world, especially Middle Eastern countries for their leading role in Islamic world, had never been faced by it before.2 Almost all of the Muslim countries, including Middle Eastern countries, had been in a state of intellectual and political tension between two opposing internal forces, i.e., Islamic and modernized, nationalist. The struggle and tension began with the political dominance of Western nations, including France, Great Britain, etc., well in 18th century, reaching climax and subsequent withdrawl of its direct governance and/or military occupation in the beginning-half of 20th century. Muslims before Western intervention, which resulted in their global fragmentation into divided national units, were reasonably one Ummah (community or nation) which can be explained by the analogy of a strong wall made up of various kinds of rocks and stones, integrated into one unit.3 After the encounter with modernity or Western civilization4, the ‘wall’ 1 2
http://maryamjameelah.wordpress.com/. Also see her book, Islam and Modernism. See, Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, by M. Iqbal. He was talking, however, specifically about challenges related to legal issues and jurisprudence. 3 Youtube lecture: Islam & Authors: Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr - Part 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60_H3R36N50. Accessed on 25th Jan 2012.
representing global Islamic unity broke into pieces. These disunited ‘pieces’, essentially Muslim countries finding their identity based on geographical boundries or ethnicity, started to deny any possibility or existence of unity amongst them greater than their national and/or civilizational identities. This was how nationalism expressed itself (and does so to this day) in Muslim countries. The repurcussions of this advent, which I call ‘encounter of Islam with modernity’, had been profound and far-reaching, affecting all aspects of traditional Islamic societies, from education to politics, from governance to family systems. This created two classes of mind-set with distinct world-views: a Traditional Islamic mindset that traced its roots to divine revealation of Islam; and a modernized mindset trained in modern educational systems, which felt more at home with all things with Western. Modernized Muslims ascended to the ranks of power and ruled Muslims masses with aspirations to Westernize their countries in totality. Traditional Islam and its political elite lost its sway with the replacement of Shariah Law with Roman or English or French law and government systems; although cultural aspects of Muslim socieites continued to survive, albeit with constant losing battles with the monoculture of West. Leadership was transfered to modernized Muslims who were completely hopeless of Quran as a source of minhaaj, a way of solving problems both at individual and societal levels. With their utter hopelessness in Qur’anic worldview, modernized Muslims looked up to knowledge...