Saturday, December 04, 2010
By Shibli Zaman
Born in the Ottoman Principality of Wallachia, Romania in 1435 AD, he was known as Radu al III-lea cel Frumos to his Romanian countrymen, Yakışıklı Radu Beyto the Turks, Radu al-Wasim to the Arabs, and Radu the Handsome in English. This ally and childhood friend of Sultan Mehmet II was instrumental in the conquest of Constantinople for Islam. Radu’s participation in that conquest ensured that Mehmet II would go down in history as “Fatih,” or “Conqueror.” Radu was the Ottomans’ secret weapon against the Safavids to the East and the Serbs, Romanians and Hungarians to the West. The Muslim world owes much to this hero of Islam, yet they recorded little other than cursory references to him, perhaps for fear of taking away from Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s limelight. The Byzantines recorded Radu as a reviled despot due to their hatred for his conversion to Islam and instrumental role in ending the Byzantine Empire.
Yet, this Ottoman general had a greater war, a war against darkness. He hunted the very progenitor of the vampire legend who impaled his enemies and drank their blood – Vlad al III-lea Ţepeş, also known as Vlad Drăculea, who would go down in infamy as, simply, Dracula. The character of Professor Abraham Van Helsing was no more than a figment of Bram Stoker’s terrifying imagination, but Sultan Mehmet II and Radu cel Frumos were perhaps the first and only true vampire hunters in history.
The Blood Brothers
Looking back, Radu’s devotion to Islam and to Sultan Mehmet II could be traced to the political alliance of their respective fathers before them. Vlad II from the House ofDrăculeşti (“House of the Dragon”) was an ally and vassal of Sultan Mehmet’s father, Sultan Murad II. Vlad II had 4 sons: Mircea II, Vlad IV Călugărul (“The Monk”), Vlad III who would come to be known as Dracula, and Radu III cel Frumos (“The Handsome”). As a gesture of unity with the Sultan, Vlad II offered his sons, Dracula and Radu, to serve the Ottoman Sultan. Under the Janissaries they studied the Qur’an, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence, and, coveted above all, Turkish military strategy and tactics of war.
The Ottoman special forces who held a higher status both militarily as well as socially than the rank and file were the Janissaries and the Sipahis. The Janissaries were the elite infantry of the Ottoman military as well as the personal bodyguards of the Sultan and his family. The Sipahis were the elite cavalry who surrounded the Sultan in battle and would be sent to deal with the most stubborn of adversaries. They were the commandos and special forces of their day. Though the Sipahis were almost exclusively Turkic in origin as demanded by Sultan Mehmet II himself in his treatise of law entitled Kanun Nameh-e-Sipahi (“Law Book of the Sipahis”), the Janissaries, within whose ranks Dracula and Radu found themselves, were conversely converts to Islam.
The young Dracula continually abused and rebelled against his hosts earning himself imprisonment and castigation. Due to the heavy handedness of the Turks in response to his insolence, he developed a compounded and complex series of grudges. He hated his father for allying with the Turks, which he saw as a betrayal of the Order of the Dragon to which his father had sworn an oath. The Order of the Dragon was a Christian fraternity whose sole aim was to wipe out Islam from the Balkans forever. Dracula hated Radu for his successes and the favor the Turks bestowed upon him. He was filled with jealousy for the then young Mehmet II who, like him, was a prince, but, very unlike him, lived in splendor. He was also jealous of his brothers Mircea and Vlad the Monk due to what he perceived as his father’s preference for them. His sentiments for Mircea however, would teeter between jealousy and awe. It is from him that the young Dracula learned the terror tactic of impaling thousands to create forests of the dead.
Radu remained faithful to Islam and the Sultan and spent his entire life in battle on the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, vanquishing the most difficult adversaries of the Empire. His natural knack for battle was unparalleled even amongst the Janissaries and elite Sipahis of the Ottoman military, and he would be called upon frequently to subdue any foe that seemed insurmountable. It is reported that he turned the very course of Near Eastern history when he stopped the mighty Ak Koyunlu from overrunning the Ottomans, an event that, if not stopped, would have definitely changed the faces of both the Middle East and Europe today. For this very reason, he was called upon to face the threat from his homeland of Wallachia that neither the elite Janissaries nor the Sipahis could route.
The Conquest of Constantinople
“On the third day after the fall of our city, the Sultan celebrated his victory with a great, joyful triumph. He issued a proclamation: the citizens of all ages who had managed to escape detection were to leave their hiding places throughout the city and come out into the open, as they were to remain free and no question would be asked. He further declared the restoration of houses and property to those who had abandoned our city before the siege, if they returned home, they would be treated according to their rank and religion, as if nothing had changed.” (George Sphrantzes,1401-1478, Byzantine Christian chronicler and witness of the fall of Constantinople)
It was a time of relief and rejoicing. It was a relief for the inhabitants of Constantinople who expected a prompt culling following the fall of their city. It was a time of celebration for the entire Muslim world for this historical conquest of a city that has remained, to this very day, the capital of the Turks. Yet as Sultan Mehmet II rode into the city victorious, a glance over to his childhood friend and chief of the Janissaries, Radu cel Frumos, son of Vlad II Duke of Wallachia, may have served as a sobering reminder that to the North, beyond the spoils of Byzantium, their fiercest enemies lay in wait. Among those enemies was the most feared of them all, Dracula, who just so happened to be Radu’s own brother.
The Rise of Dracula
Opportunistic betrayal was the way of Wallachia’s rulers and in one such brief betrayal, Vlad II silently allowed his older sons, Mircea and Vlad IV, to launch an insurrection after which Mircea impaled all his prisoners upon stakes. The young Dracula loved the sight of this and later joined Mircea in further insurrections against the Ottomans as well as the rival Dăneşti clan supported by the Hungarian warlord, John Hunyadi. Ultimately, Hunyadi overran Dracula’s father, slew him in the marshes of Bălteni and blinded and buried Mircea alive at Târgovişte. Hunyadi installed a Dăneşti prince, Vladislav II, over Wallachia. In his ambition and lust for power, Dracula put aside any vengeful sentiments for his slaughtered father and brother and allied with Hunyadi and served him as an adviser. As John Hunyadi went to face the Turks at Belgrade in modern day Serbia, Dracula attacked and slew Vladislav and took the throne for himself. As fortune would have it, a plague broke out amongst Hunyadi’s camp, infecting him which lead to his death. Sultan Mehmet was severely wounded in the battle. These events left Dracula to rule Wallachia uninterrupted for 6 years. It was the only time he ruled his home for so long.
“I have killed men and women, old and young… We killed 23,884 Turks and Bulgarians without counting those whom we burned in their homes or whose heads were not cut by our soldiers.” (Dracula, in a letter to Matthias Corvinus bragging of his tyranny)
As Sultan Mehmet approached what appeared to be a fetid balding forest of rotting trees in the distance he soon realized the horror of what he approached. They were so close to their destination – the Wallachian capital of Târgoviște -that he was in no mood for this puzzling sight. But the figures became more clear as the steeds in the cavalry grew unruly and the infantry felt ill. Before him stood 20,000 impaled bodies of innocent men, women and children, all victims of Dracula in that winter of 1462.
Dracula’s Muslim upbringing, albeit abandoned in deference to opportunity, and fluency in Turkish enabled him to move about the Ottomans’ most secured camps freely as a Turk without being noticed. This had deadly consequences for the Muslims. Dracula had entered Serbia with his men all dressed as Turkish Sipahis and slaughtered all the Muslim villagers, and those non-Muslims friendly to them that they could find. The intent was to leave a horrifying memento for Sultan Mehmet whom they knew to be soon taking their capital city. They erected this unholy monument in a bid to alarm the Sultan and terrorize his troops in hopes that they might turn around and retreat home.
What is remarkable is that there are no records of mass desertion of Ottoman troops after witnessing this. They pressed on unflinchingly. However, some historians have suggested that Sultan Mehmet II lost his taste for hunting down the ‘vampire’ following this invasion of Wallachia and left the task up to the only one who was capable of hunting down Dracula and killing him. After taking the Wallachian capital of Târgoviște, Mehmet returned home, leaving the hunt to Radu. After all, it would take someone who knew the mind of Dracula to defeat him, and none fit this bill better than his own brother.
This event earned Dracula the name of Vlad Ţepeş, the Romanian word “Ţepeş” meaning “Impaler”. Legend has it that if you look closely at the word you can see Dracula’s fangs dangling beneath as a hidden warning to the vampire’s terrible lust for blood.
Radu vs. Dracula: Brothers in Blood
As Târgoviște was taken, Dracula fled towards Transylvania in hopes of finding refuge with John Hunyadi’s son Matthias Corvinus. As was typical of Dracula’s opportunism and lack of reverence for religion, he offered to become Catholic in order to win Corvinus’ favor. He scorched the earth and slaughtered all the living in his path leaving a wake of desolation and writhing impaled bodies. He would not give up his homeland to the Muslims that easily. He began a beleaguering campaign of guerilla warfare that the elite Ottoman Sipahis could not endure. It is said he slaughtered 15,000 of the Ottoman soldiers in one single night. Still, as the mightiest of the Ottomans fled, Radu was undeterred seemingly driven by what can only be interpreted as an austere piety, to end the bloody reign of his haplessly misguided brother. None remained to fight Dracula save Radu and his fellow Romanian Muslim Janissaries.
The brothers fought lingering battles for the throne of Wallachia and Radu’s control of the region increased staggeringly with Dracula receiving less and less support from Matthias Corvinus in Hungary. In a strange twist of fate, Corvinus, the one to whom Dracula retreated, had him imprisoned for 12 years on charges of high treason. The people of Wallachia and their Christian nobles had enough of Dracula’s terror and put their support behind Radu who was pronounced Voivod, Prince and Ruler of Wallachia in 1462. Radu ruled the land prosperously for 11 years until his death while Dracula wasted away in a Budapest prison patiently waiting to rise again from the darkness.
Dracula’s Release and Final Battle
After Radu’s death in 1473, Dracula was released from prison. He immediately assembled an army and invaded Bosnia, slaughtering its Muslim population and impaling 8,000 on stakes in a forest of human bodies. Once again, Dracula had arisen from the darkness with the objective of eliminating Islam from the Balkans forever. He finally acquired the throne of Wallachia after his departed brother, but only for a month. Sultan Mehmet invaded Wallachia to remove this profanity from the throne his dear friend Radu had vacated in death. In 1476 the forces of Sultan Mehmet faced the forces of Dracula in Bucharest, Romania. Dracula’s army was overrun in a blitz and all were killed, including Dracula himself. The vampire had been slain. News of this did not suffice. His head was cut off and preserved in a jar of honey and sent to Constantinople. There, in a fitting end, Dracula’s head was impaled upon a stake in the center of Constantinople for all to see. There was to be no doubt or mystery.
The Muslims had finally, at last, killed Dracula.
- Dracula: Essays on the Life and Times of Vlad Ţepeş, Kurt W. Treptow
- Vlad III Dracula: The Life and Times of the Historical Dracula, Kurt W. Treptow
- The Complete Dracula, Radu Florescu, Raymond T. McNally
- Vlad Ţepeş, Prince of Walachia, Nicolae Stoicescu
- Tarikh al-Dawlah al-`Uthmaniyyah fi-l `Usur al-Wusta (Arabic), Dr. Mahmud al-Huwayri
- Al-`Uthmaniyin fi-l Tarikh wal-Hadharah(Arabic), Dr. Muhammad Harb
- Tarikh al-Dawlah al-`Uthmaniyyah (Arabic), Dr. Ali Hassoun
- Al-Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih (Arabic), Dr. Sayyid Ridwan `Ali
Message from Ambassador Yeop Adlan Rose to The International Islamic Retreat in Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago on “The Signs Of The Last Day In History, An Islamic Perspective”, organized by His Eminence Sheikh Imran N.Hosein , 2nd to 12th October 2009.
Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim,
His Eminence Maulana Sheikh Imran N. Hosein,
Distinguished Guests and,
All Participants at The International Islamic Retreat,
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
May Allah Bless your gathering and Reward you for your noble effort, and Grant you all success in your endeavours for all that is best in Islam, and for the cause of The Muslim Ummah.
I am thankful for the opportunity to forward, in all humility, the following to your gathering which you might consider amongst your other deliberations, and give it the due you deem it deserves.
My Brethrens in Islam,
1. A sweeping historical look at the World of Islam.
Since the first civilisational city state society-order of Islam was established in Madinah led by Prophet Muhammad S.A.W., Islam and its influence spread rapidly, and at its height was the largest single empire the world had known then, introducing and bringing with it a civilization, derived from The Koran and The Sunnah, which impacted on mankind on a way of life previously unknown. A way of life supreme, as it is one in which Man is merely a vicegerent of Allah,The Omnipotent,The Mighty,The Creator and The Owner of Everything, including Man’s very Life, which he is to live in justice to Allah, and to do justice to all of Allah’s blessings to him including the knowledge and his use of the Earth and the Universe around him.
Muslims have gone through Islam’s epochs of glory and seen many Islamic empires since. And equally, gone through many a travais since, the major ones being the onslaught of the Crusades by the Christians from Europe; the rape, pillage and plunder of the Mongols on Baghdad; the military defeat and blight of the Islamic empire of Andalusia; and the wars and ensuing centuries of colonization by Western European powers; the last one the major cause of a fragmented world of Islam today, inflicting havoc and chaos on the Muslim way of life, world view, and including the break up of the last centrally-powered Islamic empire, the world of the Uthmaniahs.
2. The World Today.
The world today can summarily be described as standing on the injustices and the ensuing chaos Man has inflicted on himself and his surroundings.
The Industrial Revolution and Western Dominance.
For centuries the world has been dominated and led by the West, powered by the engines of the industrial revolution they pioneered.
Acknowledged, they led in discoveries and inventions in science and technology, in engineering,shipbuilding,transportations,communications,aeronautics,agriculture, medicine and pharmaceuticals, etc.etc ,to the highest levels of inventions Mankind has ever known for a better life all round. Nonetheless it should not be overlooked, that this enormous contribution to Human civilization was not from knowledge which was totally their monopoly.They learnt from the Muslims coming out as they did from Western Europe when it was in the Dark Ages.The Muslims built on knowledge from the Romans; who in turned learned from the Greeks, and the Greeks from ancient Egypt and China and so on. It was derived from the treasury of human knowledge accumulated through the ages. Not to be forgotten, the Industrial Revolution was also to lead the West in scientific discovery, knowledge and inventions of sophisticated armaments and of rocket science, producing the most horrific and destructive weapons of war Man has ever known to inflict on himself.
The “Free Enterprise System” which was extolled by the West became a creed, developed into an ideology as it was found to be the fertile ground which gave forth scientific discovery and technological inventions the ends of which was not just to fulfill Man’s needs,but soon found to be a means for enormous profit and gain,and subsequently, for power and for even more profit and gain,and of course, finally, for ultimate power for complete control of Mankind.
While it unleashed scientific discoveries and technological inventions many useful to Man, it brought inherent greed and exploitation, and unleashed a ravenous appetite for all of the Earth’s minerals and resources, renewable and non renewable.The free enterprise system bred and fed Man’s greed,for material and monetary wealth and for power to get at the Earth’s resources and to build more wealth.Greed for monetary wealth and power fed on each other in a never ending cycle until that time surely to come when both will be left exhausted, each unable to sustain itself and sustain the other. In the meantime,in it’s wake, it brought forth horrific wars on Mankind and left a third of mankind impoverished, and a planet Earth denuded,ravished and exhausted of it’s natural resources.
Today, we are witnessing the ensuing chaos before our eyes.This greed unleashed,bred on the free enterprise system; with a banking system based on Riba,in which itself greed is a manifest; is floundering upon itself,falling apart.That is what the recent collapse of Lehman Brothers signify.The monetary system using useless paper money; the banking system based on Riba;the industrial mammoth created feeding on an ever expanding market consumption; on greed for monetary wealth and a ravenous appetite for natural resources to fuel and sustain it;and finally, the craving for power to hold it all together;are all falling apart on their own contradictions.The contradictions of Man’s injustice to himself and to his fellowmen as Allah’s vicegerent on earth, and Man’s injustice to Allah’s blessings of this earth to use it in justice to Allah.Man,no doubt, will pay and suffer,and is thus suffering, the consequences of his own injustices.
What we are seeing today is only the beginning of the process of the West and it’s free enterprise system falling apart on it’s own injustices.Many more banking and insurance foreclosures, giant industry shutdowns due to uncompetitiveness because of greed,massive unemployment, widespread poverty and indebtedness among their own peoples, political turmoil and politico-economic systemic breakdowns are certain to follow.
A Monopoly of Knowledge on Human Rights’Values ?
Their dominance via the free enterprise system, advanced by their power from their leadership in scientific discovery and technological inventions since the Industrial Revolution, including their military might, all arising from seemingly their monopoly of all knowledge, was also to lead the West to think that they excelled, held a monopoly of knowledge on, and are the torch bearers, on human values of freedom,human rights and democracy etc.
However, ask the West how they can reconcile the human rights’ values in the Magna Carta,or the those from the cries of Liberte’,Egalite’,Fraternite’ to their colonization of and subject of peoples all over the British,French,Spanish,Portuguese,Dutch,Belgian,German,Italian Empires, destroying ethnic civilizations and breaking down indigenous ways of life of millions of peoples, many suffering souls lost, to this day.
Or ask of that which we are familiar with, the American holier than thou independence declaration, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are,Life,Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,”.Anything wrong in that?
Nothing wrong,except that when he wrote it, Thomas Jefferson,one of the founding fathers of the American constitution,had slaves in his own house! So, what equal men was he talking about when he wrote the Declaration of Independence? The white man,not the American Indians,not the slaves,not any other people obviously.And by the way, he slept with one of the slaves in his house and had children by her,a fact hidden and made known only in recent times!And still by the way,which Creator was he referring to, who,as conceived by him, turned out a rather unjust Creator indeed?
The Western European colonizers in North America labelled the Native Indians ‘uncivilized,renegades,terrorists’.They soft labelled themselves the ‘settlers’ when in truth they were barbarous Conquistadores like their Spanish counterparts.They brought the Bible in one hand ‘to civilize’ the Native Indians. and guns in the other in case of resistance. Geronimo fought bravely and tried to rally the Native Indian tribes,alas only to face annihilation.The idea then was obvious, that once the plaintiffs were no more in existence, there were no more claimants to the lands,indeed the whole continent, which they took.This chicanery has a familiar ring.They did and are doing the same with Palestine and the Palestinians,this time at the behest of the Zionist Israelis.And it has another familiar ring.Such people on whom savage injustice has been perpetrated and are fighting against it, fighting for their freedom,their lands, their way of life are,yes, labelled“terrorists”.And so, apart from the Palestinians,the Muslims in Southern Thailand,in Mindanao are thus labeled terrorists and hunted down.It is no different with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan,fighting for their land to be free to restore their Islamic way of life.It is a painful truth,but contrary to what most are made to believe, Western colonialism has not really left us since more than five hundred years ago.
Only today are we discovering that long before the words ‘ecology’,’environment’,’sustainable development’ came into vogue,the ‘uncivilised’American Native Indians were already practicing a way of life that gave full respect to those words in the way that they gave full respect to the trees,the animals,the rivers,the land,the rain,the wind,the sun and the moon,etc..To treat and use those with justice or the ‘spirits’ will be angry and evil will fall on Man as punishment.That is similar to Islam’s approach, except Islam’s fear of reproach is not from ‘spirits’ but from Allah.
By their own definition George Washington was a ‘terrorist’then,in that he fought against human rights violations from the established order of King George III of England.And yet in the end,what human rights violations of his people was he fighting for?Was it over land,territory,way of life trampled on? No,it was merely over ‘no taxation without representation’!He fought merely over that deprivation, and he is a revolutionary hero.And yet,the American Native Indians,the Palestinians who were and are fighting over being driven from their homes, villages,their land,their way of life, are not revolutionaries but ‘terrorists’!
On both counts then,as we see the world today thus dominated by the West from the last more than five centuries,both the free enterprise system and its glaring injustices to Mother Earth and to over one third of mankind left impoverished and crippled with indebtedness, as well as the West’s sermon on human rights values forcing Mankind to accept and accede their way or else, both are falling apart, their injustices exposed.The first, on it’s own violations of justice in a way that it cannot support itself.The second, being exposed for it’s chicanery.And on both counts,the West has been willy nilly,the real ‘terrorists’.The purveyor of ‘terrorism’through the free enterprise system,the international monetary and banking systems,backed by advanced scientific and technological inventions,and finally,by the might of their Military Industrial Complex. Their military industry, also named The Merchants of Death, became a power machine with an insatiable appetite for monetary greed, bent on perpetuating it’s role and hold, by such methods as making a permanent hysteria of the threat of war on themselves,inventing those threats,fighting wars so created, inventing new wars,in order to extract monstrous budget appropriations and expenditure, and selling arms to both sides in wars anywhere,most of which they had a hand in creating to begin with.
3. The Way Forward for Muslims.
It is esential to realize and discern properly the above backdrop in a correct perspective so that Muslims and the rest of Humanity can see what has truly happened to them before they can even begin to think of the way forward.It is tragic that such a perspective is largely unseen or is simply lost in the crowded complexities of history unfolding.
There is no other recourse but first,internally every Muslim has to gather and fortify himself with knowledge. Knowledge on The Religion of Islam,the meaning of Islam and the practitioner of true Islam, not the ‘Mechanical Islam type’, or the ‘Rituals Only Islam’, or ‘The Secular Islam’.It is Islam heart and soul,not Islam like the clothes he wears on his body which can be changed for type,colour or occasion as he pleases or as what pleases others.There is only Allah to be pleased with, in everything that he does and the life he lives,nothing else matters,nothing,as a Muslim knows,but so often forgets.That may seem trivial to state,but in truth, for the vast bulk of Muslims, that perspective is lost, derived especially from lack of proper education of Islam, from secular attitudes and the concommiten mainstream preoccupation of chasing after material comfort of this world,while concern for the Akhirat which should be a main guiding compass for Muslims,is just a scant afterthought.
Whether he is aware or not,Western colonialism has wreaked havoc on the Muslim’s knowledge of Islam and his practice and way of life as Muslims.Western colonial education imposed on Muslims and a way of life auwed and enamoured by the West’s scientific and technological advancement has made ‘Brown Sahibs” of generations of Muslims thinking like their western models while remaining only nominal Muslims. Or bred generations of Muslims with very a secular world view destroying their Islamic world view with such maxims as, for example,separate religion from politics whereas Islam sees everything,this world and the next, as one whole as in the meaning of Din. Thus,while the colonialists may have long gone,generations of Muslims are still ticking away in their own lands like mechanical toys labeled Muslims, made in the West, unwinding itself endlessly and haplessly, souls lost.
The West found that it served them better to have secularised Muslims.A secular Muslim has a matching mindset as that of a Westerner.A secular Islamic world is easier to control therefore.At the same time the Muslim cause has not been helped by secular leaders like Turkey’s Attaturk,and many other Muslim leaders since, who,awed by Attaturk, followed in his footsteps, took on his mistaken belief he propounded and led towards, which was for a ‘Westernised’, and therefore, a ‘progressive’Islam when in truth secularism that comes together with western thought, destroys Islam.As if Islam is not already ‘progressive’.A secular Muslim is in fact a fifth column agent against Islam.That, and plus the fact that, more significantly, he destroys Islam in himself and destroys himself as a Muslim, by doing injustice to his own self.
Thus it is that the West in fact, wages war in support of ‘secular Islam’.It is not waging war on Islam as such because they cannot do what they did to the Native Indians.They would have to annihilate over one billion Muslims, many residing in their own countries.In it’s place the West supports secular Muslim Governments, bent on making sure secular Muslim Governments are installed, and give material support to those Governments as allies and uses them to wage war on any anti-secular Islamic movements among their own peoples within their own countries.Thus in that light it is easier to see what is happening currently in Pakistan,Afghanistan,Somalia, as well as in Iran, for example.The same scenario is applicable in Algeria,Tunisia,Egypt as in Muslim countries elsewhere,in different shades of the same scenario.
All that is Medinah is Sunnah.
It is the sum total of every steadfast true Muslim that eventually forms the strength of the Ummah.The ends for which that is to be achieved is for nothing more than that every Muslim can best live his life in the way of Allah in this world in order to find the peace he seeks to be Bestowed when he is to be with Almighty Allah eventually in Akhirat.He has to fight with his life for that condition to prevail wherever he lives.That was the case with the first Muslims who migrated to Medinah.They were taught and had true knowledge of Islam by Rasulallah S.A.W, they left Mecca to be able to live lives of true Muslims,later waited for Rasullallah S.A.W. to join them and lead them in Medinah.It was not just a case of weaning themselves away into a safe corner of privacy and exclusivity, but it was a flight of freedom.A freedom to live their lives in Islam.They were to become the true torch bearers of truth from Allah,such that the sum total of their steadfastness in Islam shed new light on others which later brought Islam led by Rasullallah S.A.W. back to Mecca and eventually to all of Arabia and beyond.Similarly,it was the same steadfastness that made them fight justifiable wars led by Rasulallah S.A.W.against those who wanted to destroy Islam,destroy their freedom and their way of life in Medinah.It was never wars to impose Islam on anyone because in Medinah pacts were signed by Rasulallah S.A.W.with Jews and Christians to live in peace with Islam.Subsequent Islamic empires based on Medinah,built and run on the true tenets of Islam as shown by Rasulallah S.A.W.flourished and brought peace,justice and enlightenment to Muslims and Non Muslims,and made glorious contributions to Human civilization, a fact ignored, or more truthfully, purposefully brushed aside.
Every Muslim today has to go back to that which every Muslim in Medinah practiced.Knowledge,struggle for freedom,steadfastness,laying lives readily to fight wars against the enemies Islam. Of course at that time the Medinans had benefited directly as they had Rasulallah S.A.W. with them.But the message is the same today.Strength is built from leadership, then from the bottom up,from every individual Muslim,not from top down. Rasulallah S.A.W. first Taught and Led, but from then on, He would have been immobilized without the resolve of each and every steadfast Muslim of Medinah. Thus the Medinans understood Islam fully, lived it to it’s fullest extent, and a glorious way of life manifested itself.
It is hardly ever said or written as such, if at all,that every aspect of the way of life of Islam as a whole, Taught and Led by Rasulallah S.A.W.in Medinah, is Sunnah, as a whole.All and every aspect that was Medinah is Sunnah for Muslims !
The struggle for Muslims today is therefore to return to that way of life manifest at Medinah.Using ingenuity to suit the times of course.But inherent in that struggle also is the fact that there is no running away from going back to the Sharia for Muslims. The Sharia incorporates the whole and complete way of life for Muslims.As it is Sunnah,it is every Muslim’s life mission to achieve,whether he realizes it or not.It forms part and parcel of realizing the conditions by which Muslims can live the lives of Islam.
Thus,for Muslim minorities,it is to seek and negotiate for terms as best such that they can live everyday lives of Islam without infringing on the laws of the land they reside in. Striving for the Sharia for all in such a case is of course ridiculous. For Muslims in Muslim majority lands, it is for the whole implementation of the Sharia, taking of course into strict and stringent consideration the rights of Non Muslims. No two Muslim lands can be similar in their implementation depending upon their particular situation with regards to,for example, composition of population,and other factors.It calls for wisdom and much ingenuity, but the overall Sharia must still prevail.It is not as in the case today of many Muslim countries once colonized by the West,in which Roman law is the overall way of life while Sharia laws are an appendage only,as if the Muslim majority has become the minority.And struggling,or besieged for his Islamic way of life in his own land,in many cases from his own ‘secular Muslim’ brethrens in power.And whether he realizes it or not,that is all because he has forfeited his rights for prevailent Sharia law as a legacy of Western colonialism. After Independence from the colonialialits, he continues with the colonial legacy because now he accepts it, believing in it, as he has become secularized,a Brown Sahib through Western education.
To reach those goals in this world outlined above must be each and every Muslim’s intent and purpose before he faces and have to answer to Allah at Khiamah.Has he done all that he could in whatever way, big or small in this life, is the question every Muslim has to answer for.
The so called ’Resurgence’of Islam today is nothing more than the struggle by Muslims to achieve those goals, so as to ‘free’themselves extraneously and leave them freed internally,in order to live wholly, the lives of Islam.
That struggle should incorporate:
1. Knowledge.The deWesternisation of knowledge.Or the Islamisation of knowledge.A concept original and singularly founded by that most eminent all time thinker and Islamic scholar, Professor Syed Mohammed Naquib Al Attas.So as to realize for Muslims the correct World View in Islam.
2. DeSecularisation of the Muslim minds,an offshoot of the above. Secularism is a destructive influence on Islam.
3. A conviction and a relentless strive for the Sharia for Muslims.It’s implementation in all conditions, with wisdom and ingenuity.Whether the final goal is reached or not,the conviction and the struggle towards it would have at least put Muslims on the correct path of Allah,and the Muslims’ own path to redeem themselves before Allah.
Looking at the state of the World of Islam today, that is obviously a long, long road to travel to reach final destination.Muslims have no choice however, if they are to be in a state that Allah intended.They have been led or allowed themselves to be led astray for too long since Medinah,and since the Uthmaniah Empire, the last to have derived from the Medina mould it can be said.
It is a sad commentary on the state of Islam today for Muslims to realize that there is a glaring lack of centralized leadership.A leadership first, to grapple with matters within Islam, such as correct education and knowledge, the dissemination of such knowledge, the administration of Islamic matters affecting Muslims,the Zakat, the Haj, etc. and the general welfare of Muslims everywhere.
The scientific and technological knowledge and advancement of the West is today no longer their monopoly.It belongs to the treasury of human knowledge.No one needs to be enslaved anymore by the West to fill the need for scientific knowledge and advancement. The Ummah or anyone else can gain those from China,South Korea,Brazil,India,Japan,Russia and so on.
At it’s very basic,the scientific and technological knowledge the mass majority of Mankind need are those that can fulfill simple basic needs for food and food production,simple medicine and pharmaceuticals, affordable educational tools,cheap materials for decent habitats,and cheap means of transport and communications. China is fast becoming the world’s factory producing all manner of goods Mankind needs,and cheaply. Shoes,textiles,electrical goods,machinery,pharmaceuticals,agriculture fertilisers etc.etc.are all that the mass majority of Mankind really needs, and those can be obtained cheaply from China or any of those Non-Western countries mentioned.What other sophisticated technology is there that the mass majority of Mankind really need today that cannot be obtained similarly outside of the West? Sophisticated technology in order to reach the moon perhaps, but those they can keep for themselves as the mass majority of Mankind by and large can do without them.
Is this a call for a withdrawal inhouse or a non involvement with the West? No, but it is a call to be free from enslavement and punishment to mass poverty as a result of being trapped in the West’s free enterprise system forced upon in order to obtain scientific and technological knowledge, and in order to seek material advancement.
It is however,a call for detachment,or more appropriately, a loose involvement with the West based on necessity. Why so?
Well, the answer to that,is quiet simply, the West has much to answer for, for the carnage and destruction on civilisations they have perpetrated on The world of Islam and onto Humanity as a whole for centuries, and are still perpetuating. In more recent times, to maintain their power over, and control of the World,under whatever pretext or disguise they plead, they dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshoma and Nagasaki.They dropped twice the total amount of bombs dropped during the 2nd World War on the war in Vietnam,Laos and Cambodia.And still dropped more bombs than ever dropped anywhere in not one but two successive wars on Iraq.The destruction and devastation and untold misery caused is infinite.And now they are about to do so again on Afghanistan.And yet,they coined the very term “Crime Against Humanity”!They recently called North Korea, Syria and Iran the ‘Axis of Evil’.Has anyone ever asked if any of those three countries has ever dropped atomic or nuclear bombs on anybody? And now they are demanding that Iran and North Korea must not develop nuclear weapons as that would make them dangerous to the world.Nuclear weapons in the West’s possession is good for the world ? Why, that is the logic and language they used on the American Indians coming around all over again.Guns are dangerous in the hands of those “uncivilized renegades,and terrorists”.But it was the white man who clandestinely sold them the guns in the first place in exchange for furs with ‘firewater’supplied as rebates! Then the white man made more sophisticated guns and gunpowder bombs to outdo and kill the American Indians..It’s the same cycle of logic being repeated today.Except that in the case of the American Indians,they are no longer around to make their own guns to save themselves, salvage their lands and save their civilisation! The real question to ask is why are the rest of Mankind then still persisting in having anything to do with the West in which their term calling others ‘uncivilised renegades and terrorists’ more aptly describe themselves as the evidence amply shows?
A call for detachment indefinitely? No, but it’s up to the West.Allah judges Man by his deeds. And likewise must Man judge his fellowmen by their deeds.The Ummah and the rest of mankind have endured for the last five centuries of recent history.A few more centuries would not matter much to wait to see if the West shall and truly atone by their honest and just deeds.And if not,it would not matter that much either to have little to do with them.We go by The Sunnah of Rasulallah S.A.W.There were the unbelievers including the enemies out to destroy Islam,including an uncle Abu Lahab in the family.Did Rasulallah S.A.W. stop in His Mission of Allah? Not at all.Rasulallah S.A.W. just ignored the uncle and carried on.Eventually almost all of the unbelievers came round to Islam even if the uncle never did.
In the final analysis, it seems the West would have only contributed scientific discoveries and advanced technological achievements, which are now widely available and no longer their monopoly, contained as those are in the treasury of human knowledge. By and large,those are all they contributed. The human values they purport to be the torch bearers of,can be taken less seriously as those were already in the possession of the rest of Humanity held by the many and varied civilizations including Islam. In any case, the brand of human values of freedom,human rights,democracy etc.etc. which the West champions to this day have long been exposed as shams,hypocritical, and full of double standards. And exposed as just another means to control the world.
We should take a leaf from the Chinese experience.For centuries the Chinese held together and kept themselves free from the influence of the West, those ‘barbarians’,and from all those of the world outside China with ill intent towards it.Whether the way of life they had in China was under dynastic Kingdoms,or Confucianism,or Taoism, or Communism or or Maoism,or whatever,it was nobody else’s business. Stay out,keep out,leave China free of foreign domination and influence ,apart from those who came friendly to trade ! They were kept out of the United Nations until the early 70’s.Did they suffer or lose the worst for it? Not at all it now seems clear..They kept themselves free from the West’s free enterprise system and free from it’s exploitation and cultural influence.They kept themselves free until such times as they are ready to play the West at it’s own game,as they are today.And they are winning!
Thus in Afghanistan today for example, whether the way of life sought for and fought for by the Taliban is right or wrong, extreme or otherwise,is nobody else’s business but the Afghans’ themselves, or at the most, should be left up to the Muslim Ummah for counsel or to counsel.
It is to be admitted however, that it is another sad lament for Muslims today to see the world of Islam not grappling with, taking a united stand or taking united and concerted action on matters affecting Islam or the welfare of Muslims all over the world.Rather,in general, Muslims are merely reacting on the actions or on the agendas of others. Just look at the total humiliation in Palestine on which Muslims remain powerless.Or that Muslims have no say, no stand or no role at all in what is happening today in Afghanistan for example? Or on what is happening to Iraq and to Iran ? Or no role to play whatsoever over Sudan and Darfur? That is the fault of the Muslims themselves. And it would be up to the Muslim themselves to realize,to stand up and be counted. First however, they would have to see where the faults are or where those derive from,and how and where to derive strength for The Ummah for it to matter.
4. Despair Not, But To Rise From The Rubble The Earthquake Has Caused.
If this is about ‘West Blaming’ or ‘West Bashing’ for all the ills Muslims suffer from, it is not.It is however about understanding the destruction and devastation wreaked upon the world of Islam by the wars of conquests and more significantly, by the insidious educational and cultural intervention of the West on Islamic civilization.It is about understanding those and about how Islam is to wade through the rubble and rise.The two most destructive aftermaths the West inflicted onto the Muslim World are:
1.The Sharia destroyed,the whole and complete Islamic way of life destroyed or in tatters, and,
2.The injection of Secularism poisoning the Muslim mind wherein now is separated his civilian life from the life of his religion which is considered his personal life.Islam does not separate the two,and that is fundamental.
In the situation Muslims find themselves today, with the state of the World of Islam and the state of the Ummah,there is widespread despair, wretchedness and anger ,as well as sadness, at the reality that all is not well. There is also a feeling of helplessness and in some, desperation.
There is no despair in Islam.Since everything is and all will fall in place as part of Allah’s grand design that Allah only knows,then there is nothing to despair about.Muslims may take some comfort and strength in the belief that injustice cannot prevail forever,because Allah will have the final say for Justice and Truth eventually.But that does not mean that since all will fall in place anyhow then there is nothing for Muslims to do but just let things be!Muslims are dutybound to Allah to seek knowledge and know his place and act accordingly in the right and proper ways of Allah. That is true and applicable too with the Muslim’s response to the ups and downs of the passage of Islam in the world.
Empires and civilizations come and go whether it’s ancient Egypt, Mohenjo Daro, the Mayas,the Aztecs, the Hellenic empire,the Roman empire,the Mongols, and so on,they will come and go for they are all man made.For as long as they are made of Man’s creed, Man’s ideology, they will come and go as they are as temporary as Man himself.But Muslims must hold firm their belief that Islam will never die.It cannot die as It is The Religion Bestowed on Man by Allah.The city state that was Medinah, was, and is, not the type to come and go.Medinah was the first and a forerunner.It was Created by Allah through His Messenger,the final and last of His Messengers..It was not based on Man’s creed or ideology.It was based on The religion of Allah,through The Koran. But as the way of empires, subsequent Islamic empires may have their ups and downs through the centuries,depending at any time on the Muslims’ will to uphold them, but as offshoots from Medina they will never disappear except for Khiamah. Even at Khiamah,we know that this Islamic empire, in our times that we know of, will not exist as with all that there is in this world which will all also disappear..But the Muslim belief is that nevertheless,and even then, Islam will not die, because Allah does not die with Khiamah.And Islam will still be there with Allah for a rebirth of Earth or elsewhere, or with other peoples, of which we do not know.
It is in that sense that I mean in saying that Muslims must not despair at the state of Islam in the world today or at anytime.But every Muslim must resolve to fight for Islam and for his place so that he may prepare himself to face Allah at Khiamah at a time nobody knows, but that he must prepare nevertheless. At the very least, his strive puts him on the right road to Redemption.There is no time for complacency.That is a grievous sin in Islam for it can leave the Muslim unprepared.
As we take another overview at the world and especially of planet Earth today,it seems to me that Man is fast outliving Allah’s purpose for his existence.Man’s injustice to the use of Allah’s blessings on Earth is fast speeding up his own end,and therefore Allah’s purpose for his existence.
Take a cursory look at what Man has done and caused.Natural resources plundered to near extinction without care for future generations.The non renewables like gold, silver, tin, zinc, iron ore,lead,copper etc. including oil and gas are fast disappearing.Trees and rain forests are cut down the size of California every year.More than half of Humanity are without clean portable water.Millions of hectares of arable land are lost to agriculture due to desertification and erosion. More are lost to agriculture for lack of water.Over efficient fishing methods is fast denuding the seas of fish and fish stocks are diappearing with no chance to breed.Man has caused global warming and climate change,and the seas are expected to rise, all with catstrophic consequences for his own survival on planet Earth.On top of it all the world’s population today is expected to double in only a few decades.
I was told a few years ago by my late son ( May Allah Bless his soul in Peace) who studied World Development and International Relations,that if Man is to go on as he does in chasing the per capita income and living standards of the West as a standard,then Man would need at least two more planet Earths with all resources intact to realise that goal.
Well, Man does not have two more planet Earths,this one is all he will ever have!Further,f rom his studies, he told me that today we are already too late and have passed the point of no return by about 50 years.If we had begun to look and begun to address the problem 50 years ago, we might have had a chance,just a chance that is.Well we did not do so 50 years ago. We have missed the chance.
It is already happening in parts of the world and most pointedly in Africa for example. Where once Africa could export food,it can no longer feed itself today.
Allah’s purpose for man’s existence is to prove the Truth of Allah.If man cannot sustain his own survival on this planet then the purpose of his existence is no longer there.That too, we know,is The Way of Allah. Therefore the Truth should be forthwith sooner rather than later,it would seem.
6. A perspective on The Retreat considering The Signs of The Last day In History.
Sixty years ago after the 2nd World War,when there was all to look forward to with awe at new scientific discoveries and engineering inventions for a better life,to speak about The Last Day in History would be considered surreal. One would be laughed at as yet another one of those clowning ‘prophets of doom’ through the ages.Well, it is not so today.
In that light, I would venture to suggest that the initiative of His Eminence Sheikh Imran N.Hosein in organizing the retreat to consider The Signs of The Last Day in History in Trinidad and Tobago above,be adopted as a thematic approach in any discussion or study on the state of Islam in the world today.If not to consider the subject of the last day in history itself, the changes in the modern world and so on,it would be more to do with what every Muslim is to do with more resolve and urgency so that he is prepared and ready when it comes whenever it comes.It is more to do with his Knowledge,to strengthen his Iman and Taqwa, and live righteously in the ways of Allah.It is to do with his resolve to stand up,defend his case,defend Islam and fight injustice from any quarter,Muslim and Non Muslim,fight with his life for Islam,for that is the only way he can be accepted in Berkat for when his day comes,or when The Last Day In History is here.
My Brethrens in Islam,
I am done.And I realise this message is a rather extended one.I confess to an inability at constraint in an outpouring of many thoughts,and hence a rather lengthy discourse.I do so in the hope of being useful.For that, I beg your indulgence.
May all at the Retreat in Trinidad and Tobago be Blessed with a successful and rewarding experience, and come away with Knowledge, Steadfastness and Resolve in the cause of Islam.
Wabillahi Taufik Wal Hidayah,
Wasalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Warabakatuh
Ambassador Yeop Adlan Rose,