From the depth of the Heart in America

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By Shyakh S. Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (RA)



This speech was delivered at the Islamic Centre of Washington on June 25, 1977. The invitation to it was given by Syed Mazhar Husain who also accompanied the speaker during the trip to Washington and introduced him to the audience. The meeting was attended, among others, by Indian, Pakistani and Arab scholars. The proceedings began with the recitation. by an Egyptian theologian of the section, Set forth to them the parable of two men : For one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines ......... of Sura-i-Kahf which was made the subject of his discourse by the Maulana.

Brothers and Sisters,

It makes me very happy to be with you here in Washington, the capital city of the United States of America, which may be described as the hub of the world. Today its influence is felt everywhere, and in all spheres of life, social, political and economic. We may like it or not, but no one can deny it.

What is lacking here ?

How did America acquire that position and what part has the skill, industry unity of interests and capacity to organise and act jointly with one another of the American people, and their scientific, industrial and technological progress played in it, and how much of it is due to our own negligence and short- comings is a very complex question, and, I am sure, you will agree that it will be out of place to try to discuss it here. Thinkers, political scientists and historians have analysed it from various angles and offered their explanations.

From the material point of view, this country is a paradise on earth, and, excuse me, this is what has brought you to it from your native lands, India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt. Saudi Arabia. and, so on. There is no harm in it either, for don't the pieces of iron collect around the magnet or the thirsty people rush to the place where water is found ? I have seen America from coast to coast, both as an ordinary tourist and a student of the Quran and history, and the thing I have found wanting here is exactly what has been alluded to in the Quranic Verses we have just heard.

May God bless the learned friend who recited the verses from Sura-i-Kahf and reward him bounteously in both the worlds. He has brought us face to face with a world of truths and realities, and, at least, rendered a great service to me. I was wondering what I was going to say at this meeting. There are, of course, so many things one can talk about, but the difficulty lies in the choice. I was thinking what message could I deliver to you in the States, what would you like to hear from me that, suddenly, the Quran came to my rescue as it always does, and I felt that a wonderful portrait of the Modern Age. which had reached the pinnacle of material development, had been drawn in these verses.

For one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines. Both the gardens gave their fruit and withheld naught thereof. And We caused a river to gush forth therein. And he had fruit. And he said unto his comrade, when he spoke with him : I am more than thee in wealth and stronger in respect of men. (XVIII : 33-35)

Can a better portrait be possible of modern America? Gardens of grape-vines ! Take any part of this great land and does it not present a spectacle of luxuriance and plentitude ? What is lacking in it ? What fruit is not found here ? All the gifts of the Lord are abundantly available in this country. Still there is something that is sadly wanting and to which attention has been drawn by the thoughtful and believing friend in these words :

When thou entered the garden, why did thou not say That which Allah willeth (will come to pass) There is no strength save in Allah! (XVIII : 40)

Only Masha Allah, laa quwata illa billaah (that which Allah willeth : there is no power but in God) is missing. This Masha Allah, laa quwata illa billaah can turn the dust into gold, elevate materialism into worship of the highest order, and tame. the rebellious horse of the carnal self so that it became a blessed mode of transport for taking man to his destination. It is the master-key that can open any lock. If the Western World does not possess anything, it is this. On the face of it, these are just a few words which we utter frequently in everyday life. Masha Allah, when did you come? Masha Allah, when you had this new suit made ? And, so on.

In fact, we have lost appreciation of the ocean of eloquence and profundity that is contained in this short, pithy expression and the marvellous power it possesses of subduing the materialistic aspirations and conceit of man that lead him into the deception that whatever is happening around him is of his own choice and making, That is why, we utter it mechanically, without the faintest idea of its intrinsic significance. What Masha Allah denotes, in sum, is that whatever takes place in the world is at the command of God and by His power and authority; the credit for it does not go to man, nor does praise belong to him.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. -(I :1)


But His command, when He intendeth a thing, is only that He saith unto it : Be ! and it is. (XXXVI : 8 1)

What has been set forth in the two aforementioned verses and the supremeness that has been affirmed in Allah is He who raised the heavens without any pillars, (XIII: 2) have got com- pressed into the single phrase of Masha Allah, laa quwata illa billaah. Only that which Allah willeth will happen. He is the Author of all things, the Creator of all things, There is no power save in Allah.

Today, America is a living example of He hath loaded you with His favours both without and within, (XXXI : 20), and Abundantly supplied with sustenance from every place. (XVI : 112). Wealth is springing here from the earth and pouring down from the heavens. Then, why is it not giving the message of peace, good understanding and security to the world

America has no sincere friends

The United States can claim to be the benefactor of the world, and, may God forbid, with many people it is the Great Provider of the daily bread. But how many countries feel sincerely grateful to it? America is giving food, money and arms to scores of nations and aiding them in the implementation of their development plans. But what is it getting in return ?

A number of countries feel protected against external aggression because of their defense pacts and other arrangements with America. For them its friendship is the greatest guarantee of peace and the preservation of their sovereignty. Yet, no one is giving thanks to it. On the contrary, they never miss an opportunity to denounce it. An undercurrent of hatred is found everywhere against it. America has no sincere friend, no true well-wisher in any part of the world.

Do the leaders of this great country not feel it? Are its thinkers blissfully unaware of this reality ? No, they must be knowing that for all its dollars what America is getting back is a kick here and a let-down there. But have they ever cared to go to the root of the matter ? If they do a little self-introspection, they will find that at the base of it all lies America's own insincerity. Its entire concept and mechanism of aid and assistance is devoid of earnestness. Its generosity is a cloak for the exploitation of the weaker and the poorer nations. It gives, but not to enable them to stand on their feet. Its magnanimity is aimed at the perpetuation of their dependence upon it.

The Apostles and their followers served mankind with sincerity and they came to be loved

The Prophets devoted their time and energy to the service of mankind and gave it the priceless gifts of faith, truth. sincerity and universal brotherhood, and, as a consequence of it, nations and communities became their slaves. The Egyptians, Syrians and Iraqis renounced their languages, cultures and ancient civilizations, and willingly accepted the rule of the Arabs, or, rather, of the Muslim Arabs, and even their tongue. Nowadays, a campaign is being carried on in our Eastern countries against the English language, so much so that it is being erased from the sign-boards, but so far not a voice has been raised against the Arabic language in the Arab World. In fact, no reaction or hostility against the Islamic Civilisation or the Arab- Islamic culture is felt in the Arabic-speaking countries while, perhaps, a feeling of digest and intolerance is building up against the European Civilisation in various parts of the world and the day is not far off when they will throw it out and revive the Eastern or their own indigenous civilisations.

America is unblest with true Faith

There is everything in America save the effulgence of the Book of God and Divine Guidance. The belief that it is God who is directing the affairs of the world, He has. power over all things and all that we have achieved is by His grace and we should spend what we possess according to his Will and Command and in His path is not to be found in this mighty land. If anything is wanting here, it is this.

It has Gardens of grape-vines, but not Masha Allah laa quwata illa billaah, and the owner of the earthly paradise can only be he who has been indicated in the Quran. In the parable of two men, the possessor of the gardens is a plain materialist, a rebel, an ungrateful soul, and an egotist while the other is a truthful Believer : he is weak, he does not possess Gardens of grape-vines, but he is a Believer and God has blessed him with faith.

Both the Gardens withheld nothing. They poured out all that they had, like a spring gushing forth from the earth. Abundant was their produce.

Now, the turn of the other brother comes. He says, Very well, but why did you not say: That which Allah Willeth will come to pass; there is no power save in Allah, when you went into the garden? You should have avowed that it all was by the grace and benevolence of the Lord, and a manifestation of His Might and Mercifulness."

Had America been religious-minded

America is not saying that all this is the gift of God. But why ? It is a long and distressing story, and, also, shameful for you and me. It is long because it goes back to hundreds of years; distressing because had it been otherwise, had America been blessed with the wealth of faith and had it been religious- minded, the world would have been presenting another picture, the history of mankind would have been different. the danger of war would not have been hovering over our heads and the nuclear energy would not have been causing fear and suspicion in the minds of men; and shameful because we, the Muslims, failed in our duty to carry Islam to this part of the world. The Lord gave us many opportunities. Muslims came to this land when it had begun to raise its head like an infant; all the portents were there of its enormous potentialities, but we were caught in deep slumber; and even before that when we ruled over Spain we should have striven to instill the message of Islam into the heart and soul of Europe instead of building Al-Hamara and Al-Zehra and erecting stately mansions and magnificient mosques, and the evangelists and preachers of Islam should have spread over the Continent. But is was not to be. Hence I say that the story is, also, shameful. However, what was to happen has happened. If this country needs anything now it is that a living bond is forged between it and Apostleship. But Christianity cannot do that.

Failure of Christianity

Christianity had proved its powerlessness a long time ago. If you read the history of Christianity you will find that either it was not content with anything less than monasticism or there was so much of stagnation and prejudice in it that it felt compelled to push back the rising tide of knowledge and critical investigation. Christianity was not equipped to lend guidance to this great land. It did not possess the strength to show the path of moderation and comprehensiveness to the eager, ardent and enterprising peoples of Europe and America. It could not say, Show us the Straight path; or Our Lord Give us good in this world, and good in the Hereafter. Christianity was not willing to say : Our Lord! Give us good in this world ...... because it believed in the renunciation of the world.

Islam is the religion of balanced and comprehensive teachings

It was left to our precursors to tell that they, alone, could do so. Now, it is our duty to present such a balanced and comprehensive image of Islam that the people of the West realised that it, alone, could lead them along the right path. If the bond is established between America and Islam, the doors of Divine Mercy and Benevolence will open for the whole world, the clouds of war will disperse, hatred will disappear from the hearts, and man will cease to be a hunter of man: he will be- come a man in the true sense of the word, and live only as an enemy of Satan. This only Islam can do, and whenever it is going to happen in America, it will be through Islam.

Christianity had lost its soul centuries ago when it had stepped out of, Palestine and made its way into the Roman Empire. I feel proud to say it here in America which is the most powerful country in the world, today, that Christianity, as it is, is not the religion of the Apostle who had been raised up by God with the message of peace and love. It is the creation of St. Paul and the product of his ingenuity. It is the Christianity of St. Paul, and of the Middle Ages, and it would be futile to expect it to guide the steps of a dynamic country like the United States or an impatient generation like the present one. It possesses neither a comprehensive programme of life nor the moral strength to uphold the values related to the inner existence of man.

A word to the Americans

Oh, citizens of the United States! My best wishes to you. I don't grudge you your attainments. I don't look at your progress with contempt. What I ask you most earnestly is only to add Masha Allah, wa laa quwata illa-billaah to what you have. Subordinate your worldly possessions and phenomenal achievements to the will of God. Place it all under the control and authority of the Divine law. Use it for the rebirth and redemption of mankind and the generation of an atmosphere of equality, fraternity, justice and freedom from fear in the world. Let there be no distinctions of race, colour or wealth between man and man. Use your enormous resources for reconstruction of the world. You will, thus, be helping yourselves as well for. without it, your civilisation cannot survive. Its days are numbered. As Iqbal has put it :

The arrant intellect that laid bare the treasures of nature,

In its own nest is threatened by the lightning it has released.

Deliver the message of Islam

The Muslims, on the contrary, are fortunate to have been blessed with a unique comprehensiveness. They realise the worth and significance of this world, but, at the same time, regard it only a transitional stage in man's onward journey. With them the real and permanent abode is the Hereafter. Their attitude towards life is governed by the Quranic verse which says:

And for that Abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The (good) sequel is for those who ward off (evil). (XXVIII-83)

In the end, I thank you that you come here out of love for a Muslim brother and gave him a patient hearing. May Allah protect you and your faith, and your next generation, also, be a believer in Islam.

Die not die save as Muslims. -(II :132)

My fervent prayer is that you remained true to this commandment.

May you be bowing your heads low before God, offering up Namaz regularly and adhering steadfastly to the Kalima as long as you live in this world, and when you depart from it, the radiance of Faith may be in your hearts and the Kalima of Laa ilaaha illailaah, Mohammadur rasulullaah on your lips!

Article taken (with Thanks) from Nadwa



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This page was last updated on June 14, 2003 .