بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahamtullah wa Baratahu, Peace and Blessings upon the last of the Prophets...
It is an honor to stand before you in this beautiful lush land of Indonesia among the distinguished learned individuals of this dignified Ummah to present my speech.
Introduction: Definition of Civilization
I will start by defining ‘civilization' to avoid any confusion in terminology; more often than not, most people, including experts, confuse the meaning of civilization with technology.
The word ‘civilization' comes from the Latin ‘civilis', from which comes the word civil, related to the Latin ‘civis', meaning citizen, and ‘civitas', meaning city or city-state.
There are many ways of defining "civilization", often overlapping, but generally speaking, the term refers to: "a human society that has highly developed material and spiritual resources and a complex cultural, political, and legal organization; an advanced state in social development."
Thus for a civilization to exist and flourish it requires a permanent community living in cities with an established set of rules, which defines and determines the way of life of that particular society. These stipulations, normally speaking, reflect the common outlook towards life shared by the majority of the society that is otherwise called creed - the intellectual bedrock- which forms the ultimate frame of reference for both the state and society.
1- Distinction between Civilization (Hadhara) and Technology (Madaniyya)
In reality we ought to differentiate between the two concepts here: one is the basic set of beliefs which determines both the goals of life with the associated value system, and the conceptual and practical methodology to achieve these goals and preserve the related way of life. This very much defines the identity of any civilization. Yet this is quite distinct and separate from the tangible material product of the builders of any civilization.
Simply put, the dividing line has to do with the basic concept of the value system: how and when to consider an act as being desirable or not, how to define and set the limits, roles and responsibilities of the individual vis-à-vis the community and vice versa, how to determine the basic concepts regulating the relationship between individuals themselves and between them and the political authority: all of which emanate from the basic belief system, creed, of a particular civilization. This creed determines the way a civilization defines itself, and it is either divine-based or man-made.
A note is due here to differentiate between Islam and other religions. While Islam has presented a comprehensive way of life addressing both the spiritual aspect and the day to day affairs of people and society, other religions such as Christianity or Buddhism present only a spiritual message, leaving man to devise the way of life on his own; thus we see that capitalism, as a way of life is shared among Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.
On the other hand the material byproduct of any society may or may not depend on the fundamental doctrine. If the material object does not reflect the doctrine then it is universal, and no specific people lay claim to it....physical sciences dealing with math, physics, chemistry, biology are pretty much universal. One cannot speak of a Russian math or Japanese biology or Christian physics or Islamic chemistry ...the very physical nature of these matters defines it, aside from any ideological or religious reference....when ideology or religion intervenes to color a certain science as being communist or Buddhist, or capitalist, this breaches and nullifies the nature of science, which loses its neutrality and becomes instead an ideological tool. This means that the technological product may be universal in nature, such as a TV or a camera or a washing machine, or it may reflect the specific creed in which case it is not universal, such as a statue of a famous person, or the way homes are built exposing the domestic life to public view, both of which reflect a certain secular view toward life, but are rejected in Islam.
2. Assessment of Different Civilizations
The above is a necessary entry point when we want to make an objective assessment of any civilization. Observers and analysts may use different criteria and/or parameters in evaluating this or that particular civilization. By today's dominant western standard the world has become accustomed to using the material yardstick as a unit of measurement of how great a civilization is or is not. Some may use the GNP (gross national product) of a country to assess the economic wealth of that country. Prior to the Second World War, a country's production of steel was an important indicator of its industrial wealth and civilization, others may examine the military strength in terms of ability to kill and destroy, in this case the number of military aircrafts, tanks, artillery, submarines destroyers are the key indicators, and so on.
3. Critique of the Western Secular Civilization
The western civilization has adopted material progress as the yardstick to measure "civilization", excluding the spiritual value all together from the equation. Secular capitalism, based upon the creed of excluding religion from the public sphere, identified material benefit as the sole unit of measurement.
As for the individual welfare, capitalism agrees with the Darwinist principle that individuals sink or swim, survive or perish in the ruthless struggle where ‘nature is red in tooth and claw' and survival is for the fittest. The wealthiest and most powerful people have been seen, by virtue of that fact, as the fittest and hence the most deserving.
Alvin Toffler states, "Just as social Darwinism rationalized capitalism, it supported a cultural arrogance that rationalized imperialism. The idea of social evolution provided intellectual and moral support for the treatment of non-industrial peoples as inferior and hence unfitted for survival".
The foreign policy of capitalist countries has used colonialism as a direct tool to rob the defeated nations of their wealth for the benefit of the colonial power; and although the gunboat policy has changed since the 19th century, the change is one of form rather than substance, where today's security council, World Bank, IMF and the stock market have replaced yesteryear's naked military occupation.
The Muslim thinker Muhammad Asad described "Europe, after removing God from the public sphere, became desperate in searching for an alternative, a substitute. The average European thought more or less: "since our reason, our scientific experiments and our calculations do not reveal anything definite about the origin of human life and its destinies after bodily death, we ought to concentrate all our energies on the development of our material and intellectual potential and not allow ourselves to be hampered by transcendental ethics and moral postulates based on assumptions which defy scientific proof." Thus while western society did not expressly deny God, it simply no longer had room for Him in its intellectual system."
This Civilization views the entire life as the pursuit of benefit. Thus, its criterion for actions in life is benefit. Therefore, benefit is the basis upon which the system is established and the Civilization is built. Happiness, in the secular view, is providing man with the maximum share of sensual pleasures and furnishing him with their means.
The spiritual side is restricted to the individual and is not part of the social order. The spiritual affair of man is confined to the church and clergy. Consequently, there are no moral, spiritual or humanitarian values in the Western civilization, rather only materialistic ones.
It's no wonder that such a view produced the spiritual and moral vacuum in the western civilization; this secular creed has produced, in the words of Muhammad Asad, "a world in upheaval and convulsion. Bloodshed, destruction, violence on an unprecedented scale, the breakdown of social conventions, a clash of ideologies, an embittered, all-round fight for new ways of life: these are the signs of western civilization. Out of the smoke and shambles of two world wars, innumerable smaller wars and a host of revolutions and counter revolutions, out of economic disasters that broke all records: out of all these tremendous happenings emerged the truth that the present day western concentration on material, technical progress could never by itself resolve the existing chaos into something resembling order...the adoration of "progress" is no more than a pseudo-faith devised by people who had lost all inner strength to believe in absolute values, and who deluded themselves with the belief that man would somehow outgrow his present difficulties". Except that, crisis after crisis in all walks of life and domains of society this delusion was shattered by endless miseries and agonies.
In brief, Muhammad Asad continued in saying, "western secular civilization has not been able to strike a harmonious balance between man's bodily and social needs and his spiritual cravings.it has raised the technique of organization to a fine art, nevertheless the western nations are unable to control the forces which the scientists have brought into being, and have now reached a stage where unbounded scientific possibilities go hand in hand with world-wide chaos. Lacking all truly religious orientation, the westerner cannot morally benefit by the light of the scientific knowledge."
To him might be applied the Quranic verse:
((مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَارًا فَلَمَّا أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّـهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ ﴿*﴾ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ))
"Their parable is the parable of people who lit a fire: but when it had shed its light around them, God took away their light and left them in darkness in which they cannot see-deaf, dumb, blind; and yet they do not turn back." [al-Baqara: 17-18]
Asad described the western secular civilization as founded upon the worship of material progress, the belief that there could be no other goal in life than to make that very life continuously easier. He found that "The temples of that faith are the gigantic factories, cinemas, chemical laboratories, dance halls, hydroelectric works; and its priests are the bankers, engineers, politicians, film stars, statisticians, captains of industry, record airman and commissars...There is no longer any agreement on the definition of Good and Evil... the insatiable craving after power and pleasure had, of necessity, led to the breakup of western society into hostile groups armed to the teeth and determined to destroy each other whenever and wherever their respective interests clashed. And on the cultural side, the outcome was the creation of a human type whose morality appeared to be confined to the question of practical utility alone, and whose highest criterion of right and wrong was material success."
In Alvin Toffler's book, The Third Wave, it notes that "‘Progress' justified the degradation of nature and the conquest of "less advanced" civilizations. The industrial civilization found capitalist industrialists gouging resources on a massive scale, pumping voluminous poisons into the air, deforesting whole regions in pursuit of profit, without much thought about side effects or long term consequences. The idea that nature was there to be exploited provided a convenient rationalization for short sightedness and selfishness."
A.J. Toynbee, famous British scholar of civilization, had recognized the western civilization's Achilles' heal: Religion.
Toynbee warned that the western-built scaffolding is built upon technology, and "man cannot live by technology alone. In the fullness of time, when the ecumenical house of many mansions stands firmly on its own foundations and the temporary western technological scaffolding falls away- as I have no doubt that it will- I believe it will become manifest that the foundations are firm at last because they have been carried down to the bedrock of religion... for religion, after all, is the serious business of the human race."
He strongly denounced the western civilization which suffers from a hollow religious spiritual core foundation while putting a deceptive façade of technological strength. Toynbee claimed "the western civilization that has run like a wildfire round the world has not been the whole of the seamless web; it has been a flare of cotton waste: a technological selvage with a religious center piece torn out."
How do we measure the greatness of a civilization?? What criteria do we refer to in doing so??
Are the great pyramids in Egypt or the exquisite furniture and jewelry of Tut-ankh-Amoun's tomb an indication of the greatness of the pharaonic civilization??
But can we overlook the fact that this "material" achievement, which is considered one of the world's wonders, was the fruit of the slave labor of thousands of workers, many of whom perished in satisfying the ego of a ruthless tyrant?
Similarly, can we overlook the fact that the western colonial powers have built their masterpiece of art and technology at the expense of the untold miseries of the conquered nations. Some Indian researchers have estimated the horrendous human cost of the British colonial rule to be hundreds of millions of violent and non-violent avoidable deaths in the period between 1757-1947, including a long list of famines intentionally engineered by the colonial British in India over half a century (1822-1872). The Modern era of the Industrial Revolution was built upon the skulls, blood and untold miseries of the defeated nations both in India, Africa and the New World of the Americas.
What do we say about the Opium War imposed by Britain on China in the 19th century to force export of opium into China? When the subject turns to Britain many are quick to mention the Magna Carta, which heralded the era of people's rights guaranteed by law... yet these rights did not extend to the Chinese who were forced at gun barrel to swallow the poison of opium, simply to feed the British Treasury with millions and millions of pounds without any regard for the human life of the Chinese.....
One of the greatest scandals of western civilization is that at the height of the Renaissance and the glorification of the Enlightenment Period in the 19th century, no one had bothered to expose the hypocrisy of western double standards: on the one hand clamoring the achievements of the western man, while condoning the brutal colonial policies in the defeated nations in Africa, America and Asia. All kinds of tricks, slogans, and intellectual nonsense were promoted to justify and defend the "white man's burden". The hidden cost of the brutal genocide led by the western colonial power under the self-appointed divine mission of "civilizing the savage races" needs a fuller examination and is beyond the scope of this paper.
Charles Darwin wrote unfeelingly of the massacre of the aborigines of Tasmania and prophesied that "at some future period...the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world."
This Darwinist mentality is still with us today, or rather it re-emerged with a stronger vengeance after the collapse of the communist alternative to capitalism in 1991. Whereas the Marxist threat had forced the capitalist leaders to grant some concessions to keep the oppressed from turning to communism after the Great Depression, the neoconservative proponents called for the rollback of the welfare state.
4. The Islamic Civilization
Toynbee raised the question: "Can mankind afford to do without the social cement of Islamic fraternity? Yet this social service, valuable and noble though it be, is not the essence of Islam". Commenting on the pilgrimage symbolism as it stands for Islamic unity among all Muslims, he says: "this unity between true believers is in turn merely a translation into action here on earth of their true belief in the unity of god. Islam's creative gift to mankind is monotheism, and we surely dare not throw this gift away."
He goes on to announce that while the famous western national victories amounted to the same zero figure of the similar Chinese victories in the third century B.C., "Islam remains with a mighty spiritual mission still to carry out". Furthermore he calls upon the "westerners who are, mentally still-slumbering, have now to realize that our neighbors' past is going to become a vital part of our western future".
Unlike western civilization, Islam values highly the spiritual elevation of man; this teaches man to be humble in front of the Creator, and when dealing with his fellow men and the surrounding nature.
The Islamic Civilization is established upon a basis contradicting the basis of the Western Civilization. Its viewpoint about life and meaning of happiness differ from that of the Western Civilization. The Islamic Civilization is built upon the belief in Allah and that He (swt) has established a system for man, life and the universe. He sent Muhammad (saw) with Islam as the one and only Deen for mankind. This means that the Islamic Civilization is established upon the spiritual basis of the Islamic Aqeedah.
While man's actions are material, his observation of his relationship with Allah, when he undertakes the action as being haram or halal, constitutes the spiritual connection (ruH). This means that the mixing of matter with spirit has taken place. Accordingly, the commands and prohibitions of Allah regulate the actions of the Muslim state and society, with the ultimate objective being the attainment of Allah's pleasure and not benefit. Thus, the Islamic civilization is centered upon the harmonious balance between man's spiritual needs and material needs. Islamic civilization is founded upon the Islamic Aqeedah (creed) which views man's journey in life as a brief prelude to the eternal life. Islam expects man to benefit from the various gifts the creator has bestowed on him in the surrounding nature, but to do so without undue greed or selfishness or at the expense of other people.
Happiness, for a Muslim, is attaining Allah's pleasure and not the fulfillment of man's needs. Satisfying all such needs: organic needs and instinctual desires are an essential means to preserve one's life, but happiness is not guaranteed by their fulfillment. This viewpoint is the basis of the Islamic Civilization. It is obvious that the Islamic Civilization contradicts the Western Civilization in every aspect.
Here lies the core foundation of the Islamic civilization: the fact that it is built and founded upon the Aqeedah embodied in the words of our Shahada: ‘There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is His Messenger.'
While other civilizations were developed over centuries of various works by philosophers, thinkers, intellectuals, political leaders, the Islamic civilization emanated from the divine revelation contained in the Quran; and not man-made. The Prophet Mohammad (saw) was a mere messenger who delivered the divine message to humankind. When relaying the Islamic teachings, he did not volunteer guidance from his own personal opinion or desire; in matters unknown to him, when asked about them he would simply advise the person to wait for the divine revelation, no more, no less.
This explains the speed of the expansion of the Islamic message across Arabia to the neighboring lands in ash-Sham, Egypt and North Africa, reaching into Andalusia westward, and across India to Turkestan eastward. Prior to Islam, the Arab world in the early 7th century had no stable, large-scale political entities, people belonged to close-knit clans, or extended families, that formed tribes. Most Arabs were pagans, but small minorities were Jewish or Christian. The Arabs were mostly Bedouins (nomadic pastoralists) who provided for their own needs with herds of sheep and goats, small-scale trading in towns, regular raids on one another and on caravans. Some farmers worked the land, but in many areas soils were too poor and rain was too infrequent to support agriculture.
These Bedouin tribes were transformed by the Islamic spirit of submission to the Creator and to live according to the Shariah laws; this belief brought about a total revolution in their lives, their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, manners, what they like, dislike, love, hate and so on. Their character and personality was wholly remolded and reshaped according to the divine guidance brought by the Messenger Mohammad (saw), who was sent as a mercy to humankind.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran:
((وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ))
"And we have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the all the worlds." [Surah Al-Anbiya: 107]
((الر ۚ كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيد))
Allah Ta'ala says: "Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) so that you might bring mankind out of darkness into the light by permission of their Lord - to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy." [Surah Ibrahim: 1]
((وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا))
"And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you." [al-Baqarah: 143]
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine. Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. This vast Islamic Ummah knew no class, or privileged royal dynasty, or ruling class claiming divine right to rule. People of different races and origins mixed and intermixed, living together in peace and harmony; non-Muslims smoothly intermixed with the Muslims. Islam rejected forced conversion of anyone, and guaranteed the safety and dignity of all people irrespective of their background.
I will relate to you in short the famed incident between the powerful Persian ruler Rustom and the Prophet's Companion Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas who was appointed as the leader of the army battle. The Persian leader prepared an indulgent feast, yet the Companion remained focused on his mission to spread the message of Islam to the Persians. Upon inquiring of his presence, Abi Waqqas informed him that Allah has sent us to convert humanity from the worship of people to the worship of Allah and from the narrowness of this life to its width and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam. Allah has sent us to His creatures with His religion. Whoever accepts it, we accept from him and whoever refuses, we fight him until we get the Promise of Allah?" The Persian ruler inquired about the promise. Abi Waqqas replied, "Paradise for those who die and victory for those who survive." Rostom wanted a delay in order to speak with his people of the matter asking for an extension. However Abi Waqqas afforded him up until three days as indicated by the Prophet (saw).
This noble companion came from a society which "materially" lagged behind the Persian Empire.
Nevertheless he had the determination which emanated from the Truth he possessed allowing him to bypass the grandeur of the Persian Empire. It is important to fully grasp that the one who is from a technologically advanced society does not necessarily translate into a civilized person as I have outlined earlier. The material aspects of civilization will come later as a by-product of the thoughts it holds.
Some of the orientalists, and their blind followers among the Muslims, mix the honey with the poison to discredit Islam and the Islamic teaching, to try, implicitly at times and explicitly at other times, to smear the message of Islam and its way of life. Some promote the idea that the Islamic civilization is a hybrid mix which owes its glory to the pre-Islamic societies, cultures and philosophies, Roman, Greek, Indian, Persian and so on.
Others play the game of being "objective" and fair towards Islam and Muslims who, according to them, played the role of preserving the ancients cultures and carrying them to Europe once it awoke from the darkness of the Middle Ages...some of them go at length to praise the various technological achievements of the Islamic civilization and Muslim scientists and scholars yet they either describe them as being "Arab" civilization such as one famous name is German Orientalist Sigrid Hunke, the author of The Sun of Arabs Shines over the West, or they tend to separate the technological achievements from the Islamic way of life.
Yet what I want to stress here is that the value of a civilization lies in its core principle: the creed - Aqeedah - upon which it is founded upon. All civilizations throughout history were founded by a few men enslaving the rest. Only Islam frees man from being enslaved by others. Only Islam equates the human race and family in front of the Creator who created all, and will hold every person accountable for his or her deeds on the Day of Judgment; even animals who commit acts of injustice will be brought to justice on the Day of Judgment.
Some 1400 years ago, the Sahabi Rabie bin Amer eloquently summarized the Islamic mission. Islam was responsible not only for the creation of a world civilization in which people of many different ethnic backgrounds participated, but it played a central role in developing intellectual and cultural life on a scale not seen before; stretching from Andalusia to Turkestan and from Tatarstan to central and west Africa. For some eight hundred years Arabic remained the major intellectual and scientific language of the world, and the Islamic cities were world centers of learning.
Everything has changed today! Today people submit to the laws and rules made by men in the form of dictators and ‘democrats'. Today it is the politicians in collusion with the high priests of capitalism - bankers and big business that are subjugating the people. The result is a world dominated by a way of life that keeps people consumed in darkness chasing nothing other than material desires. A world where women are used as sexual objects in the name of ‘liberation', where the poorest three billion people in the world live on less than 2 USD a day, and where the evil of racism still persists, and Muslims and others live in fear of being bombed and killed every day. The American Senator Sam Brown Pack of Arkansas confirmed that the sexual trade better known as prostitution is the 3rd largest source of income for the United States, after drugs and arms/weapons trade.
This is the choice facing the world today: either yielding to the secular capitalist world order depriving man from his human nature and enslaving him to other men, or to examine in scrutiny the jewel of Islam as a way of life even for non-Muslims, who remain free to keep their religions without persecution or oppression.
This is the struggle that is taking place between Islam and secularism - between the system revealed by Allah (swt) and the system made by man's own hands, which has now gone bust. Islam is depicted as backward and medieval, oppressive to women, violent and barbaric. This is at a time when humanity can bear witness to how western man-made systems of secularism and democracy have brought chaos to the world.
Across the Muslim world, increasing numbers of Muslims are struggling to realize Islam as a way of life implemented in a state, which will then carry the message and mercy of Islam to the whole of mankind. It is for this reason the Western leaders openly pledge to prevent the rise of the Khilafah "Caliphate", all too often openly quoted by high-ranking officials at various meetings.
We call upon the Muslims intellectuals, scholars and thinkers to awaken and to work with us to break the shackles of enslavement by the secular capitalist civilization and to reestablish the Islamic way of life to provide the world with the mercy and justice of Islam as it once governed ever so brilliantly throughout the lands.
We, as Muslims, all have a great and noble duty to enhance and deepen the Muslims' understanding of their Deen, to be proud of the Islamic civilization, while at the same time exposing the lies, deception and smear campaign led by the secular western powers and their local thugs and agents. Together we must build the idea of unity and build the idea of the Khilafah "Caliphate" State as the practical way this Ummah should be united in presenting the Islamic civilization to the world. Allah (swt) said:
((بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ))
"Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe." [Anbiyaa: 18]
((وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ))
"And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land [of Paradise] is inherited by My righteous servants" [Anbiyaa: 105]
May Allah (swt) allow us to witness the new dawning of the luminous Khilafah "Caliphate" State.
Wasallaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa Barakatahu