A Complete Way of Life

The Five Pillars of Islam

Muhammad and His Heirs

The Rise & Fall of the Caliphate

The Magnificent Heritage

Decay or Rebirth?

Ismail & Isaac

Resurgent Islam Today

Voices of the Resurgence

The Immigrant Experience

Black Muslims

The Other Face of Eve

Whither Islam?


Essay

credits & awards

CD description

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Program 8: Resurgent Islam Today    CD   MP3

     The theme of resurgence is inherent in Islam. Within a generation of the death of Muhammad there were already Muslims ready to challenge the Caliphate. And so it has continued down through fourteen hundred years. The reason is not hard to find. Islam claims to be a blueprint for political as well as individual morality. When a ruler is corrupt or unjust or simply unresponsive, opposition groups have repeatedly risen up against established authority in the name of Islam.

     Similarly, when Muslims are weak and dominated by outsiders the fault must lie with the rulers who are not truly Islamic. Return to the true message of Islam and Muslims will be free and strong again. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the World of Islam reached the lowest point in its fortunes. Internally, it was weak and decadent. Externally, it was conquered by European colonial powers. The essential unity of Islam was split; political power was seized by secular rulers; Islam was relegated to the backwater of private belief.

     Muslims were faced with two truths, equally unpleasant: either Western values and beliefs were intrinsically superior, in which case Muslims must borrow, imitate and learn from the West; or the fault lay in the corruption and decadence that had been allowed to enter Islam, and the answer lay in a return to the pure Islam of the time of Muhammad and Makkah and Medina. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw many reformist movements. In Saudi Arabia the Wahhabites sought to purify Islam from the accretions of the centuries. In return for conferring Islamic legitimacy they were given political protection by the Ibn Sa`ud family, an alliance which has lasted to this day. In North and West Africa the Sanyusiya movement similarly sought to return to the revolutionary simplicity of early Islam. In the Sudan Muhammad Ahmad proclaimed himself "Mahdiya" or Messiah, come to restore Islam from the corruption of the Egyptians, fellow Muslims who then controlled the Sudan. The last ten or fifteen years have seen another great movement, another revival of Islam and it has often frightened us in the West because we know so little of Islam and the feelings of Muslims.

     How do Muslims see the causes of this resurgence?

People interviewed in this program: Hasan al-Turabi, Agha Shaukat Ali, Albert Hourani, Kemal Faruki, Manzoor Ahmed, Mian Tufayl, Kamal al-Sharif, Leila al-Sawi, Sa'ad Ibrahim, Kamal Bassoon, Agha Shaukat Ali, Abdullah Omar Naseef, Musa Keylani, Fuad Zakaria, Anwar Ibrahim