Civilizations in Crisis: Confrontation or Peaceful Engagement?  Part II
Posted Mar 3, 2007

Civilizations in Crisis: Confrontation or Peaceful Engagement Part II

By Dr. Robert D. Crane

The last three of the six essentials of Islamic law concern quality of life.

4) Self-Determination - The first of these three qualitative essentials of the just society, haqq al hurriyah, is the right of responsible political freedom, and the corresponding duty, for all persons and every interest group to help determine the directions and priorities of the polity in which they choose to live. This is Islamic self-determination. Unfortunately, this aspect of the Islamic heritage has been observed primarily in the breech and therefore is not well known among most of the Muslims in the world today, including most of the Muslim immigrants who have come to America precisely to escape tyranny in their own homelands.

An the great scholars of Islam throughout the past 1360 years have been imprisoned, often for decades, for teaching the three basic principles of Islamic political thought. These are:

1) khilafa, which is the responsibility of the rulers, as well of the ruled, to Allah;

2) shurah, which is the responsiveness of the ruler to the ruled and the duty of the entire polity, both rulers and ruled, to establish formal political structures by which this shurah can be reliably maintained; and

3) ijma, or consensus, which requires all the members of the community, especially the opinion leaders, to develop a political consensus adequate to sustain the first two elements of the just polity, namely, shurah and khilafa.

This is the source of the absolute requirement that every Muslim in America become politically active in whatever way he or she can, inc1uding at the local level and in local issues, because this is “where it’s at,” that is, where the destiny of representative governance and the justice that results from it win be decided.

To these three political elements of the free society in the practice of the Prophet ( ) and in c1assical Islamic thought is a fourth, which has always been simply assumed and therefore has often been ignored but never attacked. This is the shariah itself and an independent judiciary to protect and apply it in order to sustain the integrity of the executive and legislative process.

This last element of the fourth goal or purpose in Islamic law is what distinguishes the American Revolution from the French Revolution, because the American revolutionaries all agreed that our basic rights and duties come not from collective man, elevated to the status of a false god, but from our Creator, Who sustains each one of us individually and Who is the only source and purpose of our liberty, equality, and brotherhood, and Who alone is the ultimate and true Legislator. America’s founding fathers distinguished their traditionalist political thought from the secular thought of the French Revolution by condemning democracy, or rule by the demos or people, and calling their new system of governance a republic.

5) Dignity - The fifth of the dururiyat or essentials of the shariah haqq al karama, which is the duty to promote the dignity of the person and of the moral community. In Islamic thought, freedom of religion and freedom of thought and expression derive not from the principle of freedom itself but from the dignity inherent in the human soul and its power to respond to Allah’s love. Freedom to pursue truth and to worship Allah, of course, can never be taken away, even in a concentration camp. The social and political duty of haqq al karama is to facilitate maximum freedom to practice these two highest duties of man, namely, the pursuit of truth and the worship of our Creator and Sustainer. Despite the extreme injustice of slavery, which was attacked by America’s founders as an abomination but was accepted by many in practice, this duty to respect the dignity of man was the key principle of American social thought just as it has always been among the great scholars of Islamic law.

The specifics of applying haqq al karama in America win differ from those in other countries only in degree. In America, it means first of an that we must act responsibly in every way possible to address the issues of unemployment, drugs, the homeless, affordable housing, prison warehousing and recidivism, as well as some of the underlying causes, inc1uding racial discrimination and the failure of some of the intended remedies.

Secondly, and even more importantly, we must address the major underlying cause of all our problems in America, which is the secular-humanist attack on any religion under the guise of separating church and state. The issue of “separation of church and state” is used hypocritically by the enemies of everything sacred in our society not to protect religion from state control, which was the original constitutional intent of the founders of our country, but to protect the secular state, inc1uding public education, against any moral influences from the concerned citizenry.

6) Knowledge - The biggest issue within the area of haqq al karama is the sixth kulliyah, namely haqq al ‘ilm, which is the universal right and duty free1y and responsibly to educate oneself and one’s children. This issue demands our highest priority, because whenever any people lose control of either their own or their children’s education, they have truly lost the future of all succeeding generations.

The biggest threat for Muslims comes from within, namely, from the effort to “Islamize knowledge” by adopting the secular paradigm of thought inherent in the disciplines standard in American universities and by trying somehow to adopt the best from the West by trying to sanitize it of un-Islamic baggage and fit it into such a secular framework. This is merely a Muslim form of what Catholic scholars for more than a century have caned “modernism,” which is the death of all real knowledge and would spell the end of every revealed religion. Knowledge by definition cannot be Islamized. As Mortimer J. Adler, America’s greatest professional philosopher has said in his The Four Dimensions of Philosophy: Metaphysical, Moral, Objective, and Categorical, Macmillan, 1993, footnote on page 6: “Knowledge always has the connotation of truth possessed by the mind. The phrase ‘false knowledge’ is a contradiction in terms; what is correctly judged by the mind to be false is not knowledge.”

The key policy priority, other than to eliminate the very concept, “Islamization of Knowledge,” should be to guide the formulation of voucher education, with policy priorities on equality of access and quality of education. The second level of purposes in the shari’ah’s hierarchy of purpose, below the universals or kulliyat is the hajjiyat, that is, the level of objectives necessary both to explain and carry out the higher level goals. The lowest level, known as tahsiniyat, contain the courses of action needed to transform policy into action. The two hajjiyat in the field of knowledge and education, namely, equal access and quality, are equally important.

Voucher education originated as a way to segregate children racially, but its modern version was designed by African-American Muslims specifically to overcome racism and provide for the first time equal funding for suburban children and those in the inner cities. The famous Wisconsin experiment was designed in part by Kalim Wali, aka Ronald W. Hendree, of Milwaukee, to permit parents to designate the school of their choice as the recipient of their school taxes, with state subsidies for those schools that otherwise would fall below the budget standard required for all schools. The most successful such experiment in parental control was in Harlem, where the children reportedly went from the lowest 15th percentile in standard tests to the highest 15th percentile within two years.

The most important election in America in recent years will be on Proposition 174 in California on November 2, 1993, calling for the institution of voucher education in California. Unfortunately, the California Teachers Association has outspent the proponents by ten to one, while Muslims have remained largely on the sidelines, despite the fact that voucher education nationally would provide several hundred million dollars to Islamic schools. This proposition is important because whoever controls the education of our children controls the country, and California usually leads the way for either good or bad throughout America. The secularization of our public institutions, especially the schools, has poisoned three generations of Americans. The result is not only that our prisons are inundated with both petty and major criminals, but that we no longer have a consensus on values, without which no civilization can endure.

The format of these six basic principles of the shari’ah represent the best thinking of the combined Islamic community throughout the world over the past fourteen centuries. Applying these guidelines to the issues that confront people in any society, whether it is governed by Muslims or not, is the challenge envisioned by all thinking Muslims, and, Muslims would say, is the challenge to all Christians and Jews, and members of every other religion as wel1.

Muslim leaders perceive a responsibility wherever they are to develop a “traditionalist movement” of like-minded people in order to transform themselves and the world together through action, spiritual, social, and political. They believe that if this is Muslim fundamentalism, or Christian fundamentalism, or Jewish fundamentalism, then perhaps we should redefine the term as something we a11 should be so that we can work together more effectively against those whose paradigm of thought and action is alienation and violence.
Muslims believe that this is why A11ah ( ) revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ( ) in Surah An’am (6:115), “The Message of Allah is perfected in truth and justice,” and in Surah An’am (6:9), “0 you who believe! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to Allah, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of others lead you into the sin of deviating from justice! Be just: this is closest to being conscious of Allah. And remain conscious of Allah. Verily, Allah is aware of all that you do.”

III. The quest for virtue

More important in any religion than mere knowledge of what is right and wrong (‘ilm) is the practice of virtue (akhlaq). In Islam, faith without works is a contradiction in terms. Faith is measured only by action. This is true especia11y in the orthodox Sufi orders. The leader of the Naqshbandi Owaisia order, for example, says that the only criterion for a good Sufi is whether he does his daily job better than anyone else. Muslims therefore distinguish sharply between knowledge and virtue. Akhlaq, or virtue, is the praxiology of applying truth in one’s own life as a person and as a member of one’s community, starting with the family and reaching out to the community of mankind.

This praxiology is expressed in the articles and pillars of faith, described below, which Muslims, Jews, and Christians share to a remarkable degree. Underlying these articles and pillars of faith is commonality of belief in the nature of faith itself.

Faith, from the Islamic perspective, might be summarized as an openness to God, and even as a suspension of the intellectual process in order to be more conscious of God and more responsive to His personal inspiration as guidance for one’s own life, as well as an emotional commitment to submit one’s life to Him out of complete trust in His love.

One may be a Muslim simply by recognizing the existence of God and all His revelations to man. But one can be a mu’min, which is the adjectival form of iman or faith, only if this is manifested in action. In the Qur’an, Surah al Anfal (8:2-4), Allah defines a believer as follows: “Believers are only they whose hearts tremble with awe whenever Allah is mentioned, and whose faith is strengthened whenever His messages are conveyed to them, and who in their Sustainer place their trust - those who are constant in prayer and spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance: it is they who are truly believers! Theirs shall be great dignity in their Sustainer’s sight, and forgiveness of sins, and a most excellent sustenance.”

Faith is a response to the transcendent instincts implanted in our nature, as well as to objective study of the universe. The mental and emotional outlook of the man or woman of faith protects against the totalitarian mentality that feeds on the arrogance of rationalism.

This linkage between the totalitarian mentality and rationalism, i.e. denying the existence of any and everything beyond one’s own immediate understanding, has been shown repeatedly in the modern world, but its verity was imprinted forever on the Muslim conscience by the Abbasid Caliph Ma’mun, who ruled in the third Islamic century. He established the rationalism of the Mu’tazilites as a state religion, and proceeded to introduce for the first and last time in the history of Islam the mihnan or Inquisition based on a paradigm of thought that rejected all limits to one’s own ignorance, even those of the shari’ah, and elevated man, and especially the Caliph himself, to the status of God.

The intellectual accomplishments during this 20-year period of inquisition sowed the seeds of the European Renaissance and the subsequent wars of religion in a culture that, unlike the Islamic, had no concept of tawhid and therefore could not incorporate the useful aspects of Greek thought without threatening religion itself and everything sacred in life. Since everything is sacred in Islam, and nothing is profane, “religion” as the opposite of the “secular,” is inconceivable, and the very thought that science can conflict with faith is absurd.

Faith in Islam is beyond the limits of scientific observation, because some of the most important truths are beyond the power of man to know through his unaided intellect alone. He cannot reason to them. These are known as the aqida or articles of faith, and they all come from Revelation.

In the narrowest sense, aqida encompasses seven cardinal doctrines, all of them common to Judaism and Christianity, namely, belief in the Oneness of God, in the instruments of Revelation, namely, angels, prophets, and books, in the resurrection and accountability of every person, and in the absolute power of God reflected in the popular concept ‘that “man proposes, but God disposes.”

This seventh article of faith, known as qadr, is expressed Qur’anically in the Revelation that man may plan the future but he cannot control it because the best Planner is God. Every person as a khalifa or vicegerent of Allah has the responsibility to promote the good and oppose the bad, but the results of his actions are up to Allah, Who not only created man but sustains him in love, mercy, and justice throughout his life.

IV. The pillars of faith

Since the essence of faith is submission to God not only in belief but also in action, for this purpose God has revealed five practices, known as the arkan or “pillars of Islamic faith,” which constitute the essentials of faith in action. Like the seven articles of faith, these five required actions are essential elements of Judaism and Christianity. They are all external acts by which each person changes both himself or herself and the entire world. Not only are they good in themselves, but without them no person can remain close to God, which is the ultimate purpose of everyone’s life.

A. Declaration of the Shahada

The first of the five pillars, the constant declaration that God is ultimate and therefore without rivals and that He sent messengers, including the Prophet Muhammad ( ), to teach man what he otherwise would not know, is an act and promotes action in accordance with the belief that God is absolute in every way, and therefore is One and unique. Christian mystics, such as the unparalleled Meister Eckhard of 13th century Europe, share the Islamic concept of Allah in their belief that the trinity is transcended by the Godhead, which is Beyond Being. Many Christians, if not all, pray to the Godhead, which is Allah.

The function of this first pillar is not to formulate one’s thought but to direct one’s every action in life. It requires one to avoid the de facto worship of anything else as absolute or ultimate, because this is idolatry or shirk. As the British diplomat, Charles Le Gai Eaton, expresses it on page 56 of his book, Islam and the Destiny of Man, “Idolatry is, in essence, the worship of symbols for their own sake, whether these take the form of graven images or subsist only in the human imagination .... The ultimate ‘false god,’ the shadowy presence behind all others, is the human ego with its pretensions to self-sufficiency.” This is the cardinal sin of every secularist paradigm in foreign policy.

The false gods, which all Jews, Christians, and Muslims are commanded to reject, include not only the crude pursuit of wealth, power, prestige, and pleasure as ultimate goals in life, but the worship of hidden, false gods, which is known as shirk al khan These may lurk in intellectual premises and paradigms of thought, or in ultimate values, or even in loyalties to human persons or institutions that may replace God as the center of one’s life and lead away from Him.

The Qur’an distinguishes between the Jews and Christians who have a “disease in their hearts,” and those who are sincere in their beliefs, worship, and lives. The former must be regarded as enemies, because they are, whereas the latter can “come to common terms ... that we worship none but Allah” (Surah al ‘Imran, 3:64), knowing that “Our God and your God is One, and it is to Him that we submit” (Surah al ’ Ankabut, 2946). In order to enlighten the “exclusivists” among the Muslims, Christians, and Jews, Allah has revealed that “to each of you We have prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute” (Surah al Maida, 5:51).

The open way for Muslims is provided not only directly in Divine Revelation from Allah but indirectly through the model of His Messenger, Muhammad ( ). This is why the first pillar of Islam is of two parts, la ilaha ille Allah, there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad al Rasul Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Of all the drives implanted in human nature, including hunger, sex, and love, perhaps the strongest is the craving for orientation, for the right direction in fulfilling one’s role as God’s steward on earth, because our eternal future depends on how well we fulfill this responsibility. The goal is Allah, as indicated by the first half of the initial pillar of Islam, and the direction to this goal is found in the model of the Prophet Muhammad ( ) as the perfect exemplar (al insan al kamii) of man created in the image of Allah.

A healthy community depends on the healthy personalities of its members. The personality of the Muslim is healthy only to the extent that all of his or her activities and habits are integrated within a divinely ordained pattern. Allah designed the life of the Prophet Muhammad in all its details to provide this pattern, but he warned repeatedly, that in their love of the Prophet ( ) Muslims should avoid” overstepping the bounds of truth” (Surah al Nisaa, 4:171).

The greatest “universal genius” of Islam, Abu Hamid al Ghazzali of the fifth Islamic century, wrote that the true Muslim is one who “imitates the Messenger of Allah in his goings out and his comings in, in his movements and times of rest, the manner of his eating, his deportment, speech, and even in his sleep.”

Paying close attention to such external details does not indicate a superficial outlook on life, as it would in a secular culture, but rather the opposite, because for the devout Muslim Allah has given meaning to absolutely everything. It is precisely through the externals in life, al dhahr, that we can gain access to the inner reality, al batin. In the desacralized world of secular man, nothing has any inner meaning. In a world where everything is sacred the effort to give direction to one’s life by following even the minutest details of the Prophetic model is a most joyous form of prayer.

Everything the Prophet did and said, known as the sunnah, was an effort to submit to Allah in one way or another, so his life offers an inexhaustible wealth and diversity of ways to practice virtue. F ol1owing his example thereby gives both diversity and stability to life, because it avoids the uniformity and ephemeral nature of worldly fashions.

Following the Prophet’s model thus offers unlimited opportunities to be one’s true self, which is the person Allah has created one to be. Allah revealed in the Quran (Surah Ahzab, 33:6) that the Prophet is “closer to the believers than their own selves.” Members of some Sufi orders during prayer are transported into the presence of the Prophet Muhammad, just as in the isra’ he was transported into the presence of all the great prophets in Jerusalem before his ascension (miraj) into the presence of Allah. For those so favored, the meaning of this passage in the Qur’an is very clear. For others, the meaning is equally striking because, as Charles Le Gai Eaton writes in Islam and the Destiny of Man, it means that the Prophet “is the believer’s alter ego, or, to take this a step further, more truly “oneself”  than the collection of fragments and contrary impulses that we commonly identify as the “self.”

The most visible examples of such external modeling, other than the formal prayer itself, is the sunnah whereby men wear beards and women cover (hajaba) their hair as a sign of modesty and submission to Allah ( ). The symbolic meaning of hijab was strikingly presented in August 1987 when the demented President Bourguiba demanded the execution of Shaikh Rashid al Ghannouchi and the other senior leaders of the Renaissance Movement, which is the leading Islamist organization in Tunisia and forswears all violence in either gaining or maintaining political power. It was, and still is, a criminal offense in Tunisia for a man to wear a beard in public and for a woman to wear the Islamic head cover prescribed in the sunnah, because these are symbols of submission to Allah rather than to Bourguiba’s secular state. At the first hearing of the kangaroo court, in which the chief judge was the Chief Prosecutor in the Interior Department, all ten of the wives of the senior Islamist leaders showed up in the identical light-tan hijab, tinted with the color of rose, each clearly demanding by this symbolism: “If my husband is to be executed for his religious beliefs, then I must be executed beside him.”

Following the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ( ) clearly is not merely a form of prayer but also a statement of belief and of community cohesion.

B. Prayer

The second pillar of Islam, and the second result of faith and its clearest expression in the lives of all the Abrahamic peoples, is formal prayer, salat. Allah has prescribed specific forms of prayer as a minimum requirement to help us “remember” Him in everything we do throughout the day. We are forgetful of Allah. The very word used in the Qur’an for man, al insan, comes from the verb “to forget.” Muslims pray five times every day, and Christian monks pray eight times daily by adding prayer in midmorning and twice at night (corresponding to the optional prayers in Islam of the shaf/witr and tahajud), because if we forget Allah as the center of our life, then we will be helpless in the face of the temptations and evil forces in the world. Muslims do not even have a word for “sin,” because evil does not consist so much in the actions themselves as in the elimination of Allah from our lives, which is the cause of all evil.

The root of the word for man, ins, is also directly related to the word ins for intimacy, which occurs when one forgets oneself and thinks only of the other. All informal prayer in Islam is called “remembering” Allah, zikr, and this, in a single word, is the purpose of human life.

Remembering Allah makes possible forgetting oneself so that in comparison to Allah all created existence seems to disappear and only Allah remains. This “union” with Allah, known as wahdat al wujjud or “Oneness of Being,” is purely subjective. The great Islamic saints or awliya have all learned that the more aware one is of Allah, the more clearly one sees beyond the impression of Oneness, wahdat al Shuhud, to recognize the immense difference between the Creator and the creature. Only then can one understand the true meaning of the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching that every person is created as vicegerent or deputy, kha1ifa, “in the image of Allah,” that is as a theomorphic being, and that every human community should be not theocratic (run by professional clerics) but theocentric (led by persons who are led by Allah).

Only through prayer can any person understand his or her real identity by recognizing that one’s purpose, as the modern Christian mystic, Thomas Merton, phrases it, is “to become the person that Allah intends one to be,” that is, that one’s identity is one’s destiny known to Allah Who is beyond space and time, in accordance with Ecclesiastes3: 15, “What has been is now, and what is to be has already been.” And only then can one understand one’s true closeness to Al]ah by recognizing that one’s spirit (ruh) was created in the presence of Allah “before” the creation of the universe, i.e. outside of space and time, and that the entire universe is nothing compared to one’s own role in the Divine Plan.

As Meister Eckhart put it, “God might make numberless heavens and earths, yet these ... would be of less extent than a needle’s point compared with the standpoint of a soul attuned to God.” Everything in creation, the stars and the trees, praise God by being what they are and in ways “you do not understand” (Surah ‘Isra, 17:44), yet only man is capable of “naming things,” that is, of knowing the conceptual before the concrete, and of meaning before its symbolical representation, and of se]f-transformation through dialogue with his Creator.

As Charles Le Gai Eaton puts it in his chapter on “The Human Paradox,” “Man prays and prayer fashions man. The saint has himself become prayer, the meeting-place of earth and heaven; and thus he contains the universe and the universe prays with him. He is everywhere where nature prays, and he prays with and in her; in the peaks that touch the void and eternity, in a flower that scatters itself, or in the abandoned song of a bird.” This highest level of prayer is known as ihsan.

C. Charity

The third pillar, charity, is produced by the first two, because each of the pillars is designed to make possible the next, more demanding pillar or habitual action. At the same time, none of the five actions can survive elimination of the other four. Thus, without charity there clearly is no faith, because faith is expressed in good works or it is not at all.
Charity in Qur’anic language is known as infaq, which is the inclination or desire to give rather than take in life. If one has faith or iman, one will want to make an effort to help other people, because one would be unhappy not to do so. In this way selflessness, which is just as much a part of our nature as the instinct for personal survival, becomes a permanent character trait.

The generic term, infaq, includes zakah, sadaqah, hadya, and ‘anfus. Zakah is a specified amount of one’s wealth required to be given to the needy as an institutionalized social responsibility to purify oneself from any arrogance and shirk that may come from one’s success in accumulating more wealth than is needed for normal survival. Such purification is needed, just as is the ritual washing before forma] prayer, so that one may grow in both love and righteousness. The root z-k-a expresses a philosophy combining both purification and increase, based on the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad ( ) that giving of oneself is, in modern terms, non-zerosum, because the more one gives the more one has to offer, both materially and spiritually.

The required amount of zakah varies in proportion to the capital intensivity of the means of production, so that capita] owners, and especially owners of mineral wealth created essentially by Allah, pay progressively more as a percentage of their wealth than would simple laborers. Unfortunately many of those who claim to own the oil resources of the world seem to have little knowledge of this pillar of Islam.

It is best to give additional amounts, sadaqah, hadya, and anfus, as a sign of the truthfulness or sincerity of one’s infaq, because this third pillar of Islamic prayer life serves primarily to develop concern for others as a trait of character.

D. Fasting

The fourth pillar of Islam, and of faith among all the Abrahamic peoples, is siyam or fasting. This is an essential part of prayer, because it strengthens our remembrance of Allah. Siyam means to hold something fast. We hold ourselves fast by self-discipline through fasting so that we will not forget the purpose of our relationship with Allah and our origin and end. Fasting is so important in Islam that an entire month, Ramadhan, is required as part of our faith to strengthen our taqwa or consciousness of Allah and of His purpose for us during our time of testing in this world. Devout Muslims, especially the unmarried, fast often throughout the year, but the Prophet disapproved of any excesses beyond the practice of the Prophet Da’ud (David), who routinely fasted every other day of his life.

Taqwa, usually mistranslated as “fear of Allah,” is the essence of faith and is the beginning of wisdom, because it is based on both awe and love of Al]ah and on the consequent fear of separating oneself from Allah by neglecting to live one’s life as a form of prayer. Taqwa eliminates indifference (qhafla) and produces an intention and a deep commitment to submit one’s entire life to Allah by choosing the very best, rather than merely the minimally acceptable, as the only purpose of all one’s plans and actions, and as the only criterion for deciding what to do and what not to do.

The Prophet Muhammad ( ) warned that, “Allah ( ) does not accept any deed unless it is done purely for his pleasure.” And, “The greatest punishment on the Day of Punishment will be meted out to the learned man to whom Allah has not given any benefit from his learning .... The learning and actions that have no connection with Allah are fit to be entirely rejected by the wise and those who seek wisdom.”

E. The Hajj

The fifth pillar of Islam, the hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah, is the least understood and the most misunderstood of the five pillars, especially in America, where it is usually regarded as a bunch of rituals that one has to go through, fortunately only once in a lifetime. One reason for this ignorance is the absence of a single good book on the hajj in English, though ’ Ali Shari’ati, the intellectual Godfather of the Iranian Revolution, made a noble effort.

The hajj is a grandiose and complex symbol, revealed by Allah in the process of all its details in order to present symbolically all the teachings of Revelation. Like all the elements of the articles and pillars of faith, man could not produce the hajj through his own reason, because the concept of the hajj in all its ordered details was revealed as signs of Allah for us to contemplate and use as directions for our personal and community life.

Although the symbols of faith are often different in Judaism and Christianity, they reflect the same substance, and we can only regret that the People of the Book cannot experience in the hajj the unity of , all believers in God-consciousness and love.

The purpose of the hajj is to orient us toward our true qiblah, Who is Allah. The core teaching of Allah for all Muslims, Christians, and Jews is the primacy of personal change. In Surah al Rad, 13: 11, Allah admonishes us: “Verily, Allah does not change a people’s condition until they change what is in their inner selves.” This is the most obvious truth evident in the divinely ordained pattern of the hajj.

The first half of the hajj emphasizes the wisdom of the early Makkan surahs in the Qur’an, which teach the centrality of everyone’s personal submission to Allah, out of which grows the unity of tawhid, which should be the governing principle in every person’s thought and action.

Each half of the hajj contains three major symbols. In the first half of the hajj these three elements are: I) the honesty and purity of intent, symbolized in the ihram or seamless white robe of the pilgrim, 2) the Oneness of Allah and the resulting unity of His creation, so powerfully demonstrated in the tawaf around the Kaa’ba, and 3) the submission to His will in the sa’i between Safa and Marwa. All are designed to teach us that the path of perfection consists not merely in what we do but in living so that everything we do is a form of prayer, that is, so that the shari’ah and the three sources of knowledge, haqq al yaqin, ‘ain al yaqin, and ‘ilm al yaqin, on which it is based, become ‘ibadah or a life of prayer in sub-mission to Allah.

The second half of the hajj teaches us the power of our combined efforts when we work selflessly in a global movement. This is particularly important in the modern era of polytheism, which is unmatched in human history.

This message of power in movement is highlighted by: 1) a day of recollection and listening to Allah in the midst of the tumult of ’ Arafat, 2) commemoration in Mina of the sacrifice of Allah’s perfect servant, the prophet Abraham, and 3) the stoning of the false gods of power, prestige, pleasure, and wealth, as well as such hidden false gods as collective self-worship, manifested most clearly in secular nationalism, which the devil, a1 shaitan, places before us throughout our lives in order to tempt us toward moral or intellectual arrogance.

The great movement from Makkah to ’ Arafat and back in the second half of the hajj is designed to teach us our social obligations revealed in the later Medinan surahs. Its purpose is to strengthen each one of us as a mujahid in the eternal jihad of mankind against the arrogance of nifaq, taghut, sheqaq, and kufr, that is, dishonesty, impurity, selfishness, and hatred of the truth. The purpose is to teach us the opposite of this, namely, honesty, purity, selflessness, and love, and to consolidate our commitment to social, economic, and political justice based on the Islamic principle of mizan or balance, so that His will not ours will be done.


In his Washington Post interview of October 15th, 1993, President Clinton regretted that he had failed to enlist the nation more fully in what he called “the great national debate” over America’s role in the post-Cold War world, and he asked Americans to help “build a consensus on what our role in the world will be and how we will define it ...”

He was discussing our basic identity as a nation. This is important because no nation or civilization can survive without a consensus on so important a matter. We should begin, continue, and conclude this debate by recognizing that the ultimate actors in the world are neither civilizations nor states but individual persons. This is the basic thesis of representative government embodied in Islamic law and in the American Constitution. And the ultimate goal of every person, just as of human community at every level, whether we recognize it or not, is to be what God intends us to be.

Every form of life on earth exists in community. We can carry out our purpose therefore only in community. The purpose of community is not to look inward and be exclusivist in our perception of reality, because this breeds the threat mentality. Community exists, according to the Qur’an, so that we can get to know other persons through interaction with their communities in pursuit of the goals that we all have in common. This pursuit both requires and generates the opportunity mentality.

The highest level of community is known as a civilization. It is defined, like a nation, as a group of people with a sense of a common history, with common values, and with common hopes for the future, but it differs from a nation in that it usually transcends any individual nation and forms the largest grouping of people in which nations can find identity.

Civilizations necessarily are based entirely on a religion, in the sense of a coherent set of beliefs and symbols that express ultimate reality and ultimate purpose for every person and community in the civilization.

Like any community, civilizations can be vehicles for either conflict or cooperation. Especially in the modem era of global community, civilizations are the major actors on the international scene. Therefore governments should promote understanding of their own and other civilizations in order to share common values and pursue their resulting common interests in justice and peace. Civilizations can be the ultimate source of cooperation among peoples globally, or the ultimate source of conflict, depending entirely on whether policymakers see them as opportunities or threats.

Conflict and violence can be combated effectively and over the long term only if we enlist the leaders of the world’s religions to help shift the paradigm of foreign policy from threat to opportunity and if we look for opportunities and are willing to take risks in order to seek peace through justice. This process of risk -taking is known as the paradigm of peaceful engagement.

A foreign policy focused on opportunity necessarily will have to risk accepting others’ perception of themselves without assuming that they must have some hidden agenda. The threat mentality, based on the paranoid assumption of hidden conspiracy, is the origin of all-self-fulfilling prophecies.

If U.S. policymakers state that our policy is not targeted against any religion, they should not act in accordance with the conspiracy theory that Muslim leaders want “one man, one vote” but only “one time,” whereby Islamist leaders al1egedly want to use democracy to gain power only so they can abolish it and reinstall tyranny. If U.S. policymakers are serious, they should support the global Muslim leaders, like Professor Ahmad al Tuwaijri in Saudi Arabia, who is probably Islam’s greatest living intellectual, and the ex-philosophy professor, Shaikh Rashid al Ghannouchi, in Tunisia, whom Imam Khomeini denounced as an un-Islamic pacifist. Shaikh al Ghannouchi, who has led the Renaissance Movement (al Nahda) for more than a decade, opposes cans for violence, because he says that whoever uses violence to take power must use violence to keep it, which would be thoroughly un-Islamic. He also opposes the demand for the establishment of an “Islamic State,” because any popularly elected government in an Islamic country would include institutions that produce responsive and responsible government, as in the United States, and would respect Islamic values.

The best strategy for peace is to promote the democratic process around the world, rather than oppose it as the United States has done in most Muslim countries, not only because representative government is the best road to justice but because history reveals that democracies rarely if ever start wars.

The best strategy to transform confrontation between the Muslim world and America into cooperation is to inaugurate a policy of inter-civilizational “peaceful engagement” by accepting Islam as the most powerful any of the United States in promoting the “democratic transition” throughout the world.

An American focus on threat at the expense of opportunity is highly risky because it would surely produce exactly what we are trying to prevent, namely, radicalized populations and unrepresentative governments with a terrorist mentality leading to eventual nuclear war.

The enlightened self-interests of both the Muslim world and America are identical, but they each often follow parochial policies designed to play in a zero-sum game, whereby any gain by one must be a loss to the other. The two major threats to peace in the world are the parochial American strategy to consolidate a new world order based on maintaining the status quo and the parochial Muslim strategy to overthrow the existing world order in order to promote justice. Each party justifies its strategy by demonizing the other in a spiraling process of self-fulfilling prophecy.

The only solution is for the United States to recognize that basic change in the world is inevitable, and for the Muslims around the world to recognize that the only way to achieve justice is to work with Americans in addressing the problems common to us all.

The basic principles of Islamic law are identical to the basic premises of America’s founding fathers, but both Muslims and Americans have lost this common heritage. The best strategy for justice, security, and peace is to revive the common traditionalist heritage of Americans and Muslims in order to begin a process of civilizational renewal both in America and throughout the world.

* Dr. Crane directs the Task Force on Peaceful Engagement at the American Muslim Council, where he is AMC’s Counselor. He was Richard M. Nixon’s principal foreign policy advisor from 1963 to 1968, Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Elliot Richardson for information management and liaison with the National Security Council in 1969-1970, and was appointed Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates by President Ronald Reagan in 1980 in order to support Emir Nahayan’s efforts to develop a strategic consensus in the Middle East based on spiritual trialogue among the Abrahamic faiths.

In his private life, Dr. Crane, aka Faruq Abd al Haqq, is the American representative of the Naqshbandi Owaisia Sufi Order headquartered in Central Asia.

The Task Force on Peaceful Engagement is following the lead spelled out in Dr. Crane’s chapter, entitled ‘‘Some Basic Strategies of Arms Control” Interdependence and Motivating Peaceful Engagement,” pp. 108-130, in The Prospects for Arms Control, eds. James Dougherty and John F. Lehman, Jr., Macfadden-Bartell, New York, 1965.

Copyright, The American Muslim, 1993

Originally published in the Winter 1994 print edition of

The American Muslim

Part I