The about-turneffected by modernists in a series of Muslim countries was, almost as a rule, anti-religious and led by slogans on the de-clericalization of political and social life. From this aspect it is reminiscent of the struggle between the awakening national states and the church in Europe on the threshold of the Modern Age. But what meant progress and constitutionality for the West, represented an unnatural process in the Islamic world, one which was incapable of effecting constructive change. Declericalization and nationalism had no positive aspects here, and were in fact merely a negation. Foreign in origin and matter, they were the reflection of a pervasive spritual sterility. With them, the curtain rose on the last act in the drama of the Muslim world. From the situation which ensued, this act could be called: "a dual [text could not be found]
Every renaissance occurs as the result of creative contact, affinity or internal concord between the thinking and leading elements in a society on the one hand, and the populace at large on the other. The leading group represents will and thought, the people the heart and the blood of any great undertaking, without cooperation or at least consent of the ordinary man, all action remains superficial, lacking in strike force. The sluggishness of the masses can be overcome if it is merely the consequence of a natural resistance to hard work, danger and struggle. It is impossible to overcome if it represents a rejection of the very ideals of the struggle, because it perceives that ideal as opposed to the most intimate wishes and feelings of the masses.
It is the latter case which may be observed, to a greater or lesser extent, in all Muslim countries where modernists attempt to implement their programmes. They flatter and threaten, plead and goad, organize and reorganize, change names and personalities, but run up against the stubborn rejection and indifference of ordinary people, who make up the majority of the nation. Habib Bourgiba - mentioned here simply as being representative of a widespread tendency - wears European clothes, speaks French at home, isolates Tunisia not only from the Islamic but also from the Arab world, restricts religious training, calls for the abolition of the Ramadan fast "as fasting reduces productivity", while he himself drinks orange juice in public in order to set a suitable example. After all this, he wonders at the passivity and the lack of support on the part of the Tunisian masses for his "learned" reforms.
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The Muslim peoples will never accept anything which is expressly opposed to Islam, because Islam is not just a collection of ideas and laws but has transcended into love and feeling. He who rises up against Islam will reap nothing but hatred and resistance.
By their acts, modernists have created a state of internal conflict and confusion in which any programme - Islamic or foreign - becomes impracticable. The masses want Islamic action, but cannot carry it through without the intellegentsia. An alienated intelligentsia imposes a programme, but cannot find enough people prepared to contribute blood, sweat and enthusiasm for this paper ideal. The opposing forces cancel each other out and a state of powerlessness and paralysis sets in.
There is an order, a dynamic, a prosperity, a progress which could be brought about on this ground and in this part of the world, but this is not the order, progress or prosperity of Europe or America. The indifference of the Muslim masses is not indifference at all. It is the way in which folk-Islam defends itself against outside, alien assualt. Wherever there was the least prospect of an Islamic struggle, the ordinary people proved his readiness to fight, suffer and die. This was the example given by Turkey in the liberation struggle against Greece, following defeat in World War I, the heroic resistance in Libya against Italian occupation and the recent examples of struggle against the British in Suez, the war for the liberation of Algeria, for the retention of Indonesia and for Islamic influence in Pakistan. Wherever the masses had to be aroused, Islamic slogans were used, however temporarily and insincerely. Wherever there is Islam, there is no indifference.
The manifest feelings of the Muslim masses need an idea which would move and direct them, but this cannot be just any idea. It must be one which corresponds to their deepest feeelings. It can only, therefore, be an Islamic idea.
There is no chance that the Muslim masses and their present intellectual and political leadership could agree on someone among them renouncing his ideal, regardless of how long this state of expectation and indecision may last. There is only one possible way out: the formatio and grouping of a new intelligentsia which thinks and feels Islam. This intelligentsia would then fly the flag of the Islamic order and, together with the Muslim masses, take action to bring it about.
To be continued