Bismillah-ar-rahman-ar-raheem. This book is written for Muslims who have woken up to the need for Islam, not as a passive force, but an active force that can transform society and deal with the present extreme circumstances of our peoples. It is written for those who seek to understand where we stand in history and how to make a workable and attainable plan to solve the problems that we face today.
The book is not targeted at non-Muslims, "progressive"-style Muslims, or extremists and those who condone violence against innocents. Nor is this book a public relations or propaganda effort intended to showcase Islam before the world. It does not represent an inter-religious dialogue or an inter-civilizational one. The thoughts and ideas expressed here are intended solely for our planning and analysis in dealing with the difficult and extreme circumstances that we face today. It is written not as a justification but a guide to how to not only deal with those circumstances but in doing so, revive the Ummah insh’Allah. I have no interest in pleading with the decadent intellects of our times. Rather, I see hope in those whose hearts can still see:
Have they not travelled in the land, and have they hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear? For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that grow blind. (22:46)
As such, many unconvinced stalwarts of punditry will find this book of little relevance. So be it. The attempt in this book is to rather answer such questions as “What is wrong with us?” and “How do we fix this problem?” “How can we rebuild our civilization?” “How can we return to Medina?” “How do we deal with the rising non-Muslim world?” “How do we effectively compete against the West & Far East while being genuine to Islam?”
Some critical axiomatic assumptions this book makes include:
1. Islam is a complete way of life.
2. The Quran is relevant for all ages and not just a specific period in history.
3. The West is an enemy to our civilization but we are internally equally at fault for our circumstances.
4. That Islam is under threat and this threat is a very serious one.
5. That this threat is because of both internal and external factors.
6. That the traditional ulema are not capable of responding to this threat.
7. That an Islamic state can be a critical tool to meet this threat.
A list of “Central Principles” is also given at the end of the book that elaborates or adds to some of these axioms.
I have found that versions of my thoughts and ideas entailed in this book have invited the ire of numerous personages. The attacks, unfortunately, would have been welcome had they been on the topic at hand and against the ideas I have spoken of. However, the attacks have largely been personal attacks on me and I have been labeled with numerous ignominious titles. This is a symptom of our present circumstance, and the best I can do to help mitigate this prognosis is to give a personal account of how the germs of the ideas entailed in this book originated.
The backdrop is the winter of 2001, when the United States and its lackeys attacked Afghanistan and the Pakistani government keeled over and joined “the Allies”. I was a young man and had made my first decisive move towards religion. It was Ramadan and I was at the Faisal Masjid doing ithekaf.
The details of how I managed to get into the Faisal Masjid for itheqaf are in themselves interesting in that you usually need to apply one month in advance, but somehow I managed to get in (by the Will and Grace of Allah) on the spot. It felt miraculous. In my heart, it was miraculous. To this day, that time spent in itheqaf then is remembered as one of the most important turning points in my life and some of the most miraculous.
When I came out, I was visibly healthier and my skin had transformed and even the very nails on my fingers seemed more alive than I have ever known them to be. The spiritual glow I had was amazing. During the itheqaf I had a constant awareness of Allah. Praying, fasting, reading the Quran all day and all night. It was like living in His Presence, in line with the hadith about ihsan, the perfection of faith. The atmosphere and feeling was overwhelming, no words can explain how it is to live as if He is there with you at every moment. Thinking of it as I write still brings tears to my eyes.
At one point, a CIA operative showed up, pretending to be Italian without an Italian accent (probably new on the job). My guess would be lower middle class Irish-Italian stock from the great state of New York. He was disingenuously pretending to be travelling through from China. He asked me how was it that I could speak English with such fluency and seemed doubtful when I said that I had never been (till then) to the United States. However, since the Faisal Masjid had my passport this could have been easily verified, and All Glory to Allah that nothing further was heard concerning this, because at that point in time in Pakistan, the Americans could have you picked up over anything and everything, and I was of course a non-Pakistani in Pakistan at a sensitive point in time.
We spent nights doing special war prayers for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The atmosphere is not explainable with mere words. The spirit was palpable and we constantly had tears flowing down our eyes. I have never prayed like that since. One day, we did not have those prayers and the next day we found out that it was because the CIA requested that we don’t pray against them. The next day we continued to pray for the Taliban.
It just so happens that I am someone who was born with a passion for weapons and the art of war. It was probably at the age of 6-7 that I was analyzing how one type of ants (red) would compete with another (black ants) by placing sugar solutions between their colonies. I was probably eight when I would day dream about dropping paratroopers or dream of some other maneuver warfare. By the age of 12-13, I was scoring through defense industry magazines such as Jane’s from old book stores, a task made easy because I grew up in Islamabad and the generals that received these publications never read them, despite them costing a fortune to subscribe, and their servants would dispose of them at local old book outlets, in mint condition, sometimes with the very plastic covers still on them. At the age of fifteen I had contributed to a defense publication.
In short, I am a man born with a passion for war, someone who dreams about it and can spend all day dreaming about. It is not that men like me do not know how horrific war is, but it is that we are the ones that revel in meeting it when it becomes inevitable. Given the circumstances it was thus a tempting consideration for me to join the Taliban.
Now, I do not like how the Taliban interpreted Islam in certain cases, nor how they treated women, but given the circumstances, they stood head-and-shoulders above everyone else in their integrity and honesty to the cause of Islam. However, there was another issue: as someone relatively well-versed in the art of war, I understood clearly and without doubt that the Taliban was not the solution, that for the kind of war we need to engage in, it is not possible with the ideological or material resources available to the Taliban. That what we seek to achieve cannot be achieved by the means with which we are attempting to achieve them.
At the same time I could see the secularized and West-serving Pakistani elite (who I largely grew up with) pushing a separate agenda, and neither they nor the religiously conservative and anti-American side could stand each other. It felt clear in my mind that it was such a divide that was at the crux of the problem of the Ummah.
It was with these thoughts in mind that, sitting and discussing with a fellow itheqaf goer, in the Faisal Masjid, in the winter of 2001, being observed by the ISI, CIA and only Allah knows who else and yet in an amazingly deep spiritual experience, it was in these circumstances that I conceived the idea that we need to find a middle way between the two sides. While conversing, an older gentleman, my impression would be ex-military, congratulated us on our attempt to find a bridge. So it was perhaps there that this book was really born.
As someone who understands military science, I can say with great confidence that you cannot defend a people, let alone march from Khurasan to Jerusalem with the kind of force that the Taliban represent, or any other unconventional outfit represents. It was not the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Sahaba to leave their families and hide in caves, while non-Muslims oppressed their people. It is not a strategy that makes any sense to someone who understands modern conventional warfare.
To meet the West in battle, to march against them to Jerusalem, to fight them toe-to-toe in the manner of the Prophet (peace be upon him) requires much more. It requires effective air defense to ensure that your massed forces (or your communities) do not get ravaged. To march to Jerusalem we need a large number of men and materials to travel relatively predictable routes for a long and sustained war effort using conventional military forces. This in turn requires the collective will of a people, not rag-tag outfits of renegades. To galvanize the collective will of the people, you need to have a stable political system, again something we lack.
To fight a sustained conventional battle requires a military-industrial complex, again something not possible without political and economic stability. With no meaningful political system other than monkey versions of Western models, and no economic system other than that of riba, the point becomes moot. Furthermore, there is no unity in the community in the first place and our theology is in deep crisis; there is no way I or anyone else can march to battle against the West in a meaningful manner, in the given set of circumstances and Allah knows best.
This meant to me that for me to insh’Allah die in the battlefield fighting for Islam, some others have to do the background work of fixing our internal problems and building viable economic and political models, which would foster industrial development, which in turn would create a meaningful military-industrial complex. Coupled with a leadership that unites and galvanizes the people, the order can then be given to make meaningful war against the West and Israel, insh’Allah.
Until then, men like me are “unemployed” and “unemployable”. Meanwhile, nobody (or very few) is doing that background work, and myself, being who I am, at some point decided to take up that very work, that the great intellects, thinkers, scholars and politicians should have been doing in the first place but are not. My intention, if you would believe me, is not in writing these books to be known to man and be some “great” “scholar” or other such variable. I am not doing this to gain fame. I am just interested in defending the lands of Islam against a foreign aggressor and I cannot do my job if “they” don’t do theirs, and this book and my other non-military writings has been me doing their job because the job I thought I was set out to do is not possible otherwise.
However, this book and much of my work may never have been written. I was after all, not a man interested in writing such things, and like most Muslims I was lazy and lacked resolve; I needed an added push and I got this from the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States of America, Agent Tim Alexander, who grilled me for five hours in their head offices in Washington D.C., concluding that I may be a terrorist in my subconscious mind and attempting to blackmail me to become an informant and if I didn’t, they may send me “in a box somewhere where they would take care of me”. Having refused that attractive offer after asking about the remuneration package, somehow they let me go home. I awaited such fate, not knowing what day they would pick me up and send me in a box to be taken care of but this taking care never happened.
Meanwhile, I felt that there was a lot in my head that, if I didn’t put down, may be lost forever if and when they did show up, so I started writing, and continued writing. And somehow now I am some kind of a writer, author, scholar, and I have even made it to the committees of a political party. Well, that’s a bit of my story to help the reader to: either, label me appropriately, or better, not label me but consider and even argue against the ideas I have put down in this book and elsewhere.
I have held from the beginning that I do not have the scholarship or wisdom to write this book. Certainly I am no Ibn Khaldun, Allama Iqbal or Malek Bennabi. In fact, it may not be possible for one person to write about the subjects and topics at hand as they are encyclopedic and require a grand synthesis. I have written it nevertheless as there appears to be a dearth of competent men who are willing to step up to the wicket and man up. Within these pages I have placed the best that I know, my very best effort spanning a decade of thinking; yet this book can be better written and more worthy ideas included or better ideas replace those that I have come up with. In this regard, I invite my brother Muslims to stop complaining about their problems and making grand statements and join me in finding an efficient and genuine solution to our problems, derived from the Quran and Sunnah. Blustering on and on about how Islam is a solution to all problems and not showing any relevance by example and implementation is hypocrisy. I urge my brothers and sisters to join me in showing that relevance and implementation of this miracle of miracles we call Islam.
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