The Collective Aim Of The Ummah

The Collective Aim Of The Ummah

We Muslims are the member of an Ummah (Islamic community) whose sole purpose of existence and the aim of installation, according to Qur’an, is none other than calling people to Allah. As such, in this terrestrial existence not only our dignity and honor depends on realizing this collective aim, but our very existence as a religious community also depends on executing this duty in the right earnest. In the seventeenth section (ruku) of Surah Al-Baqarah (the Cow), along with the order for the change of Qiblah, the following verse was revealed: 

“And thus have We made you an exalted (middle) nation (Ummah), that you may be the bearers of witness against the people and (that) the Messenger of Allah may be the bearer of witness against you.” [Qur’an 2:143] 

The divine order for the change of Qiblah was in fact a symbol that henceforth the custodian of the mosque of Jerusalem i.e. the sons of Israel have been deprived of the guardianship of the holy place and of their position as the upholders of the divine guidance. And in their place were installed the sons of Ismael as the custodians of the Holy Kaba at Makkah Al-Mukarramah and as the new recipients and propagators of the Divine Guidance. Quite obviously, the sons of Ismael occupy the pivotal and nuclear position in the Muslim Ummah. As such their language was chosen for the revelation of the last Divine Book, and their customs and practices with amendments, modifications, additions and omissions have become the warp and woof of the last divinely revealed code of life. Other nations – akhereen[1]-which joined them later in Islam became in essence an integral part of them. This indeed was a great blessing of God on them. But it was a privilege of only “Ummiyyeen” (unlettered people of Arabia) that the last Prophet (SAW) was chosen from amongst them.[2] 

The objective and aim of the formation of this Ummah has been described very clearly thus in Surah Al-i-Imran: 

“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of)men: you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah.” [Qur’an 3:110] 

This verse makes it crystal clear that, according to the Qur’an, there is a radical difference in the ultimate aims and goals of the Muslim Ummah and other nations and communities of the world. By and large the goals which most nations of the world have been aiming at are self-aggrandizement, political power and military armaments, amassing of wealth, and subjugation of other peoples for their own selfish ends. This subjugation has been both political and/or cultural and economic. On the other hand, the aim and object of the very existence of this Ummah is that Allah (SWT) is recognized as the Lord of the Universe, His commands are exalted and upheld by all, the truth triumphs, virtues and good deeds flourish and vices and wickedness are completely uprooted. In other words, this Ummah is in reality the representative of God on earth: an agency for the propagation of virtue and an institution for the total eradication of evil and falsehood from this world. 

History is a witness to the fact that so long as the Islamic community as a whole discharged its divinely ordained duty, it was itself exalted and honoured alongwith the Truth it stood for. But when it turned a blind eye to its very raison d’etre and became only a nation like other nations pursuing worldly riches and comforts, it became the target of Divine wrath in the same way as the children of Israel had become earlier. In the beginning the punishment was confined to- 

“And if you turn your backs He will bring in your stead a people other than you” [Qur’an 48:38] 

That is, the leadership of the Islamic world was taken away from the “children of Ismael(i.e. the Arabs) and was entrusted to the Kurds and Saljukes. And when they did not take a lesson even from this, the more severe warning of Divine wrath overtook them in the form of Tatar onslaught and thus providing an exemplification of a state depicted in the Qur’an in these words: 

“We sent against you Our servants, of mighty prowess, so they went to and fro among the houses ruining them completely.” [Qur’an 17:5] 

Historians surmise in vain as to why the Tatars marched straight down to Baghdad and did not turn toward India even though the Indians very much anticipated their attack. The answer to this enigma is not far to look. The nucleus of the Islamic Ummah at that time was constituted by the Children of Ismael (Bani lsmael) and Baghdad was then the political centre of their government. And it was God’s will to punish them severely for their misdeeds. It is an historical fact that the groups of people who gained ascendancy afterwards in the Ummah were not from the ‘Children of Ismael’. Rather they hailed from other people – ‘akhereen’ in the Quranic terminology, viz; Moghuls in India and Turks in Asia Minor who also ultimately held the Ummah-wide religio-political leadership of ‘Khilafat-i-lslami’. In this way the vestigial religious superiority of the ‘Children of Ismael’ vanished completely and made them the subject and tax-payer of the Turks. It was only in the early part of this century that they came out from the subjugation of the Turks and were later dominated by the European Imperialists. In the middle of the century they however gradually got freedom from them and heaved a sigh of relief. A quarter century after this occurs the most painful chapter of this story. Even after having political freedom after a long spell of subjugation, they did not learn a lesson from their history. They turned their backs to the ‘Deen’ and adopted westernized luxurious and lavish way of living, and indulged in mental and behavioural vagrancy. Instead of promoting the global unity of the Muslim Ummah, they took to racial and territorial nationalism. They completely repudiated the fundamental teachings of Islam and oppressed the advocates of the true religion. Until at last to the extent of the ‘Children of Ismael the “second warning”[3] of Allah (SWT) was also fulfilled at the hands of a Divinely proclaimed damned nation (i.e. the Jews) they suffered a terribly disgraceful defeat in 1967. 

As a result of the recent[4] Arab-Israel war, no doubt the entire Muslim Ummah has been disgraced and the stigma has been shared by all Muslims. But surely the Arabs are the worst hit as the Qur’an says: 

“Who took on himself the lead among them, will be given a grievous punishment”. [Qur’an 24:11]

Religious and moral decadence is undoubtedly visible in the whole of Muslim Ummah, but the fact is that in this some Arab countries are far ahead of other Muslim nations. It is, therefore no wonder that they got the lion’s share in the disgrace and humiliation. As the Arabs were historically top most in honour and respect, quite logically they should now have the largest share in humiliation and disgrace. 

To cut the long story short the sole aim of this Ummah is to invite people to the call of Allah. And not only its honour and respect, its very survival rests on the fulfillment of this aim. 

There is only one way, both for the ‘ummiyyeen’ (unlettered people i.e. the Arabs) and ‘akhereen’ (other non-Arab nations) taking inspirations from the happy tidings contained in the Qur’an: 

“It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you” [Qur’an 17:8] 

they should build up their morale and pay heed to the Divine warning: 

“….and if you again return (to disobedience) We too will return (to punishment).”[Qur’an 17:8] 

They should get up to discharge their duties honestly and sincerely. These repeated warnings are for us only to remind that there is no way for we Muslims but to turn to Allah (SWT). And that not only for regaining the past grandeur and glory but also for the guarantee of our survival, there is no programme of action for us except turning ourselves and inviting others to Allah (SWT). 

[Calling People Unto Allah by Dr. Israr Ahmed, p.3-6]


[1] This is an allusion to verse (aaya) No. 3 of surah –Al-Jumuah. 

[2] This is a connotation to verse (aaya) No. 2 of surah –Al-Jumuah.
[3] This refers to the verse 7 of surah “Bani Israel”. The complete verse reads: “So when the second of the warnings came to pass, We permitted your enemies to disfigure your faces, and to enter your temple as they had entered it before and to visit with destruction all that fell into their power.”
[4] The reader must bear in mind that this article was written in 1967 and much has happened since.

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