In any period of great religious or intellectual transformation, there are always two distinct
kinds of movements. One is launched positively, on the basis of some discovery which is
held to be of great benefit of mankind, whereas the other is a negative process, set in motion
out of a sense of deprivation, or in order to recover something which has been lost. The
Islamic movement, for its part, was certainly launched with a prior sense of having found
something of inestimable value, but we have to ask ourselves in this day and age whether, as
a movement, it has been gaining or losing momentum.
The wonderful sense of discovery with which the companions of the Prophet were imbued
was that of having become aware of the oneness of God, in contradiction to polytheism. The
realization had come to them that the life hereafter - man`s entry into paradise - was the only
goal worthy of man`s endeavors. They learned too that a life devoid of principle was one of
utter degradation and that the highest human objective should be to become a man of
principle. They had been stirred to the very core of their beings by this thought. Their very
souls had been moved by it, their minds enlightened, and new doors to reality opened before
them. Their lives were so truly transformed by this idea, that it was kind of re-birth for them.
Although whatever they had gained in the process was apparently non-material - a thing of
the mind - it was so great a thing for them that it took precedence over all else. This
discovery gave them the strength to remain content, even when bereft of all their worldly
possessions. No sacrifice was then too great for them to make.
Another benefit of their discovery was that it conferred upon them the position of da`is,
conveyors of the divine message to the entire world. Let me stress that it is important at this
point to understand the essential difference between a da`i and a national leader. The latter
is one who, at the apex of the ruling party, expects to be able to command others and to
make demands upon them, whereas the da`i is always the giver. He never takes anything
What the companions of the Prophet had was greater than anything else in this world. What
they had discovered was a guarantee that they might stand before the world as givers, not
takers. It was this characteristic which endowed them with such irresistible power, and it
was not long before the greater part of the inhabited world came under their sway, for their
moral superiority was undeniable.
But this, regrettably, cannot be said of present-day Muslims, who parrot the names of the
Prophet`s companions without their religion being in any sense a great discovery for them.
Hence this desire of theirs is to appear before the world in the garb of national leader, and
not as da`is. The Muslim image in the world today is that of the taker, not of the giver. And
that being so, the man behind the image is utterly without value. It is his sense of loss which
motivates him, and not his sense of gain. Propelled by such people, the Islamic movement is
doomed to lose momentum, and it will not be long before it comes to a complete standstill
unless we take measures to re-energize it. We must surely undertake individual and mass
reforms, returning to the basic tenets of Islam, if we are not to be swamped by total moral