Speechs in the year
Tarikh/Date 	: 	04/10/91 

      In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.
2.   Thus  do we Muslims begin everything, for we do nothing
except in the name of Allah, the Compassionate and the  Mer-
3.   Of   the   99   attributes   of   Allah  S.W.T.,  being
compassionate and merciful are the two most  often  repeated
by us.  They surely must be the most important attributes of
the only God that we worship, Allah S.W.T.
4.   Yet,  these  two attributes are least common among men,
the Muslims included.  We are not merciful, nor are we given
to much compassion, especially to those  who  in  our  esti-
mation  may have done wrong, particularly in the interpreta-
tions  of  our  religion.     As  the  Christians   of   old
excommunicate,  so  do Muslims readily condemn other Muslims
as heretics for the slightest differences of opinion or  for
questioning established dogma.
5.   It  is  for this reason that I consider the founding of
this Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation  a  brave
enterprise.    Faith  and thoughts do not often go together.
Indeed, faith implies blind unquestioning  submission.    On
the  other hand, thinking requires reason and logic, a proc-
ess of analysis, enquiry and questioning which are certainly
at odds with complete submission, i.e., with faith.  On  the
other   hand,   a   non-thinking   society   can  create  no
civilisation.   Islamic Civilisation is not  the  result  of
pure rituals of obeisance to Allah but was developed through
thinking  and applying the injunctions and guidance of Allah
S.W.T. as a way of life.  An unthinking society  cannot  es-
tablish a civilisation.  Islamic Civilisation is, therefore,
not  a  civilisation  of  unquestioning  faith  alone  but a
civilisation of thoughts and ideas based on the teachings of
6.   If this Institute is to be worthy of its name  then  it
must  examine  the religion of Islam as we find it to-day in
order to find the rationale for the multitude of rituals and
practices, the interpretations of the Al-Quran,  the  Hadith
and  the  Sunnah, which together make Islam not just a faith
but also a way of life, i.e., as Addin.   If this  Institute
and  those  who  participate in its activities are merely to
seek or devise explanations for  each  and  every  practice,
some  of  which as presently practised are incompatible with
each other and are probably wrong and unIslamic, or if it is
to try only to find a way out for the  Muslims  in  a  world
that  is  no  longer  the  same  as  that at the time of the
Prophet, S.A.W., if it is to devote entirely to finding  ex-
cuses  for  the  obvious  failures  of the Muslims and their
practice of Islam and to explain everything by  speaking  of
rewards  in  the afterlife,  then the Institute would not be
an  institute  for  thinking  but  would   be   merely   for
apologising   for  Islam.     And  this  is  an  unnecessary
excercise, for Islam needs no apology.
7.   As to Islamic Civilisation, are  we  referring  to  the
Golden  Age  of Islam in the past or the present day Islamic
world?  Some may define Islamic Civilisation by the piety of
the Muslims in the performance  of  rituals  and  not  their
worldly  achievements.    Others might think purely of their
worldly achievements.  If we do not define what we  mean  by
Islamic  Civilisation,  we  may  end up discussing different
things and so fail to achieve any  sensible  assessments  or
direction.    In other words, we would be indulging in a fu-
tile exercise and would not contribute anything to Islam  or
the Muslims.
8.   To  be  worthy of the title, the Institute must be pre-
pared to analyse and to reason and to find reasons, not  for
the principle articles of faith, such as the bearing of wit-
ness  to  the  oneness  of  Allah S.W.T., and that Muhammad,
S.A.W. is His messenger, but for those other practices, rit-
uals and values which make Islam a way of life.
9.   Yet when this is attempted, the Institute is  going  to
come  in  for  much  criticism  and  probably  be accused of
hearsay by those who feel that no reason is  required,  that
all matters concerning Islam are articles of faith and faith
alone.    Even  more vehement will be the criticism of those
who interprete Islam as living in the 7th century.
10.  The detractors of this Institute will have no such  at-
tributes  of  being merciful or compassionate.  They will be
even less merciful and compassionate when  the  thinking  of
this Institute clashes with their interpretations and under-
mine  the  hold  they  now  have  over  the Muslim community
through their teachings.
11.  Islam did not come into this world in  a  vacuum.    It
came  at  a time of ignorance, in the days of the jahilliah.
It came to enlighten, i.e., it came with a  reason.    Islam
came to light the way for the jahilliah in Mecca and for the
rest of humanity.
12.  The  enlightenment  was  needed  for the jahilliah were
among the most cruel and unprincipled people in the world of
that time.  They were given to female  infanticide,  to  re-
garding  women  as mere chattels, to slavery and the extreme
cruelty to slaves, to endless feuds and tribal wars, to  hu-
man  sacrifices  and  the worship of stone images, to an ex-
treme fondness for praise, to avarice and to a whole  series
of other qualities which render them almost unfit to be con-
sidered as human.
13.  At the same time the practice of the other religions of
Allah  S.W.T.  which  were  taught  by  the  prophets before
Muhammad, S.A.W. had, deviated from the original  teachings.
Many  had  gone  back  to  idol worship and to the practices
which brought misery to their community.  Priests had  taken
over the religions and placed themselves not just as the in-
terpreters  of  the  religions but as the intermediaries be-
tween God and the faithful.
14.  This was the world to which Islam came.   This was  the
world  and the time when Muhammad, S.A.W. received his first
message from Allah S.W.T.  And the messages were  all  meant
to  restore  faith  in Allah and to create a better society,
indeed a better and more human civilisation.
15.  Islam came to show the way of life for the whole  human
race  then and in the future.  More than any other religion,
Islam was not to be just a way of worshipping Allah  S.W.T.,
of  prayers  and  rituals.    Islam was meant to reshape the
value system of the faithful and the whole human race and to
instruct society on how to conduct its affairs, its adminis-
tration, its laws and its economic and social life.
16.  From the very beginning and throughout  its  teachings,
Islam  emphasised  the  need to acquire knowledge, to under-
stand and appreciate the wonders created by Allah S.W.T. and
therefore, to think.  Obviously Islam is not  just  a  faith
but it relates to everyday life, explains it and gives guid-
ance as to how to relate to it for success in this world and
a better life in the hereafter.
17.  Change  was  predicted  for the future, the accuracy of
which is truly amazing.  Human society was not  expected  to
be static but would be in a constant state of flux.  And all
these  would  not  be without reason.   And the followers of
Islam must obviously change and adjust  to  new  situations,
for their continued success.
18.  The  Al-Quran  is  complete  and covers every aspect of
life.  It gives guidance to the faithful.   Through  it  the
followers  will  know  the correct direction and approach to
solving worldly problems and mastering challenges.  But this
does not mean that the Quran will provide  detailed  answers
to every question faced by everyone.  Nor is the Quran meant
to be the sole source of all knowledge.  It enjoins the fol-
lowers to seek knowledge.  Knowing the contents of the Quran
alone  would not, for example, make a man a capable defender
of the faith.  To defend the faith, he must know the art  of
war,  the weapons, the skills, the technology, etc, which he
must learn elsewhere.  The Quran directs him to  equip  him-
self  with  swords and horses i.e. the weapons of defence at
the time.  Clearly it would be futile in this day and age to
depend on swords and horses.
19.  When the followers find themselves lost,  i.e.,  unable
to  resolve  their  problems they must refer to the Al-Quran
for guidance.  Guidance does not infer minute  and  detailed
instructions  as to exactly what to do.  Guidance infers di-
rection, the right approach, the right path.    Knowing  the
direction, the faithful must apply their minds and think and
resolve  their  problems  according to knowledge, reason and
logic.  A Muslim may pray for  guidance  but  he  must  also
think  and  act  in order to resolve the problem before him.
To pray and leave everything to Allah S.W.T. is not the  way
of  Islam.    To say that the failures had been pre-ordained
when the Muslims make no effort to achieve success is to put
the blame on Allah S.W.T.  And this, no true Muslims  should
20.  For many centuries after the death of the Prophet,
guidance was sought from those close to him, i.e., the  com-
panions and the narrators of impeccable character.  But with
the  passage  of  time and in the absence of specific Sunnah
and Hadith, many questions of religion had to be  determined
through  "ijtihad".    The  learned theologians had to apply
their minds, after referring to the Al-Quran, the Hadith and
the Sunnah for guidance, in order to resolve an issue.   The
"fatwa"  that they make is the result of their thinking, and
constitutes a part of religious belief  by  those  who  sub-
scribe  to  the teachings of these particular theologians or
"ulamas".  Others will dispute the conclusion arrived at  by
this  group  and  believe  in the conclusions and "fatwa" of
other groups which may differ considerably.
21.  Since it is seldom that  two  persons  or  groups  will
agree completely on any matter, the "ijtihad" often leads to
differing  and  conflicting "fatwas".  To complicate matters
there were scholars and pretenders  who  allowed  their  own
vested  interests  or  those  of  their patrons to influence
their thinking.
22.  As a result, the single  religion  of  Islam  that  was
brought  by  the  Prophet  acquired different and frequently
conflicting interpretations.   Different groups  of  Muslims
emerged  who believed and worshipped in different ways.  The
Syiahs, the Sunnis, the Khawarij and Druzes and numerous di-
visions appeared in the Muslim world only to be divided fur-
ther by the interpretations of  different  imams  from  each
group  at  different  times.    Numerous "tarikats" appeared
which  preach practices which are  questionable  and  differ
radically  with  each other.  The interpretations, teachings
and "ijtihads" have divided up  not  just  the  Muslims  but
Islam itself as a religion.  Islam had become many religions
with many different practices and beliefs.
23.  It  was thought that the solution to further fragmenta-
tion and deviation was to stop "ijtihad" altogether.  Hence-
forth, no one was to think or discuss Islam  but  to  accept
previous  interpretations  as  dogmas without question.  But
this decision by some  "ulama",  learned  and  well-intended
though  they may be, did not resolve the problem of the con-
tinuing fragmentation of Islam and Muslims.  Neither has  it
solved  the  problem  of wrong teachings and interpretations
which had created numerous groups of  deviates.    Certainly
new problems in a changing world cannot be resolved.
24.  Many  of  the teachings and interpretations of Islam as
made by some of the "ulamas" and believed to  be  sacrosanct
are clearly damaging to Islam and the Muslims.  The state of
the  Muslim  world to-day is the result of these tendentious
interpretations.  In the early years of Islam, the  religion
was acknowledged by all, the Muslims and the non-Muslims, as
a great religion which converted the nomadic jahilliah Arabs
into a great people with achievements not only in the spread
of  the  teachings  of Islam but in all fields of knowledge,
the arts, the sciences, medicine, astronomy, etc.  In  other
words,  Islam  converted a backward people into the founders
of the greatest civilisation of all times.
25.  If to-day Islam and the Muslims are reduced to  depend-
ing  on  others  for their skills and knowledge and even for
their own defences, if to-day Muslims are forced  to  grovel
at  the  feet of their enemies, helpless even to resolve the
problem of the Zionists, it is not because of Islam but  the
interpretations  of  Islam  by  the  frequently  self-styled
"ulamas" who emerged after the golden days of Islamic glory.
It is these "ulamas" with their rigidity, their belief  that
this  world  is not for the Muslims, that the most important
expression of "iman" is continuous rituals of  obeisance  to
Allah, that what is sunnat and therefore is optional must be
considered  as  wajib  or compulsory; it is these people who
have reduced Islam and the Muslims to  the  inferior  status
that they are now.  Before the interpretations and teachings
of these "ulamas", the Muslims were the most successful peo-
ple  in the world who spread the teachings of Islam, built a
huge Islamic Empire and created the Islamic Civilisation.
26.  And yet these "ulamas" claim that they,  all  of  them,
whether  self-proclaimed or otherwise are the direct succes-
sors of the   Prophet.   And just as the  teachings  of  the
Prophet may not be disputed, their teachings and interpreta-
tions  of  the religion may also not be disputed.  They have
gone so far as to say that any  teachings  coming  from  any
other source, including the parents of the children, are the
teachings of Satan.
27.  There  should  be  no priests in Islam, no interlocutor
between the faithful and Allah S.W.T.  But there is now  ef-
fectively a priesthood which has arrogated to themselves ir-
respective   of   their  qualification,  the  role  of  sole
interpreters of Islam who demand  obeisance  to  themselves.
As  they  are human and can go wrong as well as being influ-
enced by certain interests, many of them  have  caused  con-
fusion  and  deviation  which  do  much  harm  to  Islam and
28.  It is in this kind of Muslim world that you as thinkers
are required  to  think,  to  examine  Islamic  thought  and
civilisation.  You can choose not to disturb the status quo,
to avoid controversy, to play safe.  But if you do that, you
cannot  be doing any thinking and cannot be called thinkers.
Only if you choose to think, to enquire, to acknowledge  the
miserable  state  of the Muslims and Islam, to reason and to
criticise the accepted interpretation of  the  religion,  to
debunk  and  to  reach  conclusions  which in the context of
present practice may sound radical or even heretical and  to
declare  your  stand, only then would you have justified the
role that you and the Institute are required to play.
29.  I would like to warn you that if you dare to be honest,
you will be charged with being heretical, by those who  have
accepted  the  present  teachings and practices.   This is a
risk you must take.  The risk is far less than that taken by
the Prophet when he undertook to preach Islam.    Of  course
you  are  ordinary  mortals  and can be wrong.  Nor will you
have the protection accorded by Allah S.W.T. to the Prophet.
But the deviation in the teachings  of  Islam  and  the  sad
plight  of  Islam and the Muslims resulting from some of the
present interpretations and teachings require  that  someone
accept  the  risk,  someone committed enough to Islam to set
aside personal considerations.
30.  Insyallah, guidance will be given to you  in  the  task
that you face.  I and many concerned Muslims will be praying
for  you.  With their hope and prayers I now officially open
the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation.
Wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.