Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam and Muslims

In the present day and age, the situation in which Muslims find themselves is an extremely delicate one. Constantly provoked into confrontation, they must nevertheless concern themselves almost ex­clusively with the avoidance of all forms of conflict. It is a time for them to remain patient, and it is certainly not the moment for them to be conducting jihad. On the contrary, it is a time for them to realize that to adopt the path of patience and avoidance – far from being an act of cowardice–is to provide themselves with a much-needed period of respite in which to engage in earnest self-reconstruction.

This is not to say that one should never fight for one’s rights. There are times when it would be right and proper to do so, and suicidal not to. But the course of action one adopts is inevitably dependent on a particular sets of circumstances. Sometimes it is correct to enter into direct confrontation and sometimes it is more discreet to lie low. For example, during the Prophet Mohammad’s period in Makkah, his Companions once asked his permission to make a direct onslaught on the enemies of Islam, but the Prophet restrained them and made them recognize the value of patience. On another occasion, when various tribes launched a concerted attack on Medina, the Prophet did not counsel a counter-attack, but instead had a trench dug all around the city so that the question of a direct clash was completely ruled out. One year later, when the Muslims were on their way to Makkah, some of them began to shout the battle cry: “Allahu Akbar!” thereby drawing attention to their approach. The Prophet immediately told them to desist, as God was not so deaf that He could not hear their invocations. (As-Sunnah by Ibn Abi Aasim, Hadith No. 618)

Episodes such as these show us that nothing should be done on impulse. We should not rush blindly into things without giving due consideration to what the situation demands. Sometimes it takes much careful thought before the wisest course can be arrived at.

What the Muslims of today need to undertake as a matter of the first priority is the most thorough internal reconstruction. But they should first understand that it is not prejudice and oppression which is at the root of their suffering, but their own sub-standard performance in today’s competitive world. If they are to be at all successful in this process of self-uplift, they must grasp the necessity for patience and restraint, particularly when it comes to swallowing grievances and for­getting grudges. But this attitude will be of value only if it is coupled with a readiness to ignore problems and to seize opportunities. Any other path which Muslims choose to adopt will only lead them further and further down that very road to self-destruction which they seem to have been bent on following for such a very long time.