Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam in Life

Maulana Mohammad Ilyas, founder of Tablighi Jamaat–a worldwide Muslim reform movement with its center in New Delhi–used to issue this instruction to preaching groups that he sent out. “Lower your gaze,” he would tell them. “Go out with thoughts of God in your heart, His remembrance on your lips …, a serious outlook, a sense of responsibility, and your journey will be easy if you advance in unison.” Any group, which adopts these characteristics, is bound to be successful.

How important these four things are. It would be true to say that it is this awareness, this spirit, which really needs to be aroused in people. This is the real task to be performed. Success in both this world and the next is dependent on its accomplishment.

A nation, a social system, does not have an independent, sepa­rate existence; it exists only by virtue of the individuals that form it. A collection of individuals makes up a nation, while their social system comes from the way they, as individuals, act. If reform is to come in a nation or society, it has to be the individuals who make up that nation who undergo reform.

Keeping this fact in mind, one can see that any reform pro­gramme has to be targeted at individuals for it to be worthwhile. If society is made the target, one may seek social reform, but the result will be social chaos. What one is seeking on a mass level will only come about when it has been achieved on an individual level. Slogans raised in the name of social reform are meaningless without the initial reform of individuals. Those who raise such slogans are either power-seeking, or plain foolish; there is no other way their action can be interpreted.

Each and every individual has to be imbued with deep faith so that his gaze lowers in humility; awareness that he is answerable to God for his actions becomes embedded in his heart; such is his consciousness of God’s greatness that he forever makes mention of the Lord; having no thoughts of self, he is able to become one with others. If individuals acquire these qualities, the reforms that people seek in society will automatically come about.