Islam and Muslims

Indian Muslims, comprising so large a segment of the population that they can top the polls in any one of a hundred constituencies, are in a position to tip the political balance of the entire country.

In the early stages of modern civilization the Arabs made a considerable contribution to practical science. For instance, as early as the seventh century, the Arabs made usable watches. In his Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru mentions that ‘Damascus had a famous clock and so did the Baghdad of Harun al-Rashid’s day’ (p.261).

In January of this year, it happened that a city bus, which was passing a big Islamic Institution in Delhi, accidentally crushed a Muslim student under its wheels and killed him. A number of Muslim students of that Institution immediately congregated at the scene of the accident, but the bus driver had already fled. Out to avenge this tragic death, the students set fire to the offending bus, and, not content with this, they began to stone other buses on the same route and even set fire to them.

The principal reason for Muslims’ backwardness in the field of science can be summed up in one phrase - lack of consciousness.

In this paper I shall go into the reason for Muslims - in India as well as in other countries - lagging behind in scientific education. Some say that the Muslims are backward in scientific education because their religion discourages them from acquiring it, or, at least, does nothing to encourage them to do so. But this is far from the truth.

Knowledge is of two distinct kinds: that which we have been blessed with in the Qur‘an and the Hadith, and that which we acquire as a result of our own research and endeavour. The first kind acquaints us with our Lord, and makes plain the issues to be faced in the everlasting world which awaits us after death. More important, it shows us how, in the course of our present life, we may prepare ourselves to meet those issues. The second kind of knowledge provides solutions to the social and economic problems which we encounter in everyday life.

In situations of adversity, head-on confrontation, as a means of eliminating opposition, is frequently resorted to. As a negative reaction, it is almost always counterproductive. Experience shows, oftener than not, that the better way is to take positive action. That is, to return good for evil.

The greatest weakness of present-day Muslims is their negative psychology. They feel that all the nations of the world are inimical to them, and so many of their activities are seen as acts of hostility against the Muslims. This negative psychology has resulted in all their thinking becoming unrealistic. Suppose you are hit on the head by a ripe piece of fruit which has fallen down from a tree. If you persist in thinking that the tree has maliciously thrown it down at you, you will never succeed in either identifying the problem or in solving it.

Several years ago, IBM, the famous American Computer Company, was already so far ahead in the field of computers that its officers, making fun of Japanese computer companies, had quipped: ‘When IBM sneezes, Japanese computer makers are blown away.’