Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imam Shamil

Imam Shamil (Turkish: Şeyh Şamil also spelled as Shamyl, Schamil, in Urdu/Arabic/Persian امام شامل ; 1797 – March 1871) was an Avar political and religious leader of the Muslim tribes of the Northern Caucasus. He was a leader of anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War and was the third Imam of Dagestan(داغستان) and Chechnya(شیشان) (1834-1859).

Family and early life
Imam Shamil (امام شامل) was born in 1797, in the small village (aul) of Gimry, which is in current-day Dagestan (occupied by Russia). He was originally named Ali(علی) , but following local tradition, his name was changed when he became ill. His father, Dengau, was a free landlord, and this position allowed Shamil (امام شامل) and his close friend, Ghazi Mullah, to study many subjects including Arabic and logic. Shamil (امام شامل) established himself as a well-respected and educated man of Quran and Sunnah among other Muslims of the Caucasus.

Shamil (امام شامل) was born at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding into the territories of the Ottoman Empire and Persia(فارس). Following the Russian invasion, many Caucasian nations united in resistance to harsh Tsarist rule in what became known as the Caucasian War. Some of the earlier leaders of Caucasian resistance were Sheikh Mansur(شیخ منصور), and Ghazi Mollah(غازی ملا). Shamil (امام شامل) was actually childhood friends with the Mollah, and would become his disciple and counsellor.

War against Russia
In 1832, Ghazi Mollah(غازی ملا) died at the battle of Gimry, and Shamil (امام شامل) was one of only two Murids (مرید)to escape, but he sustained severe wounds. He went into hiding and both Russians and Murids(مرید) assumed him dead. Once recovered, he emerged out of hiding and rejoined the murids(مرید), led by the third Imam, Gamzat-bek. When the latter was murdered by Hadji Murad(حاجی مراد) in 1834, Shamil took his place as the premier leader of the Caucasian resistance and the third Imam of Daghestan(امام داغستان). In 1839 (June-August), Shamil (امام شامل) and his followers, numbering about 4000 men, women and children, found themselves under siege in their mountain stronghold of Akhoulgo, nestled in the bend of the Andee Koisou River, about ten miles east of Gimry. This epic siege of the war lasted eighty days, resulting finally in a Russian victory. The Russians suffered about 3000 casualties in taking the stronghold, while the rebels were almost entirely slaughtered after extremely bitter fighting where typical of the war, no quarter was either asked or given. Shamil and a small party of his closest followers, including some family miraculously managed to escape down the cliffs and through the Russian siege lines during the final days at Akhoulgo. Following his escape he once again set about regaining his following and resisting the Russian occupation. Shamil (امام شامل) was effective at uniting the many, frequently quarreling, Caucasian tribes to fight against the Russians. He made effective use of guerrilla warfare tactics and the resistance continued under his leadership until 1859. On August 25, 1859 Shamil (امام شامل) and his family surrendered to Russian forces and were jailed in the Dagestan (داغستان)aoul of Gunib.

Last years
After his capture, Shamil (امام شامل) was sent to Saint Petersburg (سینٹ پیٹرزبرگ)to meet the Emperor Alexander II. Afterwards he was exiled to Kaluga, then a small town near Moscow (ماسکو). After several years in Kaluga he complained to the authorities about the climate and in December, 1868 Shamil received permission to move to Kiev, a commercial center of the Empire's southwest. In Kiev he was afforded a mansion in Aleksandrovskaya Street. The Imperial authorities ordered the Kiev superintendent to keep Shamil (امام شامل) under "strict but not overly burdensome surveillance" and allotted the city a significant sum for the needs of the exile.

In 1869 he was given permission to perform the Hajj to the holy city of Mecca (مکّہ مکرّمہ). He traveled first from Kiev to Odessa and then sailed to Istanbul(استنمبول), where he was greeted by Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz(سلطان عبدالعزیز). He became a guest at the Imperial Topkapi Palace for a short while and left Istanbul (استنمبول) on a ship reserved for him by the Sultan. After completing his pilgrimage to Mecca(مکّہ), he died in Medina(مدینہ منوّرہ) in 1871 while visiting the city, and was buried in the Jannatul Baqi(جنت البقیع), which is a site where Prophet Muhammed (محّمد صلّی اللہ علیہ وسلّم)and other prominent personalities from Islamic history are buried.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tariq ibn Ziyad

Tariq ibn Ziyad or Taric bin Zeyad‎ (طارق بن زیاد), (born in Oued Tafna, modern day Algeria and died in 720), known in Spanish history and legend as Taric el Tuerto (Taric the one-eyed), was a Berber Muslim and Umayyad General who led the conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711 under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. According to the historian Ibn Khaldoun(ابن خلدون), Tariq Ibn Ziyad (طارق بن زیاد) was from a Berber tribe of Algeria. Tariq ibn Ziyad (طارق بن زباد) is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. He was initially the deputy of Musa ibn Nusair (موسی بن نصیر) in North Africa, and was sent by his superior to launch the first thrust of a conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom (comprising modern Spain (ہسپانبہ) and Portugal (پرتگال)).

Some claim that his name Tariq ibn Ziyad (طارق بن زیاد) (meaning Tariq son of Ziyad) was more a nickname given to him by historians than a real name, because he was a Berber with probably a Berber non-Arab name, and he converted to Islam shortly before he invaded Hispania.

On April 29, 711, the armies of Tariq landed at Gibraltar(جبل الطارق) (the name Gibraltar is derived from the Arabic name Jabal al Tariq (جبل الطارق) which means mountain of Tariq, or the more obvious Gibr Tariq, meaning rock of Tariq).

The 17th century Muslim historian Al Maggari (المگّاری) wrote that upon landing, Tariq burned his ships and then made a historical speech (well-known in the Muslim world) to his soldiers.

“Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy. Remember that in this country you are more unfortunate than the orphan seated at the table of the avaricious master. Your enemy is before you, protected by an innumerable army; he has men in abundance, but you, as your only aid, have your own swords, and, as your only chance for life, such chance as you can snatch from the hands of your enemy. If the absolute want to which you are reduced is prolonged ever so little, if you delay to seize immediate success, your good fortune will vanish, and your enemies, whom your very presence has filled with fear, will take courage. Put far from you the disgrace from which you flee in dreams, and attack this monarch who has left his strongly fortified city to meet you. Here is a splendid opportunity to defeat him, if you will consent to expose yourselves freely to death. Do not believe that I desire to incite you to face dangers which I shall refuse to share with you. In the attack I myself will be in the fore, where the chance of life is always least.”

“Remember that the Commander of True Believers, Alwalid(الولید), son of Abdalmelik(عبدالمالک), has chosen you for this attack from among all his Arab warriors; and he promises that you shall become his comrades and shall hold the rank of kings in this country. Such is his confidence in your intrepidity. The one fruit which he desires to obtain from your bravery is that the word of God shall be exalted in this country, and that the true religion shall be established here. The spoils will belong to your selves.”

“Remember that I place myself in the front of this glorious charge which I exhort you to make. At the moment when the two armies meet hand to hand, you will see me; never doubt it, seeking out this Roderick, tyrant of his people, challenging him to combat, if ALLAH is willing. If I perish after this, I will have had at least the satisfaction of delivering you, and you will easily find among you an experienced hero, to whom you can confidently give the task of directing you. But should I fall before I reach to Roderick, redouble your ardor, force yourselves to the attack and achieve the conquest of this country, in depriving him of life. With him dead, his soldiers will no longer defy you.”

The Muslim armies swept through Hispania (ہسپانبہ) and, in the summer of 711, won a decisive victory when the Visigothic king, Roderick, was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete(‏‏‏غرناطہ) . Afterwards, Tariq (طارق بن زیاد) was made governor of Hispania (ہسپانبہ) but eventually was called back to Damascus (دمشق) by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I(خلیفہ بنوامیّہ الولید اول), where he spent the rest of his life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi

Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi ( Arabic: محمد بن قاسم‎) (c. 31 December, 695- 18 July, 715) was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus river (now a part of Pakistan) at the age of seventeen. He was born in the city of Taif (in modern day Saudi Arabia). The conquest of Sindh and Punjab began the Islamic era in South Asia and continues to lend the Sindh province of Pakistan the nickname Bab-e-Islam (باب الاسلام The Gateway of Islam).

Life and career
A member of the Thaqeef tribe, which is still settled in and around the city of Taif, Muhammad bin Qasim's father was Qasim bin Yusuf قاسم بن یوسف)) who died when Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) was young, leaving his mother in charge of his education. Umayyad governor Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf(حجاج بن یوسف) , Muhammad bin Qasim's paternal uncle, was instrumental in teaching Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم)about warfare and governance and was considered by many to be one of his uncle's greatest assets. Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) married his cousin Zubaidah (ذبیدہ), Hajjaj's daughter, shortly before going to Sindh(سندھ) . Another paternal uncle of Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) was Muhammad bin Yusuf(محمد بن یوسف) , governor of Yemen (یمن). Under Hajjaj's patronage, Muhammad bin Qasim(محمد بن قاسم) was made governor of Persia(فارس) , where he succeeded in putting down a rebellion. At the age of seventeen, he was sent by Caliph Al-Walid I (خلیفہ ولید الاول)to lead an army towards South Asia into what are today the Sindh and Punjab regions of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (اسلامی جمہوریہ پاکستان).

Reason for attack on Sindh
During those times, some Muslim traders living in Ceylon died and the ruler of Ceylon sent their widows and orphans back to Baghdad. They made their journey by sea with pilgrims. The King of Ceylon also sent many valuable presents for Walid and Hajjaj. As the eight-ship caravan passed by the seaport of Daibul, Hindu pirates looted it and took the women and children prisoner. When news of this attack reached Hajjaj, he demanded that Dahir return the Muslim captives and the looted items. He also demanded that the culprits be punished. Dahir replied that he had no control over the pirates and was, therefore, powerless to rebuke them. On this Hajjaj decided to invade Sindh. Two small expeditions sent by him failed to accomplish their goal. Thus, in order to free the prisoners and to punish the guilty party, Hajjaj decided to undertake a huge offensive against Dahir, who was patronizing the pirates. The another reason for attack was Raja Dahir's policies. As he was oppressive especially towards the down trodden sections of the society. The oppressed classes of Sindh were thus seeing towards the Muslims as emancipators and the Muslims who were entrusted by Allah with the duty to fight against oppression all over the world and to establish a just society, were ready to help the people of Sindh with Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) against the local ruler was the proof of their feelings about the Muslims.
When Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) began the invasion of Debal, the ruler of Sindh (سندھ)Raja Dahir (راجا داہر) was staying in his capital Alor (Nawabshah نواب شاہ ) about 500 kms. away. Dabal was in the charge of a governor with a garrison of four to six thousand Rajput soldiers and a few thousand Brahmans, and therefore Raja Dahir did not march to its defence immediately. All this while, the young invader was keeping in close contact with Hajjaj, soliciting the latter’s advice even on the smallest matters. So efficient was the communication system that letters were written every three days and replies were received in seven days, so that the campaign was virtually directed by the veteran Hajjaj ibn Yusuf(حجاج بن یوسف) himself. When the siege of Debal had continued for some time a defector informed Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم about how the temple could be captured. Thereupon the Arabs, planting their ladders stormed the citadel-temple and swarmed over the walls. As per Islamic injunctions, the inhabitants were invited to accept Islam. The carnage lasted for three days. The temple was razed and a mosque built. Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم laid out a Muslim quarter, and placed a garrison of 4,000 in the town. As this was the pattern of all future sieges and victories of Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم - as indeed of all future Muslim invaders of sub-continent - it may be repeated. Inhabitants of a captured fort or town were invited to accept Islam.

At Ar-rur (Nawabshah نواب شاہ ) he was met by Dahir's forces and the eastern Jats in battle. Dahir died in the battle, his forces were defeated and a triumphant Muhammad bin Qasim took control of Sindh.
Political setting
The general populace was encouraged to carry on with their trades and taxes and tributes settled.

With Sindh secured Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم sent expeditions to Surashtra, where his generals made peaceful treaty settlements with the Rashtrakuta. Sea trade from Central India passed to Byzantium via the ports here, and the Arabs wished to tax these as well, especially if commerce might be diverted here from the Sindhi ports. Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم wrote out letters to "kings of Hind" to surrender and accept Islam, and subsequently 10,000 cavalry were sent to Kannauj asking them to submit and pay tribute before his recall ended the campaign.

Besides being a great general, Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) was also an excellent administrator. He established peace and order as well as a good administrative structure in the areas he conquered. He was a kind hearted and religious person. He had great respect for other religions. Hindu and Buddhist spiritual leaders were given stipends during his rule. The poor people of the land were greatly impressed by his policies and a number of them embraced Islam. Those who stuck to their old religions erected statues in his honor and started worshiping him after his departure from their land.

Military and political strategy
The military strategy had been outlined by Hajjaj ibn Yousuf(حجاج بن یوسف) When Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh, Hajjaj arranged for special messengers between Basra and Sindh, and told the general never to take any step without his advice. This order was followed to the letter during the campaign. “When you advance in the battle, see that you have the sun behind your backs,” Hajjaj wrote to his cousin just before the famous storming of Debal. “If the sun is at your back then its glare will not prevent you from having a full view of the enemy. Engage in fight immediately, and ask for the help of Allah. If anyone of the people of Sindh ask for mercy grant them aman ( امانsafety and protection), do but not to the combatants (ahl-i-harb اہل حرب), who must all be put to the sword or arrest and imprison them. Whoever does not fight against us, permit them to build the temples of those they worship. No one is prohibited from, or punished for, following his own religion, and let no one prohibit it, so that these people may live happily in their homes.” This edict of Hajjaj bin Yousuf (حجاج بن یوسف)had a lasting influence in the history of Muslim sub continent. By giving the Buddhists and Hindus the status of “zimmis,” and imposing “protection tax” ("جزبہ “jizya”) on them.settle their tribute( اموال amwal) as zimmah .‍ذمی/ذمہ). responsibility).”

The Arabs' first concern was to facilitate the conquest of Sindh with the fewest casualties while also trying to preserve the economic infrastructure. Towns were given two options: submit to Islamic authority peacefully or be attacked by force (anwattan), with the choice governing their treatment upon capture. The capture of towns was usually accomplished by means of a treaty with a party from among the enemy, who were then extended special privileges and material rewards. There were two types of such treaties, "Sulh" ) ‎صلح peace treaty) or "ahd-e-wasiq (عہد واسق capitulation)" and "aman (امان surrender/ peace)". Upon the capture of towns and fortresses, Muhammad bin Qasim ((محمد بن قاسم performed executions as part of his military strategy, but they were limited to the ahl-i-harb ( اہل حرب fighting men).
Where resistance was strong, prolonged and intensive, often resulting in considerable Arab casualties, Muhammad bin Qasim's response was dramatic, inflicting 6,000 deaths at Rawar, between 6,000 and 26,000 at Brahmanabad, 4,000 at Iskalandah and 6,000 at Multan. Conversely, in areas taken by sulh ) ‎صلح peace treaty), such as Armabil, Nirun, and Aror, resistance was light and few casualties occurred. Sulh ) ‎صلح peace treaty) appeared to be Muhammad bin Qasim's preferred mode of conquest, the method used for more than 60% of the towns and tribes recorded by Baladhuri or the Chachnama. At one point, he was actually berated by Hajjaj for being too lenient. Meanwhile, the common folk were often pardoned and encouraged to continue working; Hajajj ordered that this option not be granted to any inhabitant of Daybul, yet Qasim still bestowed it upon certain groups and individuals.

After each major phase of his conquest, Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) attempted to establish law and order in the newly-conquered territory by showing religious tolerance and incorporating the ruling class - the Brahmins and Shramanas - into his administration.

End of Life
Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) was known for his obedience to the ruler. Walid bin Abdul Malik (ولید بن عبدالمالک)died and was succeeded by his younger brother Suleman (سلیمان) as the Caliph. Suleman (سلیمان)was an enemy of Hajjaj and thus ordered Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) back to the kingdom. Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم) knew of the animosity between the two. He was aware that due to this enmity, he would not be well treated. He could have easily refused to obey the Caliph's orders and declare his independence in Sindh. Yet he was of the view that obeying ones ruler is the duty of a general and thus he decided to go back to the center. His followers wept bitterly, warning him that he was going back to a certain death. We don’t know what he said in reply, if he said anything. We do know, however, that shortly afterwards, he was put behind bars where he died at age of twenty in the prison of Wasit, just before he died he recited an Arabic couplet to the effect: “They wasted me at the prime of my youth, and what a youth they wasted: the one who was a defender of their borders.” He became a victim to party politics. Many historians believe that had he been given a few more years, he would have conquered the entire South Asian region.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Awzalagh al-Farabi

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Awzalagh al-Farabi ابو نصر محمّد ابن طرخان ابن اوظلاغ الفارابی was born in ah 257/ad 870. The existing variations in the basic accounts of al-Farabi's origins and pedigree indicate that they were not recorded during his lifetime or soon thereafter by anyone with concrete information, but due to his work In the arena of metaphysics ( he has been rightly be acclaimed as one of the greatest of Islamic philosophers of all time and some designated him 'Father of Islamic Neoplatonism'). The information were gathered for record was found after finishing his early school years in Farab فاراب and Bukharaبغارہ , Farabi moved to Baghdad بغدادin 901 to pursue higher studies.

Persian origin
The oldest known document regarding his background, written by the medieval Arab historian Ibn Abī Uṣaibi ابن ابی عصید (died in 1269), mentions that al-Farabi's fore-fathers were of Persian descent۔ Muḥammad ibn Maḥmūd al-Shahrūzī محمّد ابن محمود الشیرازی who lived around 1288 A.D. and has written an early biography also has stated that Farabi hailed from a Persian family. Ibn al-Nadimابن الندیم , a younger contemporary of Farabi and a close friend of Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (Farabi's closest and most successful student), states Farabi's origins to lie in Faryāb in Khorasanخراسان . Faryāb is also the name of a province in today's Afghanistan. The Dehkhoda Dictionary - based on Ibn Abī Uṣaibia's accounts - also calls him Persian (فارسی المنتسب‎), mentioning the fact that his father was a member of the Persian-speaking Samanid court of Central Asia. The older Persian form Parabپاراب (Persian word meaning cultivated land by streams) is given in the historical account Ḥudūd al Ālam حدودالعالم or his birthplace. Farabi has in a number of his works references and glosses in Persianفارسی and Sogdian pointing to an Iranian-speaking Central Asian origin. A Persian origin is also discussed by Peter J. King and some other western sources as well a comprehensive source on Islamic Philosophy written in Arabic by the Egyptian scholar Prof. Hanna Fakhuri.
Turkic origin
Al-Farabi's face appeared on the currency of the Republic of Kazakhstan جمہوریہ قازقستان
The oldest known reference to a possible Turkic origin is given by the medieval historian Ibn Khallekān (died in 1282), who claimed that Farabi was born in the small village of Wasij near Farab (in what is today Otrar, Kazakhstan) of Turkic parents, and in the following decades and centuries, many others copied his work. But scholars criticize Ibn Khallekān's statement, as it is only aimed to ridicule the earlier reports of Ibn Abī Uṣaibia, and seems to have the sole purpose to prove that Farabi was a Turk. In this context, it is criticized that Ibn Khallekān was also the first to use the additional nisba نسپت(surname) "al-Turk" - a nisba Farabi never had. Ibn Khallekān's statement also contradicts Ibn al-Nadim and Yaḥyā ibn Adī, both contemporaries of Farabi, who had reported that Farabi's birthplace was Faryāb in Khorasan (in modern Afghanistan). Ibn Khallekān's accounts are also partially contradicted by the above mentioned fact that Farabi has in many of his writings references and glosses in Persian, Sogdian, and Greek, but not in Turkish.

While his name tends to be overshadowed by that of Ibn Sina, a well-known story tells how Ibn Sina sought in vain to understand Aristotle's Metaphysics, and it was only through a book by al-Farabi on the intentions of the Metaphysics that understanding finally came to him. However, unlike Ibn Sina, al-Farabi has left us no autobiography and we know far less about his life in consequence. Considerable myth has become attached to the man: it is unlikely, for example, that he really spoke more than seventy languages, and we may also query his alleged ascetic lifestyle. We do know that he was born in Turkestan and later studied Arabic in Baghdad; it has been claimed that most of his books were written here. He travelled to Damascus, Egypt, Harran and Aleppo, and in the latter city the Hamdanid ruler Sayf al-Dawla سیف الدّولہbecame his patron. He died in Damascus.

Farabi made notable contributions to the fields of logic, mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy, psychology and sociology.
Al-Farabi became an expert in philosophy and logic, and also in music: one of his works is entitled Kitab al-musiqa al-kabir (کتاب الموسقا الکبیر -The Great Book of Music). However, perhaps the book for which he is best known is that whose title is abbreviated to al-Madina al-fadila ( - المدینہ الفضیلہThe Virtuous City), and which is often compared, misleadingly in view of its Neoplatonic orientation, to Plato's Republic. Other major titles from al-Farabi's voluminous corpus included the Risala fi'l-'aql ( - رسالہ فی العقلEpistle on the Intellect), Kitab al-huruf ( - کتاب الحروفThe Book of Letters) and Kitab ihsa' al-'ulum ( - کتاب العشاءالعلومThe Book of the Enumeration of the Sciences).

1. Logic
Al-Farabi was also the first Muslim logician to develop a non-Aristotelian logic. He discussed the topics of future contingents, the number and relation of the categories, the relation between logic and grammar, and non-Aristotelian forms of inference. He is also credited for categorizing logic into two separate groups, the first being Takhayyul (تخیّل idea) and the second being Thubut ( ثبوتproof).

2. Metaphysics
Majid Fakhry (1983) has described al-Farabi as 'the founder of Arab Neo-Platonism and the first major figure in the history of that philosophical movement since Proclus'. This should be borne in mind as we survey the metaphysics of the philosopher whom the Latin Middle Ages knew as Abunaser and whom the Arabs designated the 'Second Master' (after Aristotle). It should be noted that al-Farabi was an Aristotelian as well as a Neoplatonist: he is said, for example, to have read On the Soul two hundred times and even the Physics forty times. It should then come as no surprise that he deploys Aristotelian terminology, and indeed there are areas of his writings that are quite untouched by Neoplatonism. Furthermore, al-Farabi tried to demonstrate the basic agreement between Aristotle and Plato on such matters as the creation of the world, the survival of the soul and reward and punishment in the afterlife. In al-Farabi's conception of God, essence and existence fuse absolutely with no possible separation between the two. However, there is no getting away from the fact that it is the Neoplatonic element which dominates so much else of al-Farabi's work. We see this, for example, in the powerful picture of the transcendent God of Neoplatonism which dominates al-Madina al-fadilaالمدینہ الفضیلہ. We see this too in al-Farabi's references to God in a negative mode, describing the deity by what he is not: he has no partner, he is indivisible and indefinable. And perhaps we see the Neoplatonic element most of all in the doctrine of emanation as it is deployed in al-Farabi's hierarchy of being.

At the top of this hierarchy is the Divine Being whom al-Farabi characterizes as 'the First'. From this emanates a second being which is the First Intellect. (This is termed, logically, 'the Second', that is, the Second Being). Like God, this being is an immaterial substance. A total of ten intellects emanate from the First Being. The First Intellect comprehends God and, in consequence of that comprehension, produces a third being, which is the Second Intellect. The First Intellect also comprehends its own essence, and the result of this comprehension is the production of the body and soul of al-sama' al-ula السمع الاولی', the First Heaven. Each of the following emanated intellects are associated with the generation of similar astral phenomena, including the fixed stars, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. Of particular significance in the emanationist hierarchy is the Tenth Intellect: it is this intellect which constitutes the real bridge between the heavenly and terrestrial worlds. This Tenth Intellect (variously called by the philosophers the active or agent intellect in English, the nous poiétikos in Greek, the dator formarum in Latin and the 'aql al-fa''alعقل الفعال in Arabic) was responsible both for actualizing the potentiality for thought in man's intellect and emanating form to man and the sublunary world. With regard to the latter activity, it has been pointed out that here the active intellect takes on the role of Plotinus' Universal Soul.

In Farabian metaphysics, then, the concept of Neoplatonic emanation replaces that of Qur'anic creation ex nihilo (see Neoplatonism in Islamic philosophy §2). Furthermore, the Deity at the top of the Neoplatonic hierarchy is portrayed in a very remote fashion. Al-Farabi's philosophers' God does not act directly on the sublunary world: much is delegated to the Active Intellect. However, God for al-Farabi certainly has an indirect 'responsibility' for everything, in that all things emanate from him.

3. Epistemology
Farabian epistemology has both a Neoplatonic and an Aristotelian dimension. Three primary Arabic sources for these are al-Farabi's Kitab ihsa' al-'ulum کتاب العلم , Risala fi'l-'aql رسالہ فی العقلand Kitab al-huruf.کتاب الحروف
It is the second of these works, Risala fi'l-'aql رسالہ فی العقل, which provides perhaps the most useful key to al-Farabi's complex theories of intellection. In this work he divides 'aql عقل(intellect or reason) into six major categories in an attempt to elaborate the various meanings of the Arabic word 'aqlعقل . First, there is what might be termed discernment or prudence; the individual who acts for the good is characterized by this faculty, and there is clearly some overlap with the fourth kind of intellect, described below. The second of al-Farabi's intellects is that which has been identified with common sense; this intellect has connotations of 'obviousness' and 'immediate recognition' associated with it. Al-Farabi's third intellect is natural perception. He traces its source to Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, and it is this intellect which allows us to be certain about fundamental truths. It is not a skill derived from the study of logic, but it may well be inborn. The fourth of the six intellects may be characterized as 'conscience': this is drawn by the philosopher from Book VI of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. It is a quality whereby good might be distinguished from evil and results from considerable experience of life.

Al-Farabi's fifth intellect is both the most difficult and the most important. He gives most space to its description in his Risala fi'l-'aql رسالہ فی العقل and considers it to be of four different types: potential intellect, actual intellect, acquired intellect and agent or active intellect. 'Aql bi'l-quwwa عقل بلقوہ (potential intellect) is the intellect which, in Fakhry's words, has the capacity 'of abstracting the forms of existing entities with which it is ultimately identified' (Fakhry 1983: 121). Potential intellect can thus become 'aql bi'l-fi’l عقل بی الفیہ (actual intellect). In its relationship to the actual intellect, the third sub-species of intellect, 'aql mustafad عقل مستفادہ (acquired intellect) is, to use Fakhry's words again, the 'the agent of actualization' to the actualized object. Finally, there is the 'aql al-fa''al عقل فعال (agent or active intellect), which was described in §2 above and need not be elaborated upon again.
The sixth and last of the major intellects is Divine Reason or God himself, the source of all intellectual energy and power. Even this brief presentation of Farabian intellection must appear complex; however, given the complexity of the subject itself, there is little option.
The best source for al-Farabi's classification of knowledge is his Kitab ihsa' al-'ulum .کتاب العشاءالعلوم This work illustrates neatly al-Farabi's beliefs both about what can be known and the sheer range of that knowledge. Here he leaves aside the division into theological and philosophical sciences which other Islamic thinkers would use, and divides his material instead into five major chapters. Through all of them runs a primary Aristotelian stress on the importance of knowledge.
Chapter 1 deals with the 'science of language',
Chapter 2 formally covers the 'science of logic',
Chapter 3 is devoted to the 'mathematical sciences',
Chapter 4 surveys physics and metaphysics,
Chapter 5 encompasses 'civil science' (some prefer the term 'political science'),
Jurisprudence and scholastic theology. A brief examination of these chapter headings shows that a total of eight main subjects are covered; not surprisingly, there are further subdivisions as well. To give just an examples, the second chapter on science of logic subdivided into two Takhayyul (تخیّل idea) and Thubut ( ثبوتproof)۔ . Third chapter on the mathematical sciences embraces the seven subdivisions of arithmetic, geometry, optics, astronomy, music, weights and 'mechanical artifices'; these subdivisions in turn have their own subdivisions. Thus al-Farabi's epistemology, from what has been described both in this section and §2 above, may be said to be encyclopedic in range and complex in articulation, with that articulation using both a Neoplatonic and an Aristotelian voice.

4. Political philosophy
The best known Arabic source for al-Farabi's political philosophy is al-Madina al-fadilaالمدینہ الفضیلہ . While this work undoubtedly embraces Platonic themes, it is in no way an Arabic clone of Plato's Republic. Al-Farabi has a number of political divisions for his world. He identifies, for example, three types of society which are perfect and grades these according to size. His ideal virtuous city, which gives its name to the whole volume, is that which wholeheartedly embraces the pursuit of goodness and happiness and where the virtues will clearly abound. This vicious city is compared in its function to the limbs of a perfectly healthy body. By stark contrast, al-Farabi identifies four different types of corrupt city: these are the ignorant city (al-madina al-jahiliyyaالمدینہ الجاہلیہ ), the dissolute city (al-madina al-fasiqaالمدینہ الفاسقہ ), the turncoat city (al-madina al-mubaddala المدینہ المبادّلہ) and the straying city (al-madina al-dalla المدینہ الدلّہ). The souls of many of the inhabitants of such cities face ultimate extinction, while those who have been the cause of their fall face eternal torment. In itemizing four corrupt societies, al-Farabi was surely aware of Plato's own fourfold division of imperfect societies in the Republic into diarchy(مخلوط) , oligarchy (طبقہ امرا), democracy (جمہوریت)and tyranny( جبری/جابرانہ) . The resemblance, however, is more one of structure (four divisions) rather than of content.
At the heart of al-Farabi's political philosophy is the concept of happiness (sa'ada سعادۃ ). The virtuous society (al-ijtima' al-fadil الاجتماع الفاضل ) is defined as that in which people cooperate to gain happiness. The virtuous city (al-madina al-fadilaالمدینۃ الفضیلہ ) is one where there is cooperation in achieving happiness. The virtuous world (al-ma'mura al-fadilaالمعمورۃالفضیلہ ) will only occur when all its constituent nations collaborate to achieve happiness. Al-Farabi realizes that such a society is rare and will require a very specific set of historical circumstances in order to be realized, which means very few societies will ever be able to attain this goal.
Al-Farabi followed the Greek paradigm and the highest rank of happiness was allocated to his ideal sovereign whose soul was 'united as it were with the Active Intellect'.

5. Music and sociology
Farabi wrote books on early Muslim sociology and a notable book on music titled Kitab al-Musiqa (The Book of Music). According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Mehdi Aminrazavi: the book of Kitab al-Musiqa is in reality a study of the theory of Persian music of his day although in the West it has been introduced as a book on Arab music. He presents philosophical principles about music, its cosmic qualities and its influences. Al-Farabi's treatise Meanings of the Intellect dealt with music therapy, where he discussed the therapeutic effects of music on the soul.

6. Influence
The impact of al-Farabi's work on Ibn Sina was not limited merely to illuminating Aristotle's Metaphysics. It was with good reason that al-Farabi was designated the 'Second Master' (after Aristotle). One modern scholar recently acknowledged the dependence of Ibn Sina on al-Farabi in a book dealing with both which he entitled The Two Farabis (Farrukh 1944). And if Aquinas (§9) did not derive his essence-existence doctrine from al-Farabi but from the Latinized Ibn Sina, as is generally assumed, there is no doubt that Farabian concepts of essence and existence provided a base for the elaborated metaphysics of Ibn Sina and thence of Aquinas. Finally, the briefest of comparisons between the tenfold hierarchy of intellection produced by al-Farabi and the similar hierarchy espoused by Ibn Sina, each of which gives a key role to the Tenth Intellect, shows that in matters of emanation, hierarchy and Neoplatonic intellection, Ibn Sina owes a considerable intellectual debt to his predecessor.

Al-Farabi influenced many other thinkers as well. A glance at the period between ah 256/ad 870 and ah 414/ad 1023 and at four of the major thinkers who flourished in this period serves to confirm this: Yahya ibn 'Adi, Abu Sulayman al-Sijistani, Abu 'l-Hasan Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-'Amiri and Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi may all be said to constitute in one form or another a 'Farabian School'. The Christian Monophysite Yahya ibn 'Adi studied in Baghdad under al-Farabi and others. Like his master, Yahya was devoted to the study of logic; like his master also, Yahya held that there was a real link between reason, ethics and politics.

Whether or not al-Farabi actually intended to outline a political programme in his writings remains a matter of dispute amongst academics. Henry Corbin, says that his ideas should be understood as a "prophetic philosophy" instead of being interpreted politically. On the other hand, Charles Butterworth contends that nowhere in his work does al-Farabi speak of a prophet-legislator or revelation (even the word philosophy is scarcely mentioned), and the main discussion that takes place concerns the positions of "king" and "statesmen". Occupying a middle position is David Reisman, who like Corbin believes that al-Farabi did was using different types of society as examples, in the context of an ethical discussion, to show what effect correct or incorrect thinking could have. Lastly, Joshua Parens argues that al-Farabi was slyly asserting that a pan-Islamic society could not be made, by using reason to show how many conditions (such as moral and deliberative virtue) would have to be met, thus leading the reader to conclude that humans are not fit for such a society. Some other authors like Mykhaylo Yakubovych attest that for al-Farabi religion (milla ملّت) and philosophy (falsafaفلسفہ ) consituted the same praxeological value (i.e. basis for amal al-fadhil – عمل الفاضل"virtuos deed"), while its epistemological level (ilm - "knowledge") was different.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi (ابو بکر محمد ابن زکریا الرازی) born on 28 August 865 and died on 6 October 925 in (the Persian Empire, now Iran (Ray near Tehran. Razi achieved mastery in a number of fields, initially, he was interested in music but later on he learnt medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy from a student of Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (حنین ابن اسحاق) , who was well versed in the ancient Greek, Persian and Sub-Continent systems of medicine and in other subjects. He also studied under Ali Ibn Rabban(علی ابن ربان) .

Around the age of thirty he was first placed in-charge of the first Royal Hospital at Ray, from where he left for Baghdad (now in Iraq), where he was active in the reconstruction of the city hospital, where he remained the head of its famous Muqtadari Hospital for along time.. Al-Razi became famous as the most prominent physician in the Islamic world, his fame comparable only to that of another Persian physician, Ibn Sina. The practical experience gained at the well-known Muqtadari Hospital helped him in his chosen profession of medicine. At an early age he gained eminence as an expert in medicine and alchemy, so that patients and students flocked to him from distant parts of Asia.

Razi was a Hakim, an alchemist and a philosopher. In medicine, his contribution was so significant that it can only be compared to that of Ibn Sina. Some of his written works in medicine have been widely studied, Latin editions of which remained in use as late as the seventeenth century in Europe, e.g. Kitab al- Mansoori (کتاب المنصوری), Al-Hawi (الحاوی), Kitab al-Mulooki (کتاب الملوکی)and Kitab al-Judari wa al- Hasabah(کتاب الجزداری و حسابہ) earned everlasting fame. Kitab al-Mansoori(کتاب المنصوری) , which was translated into Latin in the 15th century C.E., comprised ten volumes and dealt exhaustively with Greco-Arab medicine(ادویات العربیہ و یونانیہ) . From him we have the earliest distinction between smallpox and measles, and the understanding that smallpox occurs only once in a person's life. As a skilled chemist he recognized the toxicity of arsenic (arsenic oxide), but prescribed small doses of this compound in the treatment of many skin diseases and anemia.

He was a prolific author, who has left monumental treatises on numerous subjects. He has more than 200 outstanding scientific contributions to his credit, out of which about half deal with medicine and 21 concern alchemy. He also wrote on physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics, but these writings could not be preserved. A number of his books, including Jami-fi-al-Tib , Mansoori (کتاب المنصوری), al-Hawi(الحاوی) , Kitab al-Jadari wa al-Hasabah(کتاب الجزداری و حسابہ), al-Malooki (کتاب الملوکی) , Maqalah fi al- Hasat fi Kuli wa al-Mathana (مقالہ فی الکلی و المتحانہ), Kitab al-Qalb (کتاب القالب), Kitab al-Mafasil (کتاب المفاصیل), Kitab-al- 'Ilaj al-Ghoraba (کتاب العلاج الغربا), Bar al-Sa'ah (بارالصابا), and al-Taqseem wa al-Takhsir (التقسیم و التخسیر), have been published in various European languages. About 40 of his manuscripts are still extant in the museums and libraries of Iran, Paris, Britain, Rampur, and Bankipur. His contribution has greatly influenced the development of science, in general, and medicine, in particular.
Like his predecessor, the Arabian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (جابر بن حیّان), al-Razi was influenced in his alchemical views by Aristotle's theory of the four elements. Arabic alchemists had modified the Aristotelian system with respect to the composition of minerals, whereby two elements, mercury and sulfur, were responsible for "the mercurial and sulfurous principles" of a given substance. Later called "philosophical" Mercury and Sulfur, these elements (or principles) were thought to be the substances from which all metals were formed. This Sulfur-Mercury theory later became highly influential among European thinkers, for example, Isaac Newton. To this Sulfur and Mercury, al-Razi added a third constituent, a salty principle (which was later reproposed by Paracelsus). In al-Razi's opinion metals were comprised of particles of these elemental constituents, while the identity of the metal depended on the relationships between these indivisible particles and the empty spaces between them.

In contrast to Jabir, who inclined toward numerical mysticism, al-Razi became practiced in experimental work. This is apparent from his two most influential works, Kitab al-Asrar (کتاب الاسرارThe Book of Secrets ), and Kitab sirr al-Asrar (کتاب سرالاسرار -The Book of the Secret of Secrets ). In these works he gave several recipes for the alleged transmutation of common metals into precious ones, and crystal or glass into precious stones. Perhaps al-Razi's main contribution to chemistry was his attempt to systematize laboratory practices, to which end he listed contemporary laboratory equipment and techniques used in chemical experiments. Another influential contribution to chemistry was his classification of all the chemical substances he knew, for this is the earliest attempt of which we are aware. Al-Razi divided these substances into four main groups: vegetable, animal, derivative, and mineral. The last group consisted of six subgroups:
(1) spirits (volatile substances, such as mercury, sulfur, and arsenic sulfide);
(2) metals (gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead, and "karesin," probably a bronze composed of copper, zinc, and nickel);
(3) stones (ores and minerals of iron, copper, zinc, but also glass);
(4) atraments (metallic sulfates and their derivatives);
(5) boraces (borax, but also sodium carbonate [confused with borax]); and
(6) salts (in which categorization sodium chloride appears under four different terms, other salts being sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate, and others).
In later life al-Razi became blind, which, according to some sources, was a result of his indefatigable activity—for he is said to have written approximately 200 works. He finally returned to Ray, where he died around 930 C.E. His name is commemorated in the Razi Institute near Tehran.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, (also Sayyid Ahmad Khan) (Urdu: سید احمد خان} (October 17, 1817 – March 27, 1898), commonly known as Sir Syed (although this is technically incorrect; he would have properly been called "Sir Ahmed" as Sayyid is itself a title in this case), was an educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. Sir Syed pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in sub-continent by founding the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims in India. He is widely considered as a 'traitor' in leftist and patriotic circles of India.

Born into Mughal nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he remained loyal to the British and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. After the rebellion he penned the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (اسباب بغاوت ہند The Causes of the Indian Mutiny) — a daring critique, at the time, of British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt. Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organizing Muslim intellectuals. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of sub-continent’s Muslims.

One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Rule. He denounced nationalist organizations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organizations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Muslims of sub-continent, and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and intellectuals. Although hailed as a great Muslim leader and social reformer, Sir Syed remains the subject of controversy for his views on Hindu-Muslim issues.

Early life
Syed Ahmed Khan Bahadur was born at Delhi, India on 17th October, 1817, then the capital of the Mughal Empire. His family is said to have migrated from Herat (now in Afghanistan) in the time of Emperor Akbar, although by other accounts his family descended from Arabia. Many generations of his family had since been highly connected with the Mughal administration. His maternal grandfather Khwaja Fariduddin served as wazir ( وزیر Minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab,( منصب designate) a high-ranking administrative position and honorary name of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Sir Syed's father Mir Muhammad Muttaqi was personally close to Akbar Shah II and served as his personal adviser. However, Sir Syed was born at a time when rebellious governors, regional insurrections and the British colonialism had diminished the extent and power of the Mughal state, reducing its monarch to a figurehead status. With his elder brother Syed Muhammad Khan, Sir Syed was raised in a large house in a wealthy area of the city. They were raised in strict accordance with Mughal noble traditions and exposed to politics. Their mother Azis-un-Nisa played a formative role in Sir Syed's life, raising him with rigid discipline with a strong emphasis on education. Sir Syed was taught to read and understand the Qur'an by a female tutor, which was unusual at the time. He received an education traditional to Muslim nobility in Delhi. Under the charge of Maulvi Hamiduddin, Sir Syed was trained in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and religious subjects. He read the works of Muslim scholars and writers such as Sahbai, Rumi and Ghalib. Other tutors instructed him in mathematics, astronomy and Islamic jurisprudence. Sir Syed was also adept at swimming, wrestling and other sports. He took an active part in the Mughal court's cultural activities. His elder brother founded the city's first printing press in the Urdu language along with the journal Sayyad-ul-Akbar(سیدالاخبار) . Sir Syed pursued the study of medicine for several years, but did not complete the prescribed course of study. Until the death of his father in 1838, Sir Syed had lived a life customary for an affluent young Muslim noble. Upon his father's death, he inherited the titles of his grandfather and father and was awarded the title of Arif Jung (عارف جنگ) the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Financial difficulties put an end to Sir Syed's formal education, although he continued to study in private, using books on a variety of subjects. Sir Syed assumed editorship of his brother's journal and rejected offers of employment from the Mughal court. Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed entered the British East India Company's civil service. He was appointed serestadar at the courts of law in Agra, responsible for record-keeping and managing court affairs. In 1840, he was promoted to the title of munshi(منشی) .

Scholarly works
The Social Reformer was a pioneering publication initiated by Sir Syed to promote liberal ideas in Muslim society. While continuing to work as a jurist, Sir Syed began focusing on writing on various subjects, mainly in Urdu. His career as an author began when he published a series of treatises in Urdu on religious subjects in 1842. He published the book A'thar-as-sanadid آثار لصنادید) Great Monuments) documenting antiquities of Delhi dating from the medieval era. This work earned him the reputation of a cultured scholar. In 1842, he completed the Jila-ul-Qulub bi Zikr-il Mahbub (جلال القلوب بذکرالمحبوب) and the Tuhfa-i-Hasan تحفۂ حسن)) along with the Tahsil fi jar-i-Saqil (تحصیل فی الجارصقیل) in1844. These works focused on religious and cultural subjects. In 1852, he published the two works Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh نمیق در بیان مسلۂ تصور شیخ)) and Silsilat ul-Mulk (سلسلۃالملک) He released the second edition of A'thar-as-sanadid (آثار لصنادید) in 1854. He also penned a commentary on the Bible — the first by a Muslim — in which he argued that Islam was the closest religion to Christianity, with a common lineage from Abrahamic religions.

Acquainted with high-ranking British officials, Sir Syed obtained close knowledge about British colonial politics during his service at the courts. At the outbreak of the Indian rebellion, on May 10, 1857, Sir Syed was serving as the chief assessment officer at the court in Bijnor. Northern India became the scene of the most intense fighting. The conflict had left large numbers of civilians dead. Erstwhile centres of Muslim power such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur were severely affected. Sir Syed was personally affected by the violence and the ending of the Mughal dynasty amongst many other long-standing kingdoms۔ Sir Syed and many other Muslims took this as a defeat of Muslim society. He lost several close relatives who died in the violence. Although he succeeded in rescuing his mother from the turmoil, she died in Meerut, owing to the privations she had experienced۔

In 1858, he was appointed to a high-ranking post at the court in Muradabad, where he began working on his most famous literary work. Publishing the booklet Asbab-e-Bhaghawath-e-Hind اسباب بغاوت ہند)) in 1859, Sir Syed studied the causes of the revolt. In this, his most famous work, he rejected the common notion that the conspiracy was planned by Muslim élites, who were insecure at the diminishing influence of Muslim monarchs. Sir Syed blamed the British East India Company for its aggressive expansion as well as the ignorance of British politicians regarding Local culture. However, he gained respect for British power, which he felt would dominate sub-continent for a long period of time. Seeking to rehabilitate Muslim political influence, Sir Syed advised the British to appoint Muslims to assist in administration. His other writings such as Loyal Muhammadans of India, Tabyin-ul-Kalam (تابین الکلام) and Series of Essays on the Life of Muhammad and Subjects Subsidiary Therein helped to create cordial relations between the British authorities and the Muslim community۔

Muslim reformer
Through the 1850s, Syed Ahmed Khan began developing a strong passion for education. While pursuing studies of different subjects, Sir Syed began to realize the advantages of Western-style education, which was being offered at newly-established colleges across India. Despite being a devout Muslim, Sir Syed criticized the influence of traditional dogma and religious orthodoxy, which had made most sub-continent’s Muslims suspicious of British influences. Sir Syed began feeling increasingly concerned for the future of Muslim communities. A scion of Mughal nobility, Sir Syed had been reared in the finest traditions of Muslim élite culture and was aware of the steady decline of Muslim political power across sub-continent. The animosity between the British and Muslims before and after the rebellion (Independence War) of 1857 threatened to marginalize Muslim communities for many generations. Sir Syed intensified his work to promote co-operation with British authorities, promoting loyalty to the Empire amongst Muslims. Committed to working for the upliftment of Muslims, Sir Syed founded a modern madrassa in Muradabad in 1859; this was one of the first religious schools to impart scientific education. Sir Syed also worked on social causes, helping to organize relief for the famine-struck people of the Northwest Frontier Province in 1860. He established another modern school in Ghazipur in 1863.

Upon his transfer to Aligarh in 1864, Sir Syed began working wholeheartedly as an educator. He founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh, the first scientific association of its kind in sub-continent. Modelling it after the Royal Society and the Royal Asiatic Society, Sir Syed assembled Muslim scholars from different parts of the country. The Society held annual conferences, disbursed funds for educational causes and regularly published a journal on scientific subjects in English and Urdu. Sir Syed felt that the socio-economic future of Muslims was threatened by their orthodox aversions to modern science and technology. He published many writings promoting liberal, rational interpretations of In face of pressure from religious Muslims; Sir Syed avoided discussing religious subjects in his writings, focusing instead on promoting education.

Advocacy of Urdu
The onset of the Hindi-Urdu controversy of 1867 saw the emergence of Sir Syed as a political leader of the Muslim community. He became a leading Muslim voice opposing the adoption of Hindi as a second official language of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). Sir Syed perceived Urdu as the lingua franca of Muslims. Having been developed by Muslim rulers of sub-continent, Urdu was used as a secondary language to Persian, the official language of the Mughal court. Since the decline of the Mughal dynasty, Sir Syed promoted the use of Urdu through his own writings. Under Sir Syed, the Scientific Society translated Western works only into Urdu. The schools established by Sir Syed imparted education in the Urdu medium. The demand for Hindi, led largely by Hindus, was to Sir Syed an erosion of the centuries-old Muslim cultural domination of India. Testifying before the British-appointed education commission, Sir Syed controversially exclaimed that "Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar. His remarks provoked a hostile response from Hindu leaders, who unified across the nation to demand the recognition of Hindi.

The success of the Hindi movement led Sir Syed to further advocate Urdu as the symbol of Muslim heritage and as the language of all the Muslims of sub-continent. His educational and political work grew increasingly centered around and exclusively for Muslim interests. He also sought to persuade the British to give Urdu extensive official use and patronage. His colleagues and protégés such as Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Maulvi Abdul Haq developed organisations such as the Urdu Defence Association and the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu انجمن ترقی اردو , committed to the perpetuation of Urdu. Sir Syed's protégé Shibli Nomani led efforts that resulted in the adoption of Urdu as the official language of the Hyderabad State and as the medium of instruction in the Osmania University جامعہ عثمانیہ . To Muslims in northern and western areas of suh-continent, Urdu had become an integral part of political and cultural identity. However, the division over the use of Hindi or Urdu further provoked communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus in sub-continent.

Founding Aligarh
On April 1, 1869, Sir Syed travelled to England, where he was awarded the “Order of the Star of India” from the British government on August 6. Travelling across England, he visited its colleges and was inspired by the culture of learning established after the Renaissance. Sir Syed returned to sub-continent in the following year determined to build a "Muslim Cambridge." Upon his return, he organized the "Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning among “Muhammadans" (Muslims) on December 26, 1870. Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed to establish in an article written sometime in 1872 and re-printed in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of April 5, 1911:

I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli (شیخ چلی, a character) but we aim to turn this M.A.O. College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College. The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim. It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers (namaz) at all the five times. Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap. Bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a "liar" will be treated as an abuse to be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs… Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betels shall be strictly prohibited. No corporal punishment or any such punishment as is likely to injure a student's self-respect will be permissible. It will be strictly enforced that boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true.

By 1873, the committee under Sir Syed issued proposals for the construction of a college in Aligarh. He began publishing the journal Tahzib al-Akhlaq (تہذیب الاخلاق Social Reformer) to spread awareness and knowledge on modern subjects and promote reforms in Muslim society. Sir Syed worked to promote reinterpretation of Muslim ideology in order to reconcile tradition with Western education. He argued in several books on Islam that the Qur'an rested on an appreciation of reason and natural law, making scientific inquiry important to being a good Muslim. Sir Syed established a modern school in Aligarh and, obtaining support from wealthy Muslims and the British, laid the foundation stone of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College on May 24, 1875. He retired from his career as a jurist the following year, concentrating entirely on developing the college and on religious reform. Sir Syed's pioneering work received support from the British. Although intensely criticized by orthodox religious leaders hostile to modern influences, Sir Syed's new institution attracted a large student body, mainly drawn from the Muslim gentry and middle classes. The curriculum at the college involved scientific and Western subjects, as well as Oriental subjects and religious education. The first chancellor was Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, a prominent Muslim noblewoman, and Sir Syed invited an Englishman, Theodore Beck, to serve as the first college principal. The college was originally affiliated with Calcutta University but was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. Near the turn of the 20th century, it began publishing its own magazine and established a law school. In 1920, the college was transformed into a university.

Political career
In 1878, Sir Syed was nominated to the Viceroy's Legislative Council. He testified before the education commission to promote the establishment of more colleges and schools across sub-continent. In the same year, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Association to promote political co-operation amongst Muslims from different parts of the country. In 1886, he organized the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Aligarh, which promoted his vision of modern education and political unity for Muslims. His works made him the most prominent Muslim politician in 19th century’s sub-continent, often influencing the attitude of Muslims on various national issues. He supported the efforts of political leaders Surendranath Banerjea and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for locals in the government and civil services. In 1883, he founded the Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association to encourage and support the entry of Muslim graduates into the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

However, Sir Syed's political views were shaped by a strong aversion to the emerging nationalist movement, which was composed largely of Hindus. Sir Syed opposed the Indian National Congress (created in 1885) on the grounds that it was a Hindu-majority organization, calling on Muslims to stay away from it. While fearful of the loss of Muslim political power owing to the community's backwardness, Sir Syed was also averse to the prospect of democratic self-government, which would give control of government to the Hindu-majority population:
His fierce criticism of the Congress and Indian nationalists created rifts between Muslims and Hindus. At the same time, Sir Syed sought to politically ally Muslims to the British government. An avowed loyalist of the British Empire, Sir Syed was nominated as a member of the Civil Service Commission in 1887 by Lord Dufferin. In 1888, he established the United Patriotic Association at Aligarh to promote political co-operation with the British and Muslim participation in the government. Syed Ahmed Khan was knighted by the British government in 1888 and in the following year he received an LL.D. honoris causa from the Edinburgh University.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan lived the last two decades of his life in Aligarh, regarded widely as the mentor of 19th- and 20th century Muslim intellectuals and politicians. He remained the most influential Muslim politician in India, with his opinions guiding the convictions of a large majority of Muslims Battling illnesses and old age. This great scholar and leader died on 27th March, 1898, at Aligarh, India and was buried besides Sir Syed Masjid inside the campus of the Aligarh University. His funeral was attended by thousands of students, Muslim leaders and British officials. Sir Syed is widely commemorated across South Asia as a great Muslim reformer and visionary.

Sir Syed was mourned by a large number of friends and admirers both within and outside South Asia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

Abul Ala was born on Rajab 3, 1321 AH (September 25, 1903 AD) in Aurangabad, a well-known town in the former princely state of Hyderabad (Deccan), presently Maharashtra, India. Born in a respectable family, his ancestry on the paternal side is traced back to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him).

Educational & Intellectual Growth:
After acquiring early education at home, Abul Ala was admitted in Madrasah Furqaniyah, a high school which attempted to combine the modern Western with the traditional Islamic education. After successfully completing his secondary education, young Abul Ala was at the stage of undergraduate studies at Darul Uloom, Hyderabad, when his formal education was disrupted by the illness and eventual death of his father. By the early 1920s, Abul Ala knew enough Arabic, Persian and English, besides his mother-tongue, Urdu, to study the subjects of his interest independently. Thus, most of what he learned was self-acquired though for short spells of time he also received systematic instruction and guidance from some competent scholars.

Involvement in Journalism:
After the interruption of his formal education, Maududi turned to journalism in order to make his living. In 1918, he was already contributing to a leading Urdu newspaper, and in 1920, at the age of 17, he was appointed editor of Taj, which was being published from Jabalpore, a city in the province now called Madhya Pradesh, India. Late in 1920, Maududi came to Delhi and first assumed the editorship of the newspaper Muslim (1921-23), and later of al-Jam’iyat (1925-28), both of which were the organs of the Jam’iyat-i ‘Ulama-i Hind, an organisation of Muslim religious scholars. Under his editorship, al-Jam’iyat became the leading newspaper of the Muslims of India.

Interest in Politics:
Around the year 1920, Maududi also began to take some interest in politics. He participated in the Khilafat Movement, and became associated with the Tahrik-e Hijrat, which was a movement in opposition to the British rule over India and urged the Muslims of that country to migrate en masse to Afghanistan.

First Book:
During 1920-28, Maulana Maududi also translated four different books, one from Arabic and the rest from English. He also made his mark on the academic life of the Subcontinent by writing his first major book, al-Jihad fi al-Islam. This is a masterly treatise on the Islamic law of war and peace. It was first serialised in al-Jam’iyat in 1927 and was formally published in 1930. It was highly acclaimed both by the famous poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (d. 1931), the famous leader of the Khilafat Movement. Though written during his ’20s, it is one of his major and most highly regarded works.

Research & Writings:
After his resignation from al-Jam’iyat in 1928, Maududi moved to Hyderabad and devoted himself to research and writing. It was in this connection that he took up the editorship of the monthly Tarjuman al-Qur’an in 1933, which since then has been the main vehicle for the dissemination of Maududi’s ideas. He proved to be a highly prolific writer, turning out several scores of pages every month. Initially, he concentrated on the exposition of ideas, values and basic principles of Islam. He paid special attention to the questions arising out of the conflict between the Islamic and the contemporary Western whorl. He also attempted to discuss some of the major problems of the modern age and sought to present Islamic solutions to those problems. He also developed a new methodology to study those problems in the context of the experience of the West and the Muslim world, judging them on the theoretical criterion of their intrinsic soundness and viability and conformity with the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. His writings revealed his erudition and scholarship, a deep perception of the significance of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and a critical awareness of the mainstream of Western thought and history. All this brought freshness to Muslim approach to these problems and lent a wider appeal to his message.

In the mid ’30s, Maududi started writing on major political and cultural issues confronting the Muslims of India at that time and tried to examine them from the Islamic perspective rather than merely from the viewpoint of short-term political and economic interests. He relentlessly criticized the newfangled ideologies which had begun to cast a spell over the minds and hearts of his brethren-in-faith and attempted to show the hollowness of those ideologies. In this connection, the idea of nationalism received concerted attention from Maududi when he forcefully explained its dangerous potentialities as well as its incompatibility with the teachings of Islam. Maududi also emphasised that nationalism in the context of India meant the utter destruction of the separate identity of Muslims. In the meantime, an invitation from the philosopher-poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal persuaded him to leave Hyderabad and settle down at a place in the Eastern part of Punjab, in the district of Pathankot. Maududi established what was essentially an academic and research centre called Darul-Islam where, in collaboration with Allama Iqbal, he planned to train competent scholars in Islamics to produce works of outstanding quality on Islam, and above all, to carry out the reconstruction of Islamic Thought.

Founding the Party:
Around the year 1940, Maududi developed ideas regarding the founding of a more comprehensive and ambitious movement and this led him to launch a new organisation under the name of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Maududi was elected Jamaat’s first Ameer and remained so till 1972 when he withdrew from the responsibility for reasons of health.

Struggle & Persecution:
After migrating to Pakistan in August 1947, Maududi concentrated his efforts on establishing a truly Islamic state and society in the country. Consistent with this objective, he wrote profusely to explain the different aspects of the Islamic way of life, especially the socio-political aspects. This concern for the implementation of the Islamic way of life led Maududi to criticise and oppose the policies pursued by the successive governments of Pakistan and to blame those in power for failing to transform Pakistan into a truly Islamic state. The rulers reacted with severe reprisal measures. Maududi was often arrested and had to face long spells in prison.

During these years of struggle and persecution, Maududi impressed all, including his critics and opponents, by the firmness and tenacity of his will and other outstanding qualities. In 1953, when he was sentenced to death by the martial law authorities on the charge of writing a seditious pamphlet on the Qadyani problem, he resolutely turned down the opportunity to file a petition for mercy. He cheerfully expressed his preference for death to seeking clemency from those who wanted, altogether unjustly, to hang him for upholding the right. With unshakeable faith that life and death lie solely in the hands of Allah, he told his son as well as his colleagues: "If the time of my death has come, no one can keep me from it; and if it has not come, they cannot send me to the gallows even if they hang themselves upside down in trying to do so." His family also declined to make any appeal for mercy. His firmness astonished the government which was forced, under strong public pressure both from within and without, to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment and then to cancel it.

Intellectual Contribution:
Maulana Maududi has written over 120 books and pamphlets and made over a 1000 speeches and press statements of which about 700 are available on record.

Maududi’s pen was simultaneously prolific, forceful and versatile. The range of subjects he covered is unusually wide. Disciplines such as Tafsir, Hadith, law, philosophy and history, all have received the due share of his attention. He discussed a wide variety of problems C political, economic, cultural, social, theological etc. C and attempted to state how the teachings of Islam were related to those problems. Maududi has not delved into the technical world of the specialist, but has expounded the essentials of the Islamic approach in most of the fields of learning and inquiry. His main contribution, however, has been in the fields of the Qur’anic exegesis (Tafsir), ethics, social studies and the problems facing the movement of Islamic revival. His greatest work is his monumental tafsir in Urdu of the Qur’an, Tafhim al-Qur’an, a work he took 30 years to complete. Its chief characteristic lies in presenting the meaning and message of the Qur’an in a language and style that penetrates the hearts and minds of the men and women of today and shows the relevance of the Qur’an to their everyday problems, both on the individual and societal planes. He translated the Qur’an in direct and forceful modern Urdu idiom. His translation is much more readable and eloquent than ordinary literal translations of the Qur’an. He presented the Qur’an as a book of guidance for human life and as a guide-book for the movement to implement and enforce that guidance in human life. He attempted to explain the verses of the Qur’an in the context of its total message. This tafsir has made a far-reaching impact on contemporary Islamic thinking in the Subcontinent, and through its translations, even abroad.

The influence of Maulana Maududi is not confined to those associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami. His influence transcends the boundaries of parties and organisations. Maududi is very much like a father-figure for Muslims all over the world. As a scholar and writer, he is the most widely read Muslim writer of our time. His books have been translated into most of the major languages of the world C Arabic, English, Turkish, Persian, Hindi, French, German, Swahili, Tamil, Bengali, etc. C and are now increasingly becoming available in many more of the Asian, African and European languages.

Travels & Journeys Abroad:
The several journeys which Maududi undertook during the years 1956-74 enabled Muslims in many parts of the world to become acquainted with him personally and appreciate many of his qualities. At the same time, these journeys were educative for Maududi himself as well as they provided to him the opportunity to gain a great deal of first-hand knowledge of the facts of life and to get acquainted with a large number of persons in different parts of the world. During these numerous tours, he lectured in Cairo, Damascus, Amman, Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Kuwait, Rabat, Istanbul, London, New York, Toronto and at a host of international centres. During these years, he also participated in some 10 international conferences. He also made a study tour of Saudi Arabia, Jordan (including Jerusalem), Syria and Egypt in 1959-60 in order to study the geographical aspects of the places mentioned in the Qur’an. He was also invited to serve on the Advisory Committee which prepared the scheme for the establishment of the Islamic University of Madinah and was on its Academic Council ever since the inception of the University in 1962.

He was also a member of the Foundation Committee of the Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami, Makkah, and of the Academy of Research on Islamic Law, Madinah. In short, he was a tower of inspiration for Muslims the world over and influenced the climate and pattern of thought of Muslims, as the Himalayas or the Alps influence the climate in Asia or Europe without themselves moving about.

His Last Days:
In April 1979, Maududi’s long-time kidney ailment worsened and by then he also had heart problems. He went to the United States for treatment and was hospitalised in Buffalo, New York, where his second son worked as a physician. Even at Buffalo, his time was intellectually productive. He spent many hours reviewing Western works on the life of the Prophet and meeting with Muslim leaders, their followers and well-wishers. Following a few surgical operations, he died on September 22, 1979 at the age of 76. His funeral was held in Buffalo, but he was buried in an unmarked grave at his residence (Ichra) in Lahore after a very large funeral procession through the city.

May Allah bless him with His mercy for his efforts and reward him amply for the good that he has rendered for the nation of Islam (Ummah).