Dr. Mohammed Iqtedar
Husain Farooqi, specialized as a plant scientist, zeroed in on his
discipline to conduct researches on plants figuring respectively
in the Quran and Sunnah (PLANTS OF THE QURAN & MEDICINAL PLANTS IN
THE TRADITIONS OF PROPHET by Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi). From there, Dr.
Farooqi, moved into Islamic history and produced a very
informative and scholarly volume on ‘Muslim Societies: Rise and
Fall’. It constitutes a marvel of selective brevity and analytical
subtlety. In a book dealing with society based on religion there
always lurks the risk of rhetoric overtaking scientific analysis.
Dr. Farooqi, with the rigorous training of a scientist, steered
clear of this danger.
One sees in this book
a scientific temperament coming to terms with faith. ‘Coming to
terms’ perhaps are words not appropriately used as the author’s
thesis is that Islam is compatible with Science. Author’s icon Sir
Syed believes in the aphorism that Nature is the Work and Quran
the Word of God. There could, therefore, be no discord between
‘Muslim Societies -
Rise & Fall’, consisting of 28 chapters and spread over 208 pages,
has not only delineated the Rise and Fall of Muslims ever since
Islam’s emergence but it has collected, tabulated and analyzed a
wealth of relevant information. This information is placed
alongside counterpart statistics for other Societies. This is
evidently intended to spark dissatisfaction at their plight among
members of Muslim Societies. The bare figures given in this volume
about various aspects, moral, material and intellectual, are bound
to create an urge for getting rid of the present predicament. The
author religiously eschews the temptation to sermonize or over
argue but lets circumstances and figures speak for themselves. At
the centre of the book is the exhortation.
Khuda ne aaj tak us
qaum kee halat naheen badli
Na ho jisko khyal aap apni halat kai badalne ka.
(God has not changed
the condition of a nation, which does not wish to change itself)
In a little over 200
pages, the author has condensed the highlights of Islam ever since
its beginnings. One can imagine admiringly the vast canvas that
has been covered and the exacting selection to which the copious
material has been subjected. What impresses the reader even more,
although very expectedly, is the scrupulously scientific approach.
One realizes all the time that the book is from a scientist’s pen.
Although dealing with religion, history, society, it steers clear
of sentiment and rhetoric. The author has kept a low profile and a
silent visage. He has remained in the background and summoned
thinkers of other times and climes to his assistance. This falls
in line with the pattern of documentation which he has adopted in
the interest of authenticity and sobriety.
It is not collection
and tabulation alone that the book provides us with. Islam is
juxtaposed meaningfully with other religions and societies. This
technique brings out dramatically the status of Muslim Society
viz-a-viz the other societies and the vagaries of their
relationship. It is this analysis that highlights the main causes
of the fall of Muslims. Turning the pages of a book packed with
erudition, the reader is driven to the conclusion that a faith
endowed so liberally with vitality and based on reason could not
but come to grief when it forsook its moorings. Somewhere in its
eventful journey it renounced the curiosity which has set it off
on its ever-ascending adventure into the unknown. Inexorably and
unwittingly it fell a victim to lethargy, superstition, tradition
The author has
sedulously studied the history of Islam and picked up for adoption
the factors that led to its rise. The factors that had an adverse
effect were similarly identified so as to be avoided.
The book has two
foci: its main focus is on the meteoric rise of Islam and its
steep fall. The bane of Islam in the global context has been its
refusal to take stock of the never ceasing changes and make
provision for meeting them.
The centre-piece is
Chapter 6 captioned as ‘Ijtihad-Need of the Hour’. The
author proceeds to explain Ijtihad as ‘the modern
interpretation of Shariah in the light of Quran and Sunnah’
and describes it as ‘the necessary tool for the Muslim religion to
face the changed condition of societies’. The decline and lack of
progress and of resilience in Islam is attributed to the giving up
of Ijtihad. Dr. Farooqi has cited the views of great
Islamic Scholars like Shah Waliullah. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allama
Iqbal, Hasan Al Turabi.
Article, “Growth of
Muslim Population-No case of Rejoicing” is thought provoking. Dr.
Farooqi is absolutely right in pointing out that the increase in
our (Muslim) global population could add to our misery unless
drastic remedial measures are made and all-round improvement are
undertaken. We have to set our priorities right.
The change of
attitude which the Ummah needs desperately, as pointed out
in the Book, does require the unambiguous and almost undivided
attention of the Ulema who wield immense influence among
Dr. Farooqi has been
putting in very valuable work quietly and effectively. He is right
that the distance from Science and Technology is a devastating
deprivation for Muslims. The warning sounded by Dr. Farooqi has
not come a day too soon. His book brings out in bold relief the
alternatives that Muslims are facing today: ‘learn or perish’. The
lesson has to be driven home from the platform and the pulpit and
to be echoed in the media.
Dr. Farooqi is a
Scientist of repute; his approach is, therefore, analytical. We
need analysis much more than rhetoric.
Farooqi has made extremely valuable information available to the
readers and introduced them to an in-depth assessment of what Islam
has gone through over centuries and how it has to prepare for a
Name of Book: Muslim Societies: Rise and Fall
Name of Author: Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi (Mobile: 09839901066)
Name of Publisher: Sidrah Publishers, Shahid Apts, Golaganj,
Pages: 208; Price: Rs 200/=
Review by; Saiyid Hamid, I.A.S. (Retd), Chancellor, Hamdard
University, New Delhi