The Greatest Revolutionary

Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi


In the cavalcade of world history, the sublime figure of this wonderful person towers so high above all the great men of all times who are famous as heroes of nations, that they appear to be dwarfs when contrasted with him. None of them possessed a genius capable of making any deep impression on more than one or two aspects of human life. Some are the exponents of theories and ideas but are deficient in practical action. Some others are men of action but suffer from paucity of knowledge. Some are renowned as statesmen only; others are masters of strategy and maneuvering. Some have concentrated on one aspect of social life in a manner that other aspects have been overlooked. Some others have devoted their energies to ethical and spiritual verities but have ignored economics and politics. Some other have taken to economics and politics, but neglect morals and the spiritual side of life.

In short, one comes across heroes who are adepts and experts in one walk of life only. His is the only example where all the excellences have been blended into one personality. He is a philosopher and a seer and also a living embodiment of his own teachings. He is a great statesman as well as a military genius. He is a legislator and also a teacher of morals. He is a spiritual luminary as well as a religious guide. His vision penetrates every aspect of life and there is nothing which he touches and does not adorn. His orders and commandments cover a vast field from the regulation of international relations down to the habits of everyday life like eating, drinking, and cleanliness of the body. On the foundations of his theories, he established a civilization and a culture and produced such a fine equilibrium in the conflicting aspects of life that there is to be found not even the slightest trace of any flaw, deficiency, or incompleteness. Can anyone out any other example of such a perfect and all-round personality?  Most of the famous personalities of the world are said to be the products of their environment. But his case is unique. His environment seems to have played no part in the making of his personality. It also cannot be proved that historically his birth synchronized with the order of things in Arabia at that time.

What one can say at the most is that the circumstances in Arabia cried aloud for the appearance of such a person who could weld together the warring tribes into one nation and lay the foundation of their economic solidarity and well-being by bringing other countries under their sway-in short, a national leader who would have all the traits of an Arab of those days and, through cruelty, oppression, bloodshed, deceit, and hypocrisy, or by any other fair or foul means, could have enriched his own people, and left a kingdom as a heritage for his successors. One cannot prove any other crying need of the history of Arabia of that time. 

What one can say at the most in the light of Hegel’s philosophy of history or Marx’s historical materialism is that the time and environment demanded the emergence of a leader who could create a nation and build up an empire. But the Hegelian or Marxian philosophy cannot explain how such an environment could produce a man whose mission was to teach the best morals, to purify humanity of all dross, and to wipe out prejudices and superstitions of the days of ignorance and darkness, who looked beyond the   watertight compartments of race, nation, and country, who laid the foundations of a moral, spiritual, cultural and political superstructure for the good of the world and not for his country alone, who practically, not theoretically, placed business transactions, civics, politics, and international relations on moral grounds and produced such a balanced and temperate synthesis between worldly life and spiritual advancement that even to this day it is considered a masterpiece of wisdom and foresight exactly in the same way as it was considered in his lifetime.

Can anyone honestly call such a person as the product of the all-pervading darkness of Arabia?  He does not only appear to be independent of his environment. Rather, when we look at his achievements, we are irresistibly drawn to the conclusion that he actually transcends all limitation of time and space. His vision breaks through all temporal and physical barriers, passes beyond centuries and millenniums, and comprehends within itself entire human activity and the whole of human history.  He is not one of those whom history has cast into oblivion, and he is not praised only because he was just a good leader in his own time. He is that unique and incomparable leader of humanity who marches with the time, who is modern in every age and in every era, as he was in his own age of history.

Truly, his teachings are as modern as tomorrow morn.  Those whom people style as makers of history’ are only ‘creatures of history’. In fact, in the whole history of mankind, he is the unique example of a ‘maker of history’. One may scan the lives and circumstances of the great leaders of the world who brought about revolutions and one will find that on each such occasion the forces of revolution were gathering momentum for the destined upheaval, were taking their course in certain directions, and were only waiting for propitious moment to burst out. In harnessing these forces in time for action the revolutionary leader played the part of an actor for whom the stage and the role is set beforehand. One the other hand, amidst all ‘makers of history’ and revolutionary figures of all times, he is the only person who had to find ways and means to bring together the wherewithal of revolution, who had to mold and produce the kind of men he wanted for his purpose because the very spirit of revolution and its requisite paraphernalia were nonexistent in those people among whom his lot was cast. He made an indelible impression on the hearts of thousands of his disciples by his forceful personality and molded them according to his liking. By his iron will he prepared the ground for revolution, molded its shape and features, and directed the currents into a channel as he wished and desired. Can anyone cite another example of a maker of history of such brilliance and splendor? 


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