World’s Top 10 Public intellectuals-All Muslims!

A while ago an artile on islamonline caught my attention. A global poll was conducted by America’s Foreign Policy and Britain’s Prospect magzines, to pick the world’s top intellectuals and thinkers who are changing the world in our times.

RESULTS: all top ten intellectuals were muslims, including great scholar  Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, turkish thinker and scholar Fethullah Gülen, Egypt’s charismatic Day’ee Amr Khaled, famous scholar and grandson of Hasan AL-Banna- Tariq Ramadan, a Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, Iranian Philosopher Abdulkarim Soroush, Iranian Lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, and Ugandan anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani.

Most of the above names are well known, and alhamdulillah many of them are the contemporary scholars of our time, others great callers of Islam.

However, the reason of this post is the man who was voted in as the Fifth World’s top intellectuals, Aitzaz Ahsan, the Pakistani Lawyer, writer, human rights activist, and currently the man leading the movement for th ere-instatement of judges in Pakistan.

He truly is a source of inspiration, a rare gem, and one of the unsung heroes of Pakistan. Unfortunately, muslims around the world have mostly misunderstood islam, and have made it a religion of beard, hijab, salah, fasting, hajj and zakah (charity). All these are now considered a sign of islam, and vigourously practised during Ramadan. I am not denying the importance of the rituals of islam, I believe in all of them as well, and yes they are an integral part of a muslim’s life, especially salaah (prayer). But we have forgotten that Islam stands first and foremost for Justice.

When we don’t pray, we are being unjust to ourselves by denying our bodies and hearts their right to worship the only God, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and condemn oursleves for the punishment saved for the arrogants in the akhira. When we don’t pay charity, we take the rights away from the poor and our own family by not purifying our income, when we break the laws of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, we do great injustice upon ourselves and on others.

If this is the case with duties that personally pertain to us, individually, then what about the injustice and the violation of rights of human beings. How come most of the human right abuses take place in the muslim world, why are the women killed in the name of honor and their blood is made halal in the name of islam. Why people from amongst ourselves are willing to strap explosives and kill innocents whether muslims or non-muslims in the name of islam. And why is there a total absence of a sound justice system in the entire muslim world?

The great scholar Sheikh Ibn-Taymiyyah had remarked centuries ago that the Sunnah of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is that the land will be given to the one who is just, and so a just non-muslim ruler will be given dominance over an unjust muslim ruler. And we know this to be true.

Coming back to Aitzaz Ahsan, here is the place to get more info on him: http://www.aitzazahsan.com/

Poetry he wrote while in detention:

Kal Aaj or Kal

Kal Aaj or Kal (Part 2)

Links: Islamonline media files and article.

9 Responses to “World’s Top 10 Public intellectuals-All Muslims!”

  1. Dave Says:

    The “10 Top Intellectuals of the world are Muslims” and Islamic reformation

    It is very welcomed to see a brother analysing what this fact means for Islam, Moslems and man kind. Though you limit it to one person there is a possible bigger picture. Here is my take on it.

    The recent 2008 survey for the 100 world’s public intellectuals came up for the first time with the top 10 being Muslims-very strange for a group of people who for the ordinary every day people (in contrast to their elites) on a world basis are not noted for their general level of formal education, scientific understanding and rational thinking. As well the comments of the sponsors of the international quest suggested that this result has more to do with Muslim tribal instincts, their hero worshipping of their particular Ulama and their ability to use the western internet rather than any original intellectual genius amongst most (not all- I’ll come back to this latter) of the ten as understood by rationalist. However having said this, there has been a lot of pride amongst Muslim Bogglers ( who unfortunately to a T lack any intellectual ingenuity to explore their religion compared to their respective Ulama hero-a tendency of the Muslim community in general: leader followers/adorites) who continue with the Muslim tendency to have tremendous pride in seeing great things said about Islam in western press in contrast what is said about the same thing in the Islamic press as only this infidel confirmation can confirm their own thoughts.

    This identification of Muslims that are honored by western media as being the worlds intellectual leaders may have some benefits in loosening the hold fascist islamic ideologue Ulamas over the last 100 years have had on the Muslim community collective intellect

    Un like western society the Muslim civilization has a great respect for their intellectual Islamic superiors. This I hypothesis is that because of the lack of general education amongst most Muslims, the near in intelligibility of the Islamic holy book (Koran) and the general desire to follow the commands of Allah in their daily lives, there developed within the Muslim community total adoration and extreme respect for their specific Ulama and Islamic learning/science ( which is distinctive from real science as western rationalist see science) in general to help them understand their holy books (Koran and Sunna) and to live their lives as they believed Allah wanted them to.

    This reliance on the Ulama to guide their total lives did the Moslem community well especially in its golden years but has caused them mayhem and their current problems over the last 250 years. This from my readings mostlikely was due to the non advancement of the Islamic sciences during the later period of the golden age and the resultant stagnation of tradition Ulama training. The resultant frustrations of the Moslem with their lot has lead some of them to loose their faith in their traditional trained Ulama. This in turn has lead some of these to become the Ulama themselves or to follow these nontraditional Ulama.

    These new Ulama, though ignorant of the traditional ways of the official Ulama, tended to be trained in the sciences (technology and engineering) and humanities (liberal arts, philosophy) of the of the west and so were frustrated with the state of the Moslem and the lack of the fruits of these studies to Islamic civilization but had inklings of the grandeur and glory of Islam in their childhood days as young children playing in the house and at the feet of their farther. Deluded by these childhood images of Islam and their frustrations as religious very western educated adults, these men sought simplistic ways to re create the glory days of the ways of the original calphate as seen with the first four companions. Lacking the traditions, training and history of the original Ulama they bastardized the holy books to their own thinking and acting as little gods created mayhem and death for their Muslim brothers (eg in the form of Banna and Qutb etc) and their fellow men in the world. These people tended to ignore the traditional Islamic intellect of nearly 15 centuries of Muslim civilization and go straight to the holy texts to interpretate them in their own puny way and drag other less educated religious Muslims with them
    There has been a number of Muslims who have attempted to use the Islamic sciences to revise or reform Islam. However, as shown below, these have not been to the benefit of the ordinary Muslim and in most cases been condemned by their Moslem brothers and posterity as being un Islamic Some of these Johnny come lately new Ulama and the type of havoc they placed on their Muslim brothers in particular and the world in general includes

    • Wahhab: Return of a brutal form of the Islamic trilogy -ruler, Ulama and poor ruled -of the Umayyad caliph to the 20th Century areas of Saudi and the Taliban
    • Banna: Development of Islamic politicalisation of the Muslim laity mainly in Egypt
    • Qutb: Development of Islamic Terrorism of the Moslem laity in Arab countries
    • Khomeini: Development of the politicalisation of the Ulama to Islamic Rule in Iran
    • Mawdudi: Failed to do a Banna in India/Pakistan though the current political elite could help to achieve his dream if they do not restore order in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan

    As the world’s Muslims have a real problem with Western rationalism, secularism and modernity, individualism and lack of any state regulated religious facade to the public sphere and morality and totally reject any hint of these elements in any way in assisting them to adapt to the real world of human rights (includes woman rights) and human legislative activity and sovereign states and become part of it so that the rest of mankind can benefit from their involvement. This means that Muslims are more in tune to change if it is within an Islamic frame work.

    Of all the traditional ways by which the Ulama interpretated the holy books. Ijtihad has the most potential to bring out the true meaning of Islam but unfortunately it is the most neglected and unused of the Islamic sciences in modern times and is sometimes thought not to be even available less operational into days times. From the literature this seems to be due to the fact that there are no highly intellectual Ulama amongst the 1.3 billion Muslims of the world (these people are called mujtahid (of the al mutlaq kind)or mujaddid depending on how much they change/renovate Islam and the mujtahid of the century is called a Tajdid and there has not been any of these since al Maraghi al Jurjawi.

    Now the sixty four dollar question is that given that these ten religious Muslims have been given the seal of approval from the world as being the top 10 intellectuals of man kind surely some of them are Mujtahid if not the, Allah be praised, the Tajdid of the 21st Century!!!.

    I have looked at the 10 and read some of their books and come up with the following initial thoughts (which could change with further reading, study and discussion)

    Gulen: Yes especially as he has an organization already- in fact he could be the new eponym of a new Islamic School. I have not read much of his work. Seems to be very quiet. His followers made him number 1 on the intellectual hit parade so has a good following. Be interested to know why people (both Islamists and secularists).don’t like him

    Yunus: No. Seems to be more of an economist of the poor. Though may have corrected the Islamic confusion of equating riba with modern day interest rates. Not thought to have a real understanding of Islamic sciences. May have got to the top spot by the gratitude of the 6 million odd woman he helped to get out of the poverty women suffer in patriarchal Islamic and other religious societies.

    Al Qaradawi No Is a modern official Ulama but of limited intelligence and follows the Islamic line that has caused the modern day Moslem current predicaments. Muslims need a mujtahid not more of the same. Not too sure where he would have got his votes. I suspect the Moslem Brothers and Al Jazeera viewers may have got together and got him a few votes but cannot think of any other group who would vote for him.

    Pamuk No. His vote seems to be the results of the competition between the Gulens and Non Gulen followers in Turkey

    Ahsan. No just a lawyer and a politian. Like all Pakistani political elite may regret leaving the North West provinces un controlled and left in the hands of Islamically ignorant tribal leaders.

    Khaled No. Knows where the money is but does not in any way is he an intellectual. Seems to know what the young Muslim wants. Be interested to compare him with Al Qaradawi.

    Soroush Definitely. Read a few of his books in English and has a web page which I am going through.

    Ramadan Definitely. Read most of his books. Is a soppy person. Women love him. Is intelligent and mostlikely knows more about Islamic sciences that the average Saudi Ulama and is intelligent at the same time. His intellect is inhibited by his Banna links so not as intellectually independent as Soroush.

    Mamdani No seems to be a recent arrival to Moslems problems

    Ebadi No A disillusioned female Islamic lawyer. Got booted out of the legal club by the menstrual fearing men. Mostlikely got the feminist vote.

    Ali No A disillusioned female social worker. like Ebadi got the pointed end of the large male Islamic boot and like her sister in Iran told the pricks to get fucked and got fame because of it. Well deserved fame I might add as these Islamic men tend to kill people who cross them especially up start women who think they are equal to men. Ditto for her vote

    There is one other Moslem that I have read and should be on the list and that is An Naim a follower of Mohamed Taha the real Luther of Islamic reformation in my mind before the Islamist in Sudan killed him. An Naim has gone out in the field to fight the good fight for true Islam.

    So it looks as if we have 3-4 potential Mujtahids who have been recognized as such by the world which is more than what can be claimed by the current Ulama at the Islamic universities in Saudi, Iran, Egypt. India and Pakistan and even by historical accepted Mujtahids. Will they be up to the task to save the Muslim from him/her self and integrate the Islamic civilization into the rest of man kind during the 21st century so that both may benefit?

  2. fromkarachi Says:

    Peace be with you Dave,
    Wow, that is a long take! Hence, my respond is equally long.
    I think, you missed a few crucial points in my post. I did not limit the impact of the top 10 voted intellectuals on this world in anyway. My post was not about the top10 voted intellectuals at all.

    My post is about one man: Aitzaz Ahsan, who I have been reading up on for a while. The fact that I saw an interesting article and his name on it, was simply a catalyst to inform others about him.
    You wrote: “the top 10 being Muslims-very strange for a group of people who for the ordinary every day people (in contrast to their elites) on a world basis are not noted for their general level of formal education, scientific understanding and rational thinking.” I am not sure who are you referring to here. Aitzaz Ahsan is a graduate of the Cambridge University, UK, and Amr Khaled is currently pursuing a PhD in UK. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is an eminent scholar respected in the east and west, who is also a mujtahid and have greatly contributed in developing the fiqh of muslim minorities.

    In general, it seems that you have pinned the entire demise of muslim world upon the ignorance of the masses and the greatly admired and worshipped out-of-date scholars. This is the view rampant in the west, that muslims inherently have problems with secular values and thus chose to remain in the dark ages. “ Any reform must be in the framework of Islam, for it to be acceptable by muslims”, is actually a big lie. Muslim masses do not favor extremists, they favor democracy. The west has played a great role in sabotaging the development of any democratic movement in most of the muslim world. We see this pattern currently being played out in Pakistan, where repeatedly West favored military dictators over democratic parliaments. Same has been done to Iraq. And today we see the results in the militarization of the entire region.

    And so I come back to my original point, justice is what the Muslim world needs today. I do not take responsibility away from the Muslims themselves, it is true we have failed in many ways, but it is also true that west has greatly played a negative role simply to protect her own interests. For example, Hasan al-banna’s muslim brotherhood was a social organization, until he was shot dead. Syed Qutb was unjustly hanged (even by western standards) because of the lack of freedom of expression. Exactly what is to be expected if not the extreme response, for unwarranted extreme measures?

    I am not of the people who get hyped because some newspaper praised a few muslims or so. That is not the criteria, and whether you agree or not, Aitzaz Ahsan is an intellectual. Interestingly people are using the terms mujtahid, ijtihad and mujaddid very often, without knowing their meanings. Sheikh Uthaymeen (rahimullah) is a mujaddid of our century, for revolutionizing the hadith sciences. Most scholars who give fatwa on comtemporary issues are mujtahid. For a muslim to be productive and an intellectual, he doesn’t need to be either a mujaddid or a mujtahid in religion.

    But one important point is that you are as unknown, as I am in this world. It is easy to point fingers and hard to actually see what we lack in ourselves, and how unproductive we are. And just by that standard, we are far behind pretty much every one mentioned in my post!

  3. Mawaiz Khan Akash Says:

    i want to write a book on the ten muslims top intellectual

  4. History of Al Andalus Says:

    As salaamu ‘aleykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu

    Forgive me for a comment not related to the post. There is an excellent new blog dedicated to a book called: *An Incomplete History: The Muslims of Spain Post 1492 in a Global Context and its Relevance to Muslims Today*

    http://historyofandalus.wordpress.com/

    The situation of the Muslims living in the West today poses a striking similarity to the situation of the Muslims in Al- Andalus post 1492 (when the last Muslim ruler surrendered the last Muslim stronghold of Granada to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella). This marked the official end to Islamic rule in Al- Andalus. However, this did not mean all the Muslims left Al Andalus in one go.

    Muslims lived in Andalus for at least two hundred years after the fall (1492). Their lives were not easy. In many cases they were forced to give up their identities, could not practice Islam in public, they were not allowed to speak Arabic (and therefore could not pray in congregation) or even give their children Muslim names! So what began as tolerance for the practice of Islam in Al- Andalus and allowing for their affairs to be judged under Shari’ah courts (Capitulations of Granada) slowly but surely led to the persecution of the Muslims of Al-Andalus until no trace of Muslims in Andalus were to be found.

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