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Understanding the problems of Islamic Civilisation in Modern Era : Part 1

The Issues of decadence and regression of the muslim society have been highly debated throughout
the 20th and 21st century. Many have try to formulate the right recipe for ‘nahdah’ of the Islamic
Civilisation but failed to do so as when their formulation was applied to revive the muslim society, it
failed along the way. Why did this happen? Does the muslim thinker lack the ideas or lack the
understanding of the root cause of the decadence of the civilisation? Does the decadence and state
of regression of the muslim civilisation will come to an end? How do we revive this civilisation that
seems to be degenerating without any sign of reviving?

The question and issue of decadence must be dig deep in the muslim milieu, in their mind, soul
culture and social network(asabiyyah). Malek Bennabi mentioned in his book Condition Of
Renaissance that the failure of muslim thinkers to initiate renaissance can be seen at three levels, the
level of inability to determining the precise goals of renaissance, the level of limiting the social
problems and the level of inability determining the method as well as the means of renaissance.
Furthermore, many muslim thinkers tend to over simplified the overall crisis of the muslim
civilisation hence deducing fruitless solution to the decadence of the civilisation crisis for example of
the modernist, Al-Afghani who doesn’t really bring about concrete transformation of the muslim
mind rather it propose of a reformation of the political institution.

Some also propose solution to our issue but it didn’t solve the civilisational crisis of the muslim
world, as the ideas are more inclined towards self-defence and attacking the colonisation as the
central problem(This does not deny that colonisation has an immense effect on the present situation
of the muslim world,but it does not put colonisation as the disease) without proper and profound
understanding of the disease that infected the muslim world, changing the method rather than
curing the disease thus did not really solve the issue. We also must not deal with the crisis by trying
to mix and synthesize alien civilisation into the Islamic Civilisation as Islamic civilisation is a sui
generis civilisation that need not a reform rather a reformation of the muslim unit. If we reflected on
what had impact the European Civilisation nowadays, we will discover that when we try to
incorporate alien civilisation into our own civilisation it will brought a huge catastrophe as the
European now have to endure the floodgates of culture and civilisation that shook the European
Civilisation altogether thus challenging the very foundation of European Civilisation. European
Civilisation has long been the staunch defender of the Christendom but with a mix of secular ideals
since the French Revolution. But the influx of culture that have been let in by the European
Civilisation nowadays has seen the European struggle to impose its identity and has seen the
European lost it force as a dominant civilisation in the 21st century. Thus we must not make any
mistake by the illusion of synthesizing between civilisation.

To look for the remedy, one must look beyond the symptom underlying the civilizational disease. The
utmost disease that have been decaying the civilisation is the issue of worldview and epistemology
that has been corrupted by their negligence of the fundamental purpose of their living. The Islamic
civilisation is different from other civilisation as it base it civilisation based on the principle of
monotheism. The faith that states Allah as the sole god, the ultimate truth and the creator of the
entire cosmos, on what in the Islamic thought is known as Tawhid. Tawhid has been the central
theme of the islam since the beginning of the Islamic inception in the 6th century. Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi
the 20th century scholar implied in his book, Tawhid: Its implication for thought and life, that Tawhid
has been the atom of the rise of Islamic civilisation from the desert where barbaric and nomadic
people had always been associated to. Tawhid reform the mind and soul of those who embrace
Islam wholeheartedly. Thus we see the transformation from a barbaric and nomadic tribe prosper
into a civilisation spanning from the heart of Middle East, Makkah, to Southeast Asia where lies the
Malay civilisation, to the bridge between Europe and Asia of Istanbul wehere lies the Ottoman
civilisation. Tawhid propagate and have been the driving force that makes the golden age of Islamic
Civilisation of Cordoba, Baghdad, Cairo and Istanbul a reality that have never been seen in the
centuries before. The realm of object, science, industry, agriculture, aesthetics, architecture and
monuments during the golden age period reflected the flourish age of Islamic civilisation.

In the next part we will discuss more on the disease that have been decaying the civilisation and the
remedy to kick start the revival of Islamic civilisation to start a new cycle of the civilisation after the
end of the old cycle.

Muhamad Amirul Asyraf Bin Ahmad Kamal Zulkhairi

Researcher Zaaba Institute of Leadership