Kalim Siddiqui: A Man of the Qur’an and the Sunnah

By Imam Muhammad al-Asi

[This paper was presented by Imam Muhammad al-Asi at the ‘Dr Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference’ convened by the Muslim Institute for Research and Planning and the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain in London on November 3, 1996.]

It would occur to the ordinary or the average Muslim that a man related to the Qur’an and the Sunnah is a man who quotes the Qur’an and the Sunnah frequently and recurrently. And we do have such individuals who spare no occasion and seize all opportunities to refer to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. But in the case of the late Dr. Kalim Siddiqui, we encounter a man of Allah whose vision and ideas are grounded in the Qur’an and the Sunnah like very precious few others in our generation.

What distinguished the late Dr. Siddiqui is his ability to understand and explain the Qur’an and the Sunnah from a perspective that has been absent from the Muslim mind and from the Muslim Ummah for a very long time. The late Dr. Siddiqui had his attention fixed on the Ummah and its civilizational dimension. Nothing else could distract him from this holistic view of all the segments of this one Ummah from the first Islamic State in al-Madinah to the recommencing Islamic State in Iran; and from the densely-populated heartlands of this Ummah to its scattered emigrant sons around the world; and from the pristine quality of the foot-soldiers of Islam to the dubious quality of the elitist “Islamicists.” Dr. Kalim marhum could take a Qur’anic and a Prophetic overview of this whole Islamic condition and prognosticate the direction of the Ummah.

This is a far cry from those who have throughout the years and generations, and many with good intentions, managed to cramp the Qur’an and the Sunnah into the individual’s lifestyle or who, at best, dare not go beyond the kitchen and the bedroom in their understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunnah!

Before we take a closer look at Dr. Siddiqui’s ideas in light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah we should understand that one of the most important contributions expressed throughout the works of Dr Kalim is his thorough understanding of the world of kufr and jahiliyyah. At a time when many Islamic da’is and activists tried their best to negotiate an understanding between Western civilization and Islamic civilization, when they tried to reconcile yahud and shirk with iman and Islam, at a time when some Islamic personalities worked to blur the line between Western institutions and the institutions of Islam, at a time when it was profitable to assimilate Islam into the larger world order created by Western civilization, at this critical time and juncture in Islamic history, Dr. Kalim’s words were a beacon unto the heeding sons and daughters of the global Islamic movement. He, as is the Sunnah and Seerah of Allah’s cherished Prophet, upon whom be peace, stood virtually alone in pointing to the criminal nature of the forces of kufr. It is this profound understanding of the inimical forces of Western Civilization throughout the years and in our contemporary times that gives Dr. Kalim’s statements on Western Civilization their urgent value and significance.

“For never will yahud be pleased with you, nor yet the nasara, unless you enlist in their own worldview. Say: ‘Behold, Allah’s guidance is the only true guidance.’ And, indeed, if you should follow their errant views after all the knowledge that has come unto you, you will have none to protect you from Allah, and none to support you.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:120.)

Dr Kalim’s understanding of the Muslim response to colonialism reflected this ayah. He says:

When power and authority in the Muslim world passed to colonial powers, it was inevitable that the new rulers would create oppressive organs of state and institutions to consolidate the colonial system. The Muslim political elite hoped that the emergence of European-style institutions would give them the opportunity to develop the creative energy that was so evident in the European aristocracy. What Muslim rulers, aristocrats and elites had failed to defend on the battlefield they hoped to recapture under the patronage of the colonial rulers. The colonialists encouraged such hopes on condition that they learned European languages, learned to dress like Europeans, and cultivated European manners, etiquettes and life-styles… [1]

The Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him (pbuh), says: “You shall imitate the sunan of the people of scripture, even if they were to enter into a lizard’s hole you would be found doing the same thing.”

Dr. Kalim took the meaning of this hadith further than the simple Muslims who can only see its meaning on the level of the individual, but cannot see it, as did Dr. Kalim, on the collective level. And I quote:

For the Muslim colonial elites everything changed; they had new rulers, new languages, new dresses, new books, new history, new philosophy, new political institutions, and new personal, social, cultural, and economic goals to pursue with new zest and vigor. Indeed, for them colonialism was a revolution! [2]

After having elucidated the hostile and belligerent nature of the kufr civilization towards all expressions and vestiges of Islamic civilization, the late Dr. Kalim withheld no frank and direct statements concerning the ruling elites in the Muslim world. This is of paramount concern to all Muslims who nowadays are struggling against their republican or their monarchical rulers. The characterization of kings or presidents who pray and fast and perform their hajj while the cameras are rolling is still a grey area in the minds of most Muslims. Not so with the crystal clear ideas of Dr. Kalim. His writings and statements concerning these types of turn-coat despots are unequivocal. In one such quote Dr. Kalim says:

Once the colonialists had begun to transform their colonies into nation-states controlled by those whom they had succeeded in detaching from the Grand Paradigm, the ulama did not have the political vision to realize that the ‘fathers of the nation’ and the ‘monarchs’ were essentially no different from the former governor-generals and viceroys. They did not realize that these Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Field Marshals, Generals, and Colonels, though bearing Muslim names and often even managing to display personal piety, were in the political field operating outside Islam. This is the point that escaped Maulana Abul A’la Maudoodi and the Jama’at-e-Islami in Pakistan; the political vision of Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon was sharper, but not sharp enough to realize that the ‘national question’ in Egypt, for instance, was not an Islamic cause. [3]

This particular issue, the real nature and position of the ruling elites in the Muslim world, has still not been conclusively settled in the minds of those at the executive levels of today’s Islamic parties. As long as this area remains foggy in the public Muslim mind, the efforts of the Islamic movement will always fall short of defeating these elites who owe their survival to the forces of kufr and not to the forces of Islam.

The ‘theological’ or the ‘fiqhi‘ grounds that have paralysed this whole issue is a hadith of the Prophet which says that rulers should be obeyed as long as they “construct salat” (“ma aqamu fikum al-salat”). There are two rebuttals to this misunderstanding of the hadith. The first one is that the Prophet (pbuh) in his precise wording said that Muslims should not confront such erratic rulers as long as they construct salat. The concept of constructing salat is not what the status quo promoters interpret it to be, ie. praying. There is an obvious difference between praying and constructing salat. The difference is that praying is a one on one relationship with Allah, while constructing salat involves developing a collective relationship between the community and Allah. Obviously, today’s rulers and leaders are not concerned with a binding relationship between their ‘subjects’ and Allah, so they cannot be covered by the above hadith.

The second rebuttal is that the exclusion of rulers from accountability on the basis of this hadith flies in the face of the clear and obvious meanings of the Qur’an itself. When an interpretation of a hadith contradicts or violates the established meaning of the lucid ayaat then we annul the unsound interpretation of the hadith and adhere to the unanimous meaning of the ayaat.

In this instance the meanings of the Forthright Qur’an are beyond a shadow of a doubt. The words of divine origin are:

“O You who are divinely committed! Do not take the yahud and the nasara as your allies; they are but allies of one another, and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, becomes, verily, one of them; behold, Allah does not guide such misjudging folks.

“And yet you can see how those in whose hearts there is disease vie with one another for their [the yahud’s and nasara’s] goodwill, saying [to themselves] ‘We fear lest the tide turns against us.’ But Allah may well bring about good fortune [for the truly committed] or any [other] event of His own devising, whereupon those [waverers] will be smitten with remorse for the thoughts which they had secretly harbored within themselves – while those who have attained to faith will say [to one another], ‘Are these the self-same people who swore by Allah with their most solemn oaths that they were indeed on your [the Islamic] side? In vain are all their works, for now they are lost!” (Al-Qur’an 5:51-53)

The tragic, but unavoidable, events in Algeria attest to the truth of this matter. The murderous and sub-civilizational war by the Algerian junta against its own Muslim population is the most articulate comment on this nominal ‘elitist’ corp, demonstrating its practical worth on behalf of the Western interest by turning its guns against its own Muslim population; and yet, alas, some Muslims still have ‘difficulties’ understanding these bloody dictators in light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).

We still have a wide cross-section of the Muslim ulama who snap to attention when they are summoned to official meetings, confidential briefings, and ceremonial conferences in the name of Islam! It is too common to encounter obliging scholars-for-dollars who are at the beck-and-call of ritualistic Muslims who are in truth ruthless rulers, die-hard dictators, and criminal kuffar who are lodged into the Western interest, heart, mind, and soul.

In the vision of the late Dr. Kalim Siddiqui (may Allah rest his soul in peace) the catalytic formula binding these two antagonists of the global Islamic movement is the nation-state. The one Ummah, due to the combination of the forces of kufr and nifaq, has been sliced and diced into over fifty nation-states, all of them (with the possible exceptions of Iran and Sudan) working in tandem with the imposed Euro-American world order. These nation-states are as alien to Islam as are the idols of antiquity. In fact, the nationalism built around these nation-states is a modern version of idolatry, as multitudes of people commit their allegiance and loyalty to these artificial entities.

Much like the Prophet himself, who saw the impending demise of the Roman and the Persian Empires when the first generation of Muslims were at their most vulnerable, so did Dr. Kalim foresee the collapse of the nation-states of our times, especially those nation-states forced upon the Ummah. Dr. Kalim spoke to the global Islamic movement much like the Prophet (pbuh) spoke to Suraqah. Dr. Kalim says:

All nation-states that today occupy, enslave and exploit the lands, peoples and resources of the Ummah have to be dismantled. It is the nation-states that give life and respectability to nationalism. Nationalism is not an idea that precedes its political manifestation. With some exceptions, the idea of nationalism has been artificially planted in order to support an externally imposed state. The idea of the state based on nationalism is so alien to the moral genius of our people that every single nation-state in the Ummah is unstable, weak and for ever on the verge of collapse. All Muslim nation-states in the world today are maintained by a mixture of internal oppression and external support. It is only the regular injection of military and economic ‘aid’ from the leading imperialist powers that keeps these states going. None of these states has solved any of its own problems or those of its people. Since these states have no roots in the history of Islam or in the history of their people, they will not be difficult to dismantle. [4]

Two issues were particular emphasised by Dr. Kalim. First, that kufr does not compromise with Islam; therefore, kuffar will not accommodate committed Muslims. The line has been drawn and the forces of kufr are as ancient as time itself; the Muslims should be on their guard and should mobilize their resources and potentials to be their masters of destiny and not some appendage of some reactionary receptacles of the imperialist diktat. This is referred to by some naive Muslims as the “either/or” attitude. Or what others may call the “black or white” Muslim approach! The fact of the matter is that on issues of kufr and iman there is no common denominator. These should learn the short surah in the Honorable Qur’an that reads:

“Say: ‘O Kuffar! I do not conform, nor am I devoted to your standards, and neither do you conform nor are you devoted by my standards [of reverence]. And I will not conform to that which you do, and neither will you [ever] conform to that which I do. Unto you, your systems [and institutions] and unto me, mine!” (Al-Qur’an, Surah 109, al-Kafirun).

Dr Kalim’s second point was that political nifaq (expressed by nominal Muslims) has to be regarded as being on the side of kufr. Note the following ayaat:

“Allah has promised the munafiqs, both men and women, as well as the kafirs, the fire of hell, therein to abide: this shall be their allotted portion. For Allah has rejected them, and long-lasting suffering awaits them.” (Al-Qur’an 9:68.)

“[And so it is] that Allah imposes suffering on the munafiqeen, both men and women, as well as on mushrik men and women. And [so, too, it is] that Allah turns in his mercy unto the divinely committed men and women: for Allah is indeed much forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” (Al-Qur’an 33:73.)

“…Behold together with those who are kuffar Allah will gather in hell the hypocrites…” (Al-Qur’an 4:140.)

“O Prophet! Strive [or fight] against the kafirs and the munafiqs, and be adamant with them. And [if they do not repent] their destination shall be hell – and how vile a journey’s end.” (Al-Qur’an 9:73.)

“O Prophet! Remain conscious of Allah and defer not to the kuffar and the munafiqeen: for Allah is truly all-knowing, wise.” (Al-Qur’an 33:1.)

Once these two facts are well established in the Muslim mind, as Dr. Kalim sought to have them, then the global Islamic movement shall encounter no more those obstructionists who have for so long fudged this whole issue and postponed the day of reckoning with the avowed enemies of Allah and the Prophet and the Islamic movement. In Dr. Kalim’s mind, this was well established, and so he was able to think ahead to the future of the Islamic movement, come what may. And many things did come: the breakthrough of the Islamic Revolution in Iran under the leadership of Imam Khomeini and the muttaqi ulama; the Persian Gulf wars, numbers one and two; the Palestinian intifada; the Salman Rushdie affair and the Imam’s fatwa; the genocide in Bosnia; the war in Chechnya; all these issues require a response in the tradition of the Prophet (pbuh).

And here is one of the most important contributions of Dr. Kalim to the Islamic movement. He insisted on the populism of Islam. He saw the ‘political party’ style factions in the Islamic Movement as a throwback, a legacy of the colonialists, and an obstacle to the popular and the grass-roots mobilization of the Ummah. In the same manner that the nation-state served as a fragmenting agent of the Ummah at the political and military levels, the ‘Islamic party’ serves as fragmenting agent at the ideological and the revolutionary level of the Ummah. Dr. Kalim states in many of his writings that the level of change that is required in this Ummah from its present pathetic state to the robust condition of a total Islamic transformation can only be accomplished by the all-out mobilization of the Muslim masses from continent to continent and from ocean to ocean. Nothing short of such a genuinely global movement will be able to anchor the new Islamic reality into the Muslim hemisphere of the world.

A glimpse of the possibilities is presented to us in the mobilization of the masses of Iran in their opposition to the Shah and his cronies. That proved that once a Muslim people are on the march, no force is able to defeat them. Dr. Kalim believed fervently in the mobilization of the Ummah. To that end, he held regular conferences and seminars in London where he would assemble the heart-beat of the Muslim world through the convergence of all the pace-setters and the foot-soldiers of the global Islamic movement. At these meetings Dr. Kalim would articulate the Ummah’s inner-most thoughts, its fears and frustrations, its hopes and expectations. These conferences proved that the Ummah had a commonality that superseded its nationalisms, its racialisms, and its nation-state superficialities.

Not only was Dr. Kalim opposed to the Western paradigm in its mental and ideological structure and trappings, he also was averse to its cosmetic facades. The comparison between the mujahideen who brought their heart-felt issues to London without any fanfare or extravagance, and the jet-set Islamicists who routinely massage their egos at plush venues, could hardly be greater. In Dr. Kalim’s words:

Many senior members of such Islamic parties and movements are today earning fat salaries in the service of the Saudi King and the Sheikhdoms of the Gulf. During the hot summer of those regions these worthy sons of Islam can be seen serving Islam in Europe and North America while on holiday on full pay. Islam and the Islamic movement have been reduced to a holiday activity to be pursued at no personal cost. Some professionals also find a little Islamic work a useful appendage in their careers in, for instance, law, and medicine, and business. Many Muslim millionaires have acquired formidable reputations for their ‘love of Islam’ through well- placed and suitably publicized patronage of ‘Islamic work’. [5]

Dr Kalim Siddiqui, like few other sons of Islam saw the realities of such kufr heads of state: that rather than being courted, they should be put in court and held responsible for their misdeeds. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) when he sent letters to the kings of Egypt, Abyssinia, Byzantium, and Persia did not do so with an attitude of let’s strike a deal.’ He never entertained the idea that the Islamic movement has the popularity, and the rulers have the capital, so something can be worked out! In simple terms, Allah is the source of support for the Islamic movement and the taghoots have no such source of support, so there can be no sort of compromise in dealing with officials in the highest offices.

In Dr. Kalim’s own words:

The Islamic movement is the traditional instrument of change. It is not a political movement with a manifesto written by a committee or with an ideology strung together by a motley collection of philosophers, historians, dreamers and activists. The Islamic movement, in its purest form, is the manifestation of the Divine Will. As such, the first complete Islamic movement was none other than the movement which was led by the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, in the Arabian peninsula just 1400 years ago. The primary roots of the Islamic movement, therefore, go back to the Prophet’s movement and the Islamic State in Madinah. The labyrinth of secondary roots is spread throughout Islamic history and deeply embedded in the political culture of the Muslims. [6]

It thus becomes problematic to see leaders of the Islamic movement today departing from the Prophet’s precedents in dealing with heads of state. When the Prophet did correspond with the heads of state of his time he did so in fulfilment of the ayah:

“Say: ‘O followers of earlier revelation! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall conform unto none but Allah, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our lords besides Allah.” (Al-Qur’an 3:64.)

The Qur’anic address is calm but also direct and clear. There is no element of appeasement and no notion of inferiority. Thus should be the manner in which we address these heads of state. [7]

Another area that distinguished Dr. Kalim was his consolidation of the Muslim Ummah, particularly in view of the historical divergence of the Sunni and the Shi’i schools of thought. The Prophet (pbuh) says: “A Muslim to a Muslim is like a structure; one part reinforces the other part.” Dr. Kalim scrutinized the historical development of the Muslim Ummah and found that both schools of thought had their deficiencies and their merits. He is one of the few Muslim scholars who could speak his mind publicly and vividly on issues often deemed to be too sensitive to breach. Not only did he have the courage to state that the Sunni ulama were lax in their relationships or their understanding critique of the post-khilafah regimes, but he also stated that the Shi’i ulama were mistaken in their withdrawal from the process of checking political deviation after the disappearance of the twelfth Imam.

The late Dr. Kalim Siddiqui elevated the central idea of the Prophet’s Sunnah. Throughout his writings he endeavored to have the Muslims see the Sunnah as it relates to the power structure around in the society of Madinah, in the growing force of Islam in the Arabian peninsula and in the expansion of the initial Islamic authority into the four corners of the earth. The Prophet (pbuh) made decisions to go to war; this decision is a Sunnah. The Prophet dispatched military expeditions; this decision is a Sunnah. The Prophet appointed military commanders; this is a Sunnah. The Prophet wore military gear and personally participated in wars and battles; this is a Sunnah. The Prophet concluded political and military agreements and arrangements; this is a Sunnah. The Prophet gathered intelligence information about military build-ups and movements; this is a Sunnah; etc…

When we read Dr. Kalim and understand his scope of analysis, we make a qualitative transfer from the personalized Sunnah to the Sunnah of the jama’at, from the traditional and dormant understanding of Sunnah to the forward and active reasoning of Sunnah. To make this leap requires unconditional confidence in Allah, with no strings attached. Here is where Dr. Kalim always had a healthy and an optimistic vision of the future. Nothing could deter him from seeing the inevitability of the Islamic State of the future. Even when many self-styled Islamicists were abandoning this tawakkul (reliance upon Allah) and reaching some modus operandi with nation-state governments, Dr. Kalim never, for one moment, lost hope.

When the people who are supposed to be supportive of you begin to abandon the cause, you naturally feel frustrated and dejected. The Prophets of Allah, humans as they are, reached a point of inquiring about Allah’s succour and support. They begin to entertain the notion that things were going badly, and their cause may become a lost cause.

“[All the earlier apostles had to suffer persecution for a long time:] but at last — when those apostles had lost all hope and saw themselves branded as liars — Our succour attained to them: whereupon everyone whom We willed [to be saved] was saved [and the deniers of the truth were destroyed]: for, never can Our punishment be averted from people who are lost in sin.” (Al-Qur’an 12:110.)

At this juncture in time the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the able leadership of Imam Khomeini, was literally a Godsend. It broke through the barriers of kufr and oppression, and it galvanized the Muslim Ummah by declaring “neither East nor West, neither Sunni nor Shi’i”. It stirred the aspirations and the ambitions of all faithful and untainted Muslims. It also enables the thinking Muslims to see the current position of the Ummah on its long course to Allah.

While petty scholars were busy digging up historical and fiqhi issues to divide the House of Islam, and to isolate Imam Khomeini and the line of the Imam, when Saudi Arabia was financing every effort to tarnish and discredit the Islamic Revolution in Iran, based on such flimsy accusations as to the validity of a Shi’i’s wudu, or to the way that Shi’is pray, Dr. Kalim could see past these minor differences to examine the life and death issues the time. For the first time, the contemporary forces of kufr, represented by the West, were putting aside their own differences – in particular, their division into capitalist and communist camps – to come together to kill the will of the Muslims to implement their Islamic political and ideological preferences.

In his support of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Dr. Kalim was not as gullible as to give it a blanket statement of approval. Allah requires us to be honest and truthful in expressing ourselves. Even when the world is at war with a part of the Ummah we are not allowed to disregard the truth.

“O You who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to Allah, bearing witness to the truth in all equity.” (Al-Qur’an 5:8.)

For that reason Dr. Kalim, and only Dr. Kalim in the Sunni context, as far as we are aware, took the whole issue of the Islamic Revolution and wilayate-faqih to its historical origins. He researched and investigated the Shi’i tradition and scholarship, and traced the changing understanding of the role of ulama from the Akhbaris to the Usulis, and how this intellectual background provided the basis for Imam Khomeini’s ijtihad on the possibility of having a legitimate Islamic government in the absence of Imam Mehdi. He also pointed out that not all Shi’i ulama agree with the concept of wilayat al-faqih. [8]

After explaining the process by which Islam developed into Shi’i and Sunni schools of thought and how both accrued their own peculiar errors, deviations, corrections, and then convergence into what is or what is becoming an Islamic revolution and then an Islamic State, Dr. Kalim has this to say about the Islamic State in Iran:

The validity of the newly expanded base of our knowledge will remain uncertain and problematic unless it is demonstrated that the historical sequence from which it is derived is repeatable. Historical sequences are repeatable over long periods of time. Thus, if the Islamic Revolution in Iran has not been followed by another revolution within a decade or two in any other part of the Ummah, it may not necessarily mean that the first Islamic Revolution’s validity is in doubt. However, if another fifty or a hundred years pass without evidence of repeatability, then the validity of the historical sequence achieved in Iran would begin to lose its wider relevance. Similarly, if the accretion of new knowledge from the process of correction and convergence remains confined to the Shi’i school and does not become relevant to all schools of thought in Islam, then the process may also lose its wider relevance. The failure to repeat itself outside Iran, or failure to attract wider acceptance in the other schools of thought in Islam, may also suggest that the process of correction and convergence is in some respects incomplete. Should this be the case, new evidence of unacceptable results will accumulate. However, if predictable and desirable results begin to emerge in other parts of the Ummah, then the validity of the process of correction and convergence will have been established. [9]

This concern for the cohesion of the Muslim Ummah from its formative years with all its ups and downs, with all its residual intrigues, was characteristic of a man of Allah. It is very easy to extol the virtues of some great Islamic personality in history, it is also relatively unchallenging to pronounce platitudes about the theoretical solidarity of the Muslim Ummah, but when the time comes to stand by this Ummah, defending any part of it that is under attack from the forces of kufr and at the same time working out the modalities of integrating its segments into one body of a solid rank and file, then only few meet this challenge, and certainly the late Dr. Kalim is one of those few.

We have heard oft-repeated the ayah:

“Verily, [O you who believe in Me,] this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: conform [comply, observe, obey] Me [alone]!” (Al-Qur’an 21:92.)

It is also effortless to quote the well-known hadith:

“Committed Muslims in their mutual affection, fondness of each other, and attachment to each other are like one single body, if one part of that body aches and pains the rest of the body will respond with care and solicitude.”

How many of the calibre of Dr. Kalim showed this type of concern and tenderness for the Ummah? He did not busy himself with empty slogans; he pressed on with the hard task of consolidating this Ummah and defending it at times of duress. Much to the chagrin of the kufr forces the Muslims closed ranks behind their beleaguered brothers in all parts of the Ummah. To a certain degree it was the undaunted determination of Dr. Kalim and his likes who saw the cohesion of the Muslim Ummah not only possible but imminent.

The similarities between the initial pulse in the Prophet’s day and age is akin to our momentum in our day and age. And if the Prophet’s method is practical and functional then what we need is to get on with the unfinished business of history. Islam is Islam, kufr is kufr, humans are humans, and those who place their trust in Allah shall emerge victorious at the end of the day, be they in the Arabian peninsula or in the Indonesian archipelago or in the continent of Atlantis! In Dr Kalim’s words:

The position that has to be taken now, and only the Islamic movement can take it, is that the western civilization is in fact a plague and a pestilence. It is no civilization at all. It is a disease. It feeds upon itself to its own detriment. The west today is qualitatively no different from the jahiliyyah, the primitive savagery and ignorance, that prevailed in Arabia and the rest of the world at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. That jahiliyyah also called itself a ‘civilization’; it had its ‘values’, it had its centres of knowledge and gave education to its children. It was strong in its trading relations and had a rich culture. The people of Makkah were renowned for their hospitality and poetry, and other forms of art also thrived there and elsewhere. That jahiliyyah even had its ‘gods’.

In that setting Islam came as the instrument of change, indeed of transformation. Islam was not revealed to the Prophet in the seclusion of a monastery. Revelation forms only a part of Islam and consists of the actual words of the Qur’an. The rest of Islam is the actual method of change applied by the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and the Islamic movement that he led. This is known as the Seerah (life) of the Prophet, and the Sunnah (everything the Prophet said, did, caused to be done, allowed to be done, and ordered to be done). The Islamic movement that the Prophet led also included all those who accepted Islam: a handful in Makkah, then the many thousands in Madinah, and finally almost the entire population of the peninsula. The Qur’an called for the total commitment and participation of Muslims with all their resources in the struggle of the Islamic movement (Al-Qur’an 2:208; 3:142; 8:74; 9:16; 111). [10]

Comparing Dr. Kalim with many of the high-profile activists and scholars of our time, one is reminded of the ayaat in the Qur’an:

“Do you, perchance, regard the [mere] giving of water to pilgrims and the tending of the Inviolable House of Worship as being equal to [the works of] one who is committed to Allah and the Last Day and strives hard in Allah’s cause? These [things] are not equal in the sight of Allah. And Allah does not grace with His guidance people who [deliberately] do wrong.

“Those who are committed, and who have forsaken the domain of evil and have striven hard in Allah’s cause with their possessions and their lives have the highest rank in the sight of Allah; and it is they, they who shall triumph [in the end]!

“Their Sustainer gives them the glad tiding of the grace [that flows] from Him, and of [His] goodly acceptance, and of the gardens which await them, full of lasting bliss, therein to abide beyond the count of time. Verily, with Allah is a mighty reward!” (Al-Qur’an 9:19-22.)

Of course, giving water to pilgrims and tending to the Holy Sanctuary in Makkah is to be rewarded by Allah, but that reward will be little compared to what Allah will give to those who are committed to Him and struggle with determination for His cause. Likewise, those da’is who expend one word here and one admonition there will be rewarded by Allah. But their reward shall pale in comparison with what Allah has in store for those, like brother Kalim, (and we can vouch for no one), who constantly and tirelessly struggled and argued, who confronted and contended, for Allah. His is the portion of the ayah above.

Dr. Kalim was a combatant. He did his fighting in the world of ideas where Muslims have become most vulnerable. He stood at the front line of the ideological frontiers of Islam, he brandished his pen and he fought the mental invasion of kufr valiantly and heroically. He showed no signs of retreating from that position until the last moment of his life. His ink was truly equivalent to the blood of the martyrs. At that front line position he showed the rest of us how to be when we confront the bogus and spurious forces of kufr.

Dr. Kalim did not vacate that position under threats from the external enemies of Islam; he did not vacate that position for the lucrative incentives offered by the internal enemies of Islam. He was not satisfied with watching the assault on this Ummah from all directions. He had to speak out when almost everyone else was silent or passive in this global and titanic clash of civilizations.

Dr. Kalim was the embodiment of the Prophet’s words: “The best jihad is the word of truth in the face of tyrannical authority.”

Dr. Kalim you have left a void that will prove difficult to fill, but do not fear. We shall move up to that front line position and display the words of truth. It is the Sunnah and the Seerah of the Prophet that will motivate us to go forward.

Dr Kalim, you were always radiating with optimism and confidence. We encounter that poise and enthusiasm in our mutual exemplar, the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad the final Prophet, upon whom be peace.

Rest assured that this Ummah will honor all the mujahids who walked in the footsteps of the Prophet. You have joined that auspicious caravan, and with Allah’s help we will also join it.

“[Such as] these will be rewarded for all their patient endurance [in life] with a high station [in paradise], and will be met therein with a greeting of welcome and peace, therein to abide: [and] how splendid an abode and [how high] a station!” (Al-Qur’an 25:75.)


[1] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘Political Thought and Behaviour of Muslims Under Colonialism’, in Zafar Bangash (ed), In Pursuit of the Power of Islam: major writings of Kalim Siddiqui, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996, p. 267. This was the keynote paper presented by Dr Kalim Siddiqui at the Muslim Institute seminar on ‘Muslim Political Thought during the Colonial Period’, London: August 6-9, 1986.

[2] Ibid., p. 268.

[3] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘Integration and Disintegration in the Politics of Islam and Kufr’, in Zafar Bangash (ed), In Pursuit of the Power of Islam: major writings of Kalim Siddiqui, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996, p. 199. This was the keynote paper presented by Dr Kalim Siddiqui at the Muslim Institute seminar on ‘State and Politics in Islam’ in London in August 1983.

[4] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘Nation-States as obstacles to the total transformation of the Ummah’, in Zafar Bangash (ed), In Pursuit of the Power of Islam: major writings of Kalim Siddiqui, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996, p. 267. This was the keynote paper presented by Dr Kalim Siddiqui at the Muslim Institute’s World Seminar on ‘The Impact of Nationalism on the Ummah’, London, July 31-August 3, 1985.

[5] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘The Islamic movement: setting out to change the world again’,in Zafar Bangash (ed), In Pursuit of the Power of Islam: major writings of Kalim Siddiqui, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996, p. 159. This paper was written in 1982 and published as the introduction to Kalim Siddiqui (ed), Issues in the Islamic Movement 1980-81, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1982.

[6] Ibid., p. 142.

[7] See Dr. Kalim’s letter to British prime minister John Major in March 1996, written in his capacity as Leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. This letter is reprinted in A Life in the Islamic Movement: Kalim Siddiqui 1931-96, London: The Muslim Institute, 1996.

[8] After the late Imam Khomeini passed away (May the Mercy-giving rest his blessed soul in eternal peace) we no longer hear or read much about wilayat-e-faqih. This has an ominous ring to it; because it would indicate that the internal Shi’i opposition to the concept have gained a strong foothold within the administrative structure of the Islamic State in Iran. Or it would indicate that the supporters of the concept are so vulnerable vis-a-vis the opponents that they dare not dwell on this “controversial” or this “heretical” concept!

[9] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘Processes of error, deviation, correction and convergence in Muslim political thought’ in Stages of Islamic Revolution, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996, p. 126. This paper is also published in Zafar Bangash (ed), In Pursuit of the Power of Islam: major writings of Kalim Siddiqui, London and Toronto: The Open Press, 1996.

[10] Kalim Siddiqui, ‘The Islamic movement: setting out to change the world again’, op. cit., p. 144.