The Value of Reading
My Dear brothers & sisters in Islam, Assalamu Aleykum Wa Rahmatullah,
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“لقد من الله على المؤمنين اذ بعث فيهم رسولا من أنفسهم يتلو عليهم آياته و يزكيهم و يعلمهم الكتاب و الحكمة و ان كانوا من قبل لفى ضلال مبين” سورة 3 آية 164
One of the most important aspects of our faith Islam is to understand, deeply love and most closely emulate the character of the Prophet – MUHAMMAD. This aspect of our faith is manifested when we pronounce Shahada —It consists of two inseparable parts. That Allah is one and that Prophet Muhammad is His last Prophet and Messenger.
Unfortunately, because of the heat of major challenges facing the Muslims we find that emulating the Prophet (s) stops at trying to copy his image; i.e. the way he looked without focusing on the way he behaved as he applied the Qur’aan to his character and his way of living. Many of us, especially those proclaimed leaders and Imams of the Muslims forget to teach the average Muslim to express his/her love of the Prophet by emulating his character.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“لقد كان لكم فى رسول الله أسوة حسنة لمن كان يرجو الله و اليوم الآخر و ذكر الله كثيرا” سورة 33 – آية 21
و عندما سؤلت السيدة عائشة – زوجة الرسول – ص – عن خلقه قالت ” كان خلقه القرآن”
Michael Hart, who was born in a Christian family, in his book “The 100, New York, 1978” chose Muhammad (s) to be at the top of his list followed by Newton and Jesus. He states: “He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both religious and secular levels.
Within 100 years this evolution of the Islamic System and model Ummah started by the Prophet Muhammad (s) has caused the decline and then the vanquishing of the Persian “Sassanian” and the Byzantine Empires. Islam swept through:
- From Iran and Iraq to Bukhara, Uzbekistan in the east then to China and many other Asian lands, to
- Syria / Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and then North Africa to the West, to
- Spain, and many European lands
Before Prophet Muhammad (s), people of uncivilized Arabia used to ride Camels, lived as nomads and their most recognized business was Poetry – Mushaa’arah – and trading. In 100 years Baghdad became the center of the Civilized World.
I have been raking my brain and asking: In a world that existed over 1,400 years ago with no radio, no TV and no radio & TV correspondents, no telephone and cellular phones, no fax machines, no copiers, no e-mail, no internet and other facilities we enjoy today how Islam spread that fast.
What was the Secret? Why the Prophet (S) and his trained successors and followers were so successful in capturing people’s imagination and becoming the leaders of the world?
First of all let me convey an important message of hope: “What is happening to the Muslims today is because what was not done in the many generations before us. I am sincerely optimistic about the future because what is being done today and was done in the past 40 years is yielding wonderful positive results that inshaa Allah will change not only the fortunes of the Muslims in America but also all people Muslims & non-Muslims in the world inshaa Allah.”
We need to remember and never forget that Islamic transformation, which was started in the age of the press, ensuring the preservation of the Qur’aan at all times, opened up new unexplored opportunities for the human race:
- It brought the age of democracy and freedom of speech to the world, and
- It helped make new discoveries possible in the world of science enabling man to use his most valuable gift, the mind and intellect, to seek religious truth and explore scientific phenomena to raise the standard and quality of life for all people.
Research on the evolution of the Islamic System & Ummah under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad that captured the imagination of the Arabs and the world and changed the course of world history was achieved at the cost of 1018 lives over a period of 23 years! Here are the facts:
- Number of Military Defense Expeditions: 80, the Prophet participated in some 27 of them and a small number did not even involve any fighting.
- Number of Muslims who died in battle 259, and
- Number of non-Muslims – mostly pagans – was 759.
Contemporary Muslim writers and speakers point with pride to the fact that this number is dwarfed by:
- The 13 million who died during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the 20 million killed by Stalin,
- The thousands who were killed in the French Revolution and the Thousands who died in the American Civil war, and
- The thousands killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We Muslims like these comparisons because it gratifies our pride. However, there is another comparison that many of us, Muslims, are silent about. That is the number of people who died in Islamic liberation efforts over the years and what was achieved? Of course no one wants the pain of such an admonishing fact but it is important to remember it and reflect on it. The 20th Century has seen grand “Islamic” revolutionary movements, great “holy wars” in the Muslim world. Here is the cost:
- Two and a half million dead in the Algerian War of Liberation and independence
- 500,000 martyrs in the Indian freedom struggle and East Pakistan – now Bangladesh,
- 10 million lives lost in the formation of the Muslim state of Pakistan, and
- Millions of people who died for Islam in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and various other countries.
And for all these sacrifices very little was realized!
Yet, at the cost of 1018 lives, the effect of the Prophet’s revolution was felt the world over while the “Islamic “ movements of modern times, on the other hand, cannot point to even a small success or achievement.
When the Prophet (s) was commissioned to become the final prophet and messenger of God to bring to the world Allah / God last message that includes all God’s prior messages to mankind – The Holy Qur’aan – Arabia was simply uncivilized and the situation in Arabia was so discouraging. Here is a summary:
- The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer and slavery was the order of the day,
- The most fertile lands and border settlements of Arabia was occupied by the Byzantine / Romans and by the Persian Sassanites, and
- The Kaabaa – the first house ever built to worship and glorify Allah – God – was full of over 370 idols,
Allah (subhanau) could have revealed to Prophet Muhammad:
- Ya Muhammad – Start a social revolution by which assets are taken from the rich and given to the poor….but He almighty did not do that!
- Ya Muhammad – prepare a popular uprising to liberate the lands of Arabia from the occupiers …did He do that? The answer is no!
- Ya Muhammad – start a military campaign and fight the unbelieving pagans in order to recapture the Kaabaa and clean it out of the idols…did he do that? The answer is no!
We all know what the first revelation was:
“Chapter 96 – Al-Alaq – Iqr’aa”
Based on this, I started a small research on the reading habits of the Muslims and here is what I discovered:
Muslims cannot even read because many (over 70%) of the 1.2 billion – we boast about are illiterate – they cannot read & they cannot write,
Muslims who know how to read & write – DO NOT READ!! WE ARE NOT EDUCATED!
- There are 57 member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), and all of them put together have around 500 universities; one university for every three million Muslims. The United States has 5,758 universities and India has 8,407. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’, and intriguingly, not one university from Muslim-majority states was in the top-500.
- Some 98 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world had completed primary school, while less than 50 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same. Around 40 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world attended university while no more than two per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same.
- Muslim-majority countries have 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The US has 4,000 scientists per million and Japan has 5,000 per million. In the entire Arab world, the total number of full-time researchers is 35,000 and there are only 50 technicians per one million Arabs (in the Christian world there are up to 1,000 technicians per one million). Furthermore, the Muslim world spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, while the Christian world spends around five per cent of its GDP.
- Oil rich Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $500 billion; Spain alone produces goods and services worth over $1 trillion, Catholic Poland $489 billion and Buddhist Thailand $545 billion (Muslim GDP as a percentage of world GDP is fast declining).
- The average number of books published per million in the Arab world is approximately 30 (0.7%), compared to about 212 in the US and 584 in Europe.
- The average number of copies printed of a “best seller book” – outside the Holy Qur’aan is, 7000 to 10,000 copies compared to almost 225,000 copies sold in one week for Mrs. Clinton Book and over 2.5 million of Harry Potter sold in one night.
- Daily newspapers per 1,000 people and number of book titles per million are two indicators of whether knowledge is being diffused in a society. In Pakistan, there are 23 daily newspapers per 1,000 Pakistanis while the same ratio in Singapore is 360. In the UK, the number of book titles per million stands at 2,000 while the same in Egypt is 20.
- As for the Arab world: the average Arab reads ½ hour per year or the equivalent of ½ page per year as compared to the average American at 11 books per year and the average British at 7 books per year!!
Conclusion: the Muslim world lacks the capacity to: Produce, Diffuse, and Apply KNOWLEDGE.
My second reminder message to me, my family and each one of us – especially the mothers – is to PLEASE train your children the habit of reading from the youngest age possible.
* This khutbah was delivered at Masjid Al Falah, Singapore on March 09, 2007. Dr. Yahia Abdul-Rahman is from Whittier, CA 90603, USA and may be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 626-818-0855. He regularly contributes to these websites as well: www.lariba.com, www.whittierbank.com, www.lariba.com.eg, www.islam-in-usa.com