Language : English
Publisher : Arafat Publications, Delhi, 1934
In the past, many a people have lamented on the lost glory of the Muslims; they have gone on to analyze the causes of decay and prescribe solutions to revive the much yearned splendor of the lands of Islam. The book ‘Islam on the Cross Roads’ is one such attempt that intellectually presents the message that the common Muslim cleric conveys simply as the return to the Prophetic system (Nizam-i-Mustafa). One feature that differentiates Muhammad Asad’s attempt from the others is the rich perspective he provides as a revert to Islam. Knowing the western mind by birth, Muslim thoughts through travel in Arab and non-Arab lands and philosophic and psychological views through university like experience, the author presents such a rich work as deserves to be thoroughly read and digested.
At the time this book was written, colonial powers had subdued the Islamic world politically, economically and more so intellectually and morally. Missionaries had their reins loose busy proselytizing where once they would not have dared set foot upon. The lands where once children would quote Plato were reduced to a state wherein now only the privileged afforded the luxury of education. Moreover, the instructions imparted for example in British India delineated the merits of cold climate for higher thought or geographical location for progress. Here political systems were juggled with and economic systems crippled under hypocritical dictates on ‘free trade’.
Author and Audience
To gain a better understanding of any book, it is important to realize the motivation behind the work and the audience to which the work is targeted. In our case, this is easily provided in the foreword rendered by the author
Islam as a spiritual and a social phenomenon is still in spite of all the drawbacks caused by the deficiencies of the Muslims, by far the greatest driving force mankind has ever experienced; and all my interests became, since then, centred around the problem of its regeneration.1
It is not written for those with whom Islam is the only one of the many, more or less useful, accessories to social life; but rather for those in whose hearts still lives a spark of flame which burned in the Companions of the Prophet.