Islam is the final religion laid down by God.
Till the Doomsday, the guidance and salvation of man are dependent upon it. Till then it has to stay for man’s worldly and other worldly guidance. Its beliefs and truths are unchangeable and its instructions and commandments are irrevocable and unaltera- ble. Not only its Shariat, but its culture and civilization are based on truths. At the same time it is also true that life is a conti- nuous movement and development and changes and alterations take place in it. This is not its defect but a quality, it is not a departure from nature but is natural. It goes on changing its outer garment, languages, ways of thinking, reasons and causes inciting inner conflicts, the methods and means employed for their satisfaction, questions arising internally and their answers all go on changing.
In such a contradictory state when life is ephemeral and amenable to changes and truth and religion are eternal and permanent, it becomes incumbent upon the faithful, the inter- preters and the exponents of religion to so interpret and explain it in the light of the eternal truths and beliefs that the hearts of the new generations are thrilled with renewed faith and their minds accept willing obedience. Hazrat Ali has very wisely said, “Converse with people according to the state of their intellectual capacity and mental development. Do you want them to resile
from the truths of God and His Apostle by conversing with them at a level unintelligible to them.””
This was kept in view by all the great protagonists of Islam, the great savants and stalwarts of the various ages. We can mention the names of Imam Abul Hasan Ash’ari, Imam Abu Mansur Maturidi, Imam Ghazali, Imam Fakhruddin Razi, Saikh-ul-Islam Ibn Tamiya, the saint Rumi Maulana Jalaluddin of Konya, Hakim-ul-Islam Shah Waliullah of Delhi who discharged this obligation in various ways according to the
needs of their times.
But this task is as delicate and difficult as it is essential. Great care has to be taken that the exposition and interpretation, the simplification and elaboration, the picture and facsimile are so carefully and nicely put forward that those of the new gene- ration or groups who are to be acquainted with or to be convinced of basic truths and beliefs or who are to be utilised for propa- gation and establishment of religion do not lose that Islamic temper which was the distinguishing mark of the Prophets” preachings or their proliferation by the companions and was transmitted to succeeding generations. It has to be ensured that their thinking and efforts do not leave the tracks established by the august body as happened in the histories of religions or schism of Islam. This catastrophe takes place only once in the history of religions but when it does take place there is nothing to atone for it. The right religious temper is a divine gift and is the fruit of His assistance which is a distinguishing mark of prophet- hood. It is the most valuable treasure, the finest patrimony of the Ummat and in it lies its greatest strength and vitality and it has to be most diligently and scrupulously guarded. This temper can be spoiled but it cannot be restored without the help of prophetic preachings, the guidance of his instructions, and the
impact of pious and saintly company and training. Decadence of Islamic spirit or deflection from it cannot be steadied and atoned by even great governmental authorities, political powers and organisations.
Because of the capable handling of this great and delicate task of interpretation and exposition in every age, there is not that wide gulf between this generation and Islamic beliefs, values and appreciation as has repeatedly arisen in the history of Christianity and Judaism between the educated and intelligent followers of those faiths and the teachings of the two religions. Initially this sector turned away in dissatisfaction from the teachings of the Bible and then it rose up in open revolt and in both the religions, irreligiosity and atheism raised their heads on an extensive scale which recoiled upon the world. In Islamic history the great exponents of religion – did not allow such an eventuality to occur and the intellectual and philosophical links of the Unimat with Islamic beliefs and principles remained unbroken. On the contrary, they gained strength and tenacity in every age so that the community had never to face a predicament, like the Parsis and Hindus, that they stuck to religious and social customs but doubted and despaired of the ability of their religion to stand to intellectual analysis and to meet the challenges of the times and to helplessly let veils of superstitions and ignorance remain hanging over their religions to prevent exposure to rays of enlightenment for their own safety. The community should generously acknowledge the services of the interpreters and commentators of Islam and feel grateful to them that they saved it from the rivalry of learning and religion and the mortal conflict between the two which the world of middle ages witnessed in Christendom and about which the great American scholar John William Draper wrote his outstanding book, Conifer between Religion and Science
The useful and auspicious work of exposition and inter- pretation continued in every age, by grace of God, through such dialecticians, commentators and exponents of Islam who diligently and successfully discharged their responsibility. Side by side, there were always present in the community learned men who themselves knew the real spirit of Din and Shariat and could feel the pulse of the new generations. They kept a critical eye on the contemporary interpretation and exposition to ensure that it did not outstep the patent path laid down by the Holy Prophet and that the current temper was not out of tune with the religion that has to serve as an ideal and standard till the end of the world. While fully appreciating the work of inter- pretation and without doubting the intentions of the interpreters, they gave expression to their candid opinions and pointed out mistakes and improprieties whenever they noticed them. They did not let the fame and popularity and high stations of the thinkers and men of knowledge and letters nor even their piety and sanctity to stand in the way and expressed their own views and reactions sincerely and in a balanced and dispassionate manner. The great scholars, thinkers and interpreters welcomed. without any constraint, the assessments of the sincere critics and utilised their suggestions to make their own efforts more useful, balanced and meaningful. From the very beginning of Islam there is a continuous chain of such servants and supporters of Shariat and according to the prophecy of a tradition it will continue till the end of the world. The Tradition says, “there will be in every age such just and righteous heirs and bearers of this learning who will continue removing the distortions intro- duced by men prone to exaggerations, spurious claims and presentations of the wicked and far-fetched explanations of the ignorant.”
The existence of both the groups is necessary. In their