The Historical Perspective
Background of the Formation of the Jamaat
On the initiative of Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi seventy-five persons assembled at Lahore in August 1941 and organized themselves into a group, known as the Jamaat-e-Islami. Maulana Maudoodi was unanimously elected as its Amir (President). These persons hailed from every part of India and were drawn from all walks of life. There were among them Ulema (Muslim divines and savants) as well as university graduates, labourers, artisans and professional men.
Message of the Jamaat
Since its very inception the Jamaat addressed itself to all Indians irrespective of caste and creed. It appealed to all communities to eschew the path of violence and mutual hatred and to settle down to the task of building a Righteous Society on stable and abiding foundations.
Religion as the Basis of Life
The Jamaat advocated the cause of Religion. It recalled to the Indian mind the message and teachings of all the Prophets and Apostles who had appeared from time to time in the history of the world and had professed, practiced and preached the allegiance to God and His Commandments. It exhorted people to shed their narrow conception of Religion. Life, it argued, was an indivisible unity and Religion was a discipline that exercised its ennobling and sublimating influence over the entire gamut of human experience. The Jamaat-e-Islami persuaded people to study and understand Religion as it was professed, practiced and preached by its original messengers, the Prophets, rather than as interpreted and distorted by the political expediencies of history. Only in this way could they have a true vision of the all-pervading and assuaging role of religion. Studied in this way Religion assumes the status of the Guiding Principles which give direction to the whole activity of life.
The Islamic Ideology
Outlook on Man, Life and Universe
Islam is the ideology of the Jamaat. Its structure is based on its belief on the three-fold concepts of the Unity and Sovereignty of God, the Prophethood and the Life after Death. From these fundamentals of belief follow the concepts of unity of all mankind, the purposiveness of man’s life and the Universality of the way of life taught by the Holy Prophet.
Unity and Sovereignty of God
According to Islam this world and everything that is in it has been created by the One God. He alone is the Creator and Sustainer of life in all its forms. Not only this; He is the Ruler and the Sovereign, and as Omniscient possesses the sole prerogative, absolute privilege and unfettered right of giving laws to mankind, through Prophets, to regulate the entire mundane activity of man. He has bestowed upon man all faculties and powers, and provided for his needs in the form of goods and services, it is thus the duty of man, who is the vicegrent of God on earth, that he should not only worship God but also live his whole life according to His Law and render allegiance to Him, the Lord and the Sovereign.
Unity of Man
Since all men have been created by the One God, and owe allegiance to Him alone, they are all equal subjects and servants of the Lord. There is no superiority in race and blood. Whoever is God-fearing, pure and pious is the best. Differences of nationality, race, colour and language do not divide men into separate entities; their essential oneness remains intact. Artificial divisions, geographical or otherwise, are mere matters of convenience. They should not be allowed to stand in the way of mutual understanding, respect and cooperation between man and man. Besides, as the children of Adam, the first Prophet (Peace be on him!), all men belong to the same Family.
God, Who has provided for every need of man, has not been indifferent to man’s most pressing need-that of true guidance. For this purpose, since the dawn of creation, He sent His Messengers, i.e. Prophets and Apostles, to guide and instruct man into the true way of life. These Messengers appeared at different stages of human history and in different regions of the world. Everywhere they preached the same Message. The Last Messenger of God who bore the Guidance in its most complete and final form was Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him!).
Universality of the Islamic Way of Life
The way of life which Prophet Muhammad taught mankind has thus been universal in character. It is by no means a property of those who are Muslims by birth. It is a Religion for all mankind, sent by the One God, Who is the Lord of them all. It is through faithful acceptance of the Message and sincere and whole-hearted adherence to it in practice that a man becomes true Muslim (i.e. submissive to God) and not by the mere accident of birth.
Life after Death
Life does not end on this planet; this earthly tenure is not the final phase of the human adventure. On the Resurrection Day man will have to appear before God and render an account of his conduct in this world. He will be rewarded or punished accordingly.
The Methodology And The Organisational Set-up
Aims and Objects
The aims and objects of the Jamaat-e-Islami have been explicitly stated in its Constitution.
“The objective of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is Iqaamat-e-Deen1, the real motive of which is solely the achievement of Divine pleasure and success in the Hereafter.
“Explanation: The word “Deen” in the term “Iqammat-e-Deen” means that true Deen which Allah, the Lord of the worlds, has been sending through all His prophets in different ages and different lands and which He revealed in its final and perfect form for the guidance of all men, through His Last Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him!), and which is now in the world the only authentic, pristine Deen, and one which is acceptable to Allah, and the name of which is Islam.
“This Deen encompasses the exterior and the interior of man as well as all individual and collective aspects of his life. There is not even a single aspect of human life ranging from beliefs, rituals and morals to economic, social and political aspects which may be beyond its pale.
“Just as this Deen ensures for Divine pleasure and success in the Hereafter, it is also the best system of life for the proper solution of worldly problems; and righteous and progressive reconstruction of individual and social life is possible only through its establishment.
“Iqaamat of this Deen means that it, in its entirety and without exercising any discrimination or division should be sincerely followed, and followed, single-mindedly. It should be so enforced and given effect to in all aspects of human life, individual as well as corporate that the development of the individual, the reconstruction of society and the formation of the State should all conform to this very Deen.
“The ideal and the best practical example of the Iqaamat of this Deen is that which was set up by Hazrat Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him!) and the rightly guided Caliphs (May the Exalted Allah be pleased with them all!)”
1. It is very difficult to give an English equivalent of the term “Iqaamat-e-Deen”. It may, however, be rendered as the Establishment, Realization or Pursuit of Religion ‘Religion’,’Way of Life’, or ‘System of Belief and Action’, are however, a very imperfect rendering of the word ‘Deen’