The Muslim Mind on Trial

Divine Revelation versus Secular Rationalism

by Abdessalam Yassine

Translated from the Arabic by Muhtar Holland
Published in January 2003 in USA

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Table of content

Translator’s Foreword
Author’s Introduction
Metaphor and Reality
From and toward the Mosque
A Birth . . . and a Birth
The Sovereignty of Revelation and the Sovereignty of the Arena
What Is Revelation?
Purification and Teaching
O Human Being!
Which Education?
The Night of Devotion and the Day of Business
Ritual Purity
The Ritual Prayer
The Flavor of Faith
The Protective Embrace of Islam
The Medicine of Revelation and the Healing Power of Prophecy
A Globe and an Orbit
Islam: Religion of Community
Stations and a Race
The Dangers of Disengagement
The Training of Missionaries
The Profession of Nursing the Sick
The Commerce of this World and the Hereafter
Two Incentives: A Duty and a Right
The Emanation of Noble Virtues
Human Dignity
A History and a Record
Two Clashes
Coming Back Home!
Dumps . . . and Dumps
Comparison . . . and a Comparison
Some of their Virtues
The Mirror of our Faults
Shunning the Profession
A Rotten Civilization
God’s Custom in History
The Kernel of History
The Qur’anic Key
The Liberation of the Muslim Mind
Notes

Key questions addressed by the book

  • What has Revelation to do with the mind and the liberation of the mind?
  • How are contentment and tranquility achieved?
  • What Is Revelation?
  • Which Education?
  • By what means can a Muslim remain muslim, mu’min and muhsin?
  • How shall I change what is in myself and repent, so that God will relent toward me?
  • Will the medicine of Revelation and the remedial treatment of Prophecy be effective in curing it [the rebellious mind] from its contaminating insanity?
  • How can the conscience of Muslims meet with the morality of men and women of integrity and good will in the world?
  • How is the hand of truthfulness to be extended among all those who are virtuous and free?
  • What are we? Where are we going? Whence do we come?
  • Who will let you concentrate on yourself and remember your Lord and your meeting with Him?
  • How can faith be renewed and the mind reawakened?
  • Why have Muslims fallen behind while others have advanced?

Translator’s forword

By Muhtar Holland

WHEN I FIRST EMBARKED on this translation of Imam Abdessalam Yassine’s The Muslim Mind on Trial, I was already convinced that the work would be of considerable interest and value to many English-speaking readers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. That was before the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001. Since that date, we have witnessed an astronomical increase in what amounts to hunger and thirst for knowledge and understanding of Islam. In the courtroom where the trial of the Muslim mind is being conducted, the public gallery is now jam-packed each day, and the session lasts around the clock. The proceedings are constantly broadcast by the media, so it is hard to turn on the radio or television without finding oneself involved in some aspect of the trial. Muslims from all walks of life are interviewed by reporters, in many countries and in various situations, in mosques and marketplaces, in homes and offices…. Panels of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars engage in discussions about Islamic beliefs and practices, the history of Islam and its relations with the West. Members of the public send in their questions and comments, by telephone, fax and e-mail. For authors of books on Islamic subjects, the advertising opportunities are unprecedented.
For obvious reasons, one question arises again and again and again, in private conversations and in public debates: “What is the truly Islamic view of terrorism?”
The reader is sure to wonder how Imam Yassine might answer that burning question. Let me therefore consult the work of a fellow translator, who clearly has close affinity with the Imam. Martin Jenni translated Imam Yassine’s Islamiser la modernité from French into English, under the title Winning the Modern World for Islam.1 In his Translator’s Foreword, he describes the Imam as “the inspired Qur’anic scholar and beloved teacher.” In a note to his Foreword, he explains what the author means by the term “Islamist:”

“Islamist”…names an observant Muslim, someone whose life source is islam in the sense of submission to God. Such persons may well strive for the creation of a society guided by this principle, but it is a grievous (and often intentionally vicious) misuse of the term to represent a religious fanatic or, worse still, terrorist.

In the media programs constantly aired these days, there is at least some recognition of the terrorism inflicted on Muslim peoples, in the form of ethnic cleansing, for instance. Imam Yassine is extremely forthright in his condemnation of such atrocities. In The Muslim Mind on Trial, the reader will find numerous passages to that effect, notably the following:

The modern age is in crisis. Let us not be deluded by what others have built, such as scientific skyscrapers strewn all around…. For them, the human being has no meaning except the egoism of the strong, the wasteful consumption of the wealthy, the pleasure of the rich and the death of the poor in the Somalia of starvation and civil war, or in the Bosnia of annihilation, savage slaughter and ethnic cleansing.

Does this mean that Muslims should respond by launching suicidal attacks against the skyscrapers of New York? Not according to Imam Yassine, for he goes on to say:

The Muslims are closely linked to the world as human beings…. We are the envoys of mercy, truth and justice for the world…. The choice of the free Muslim mind is that we should strive with all our efforts, so that, some day in the future if God will, we may lead the human caravan, while being fully aware of the content of our Message and duties toward human beings and all other creatures.

Let us now consider the book’s subtitle: Divine Revelation versus Secular Rationalism. Many readers are likely to be startled by his scathing disparagement of secular rationalism, while many will no doubt be mystified, at the outset, by the sovereignty assigned to Revelation (whatever that may be!). Where the latter is concerned, the chapter entitled What is Revelation? will surely prove invaluable. As for the sources and nuances of secular rationalism and its historical development, a splendidly succinct account of the “isms” is provided in the chapter headed Dumps . . . and Dumps. However scathing he may be in his description of those “dumps” heaped upon the Muslims, Imam Yassine cannot be accused of exempting them from responsibility for their sick and impoverished condition. In the chapter Comparison . . . and a Comparison, he lays that responsibility fairly and squarely on its fundamental cause:

Our illness is perpetuated and the servitude of our minds is reinforced, because we refuse to acknowledge our own faults. We take pleasure in criticizing others; we shy away from the duty of stern self-confrontation… [The human being] will not hear from us unless we remedy our faults, cure ourselves of our diseases and, through self-discipline first of all, gain virtues and strength.

At this point, I feel obliged to acknowledge my faults in rendering the author’s Arabic text into English. If those faults are fewer and less serious than they would otherwise have been, the credit is due to my Muslim brother in Morocco, Farouk Bouasse, whose editorial feedback has been invaluable, as well as to my dear wife Nuraisjah, who listened with amazing patience while I read and re-read my work-in-progress. I must also express my gratitude to my Muslim brother in Iowa, Imad Benjelloun, who has served as my international courier at every stage, and to my dear daughter Aisah, whose electronic skills have kept me in touch with Imad.
May God bless the author, Imam Abdessalam Yassine, and may He enable the Muslim mind to emerge from its trial with flying colors.