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Page last edited on 23 April, 2003

The Misunderstood Path 

Sayyid Qutb

There is a primary and simple fact about the religion of Islam and the manner of its operation in the life of mankind, which, for all its simplicity, is frequently forgotten or initially misunderstood. From forgetting or failing to comprehend it, there arises a serious error in examining the religion, both its essential nature and its historic reality, its present and its future. Some expect Islam, seeing that it is revealed by God, to operate in human life in a magical, extraordinary and incomprehensible manner. They expect it to operate without any regard for human nature, for the innate capacities and material realities of human life, in varying stages of human development and environments. 

However, they find that it does not operate in this manner at all, and that limited human abilities and the material realities of human existence interact with it. When they realise this, they encounter an unexpected disappointment, and their trust in the seriousness and reality of the religious way of life is damaged. They may even be afflicted by doubt concerning religion as such. Hence a whole series of errors arises from a single, fundamental error: misunderstanding this faith of Islam and its path, or neglect of this primary simple truth. 

The faith of Islam is a divinely-ordained path for human life. Its realisation in the life of mankind depends on the exertions of men themselves, within the limits of their human capacities and the material realities of human existence in a given environment. Working for this aim starts at the point where mankind finds itself on being given the necessary equipment, and it continues to the end of the path within the bounds of human capacities, insofar as these are put to work. 

A basic characteristic of Islam is this: that it never forgets for an instant, at any time or place, the nature of man and the limits of his capacities, nor does it neglect the material realities of his existence. Yet, at the same time, it causes him to attain - as has happened at various periods in the past and can always happen, if the necessary efforts are made - a higher point than that reached by any man-made system whatsoever. This is accomplished with ease, comfort, security and moderation. 

All error arises from misunderstanding or neglecting the nature of this faith, from expecting the occurrence of miracles of hidden origin, miracles which will transform the nature of man, pay no attention to his limited capacities, and have no regard for the material realities of his environment. 

Is Islam not revealed by God? And is not God Omnipotent? Why, then, does this faith operate only within the boundaries of restricted human abilities? Why should the results of its operation be affected by human weakness? Why is it not always triumphant, why are its adherents not always victorious? Why should its purity, its elan, on occasion be overcome by weakness, by the passions, by material realities? Why do the wrong sometimes triumph over the righteous, the adherents of this faith? 

All these represent questions and doubts, and all arise in the first place from misunderstanding or neglect of the primary nature of this faith and its mode of operation. 

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Last updated on 13 March, 2003

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Hate Hurts. Love Cures. Conjecture Fails. Truth Prevails.
Islam - Bearing witness to the Truth
Seek Understanding from Knowledge/ Information
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