Islamic Teaching and Remembrance method for common Muslim mass

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Popular method of Zikr and Ta'allum
(Teaching and Remembrance method for common mass)

Maulana Mohammad Ilyas gave a general call of Zikr and Ta'allum to the Muslims, but in his scheme of things, these terms possessed a special significance. Throughout India, or, rather, the Islamic World there are in vogue some definite prayer-formulas for Zikr and a special course of study is prescribed for the Madrassas. Gradually, Zikr and Ta'allum have become so institutionalised that to observe or pursue them outside the traditional design is considered inconceivable. The Maulana held a revolutionary idea in these matters as well. He felt that while the established order was necessary, only a few persons could profit by it. The general body of Muslims could make little or no progress in Zikr and knowledge within a limited period of time.
After a deep study of the life-record of the holy compa­nions, the Maulana had concluded that the method which was followed during the early phase of Islam was the most natural way for the education and instruction of the Ummat. About Zikr he felt that it would be a grave folly to neglect it, yet, at the same time, he was sure that it should not be confined to the repetition of a few set prayer-formulas. To bear in mind the rules and principles laid down for various walks and circumstan­ces of life and to abide by them at each step was the sum and essence of God-remembrance, and the main task lay in reviving, in the Ummat, the spirit of Iman and Ihtisab. All the same, it was, also, necessary to include vocal Zikr in the plan of Tabligh. He wrote:
"Believing Tabligh to be an easy and unfailing means of seeking the countenance of the Lord, keep yourselves engaged in this task, carrying out Zikr much and often and making earnest entreaties to Him, with the head bent low in genu­flexion. Tell others, also, to do the same. Remembrance of God and supplication are the essence of Tabligh."
 As for education, the Maulana believed that to confine it to books and Madrassas was to exclude a large section of the Ummat from acquiring it. Only a small minority of Muslims would be able to profit by it, and that, too, only intellectually. The direct method through which the masses could acquire not only religious knowledge but, also, realise its inner reality without the usual paraphernalia was that of personal contact, associa­tion and congregation and active  participation  in religious effort and coming out of one's traditional environment. Just as language and good manners were learnt best in the company of men of culture and education, in the same way correct know­ledge of religion was acquired in the company of and close asso­ciation with men of Faith and piety. Faith was a living and dynamic thing while books were lifeless and devoid of feeling and spirit, and to obtain the animate from the inanimate was contrary to the law of nature. A part of the Faith was related to the limbs and it could be acquired only by moving the limbs, and a part of it was related to the heart which could be trans­mitted only from one heart to another and a part of it was related to mind and this could be gained, of course, by reading the books. As he said:
"Every limb of a man has a function to perform. The eye is meant for seeing and it must do that. It cannot be used for hearing. In the same way, it is the function of the heart to react to the surroundings, and the mind gives a definite form to what the heart feels. Mind is governed by the heart and feeling is produced in the heart by external environment, and the giving of form to it is called know­ledge. The mind will form the correct image, i. e., acquire knowledge only when the response of the heart is correct and this is not possible through the books. It can be produced only by action. I do not say that the Madrassas should be closed down. The Madrassas are for the perfection of edu­cation, but they are not sufficient for the elementary and basic education of all Muslims."(Only 5% of Muslims can join the formal system of Madarsa)
Another thing needed for the advancement of education was to share with others the knowledge one had acquired. To put it in Maulana's own words:
"Know that a scholar cannot make progress in learning until he imparts what he has learnt to those who are inferior to him in knowledge, particularly to those who are on the borderline of Apostasy."