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Muslims that conspired with British? Syeikh Jamaluddin al-Afhgani & Syeikh Muhammad Abduh?

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful

Okay, so today I’m going to write about something that’s a bit boring for some; which is history. But this is not just ‘history’ as in ‘his story’, it is actually going to be something very relevant to us even till today the end of our lives.

Did Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani conspire with the British? There are some who say yes and there are some who say no.

Do you remember about the well-known Muslim reformist thinkers that we learnt in form 5 in Pendidikan Islam (Islamic Education) ? Yes, yes, Syeikh Jamaluddin al-Afhghani and his student Syeikh Muhammad Abduh.  They both called for Muslims to return to the Quran and to not follow Islam blindly or just nodding at every thing the ulama says without referring to the Quran. They are also well-known for their resistance towards colonization. I myself admire their way of thinking.

They were reformist scholars during the 20th century, when British colonised Egypt, and Britain was trying hard to overthrow the Ottoman Empire to replace it with governments in the Middle East that will help them in their long goal to achieve world domination.

The question that comes to my mind: why is it that only these these two scholars are mentioned in our Pendidikan Islam textbook today?  Why is Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last Ottoman caliphate, not mentioned? He strived so hard to unite the Muslim ummah under one Islam administration and to protect the Ottoman empire. He was then overthrown and exiled. 

Sultan Abdul Hamid II held off the Zionists and contributed a lot during the last years of the Ottoman caliphate.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II held off the Zionists and contributed a lot during the last years of the Ottoman caliphate.
ahmad al-fatani
Syeikh Ahmad al-Fatani

Where is Sheikh Ahmad al-Fattani? Sheikh.. what? Who is that dude? Yeah you see we never even heard about him because he has never been mentioned, not even once in school textbooks although he has contributed a lot to Muslims during the 20th century.

Yusuf al-nabhani
Syeikh Yusuf al-Nabhani

Where is Syeikh Yusuf al-Nabhani? Yeah, who is that dude? Do you know that this dude represented the traditional ulama and he criticized Muhammad Abduh for conspiring with British?

Whoa! Al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh were criticised by the traditional ulama? Yeah, we never learnt that at school too. 

Well, of course they were. Everyone, good or bad, must have been criticized. But should we dismiss the criticisms of the traditional ulama towards al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, just because they were just…. criticisms?

The truth is, Muhammad Abduh Jamaluddin al-Afghani had very close relations to the British. Muhammad Abduh was very friendly and he had been meeting with Lord Cromer and Blunt from 1881- 1905. That’s very strange since British, the colonizer, would never allow any pure Islamic uprise to ever happen. Strangely, Muhammad Abduh and the British were very close.

In fact, al-Afghani believed that reformation in the Muslim ummah must be done by following the advancement of time, including following the British in science and technology. This means following their secular economy system, their secular educational system and their secular political system. This gives some basis for the criticisms towards Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani.

Example of secular education: Darwin's Theory of Evolution that claims evolution doesn't involve God but only 'Natural Selection'
Example of secular education: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution that claims evolution doesn’t involve God but only ‘Natural Selection’

Were Muhammad Abduh and Syed Jamaluddin al-Afghani conspiring with British? Is that the reason why only their names are known to us today? There those who say ‘yes’ and there are those who say ‘no’.

In his book, Syawahid al-Haqq, Syeikh Yusuf al-Nabhani claims that Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani are working together with the British and are supporting the aspirations of the British. With that, Muslims would support British and begin to accept their secular way of living (deen), because they look up to British as a ‘developed’ nation in science and technology; and also importantly because there are Muslims scholars themselves that support British.

Besides, it was even documented in 1999 that Jamaluddin al-Afghani, and Muhammad Abduh were members of the Freemason organisation in the service of British Government, through their membership in the Oxford freemasons movement established for the purpose of creating Salafi movement in outside Britain under the freemason control which was established by Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Secular Turkey was established after the fall the Ottoman Empire
Secular Turkey was established after the fall 
the Ottoman Empire

The British agenda began to unfold when Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last Ottoman caliph, was overthrown and exiled, the British replaced the empire with secular Turkey and mounted Mustafa Kemal Attaturk as the hero and ‘father of modernization’. Sultan Abdul Hamid II on the other hand is forgotten. Same goes to Syeikh Ahmad Al-Fatani, who we never heard about him.

Same thing in Egypt, the state was secularised and the name changed from Misr to Egypt. Misr is in the Quran. British put Egypt because it refers to the golden age of the Pharaoh. 

Same goes to other countries including Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, UAE, Brunei, and my country; Malaysia. All of them were secularised, and forced to accept their way of life (English law, English economy, English education). If not obviously, then subtly. This is what I call ‘fake independence‘.

Territories colonized by the cunning British Empire
Territories colonized by the cunning British Empire

Since those who controls the present controls the past, those who sincerely fought for Islam were forgotten. Sultan Abdul Hamid II was forgotten. Syed Nursi Badiuzzaman was forgotten. In Malaya, Syeikh Ahmad al-Fattani was forgotten. Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmy was forgotten, and so many other names that were supposed to be remembered but not remembered. These are the people who gave zero tolerance to the British. Only those who are in favour of the British are remembered, like Mustafa Kemal Attaturk. Were Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani in favour of the British too?

I don’t want to say that Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani are traitors of Islam. It could be that their intention was pure, or they were just pretending to be good to British.  Maybe they were framed. Maybe they got stuck to follow Cromer and Blunt and finally they got framed.

Anyway, whether they are true fighters or traitors, that is for Allah to judge. What is most important now we learn from them: that we shouldn’t trust our enemies. Who are our enemies? That’s why Allah clearly said in the Quran: 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۘ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for allies; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

Allah told us not to take Jews and Christians that are allied to each other, as our own allies (Jews that are not helping Christians and Christians that aren’t helping Jews, it is okay to be friends with them). What Syeikh Muhammad Abduh and Syeikh Jamaluddin al-Afghani did was a mistake- which is befriending the British. ‘Christians’ in the verse above clearly refers to British, as they are secular Christians and they were the ones who helped the Jews to establish the haram state of Israel in the Holy Land since 1948.

All former British colonies achieved independence by being friends with British. We should learn from this because:

1)What they did contradicted the Quran

2)Islam had not rise, but only fell harder after their times.

I hope all of us learnt something beneficial here. As George Santayana said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Thank you for reading!

1. Mat Rofa Ismail (2015) “Kerdipan Bintang Melayu di Langit Turki

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