The foundational moment of revival begins when we become conscious of the need to stand before the threshold of knowledge. When the human being struggles (mujahada) to traverse the path to overcome ignorance (jahil) in its various manifestations then revival (tajdid) begins, life is restored. The Prophetic model teaches us that knowledge, to be effective, must be accompanied by an “adaptive and radical change.” By definition an “adaptive change” is a radical but gradual transformation of attitude and behavior and purpose. So the reality of this change is one of being wherein life is reoriented and tied into “the ultimate purposes” (al maqasid al-kubra) of Shar’iah purposes defined and outlined by the Qur’an and clarified by the Sunnah (the Book of revelation) and indicated to by the Universe (the Book of the Universe) of which man is an integral part.
A transformation of understanding (fahm) is not only a transformation of intellectual perception. Rather, a transformation of understanding is one of consciousness and further a “re-formation of character” which entails a restructuring of habits and custom. Habits are varied. There are habits of the intellect, habits of the heart, habits peculiar to the self and social habits, the later manifest within the construct and practice of custom. Regardless of whether we are concerned with the habit of the heart or those of the intellect or those of the limbs revival is that habit in all its diversity comes in accord with the overarching values and realities of Shar’iah. Revival then is that process of education, formation and cultivation which transforms the individual so that he or she reflects (incarnates) the purposes of the Shar’iah. What we gather about revival upon a study of the biographies and works of the sages and Imams of Islam is that revival is a science i.e., and activity that has principles, parameters, ends and spiritual dispositions that must be in effect.
When we compliment our study of the Prophetic biography (seerah) with the study of the biographies and works of the Sages and Imams of Islam we begin to uncover the manner in which transformation is capable of being realized. Revival in the Prophetic narrative reaches back to the Cave of Hira, or the threshold of knowledge wherein humanity stood between an existence of ignorance (al-jahilliyah al-kubra) and a way of life that was in sync with the purposes of existence as intended by Allah (swt). The Cave of Hira is a radical moment for it was a moment in which what Karl Jaspers calls “the Axial age” came to a close, Islam was proclaimed the last revelation and a way of life, Universal, to be inclusive of all of humanity. The Sages and Imams of Islam have aimed to re-activate those very principles which challenged humanity to cross the threshold of knowledge and to come to be as a community of brothers.
Revival begins with the transformation of the self, an empting of the self, and then learning will take place and knowledge will overcome ignorance. -”I’am illiterate”, is what the Prophet told Jibril in the Cave of Hira after empting himself of ego before Allah and it was here that Allah began to teach humanity in the person of Muhammad. Adaptive change is the end of revival effort anything short of that is deceptive if it is to be called an effort of revival.
Rabbi Aghfir Li Wa Arhamni Fi Inni Kuntu Min adh Dhalimeen