by Asif Salahuddin
The year 1905 is rarely considered a milestone year when looking back at the events that shaped the twentieth century, but it was in this year that political aspirations fuelled by a new ideology, that had been gaining momentum over the last few decades, finally boiled over in Russia, a country that would cast its shadow globally for almost the entire century.
The mercantilism of eighteenth century Europe gradually had transformed into a mechanised form of industrial scale, giving way to large scale capitalism by the time the nineteenth century was in full swing.
For the first time production and the corresponding goal of profiteering was being undertaken rampantly and without limitations, producing in its wake a super rich elite crust of society, whilst the rest, despite pouring their laborious efforts into the endless grinds of the assembly line and farmlands, remained confronted with the twin specters of poverty and starvation.
In response was born a counter thought, presenting a revolutionary approach regarding the ownership of wealth production and the manner in which this capital would flow across society.
Karl Max, along with his financier Frediech Engels, would be largely credited with giving birth to this new creed of Socialism in the mid nineteenth century, although many thinkers, academics, social reformers and even industrialists, would also steer the shape which this Socialist school of thought – that espoused wealth from any form of production should be common to all – would eventually take.
Despite contributions from across the major European countries of the time, the idea of Socialism remained largely confined to the drawing boards of aspiring revolutionaries, until finally this idea resonated amongst the worker classes of Tsarist Russia, giving them a new found impetus to confront the age old status quos that had kept them shackled in poverty.
Thus in 1905, political uprisings broke out in Russia amongst the labouring classes; railway workers, factory workers, farmers, even reaching sections of the armed forces, against the imperialist rule of the royal family and political establishment.
The result was a bloodbath in which tens of thousands were killed and the revolution just about put down by the authorities, who managed to conserve their grip on the levers of power and continue with their hold on society. However the idea that fuelled revolt amongst the masses refused to dissipate and rather continued to gain momentum amongst thinkers and activists in the country.
Finally 12 years later, when the political leadership was in a state of weakness and fluidity, did this radical thought for shaping society finally bear fruition on the back of the October revolution of 1917 that swept into power the Bolshevik party with Vladimir Lenin as its head. Thus the framework for the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics was born.
Almost a 100 years later history is repeating itself, in the sense that a radical idea has swept across vast swathes of land that have been under oppression for generations, embracing and activating people from all walks of life, to channel their energies into working for a complete political transformation of their societies.
When Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated himself in December 2010 on a street in Tunisia, he would have no idea that his lone outburst against hegemonic rule would unleash an outpouring of pent up resentment and yearning for the return of an Islamic system across the Middle East.
What followed was unprecedented as citizens of many Arab states revolted en masse against established dictatorial rule. The pounding which these regimes undertook was substantial, various despots toppled under pressure, many thousands were killed during the uprisings and, specifically in Syria, the upheaval has given way to a fully fledged armed revolution against the state, that has resulted in the butchery of an estimated 130,000 people by the minority Alawite regime led by the Assad family.
Despite such seismic shifts in the political landscape, and a raw emotional drive to see through the return of the Khilafah ruling system, the legacy left by the Prophet Muhammad as the first ruler of an Islamic state, the secular framework governing the length and breadth of the Arab world has held – just about – and that to almost entirely because of the external Western support received by the regimes from the USA, UK, France, Russia etc.
Even though these Middle Eastern regimes have held as the Arab Spring subsides, with mere insignificant face changes in a few circumstances as the only casualties to report, the societies that they preside over with brute force however remain unsettled and in a state of flux.
The demand for justice, reform and progression via the implementation of the Islamic Shariah system remains yet to be delivered. Furthermore, unlike with the demise of the Khilafah system in 1924 where many in the Muslim world were full of awe and respect for the Western powers of the time, the Islamic world, particularly its youth, has come to see through the farcical rhetoric of America and its ilk in claiming to be on the side of the people.
Therefore, as with the founding process of the USSR, real change in the Muslim world towards the re-establishment of the Islamic state is well underway despite temporary set-backs, with the rumblings of this giant shaking the landscape as it finally awakens from its deep slumber. Where and exactly when the first step is taken remains yet to be seen.
Vladimir Lenin was to remark, “I found power lying on the streets of St. Petersburg, all I had to do was pick it up”. Equally, real power in the Muslim world today belongs on the streets of the likes of Istanbul, Cairo and Lahore – there waiting to be picked up by the right person.
*Electronic Engineer & Political Analyst, Lahore/London