Saturday, 26 Ramadaan 1429
Who decides what is right and what is wrong? The society? Religion? The Government? I myself?
And now we see a shift, in contemporary society, from principles of right and wrong to choices, decisions and risks, and therefore to subjective personal decisions, with little regard for wider consequences. No longer is "man the measure of all things" - I am the measure of all things. We need to carefully examine this shift because it constitutes one of the main underlying causes of crime. One of the obvious solutions to crime would therefore be the concerted effort to reverse this shift.
Underpinning the prevailing culture in the world today is the philosophy of secularism, aimed, among other things, at the "loosing of the world from religious and quasi-religious understandings of itself."
SECULARISM AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
Secularism is based on a tentative faith in the evolution of conscious, willing, rational man and of the other living creatures and of the rest of the universe out of Godless, causeless, completely non-rational, inert matter, on the basis of accident and chance. In this false faith, Man is thus only an ephemeral speck of mechanical activity in a chance-order in a universe that is a mere accident.
Let us examine the unmistakable implications of this false faith.
- there is no God ;
- there is no spiritual dimension to the human personality;
- there is no purpose to human life;
- this life is the be-all and end-all of human life, i.e. death is the total annihilation of life;
- there are no objective moral values - values are relative and changing as society or man decides.
WHAT DOES RELIGION TEACH?
As opposed to these implications, at a seminar held in Cambridge, UK in 1990, representatives of Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam spelt out the following four common beliefs, in spite of doctrinal differences:
- Belief in a Transcendent Reality, God, who is worthy of worship.
- Belief in the existence of a spiritual dimension in every human being.
- Belief in the innate love for eternal values, such as Truth, Justice, Righteousness, Love, compassion and care towards all creation, which the spiritual self of each individual is innately endowed with by God.
- Belief in need for Transcendental Guidance."
[Muslim Education Quarterly - Cambridge, The Islamic Academy, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1998]
The prevailing culture powerfully re-inforces the above-mentioned implications of secularism through popular music, literature, movies, TV and through the glamourised lifestyle that it projects. However where does this leave me? As Bertrand Russell put it, in "Free Man's Worship" (in his book, Mysticism and Logic): " Man is the product of the causes which had no pre-vision of the end they were achieving, that his origin, his growth, his hopes and his fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collection of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feelings can preserve an individual life beyond the grave, that all the labours of ages, all the devotions, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system and the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried under a debris of ruins . . . ."
WHAT AM I?
So here I am --- alive, but with no purpose to life --- alive, but doomed to total extinction at death (engendering in me hopelessness and despair) --- alive, but with no accountability after death --- alive, but with me being the final arbiter of what is "good" and "bad" for me, regardless of what the rest of mankind thinks --- alive in a hostile world, one that doesn't care what happens to me, one that forces me to make the best of this bad bargain by utilizing my cunningness to acquire maximum physical happiness for myself --- alive, but with values being what I decide.
In the secularism-based prevailing culture, Man thus believes that life has no purpose, that there is no accountability after death, so that if he gets away with anything here in this world he has gotten away. Yet getting away doesn't really matter, for he believes he is heading for extinction --- if not today, then tomorrow. And if he doesn't get away with doing that which gives him any sense of thrill or pleasure, but which society holds to be an offence - it still doesn't matter, as pitiless and dark extinction is still staring him in the face. So what, if it comes sooner rather than later?
When I have been brainwashed by the prevailing culture into believing that I and I alone, have the right to choose what is "right" for me and I have decided that whatever gives me pleasure is "right", why then would society object when I have chosen a life of crime and violence? I am only the fruit of the trees, the seeds of which the prevailing culture carefully planted in the well-prepared soil and the plants of which, it painstakingly nurtured and pruned. And tragically, while society continues to decry the type of fruit like me, it still continues preparing the same soil and planting the self-same seeds and nurturing the identical plants, through its projected lifestyle and through the entertainment media.
I AM THE FRUIT
If society is really serious about addressing the problem of crime, it has to stop focusing on dealing with only the symptoms, while ignoring their underlying causes. It really needs to address how to stop producing fruits like the "me" just mentioned. The false beliefs created by the secularism-based prevailing culture are certainly among the fundamental causes of crime. The remedy is obvious - helping man to eradicate these false beliefs and to espouse the Truth. While this is easier said than done, let us not be guilty of only twiddling our thumbs and pontificating, while the situation gets worse and worse.
The One True God, the All-Knowing, the All-Loving, the All-Wise sent guidance to every people in this world through the agency of selected human beings - the Prophets (peace be upon them all) . To some of them He revealed His Words. The Holy Qur'an is God's Final Revelation and it is the only one about which He has given the assurance that He will guard and protect (and which He has guarded and protected in two ways, each of which would have been sufficient by itself - in writing, and by endowing it with the miraculous quality of easy memorisability so that it has been memorized completely by countless thousands, generation after generation).
THE HOLY QUR'AN --- GOD'S FINAL REVELATION
The correct beliefs, that we need to espouse, which the Qur'an clearly informs us of, include:
1. The universe was created by the Absolute, Infinite, One True God for a serious purpose and it certainly did not originate by chance.
2. Life here in this world, even though fleeting, is but only a small part of Man's lifespan. It is, however, a preparation for the abiding phase of life in the Hereafter.
3. Death, far from being the total annihilation of life, is only a gateway to the next level of existence, through which we must all pass.
4. Life in this world, far from being purposeless, is the opportunity for us to strive to fulfil the purpose for which we were created, i.e. the manifestation, in every sphere of our lives, of the relationship between the created being and the Creator, between the servant and the Master. Thus it is God's Guidance that would take precedence and not our own individual whims and fancies and inclinations.
5. The Ever-Loving Creator endowed man with a nature ( in Arabic, Fitrah) and guided him to a way of life that is in harmony with his Divinely-endowed nature. Thus when man follows God's Guidance he is in harmony with his own nature and when he disobeys that Guidance he is in conflict with his own nature.
6. A human being is comprised of five dimensions - the physical, the rational or intellectual, the aesthetical, the moral and the spiritual. God's Guidance constitutes that way of life which leads to the balanced and harmonious development of all five dimensions - with none being neglected.
7. The One True God is the Possessor of all the dimensions of Highest Excellence to an Infinite degree. And it is His Attributes that constitute the Fountainhead of all Values. Thus Values are objective and not subjective and changing, and certainly not decided on by ME.
8. There is the Day of Judgment, when all human beings will be resurrected and made to stand before the All-Loving Creator to give an account of their lives here in this world. So that even if human beings were to succeed in evading detection by man here in this world, they will still have to account for their actions in the Court of the Almighty, in which Court even the things which were hidden in the world would not remain hidden.
9. Each human being has been allotted a period of time here in this world, the length of which is not known to us. When that allotted period ends, the human being is transferred to the next level of existence, i.e., Death occurs. Because we live in a world of causality, there is a cause of death-- sickness, accident, drowning, fire, etc. - but the underlying reality is that the allotted period had ended.
A hungry person cannot sate his hunger by only extolling the virtues of the food before him - a sick person cannot get healing from only describing the properties of the prescribed medicine. Similarly a society beset by problems, including crime, cannot see any improvement from only knowing suggested solutions. A concerted, conscientious, co-operative effort is needed on the part of parents, teachers, religious leaders, the media and the Government. Procrastination, lethargy and inertia have to be left in the past. NOW is the time for effort and striving, putting our trust in the One True God.
CONCERTED ACTION --- THE CRYING NEED