Reading Islam in the Contemporary World
Ribi’ Bin Amir a companion of Prophet Mohammed, addressing Rustam, the king of Persian and courtiers, declared of their mission in Persia (AD 636):
“We have been commissioned by God to rid all those servant of His as are anxious to be free men, from, the bondage of men like themselves, and take them away from narrowness of this world to the vast expanse of the life hereafter and from the oppression of religions to the shade of Justice and Equity under Islam”
The tendency to gain domination and hegemony over man by man is as old as human history. When man denied the fact that the whole of humankind have been created from one single individual and each one of us are brothers to each other, man became hostile, aliens and strangers to one another. In fact the Holy Qur’an says: “O mankind! Your Lord, who created you from a single person, Created, out of it, His mate and from them twain scattered like seeds, countless men and women” (Ch:4 Verse:1)
Have you ever thought of some of the basic questions that are related with our daily life? Like:
Which is the value and ideology that have shaped our way of life and thinking, our behavior, our culture, family structure, education system and political order? Are these aspects unique from individual to individual, family to family or country to country; or are all these aspects recently being oriented towards uniformity? If yes then what are the reasons of this uniform orientation?
There has been an era when the colonial imperialist forces of the globe which included Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Dutch and Russia determined the value systems which governed our personal life, indigenous cultures and socio political system by military might. These imperial powers were against religion due to reasons pertaining to history or at least believed that religion must not have any concern with regard to social-cultural-economical and political aspects of human life. To impose their ideology, believes and customs they used all means available at that time which included education and informal educational platforms like print media, books, cultural institutions, art and literature. The current capitalism also has racist agenda. It is a historic fact that racism and colonialism is closely related to each other. The whites always believed that they are supreme and that they are the chosen people of God to rule the world. They have the concept of ‘evil land of east’ and ‘holy land of west’. Not only history but also science has been shaped for proving their superiority. While describing the evolution theory, they taught us that the finally evolved man is of basically two kind – ‘Homo sapiens afar’ and ‘Homo sapiens euripus’. The ‘euripus’ who are the whites are real human being than ‘afar’ who evolved from Africa.
People believed the trend of colonizing has come to a stop by mid twentieth century, by the end of colonial rule. As a matter of fact enslaver of the whole of global population has turned out to be a material reality in this post colonial - post communist historic stage. The whole of humanity had become dumb spectators of an incomparable tragedy in history. After the downfall of communism the bridle to rule the world came in to the hands of capitalistic imperialist forces, led by America. This new uni-polar worldorder has far reaching impacts in the life of individuals, family, society and nations.
Each and every person is revolving on the question - ‘What can I get?’. ‘What can I give’ is not a matter of concern. Even smiling to a person is based on certain vested interests. Relations are being determined by money. Digits and profit determines all our acts.
An individual of today is leading a highly stressful life. Competition, injustice, poverty, miseries, indebtedness, psychological imbalances, suicide, destruction of families and dishonoring women are the common features of contemporary capitalistic society. Individual freedom(Individualism) and maximum material wealth (Materialism) are two basic concepts of the ideology of capitalism. “Individual freedom” stands for the desire and the ability to all individuals to control their own destiny and acquire wealth with out any foreign intervention like morality, ethics or religious believes. This denied all social and divine accountabilities. Man became irresponsible to the society and to himself. The motto of life has become attaining maximum material wealth in what ever way possible, even by hindering the other brother’s rights.
Top five advertisers in India: Hindustan Lever, Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Godrej Soaps, Paras Pharma
The Hero Honda Group spends --- Rs 90 Crores on a T.O of Rs 9,000 Crores.
“I buy there for I am” is the slogan of the new generation. In a capitalistic society, Individuals are mere consumers. “Spend the money you don’t have to buy the things you don’t have”. This is the teaching of the credit lenders. Banks are ready to give credit cards, which indebts every single individual. Enslaver of mass is the aim of all companies. Increasing shopping malls are the centers of consumerism. Advertisements are the biggest tools of these market forces. Shopping became an important agenda in life. Grow Greediness and covetousness in individuals for attaining more and more material wealth with out any limits is the aim of capitalists. They need to sell off their products. People start spending more than that they earn. This led to indebtedness of families, psychic depression and growing family suicides.
Isolating the young generation is one of the key agendas of Capitalism. The young generation has been degenerated by the so called entertainments – TV, Radio which promotes fake social ethos, film and romance magazines, novel and literature, alcohol and drugs are desperately drawing youth into a whirlpool of moral crisis and isolation. They have become de-sensitized and dispassionate towards the realities of the society and the world they live in. The purpose and goal of life is set to somehow gain joy, have pleasure & sweetmeat and lead a lavish ash posh life. Youths and students are busy in spending their leisure times lying on the couch, watching TV and eating junk food. They are called as “couch potatoes”. The world psychological association estimates that the average child will witness 8,000 made-for-TV murders before finishing elementary school. This way they are de-sensitized to the sight of violence and killings. They are also exposed to explicit sexual situations in TV. Television programs are also the trend setters of fashion and biggest tool for cultural invasion. The image of a beautiful woman has gotten much slimmer, since media sets standards for beauty. As a result, many teenage girls have become insecure about their bodies and obsessed with losing weight. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are now common among youngsters.
The old aged and retired are not valued in this society, since their ability to produce wealth has ended. Parents are not being looked after by their sons and many a times, they are being dumped in to the old age care homes, in the mercy of the nurses employed there! In a capitalistic society, they are not assets but “financial liabilities”. Therefore these seniors, who have to be respected and taken care of, feel useless, unwanted and dishonored. Islam teaches, “ye may be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life. Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them. But address them in terms of honor.” (Holy Qur’an 17:23); “Do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors, strangers, companions, and what your right hand possess. For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Qur’an 4:36). In the Noble Qur’an, care for parents is stated with the oneness of God which is the creed of all Islamic principles. Islam gives due importance for the care of parents and old aged.
Our family system is being collapsed. Gay and Lesbianism are being promoted with philosophical backing pushing off traditional family system. At the time when people of our country are trying to copy the west, let us go through the current status of households in America:
· 54.3% of married couples get divorced
· 11% of household are unmarried couples.
· 30% married but with out children
· 11% married but single plus their children
· Only 26% of households are typical families with mother and father and children.
It’s a startling condition that approx one of every two marriages now ends in divorce. Divorce is now so common that it is no longer socially unaccepted and children are not embarrassed to say that their parents are divorced. Even among the 26% of typical US families, many of them are really “step families” or “blended families”. Since most divorced people remarry, many children are living with a step mother or step father. In a ‘blended’ family, the parents may each have children from a previous marriage and then have one or more children together – producing “yours”, “mine” and “our”. Such families often result in very stressful relationships.
The statistics of our country is not better than the one stated above. There was a time when one out of a hundred marriages used to end in a divorce, in India. This was one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. Recent findings say that divorce rates in India have been rising alarmingly. In the capital city of India, Delhi, the divorce rates have literally doubled over the past five years (8000-9000). In one of the most hi-tech cities of India,Bangalore, the divorce rates have tripled in the last four years. These are pretty shocking statistics. (The tribune: July 7, 2007).
The main reason behind this alarming divorce is the Stress of modern life.Today’s working environment has changed drastically. The economy having opened up, most companies are facing intense competition and this led to tremendous pressure on employees. Working late, 6 days a week, without holidays and with a boss who breathes down your throat can create a lot of frustration and tension. This can destroy a marriage, whether it’s just one partner working, or both.
U.S generates more than 12 KGs of trash and garbage per person per day. America has been criticized as ‘throw away’ country.
The concept of ‘free individual’ and ‘free enterprise’ has not only ruined individuals, destroyed families; but also damaged the environmental balance of the world we live in. Capitalism taught of maximum exploitation of natural resources for the sake of maximum production. It considered the treasure of nature as an ever expanding pie. It never taught of conservation of natural resources for future generations. Even the availability of the basic necessities of life, pure water and air is under threat today. This has also other dimensions such as privatization of natural resources.
Picture of Grave imbalance of financial distribution:
Ø Three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 47 countries with the least GDP.
Ø Agricultural bio-technology corporation, ‘Monsanto’ has an annual budget bigger than national budget of Britain.
Ø Richest 2 per cent owns more than half of global wealth
Ø Amount needed to avail basic education, pure water and sanitary facilities to the whole humanity = ¼ of U.S annual defense budget = ½ of total wealth of 5 richest people in the world
Global capitalistic imperialism is the greatest threat to the humanity. The strategies of gaining hegemony over countries include cultural invasion, economic colonization, establishments of MNC, developing SEZs, strategic political intervention, treaties and agreements, media war, mysterious spy networks, NGOs and pumping of money, spiritual and religious sponsorship and if necessary, armed military attacks. Imperialist powers are in the verge of gaining total control over the world, including India. The issue of nuclear deal is the latest declaration of our enslavement. Our country has surrendered in front of the capitalist powers and has lost our power of self determination and independent foreign policy. SIO strongly believes that this deal is part of a larger interlocking program.
The field of education has always been an area of great concern of imperial forces. At the initial stage of colonial rule itself, Britain had introduced an educational system that fulfilled imperialist agendas. SIO strongly believes that there had not been any fundamental changes in the educational system from that shaped by Lord Macaulay in the British colonial period. In this era of neo-imperialism, the capitalist forces are trying new strategies to convert the existing system more ‘imperial friendly’. The Birla Ambani report is the best example in this regard. Foreign Direct Investment in education must also be viewed in this respect.
Total wars at the time ofprophet: 81
Persons killed: 759 (All warriors)
People Killed in recent
wars mostly Unilateral attacks by US:
· 1st World War – 80 Lakhs 2nd World War – 5 million
· In the past century, more than 50 wars had been launched by US and allies.
· During the period of Iraq Sieze by UN, 1.75 Million were held as captives and 11 lakhs died (among them 6 lack children).
· Wars are being driven by US in Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kampuchea, Korea and S.Africa Iraq 1& 2 – 1 Lakh Afghan, , Iran, Phalestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Bosnia, Chechnya,
America established by injustice &terrorism.
Million of native people (American Indians) have been slaughtered byColumbus to establish colonialism in America in 1492. Raping, torturing, killing, and then using the Indian bodies as food for their hunting dogs. Within four years ofColumbus' arrival in Americas, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population and wiped off completely later on. This is the event celebrated each year on ‘Columbus Day’. And they wrote the history – “Columbus Discovered America”!
Until 1991, the ideological rival to capitalism was communism. But after downfall of communism, Islam is the only ideology that stands against capitalism. It is in this context that America and its allies, the capitalistic forces have joined arms to distort Islam in the name of Islamic Terrorism- the one and same propaganda tool used against communism. It was “Soviet-backed international terrorism” at that time.Afghanistan and the Taliban who were backed by the U.S with dollars and ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were the “vanguards of freedom and democracy” till 1991 in the global media!! Now everything turned the other way round. British raj referred to Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and many other Indian freedom fighters as terrorists. In the same manner, the resistance movements across the world like in Palestine are labeled after terrorism by the imperialists of this era. As long as injustice prevails, frustration and terrorism follows.The “War on Terrorism” is itself a flourishing business for the corporate world; especially the weapon industry which is the world’s largest profit making industry. The biggest irony is the term “Islamic terrorism”. It’s as foolish as ‘hot ice’ or ‘cold fire’. There is no doubt in the fact that “US could be viewed as the biggest terrorist state in the history of humanity” (Noam Chomsky, Failed States). Why is it not being addressed as Christian or protestant terrorism?! All these games are for the sake of imperialist expansion and slavery of mankind…
The octopus hands of capitalistic imperialism have ruined individuals, family, society and countries. It has destroyed the natural balance of this earth. Man is in search of an ideology that would free them from slavery of man over man and oppression; that would provide them peace and justice. All ideologies that promised liberation to humanity have failed.
Islam is the only solution for the problems faced by the humanity today. A system that possess goodness and wellness for humanity. Social justice, mercy, forgiveness, firmness towards immoralities, equality of opportunity and protection of human rights is its salient feature. One God, One Man is its creed.
According to Islam, the whole universe including human beings has been created with a clear purpose. “We did not create heaven and earth and everything between them to no purpose” (Holy Qur’an 38:26). Therefore Man has to live his life intentionally and with responsibility. “He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you . . .” (5:48). Enjoyment must not be the aim of life. The entire mankind has been chosen and he was given supremacy by the Almighty over all living things. Islam teaches us that nothing in this world is owned by man. All resources have been given to man as the trustee of God; as we are chosen to be the vicegerent of God.
Islam gives a world view that all human beings have been created from one human being and all are brothers to each other. “O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women” (4:1). The equality of mankind can be felt through the Noble Qur’an. The Qur’an says: "O Humankind! We have created you males and females, and have divided you into nations and tribes so that you may recognize each other. The best among you in the sight of God is the one most careful [of the truth] (49:13). Thus Qur’an is against all consciousness of superiority on the basis of ethnicity, family, class, caste or race. Prophet Muhammad, in his last sermon told: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action”. Even towards those people who keep hatred against Islam, Qur’an teaches:“Defend Evil with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!” (41:33).And it teaches to see others in one’s self (Qur’an 5:28)
Islam urges human beings to lead a life obeying the limitations of ethics and moralities as guided by his prophet. The holy Qur’an teaches: “When man turns his back, His aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth not mischief” (2:205).
The interest system (usury) in capitalism and all materialistic ideologies and the ‘Zakat’ system in Islam are clear representations of both ideologies. Interest is based on greediness, selfishness and exploitation. Where asZakat in Islam is purely based on forgiveness, generosity and justice for mankind. Qur’an teaches at several places: "Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, and will give increase for deeds of charity, for he does not love any ungrateful sinner"(2:276).
Roy Harrod, an eminent modern economist regards the abolition of interest is the only way to avert a collapse of capitalism. (Harrod, R., Towards a Dynamic Economics, London, 1973, pp58-81). It’s not unknown now that the reason for economic stagnation in all countries especially the third world countries is because of interest based loans from super national financial institutes like world bank, IMF and ADB. Speculation was the prime reason of the recent global price hike and all economic crises in the near past. The Holy Qur’an teaches: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (Dedication of) stones, And (divination by) arrows, Are an abomination, - Of Satan's handiwork: Eschew such(abomination) That ye may prosper” (5:93).
Thus the Islamic economic system leads to the following results: First, the relocation of resources from speculative capital to more productive and job-creating ventures like direct investments which in turn leads to more stable financial and foreign exchange markets. Second, as capital shifts to more productive and long-run investments, there will be more jobs and larger production of goods and services which will result in higher rates of economic growth and lower inflation rates. Third, the payment of zakah will induce higher demand, especially from the poor segments of society, for the increased output of goods and services resulting from the productive investment of world capital. Finally, the increase in supply and demand will mitigate poverty and reduce the income inequality that exists in many developing countries today, many of them are Moslem countries.
Maximum exploitation of natural resources and mass production has also devastated the nature we live in. God had created in the right way. “He created everything and determined it most exactly” (Qur’an 25:2), “The creation of the heavens and the earth is far greater than the creation of mankind. But most of mankind do not know it” (40:56), “Corruption has appeared in both land and sea because of what people’s own hands have brought about so that they may taste something of what they have done, so that hopefully they will turn back” (30:40). Islam imposes a moral responsibility upon man as the vicegerent of God to protect the nature. Use in abundance is the culture that modern capitalism teaches us. But environment is not an ever expanding pie. A person was making ablution and he was using too much water. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “What is this waste?” The man said, “Is there a waste in ablution also, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet - peace be upon him - said, “Yes, even if you were near a flowing river”. Prophet was teaching to use limited water even while you are near a flowing river.
The imperial countries are implementing strategies to control the pure water resources of the world. It is predicted that the future world war will be for conquering water resources. The imperialist’s next target is to privatize and commercialize the natural resources including water and air. “Tell them that the water is to be shared by all of them...” (Qur’an 54:28). Islam does not allow privatizing natural resources which is created for the whole of humanity. The people of Medina had great difficulty in getting drinking water. There was just one well but it was owned by a Jew. The Jew would not allow anyone to get water from it. So the holy Prophet said, "who is there that will buy this well for the people? Allah will reward him a fountain in Paradise." Usman at once responded. He brought the well for twenty thousand dirhams and gave it away for free us.
While saying of Islam, we are not propagating a religion based on autocratic religious leadership. Islam is an ideology that liberates man from all forms of slavery by man over man. It does not tolerate injustice. “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for the Almighty, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of a commune make you do injustice to them” (Holy Quran 5:8) The word ‘Islam’ means peace. Islam is a religion of peace and it shares all its values and belief, with the other branches of the Abrahamic monotheistic faiths such as Christianity and Judaism. Islamic religious teaching-learning do not include nor envision hatred against other fellow human beings. Indeed, Islam professes deep respect and dignity for the People of the World. It says that a man’s worship is in vain unless he has better relation ships with other human beings. It professes unity and equality of human race.
Let the Almighty grace us all to find his path, so that it will provide us with peace of mind, purity of personal life, rest in the family, peace in the society, and security for the nation and above all it will bring universal peace. Let the Lord of this Universe help us here and the hereafter.