Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Panacea for Our World

Maryam Sakeenah
The Age we live in offers a poignant illustration of ‘Might is Right.’ Man’s eternal aspiration to create a just, civilized society and an enduring peace on the planet has proven an elusive chase. For, we today are as far away from the Ancient Ideal as our early ancestors who used to live in caves. In fact, things have worsened considerably. We live at the basest, meanest, lowest level of the Humanity that Allah created in His Image__ we have proven ourselves true to the word the Quran uses for fallen Man__ ‘Asfalasaafileen’__ ‘The lowest of the low.
We have poisoned our lives with materialism, disdainfully banishing from life ‘Faith’, which is the ‘force of life’. The ethereal for us holds no significance at all, for our Revered Deities are all terrestrial. In the Childs play we call politics, the overriding principle is of the godliness of the Powerful and the slavish obedience of The Rest. ‘It is better to be feared than loved’ said Machiavelli__ (that lucky man is the wisest sage humanity has ever produced)__ his maxim holds true for our day as well as ever. What can make one feared by the weak is his formidable might__ a might that is always right; a might that abuses, exploits, tyrannizes, oppresses, victimizes__ and yet is Always Right. Full Stop.
This ‘Might is right’ syndrome leads to a most blinding delusion of Omnipotence. This drug dupes the sublunary demi-god until, in a fit of megalomania, he begins to speak in God’s language, commanding obedience from the menial. He alone becomes his entire world, while beneath his Ivory towers all is scum. Since the god has already taken care to strike terror in little, quaking, awed hearts, obedience comes in rather easily.
Such is the state of our world today. It is a world where criminals responsible for war-crimes and genocide become world leaders and torchbearers of the ‘civilized world’; where Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded for holding your peace over the breach of international law; where bloody slaughter of innocents is disguised under the euphemism ‘collateral damage’; where dastardly lies, naked to the bone become Established Law; where justice itself is unjustly and selectively implemented. The ghastly world Orwell prophecised in his ‘Nineteen eighty-four’ has finally materialized, and very, very insidiously. We have gone grossly wrong somewhere.
And this is where. For certain complex reasons (to discuss which is beyond the scope of this article), the West has become disenchanted with their religion (mark the stress on ‘their’). So they have conveniently thrown theology overboard on their mad way to ‘progress’. Progressed they have, in the material sense of the word, but on the deeper level, they have quite visibly degenerated. It is the Freudian ‘id’, the reservoir of all carnal/animal instincts that holds sway over the Ego of the man of the west. It is this same spiritual bankruptcy epitomised in the dirty culture of bars, pubs and casinos that inspires their arrogant international policies that exploit, suppress and oppress. It is all rotten at the centre.
But it is also very brilliantly luring. The developing world eyes the brilliant ‘progresses’ of the ‘developed’ world with awe and appreciation, and a desire for taking the same road to ‘enlightenment’ trodden on by the West. This kind of a slavish outlook has rendered the Third World defenceless to the great tides of enforced ‘development’ sweeping across the ‘lesser’ states. It has led to the growth of treacherous ploys for economic imperialism like the globalization phenomenon. It has also led to a servile and complexed self-perception in the Third World, and an unquestioning obedience of the diktat coming from the west. We too have begun to think of religion as being irreconcilable with ‘modernity’, and as anathematic to whatever is ‘progressive’ (in the West-influenced connotation of the word). This has ingrained in us a kind of apologia and a sense of shame for being identified with something as outdated as religion. It was the Western system of clergyship that corrupted their religion, rendering it beyond reform and practical implementation in statehood. Yet Allah has provided against a similar plight to our religion by making no room for clergyship in Islam. Besides, Islam is Allah’s last and final, hence consummate Deen, and therefore, extremely implementable in all times. Moreover, the Creator Himself has taken upon Himself the guardianship of Islam’s original Shariah. Sadly, though, aping the ways of the secular world, we choose not to realize the extremely adaptable nature of our religion (by virtue of the unique mechanism of ‘ijtehad’). Islam’s potential for providing a strong ideological basis for edifying a powerful, self-sufficient modern state goes painfully unrealized. Religion is not in fashion, so none of it, we say.
And this is where our problem lies__ in the rejection of religion. This is the disease plaguing our bedevilled planet. While some ingenious spin doctors have suggested the casting away of religion as the easiest solution to terrorism, this very idea speaks of a lack of perception and depth of insight on their part. It is precisely the separation of religion from politics that leads to heinous crimes sponsored and condoned by the Powerful to be perpetrated on the powerless. When we call for religion being forced apart from politics, we only show how much we lack in understanding the spirit of Islam and its scope for implementation in any age.
It is only in religion that morality has a well-grounded permanence. It gives morality an eternal validity. Some may argue on the contrary that morality is inherent in us, so the imposing force of religion is not quite required, but let me say that selfishness and an archetypal inclination to immorality to the extent of brutishness is also inherent in us. Minus the imposing force of religion, the animal in man quite often dominates the human. Human history is coloured with the blood of innocents shed by oppressors in power. It proves the rather jarring truth that man is quite an untamed savage when let on the loose. So the only solution is not to let him on the loose__ and Islam provides us with this solution.
Islam places morality at the heart of domestic and international politics, and thus cleanses it from the immoral. It sets up barriers against the commission of excesses. By making morality religious Law and making the trespass of this Law a punishable offence, Islam ensures the flourishing of a society within the parameters of religious values.
Shorn of religion, morality is often likely to be subverted to expediency. It is expediency, then, that becomes the ruling force, and everything else has to bend itself into that mould. Ethical principles then become secondary, often coming into conflict with the exigencies of the changing times. We then hear of immoral and even cruel things being done in ‘supreme national interest’, and sometimes even in the mere personal interest of certain individuals in power.
‘Interest’ is a very changeable concept. Whatever is in your interest today might not be so tomorrow. ‘Interests’ often make you switch loyalties, flout moral codes and give up principle. In fact, the ‘interests’ of a world that feeds itself on aggrandizement and prides itself in hegemony need not always be morally correct. In order to ensure that morality regulates all political manoeuvring and the world still remains a live-able place for ordinaries, we need to keep religion and politics together.
Having established the need for religion and politics to go together, I will now talk about why an Islamic State is essential for a Muslim society. An Islamic state ensures that morality always gets precedence over expediency. Islam, let me clarify, is not mere religion, but a ‘deen’__ a complete code of life in all its aspects. It not only emphasizes the development of a relationship with God, but also lays down a definite scheme of social behaviour to be adopted in result of that relationship. It clearly lays down what is right and what is not, and demands its followers to keep themselves hedged-in within the limits of the Shariah. A Muslim ought to regulate his life in entirety according to the personal and spiritual, social, political and economic tenets of the Shariah. The implementation of the socio-political aspect of the Shariah is only possible in the presence of a law-enforcing authority at the top. This authority has the power to direct all social/political/economic life of a nation. According to the celebrated writer Mohammad Asad:
“A good deal of (Shariah) law can become effective only through a
consciously co-ordinated effort of many individuals__ that is, through a
communal effort… An individual, however well-intentioned he may be,
cannot possibly mould his private existence in accordance with the
demands of Islam unless the society around him agrees to subject its
practical affairs to the pattern visualized by Islam. The creation of such
social conditions as would enable the greatest possible number of people
to live in harmony (is the ultimate aim of Islamic law).”

An important part of Islamic social doctrines is ‘Amr bil maroof’ and ‘Nahi anil munkar’, meaning ‘the enjoining of good’ and ‘the forbidding of evil’. For the smooth execution of this commandment on a larger and more responsible scale, a powerful law-enforcing authority is imperative. This law-enforcing authority can only be an Islamic State, without which this part of the Shariah will always remain largely theoretical.
A common apprehension regarding the amalgamation of religion and politics is that it might lead to the growth of ‘fanaticism’. To allay this fear, let me clarify that an Islamic state embodies the ideological basis for a nation’s development. It is vested with the power to curtail ideological deviation from the mainstream state religion. With a careful monitoring of the ideological aspect, dissent and deviation (including a fanatical and narrow interpretation of religion) will surely diminish. Besides, with the existence of a strong Islamic authority representing the religion and its followers, watching over the interests of all its citizenry, the sense of deprivation and insecurity which fires fanaticism will inshallah lessen markedly.
Thus, in the establishment of an Islamic State, we have an opportunity to rise again to our feet from our fallen state and create a better world to live in for those whom the ‘civilized world’ has ostracized. Sad, though, that in our blind fascination for secularism which we identify with ‘progress’, we love to look at all talk of religion as ‘impractical idealism’ and cry for its dismissal from politics. And so we continue to suffer in the wretched throes of godlessness.