|Islamic way of life in the contemporary age||
At the threshold of a new millennium, it is the duty of every right minded person to assess what we have achieved and where we have failed. If we look back and reflect upon the history of the 20th century, we will find the amalgamation of both achievements and failures. Indeed, we have made commendable advancement in the fields of science and technology, which not only have changed the face of our planet but have imprinted our footprints on the surface of the Moon. Due to the great advancement in communication technology and mass media, we have even unconsciously kept the doors and windows of our heart and minds open to all currents of thought.
Undoubtedly, Islam is the most important force for shaping a descent, humane, compassionate and more value-inspired pattern of life. It has brought spiritual realities that are appropriate to real human understanding, high ethical values that distinguish man, and commandments pertaining to every area of human endeavor and social life. It urges us to put them into practice. It consists of a set of critical concerns and ethical and practical rules that assure man's happiness in this world and the Hereafter if he carries them out. Islam's values are so composed that any human individual and any human society that carries them out will achieve the best living conditions and the greatest progress towards human perfection possible.
Islam has founded its culture and rules on the nature of the creation and has considered and provided for human needs.
Today, there are some people, Muslim by name who purposely or un-purposely tend to impose an exclusive, narrow, closed view on culture and religion of Islam. Such attitude is unhealthy and dangerous anytime and particularly in the contemporary age, and unfortunately, we Muslims, at this crucial juncture are indifferent, passive and not sufficiently inquisitive.
I am reminded of a comment made by an English author in his book, The everlasting man, published in 1925. He said ‘there are two ways of getting home, and one of them is to stay there.’ No doubt, that is the safest option; for some it is the only option. This is exactly our situation. We are taking shelter in the house of Islam where we unfortunately feel relaxed, calm and cool with stagnancy. Let's leave it temporarily, the house of Islam, and look through ourselves from outward, evaluate and examine ourselves. From this very point of view, we may come to different conclusions, compared to the present time.
In fact, questioning ourselves, is putting ourselves in the position of an outward spectator, and then raise questions such as;
What should be the relation between ‘we’ and ‘Islam’? In this context, we should first clarify the meaning of ‘we’ from an Islamic point of view, and for not being confused, let's replace the word ‘we’ with the word ‘humankind’.
In the Ouran, there are two words for humankind: bashar and insaan. At some places the Ouran states, ‘I am bashar like you’ (18:110) and at other times it states, ‘Insaan was created impatient’ (17:11). Thus, by using bashar, the Quran is talking about the two-footed creature. On the other hand, Insaan is that unusual and enigmatic being who has a special definition that does not apply to any other phenomenon in nature.
So, there are two kinds of human beings: one who is the subject matter of poets, philosophers, and religion, and the other, who is the subject matter of biology. Further, the first kind, bashar is that particular being who contains physiological, biological and psychological characteristics which are shared by all humans, regardless of whether they are black, white, western, religious or non-religious. It is based upon physical laws that medicine, Physiology, psychology, and so forth have discovered.
On the other hand, humankind, in its second connotation, consists of the truth of being insaan, possessing exceptional characteristics which cause each member of the human race to attain a certain degree of insaniyat (humanness, humanity).
Accordingly, we are all bashar but not necessarily insaan. thus , from among all humans, everyone is as much bashar as the rest, but there are some who have attained insaniyat, and there are others who are in the process of becoming an insaan, either meager of to an exalted degree.
Bashar is ‘being’ while insaan is ‘becoming’. Insaan differs from bashar and all other natural phenomena such as animals, trees etc., because it is a ‘becoming’.
After this clarification, I would like to add that we have two worlds: one is the world of ‘being alive’ belonging to bashar (namely our physical world), and the other is the world of ‘living’ which belongs to (becoming) insaan, and therefore, how much our identity be shaped according to the Islamic criteria. To that extend our living world is Islamic. In other words, the true essence of our relationship with Islam depends upon the degree of our attachment with Islam. According to this approach, we all are not ‘Muslim’ in the same degree. Thus we should do our best to fulfill and promote our affiliation to Islam, and by this kind of effort we can guarantee the revival of Islam in the contemporary age.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize on the concept of religion. Dose religion help us to deal justly and generously with the complex and manifold everyday problems of our life or, is religion the defender of the status quo? Overall, religion will never gain a hold over the mind of contemporary man, unless it can help him deal intelligently with the powerful forces which dominate contemporary life, and Islam is not an exception.
Islam must face the realities of the contemporary situation and demonstrate that it can make its impact felt in human life as it is lived day-to-day, eradicating cruelties, injustices and exploitation, and filling it with grace, meaning and compassion.
Every man is bound by the valuable bond of eternity and everyone having a sound test can realize its existence through its natural insight. Out of all the natural phenomena with which we are conversant, the living beings have comparatively more complex and marvelous mechanisms. It may be said that life is the apex form of perfection on the scale of natural motion.
In the end I should say, there are many other facets of religion that I have not mentioned, but I have contended myself with pointing out that religion has a vital role to play in our worldly life and would venture to remark that God may forgive us if we fail to do due obeisance to Him but He will never forgive us if we fail to render what is due to our fellow beings. Since salvation is the primary duty of religion , the road to holiness lies through the valley of compassionate service and one who is not prepared to do so should not impertinently or unwisely embark on the path of God's realization which has been described as ‘sharper than a sword and narrower than the breadth of human hair ‘
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