Reforming Social Life

Modern life is very complex and is faced with multiple challenges at various levels. Material and worldly pursuits of man have come to shape his life in such a manner that he has further been alienated from religion. It has led to the erosion of social values in society. The greatest challenge stemming from this malaise is how to reconcile the present-day problems with Islamic thought and explore their solution. What has further aggravated the problem is the inability of the religious community in general to design a befitting redress for the social ills afflicting our society. Islam is a complete code of life and furnishes its guidance and instruction on every practical matter related to life. Let us begin with the statement of social disorder and find its solutions in the light of Islamic teachings.

There are four aspects of the mal-formation of social life which can be briefly explained and analysed in the light of the following terminology. Regionalism and parochialism denote national, regional, linguistic and sectarian prejudices that existed in the pre-Islamic period. The loyalties and interests of people are limited and circumscribed by these prejudices. Instead of stringing themselves into a comprehensive and viable unity, people are split into various sects and have made these limited loyalties and affiliations the basis and fulcrum of their society. They have turned rat-holes and lizard-corners into places of prestige and honour, a practice thoroughly condemned by Islam. Islam discourages the baniya mentality and promotes the widest and broad-based unity among the people. Therefore, these contorted structures raised on the spleeny foundation of bigotry and fanaticism are looked upon with disfavour by Islam.

Un-Islamic ideas and superstitions — all those religious, political economic, social and cultural conceptions that spring from an un-Islamic way of thinking are like the products of the pre-Islamic period and are rooted in sheer ignorance and wilful perversion. They directly affect the total pattern of social life because each department of life is shaped by some idea and the quality of its performance is determined by this underlying concept. Display of physical beauty and exhibitionism is a superficial attitude towards life and a false concept of honour. This results in unnecessary expenditure and new fads in fashion for purposes of beautification, especially as far as women are concerned, who make up with expensive creams and lotions.

These undesirable inclinations upset the equilibrium of social and family life, which is buried under the debris of financial burden. The lives of such people are transformed into lacklustre reflections of bogus values. They are reduced to a magician’s hoax or a conjurer’s trick. They are divorced from the pressures of reality and the influence of simplicity. They are like cardboard structures of human vanity. Gradually, man falls into the trap of his own insensible choice. He is forced to observe a series of empty rituals to support his bogus values and his false sense of honour. The inanities of his meaningless life ultimately reduce him to an abject and penurious position. His moral virtues and religious values also fall victim to the general bankruptcy. This self-display and exhibitionism also provides an incentive for the germination of sin and evil in society.

The legal structure of a society which is un-Islamic in nature and is inadequate to protect moral values is known as Hakam-ul-Jahiliya. All social laws, which are rooted in divergence from the Quran and Sunnah, create complications for human beings. The inhuman twists and twirls in these laws interfere with the natural flow of human life. Instead of transforming life into joy and blessing, they convert it into torture and a curse. They promote immoral values and play an extremely harmful role in the development of the human mind. A four-fold remedy is prescribed to cure this malady.

First, all limited group loyalties and allegiances should be declared illegal. Anyone who tries to fan these narrow and bigoted affiliations should be punished with a heavy hand, as this is an attempt to undermine the solidarity and integrity of the country and a heinous conspiracy against its unity. Second, all un-Islamic, negative and disruptive ideas and ideologies must be unapologetically crushed to bless the collective social life with ideological purity. Third, all exhibitionistic trends which do not harmonise with a simple and honourable way of life should be immediately quashed. A simple way of living should be preferred over luxurious living.

Fourth, a legal system based on the Quran and Sunnah must be introduced in letter and spirit to realise these political, economic and social objectives. If the law enforcing agencies lack the awareness to perceive these objectives, which necessitate the reshaping of the legal structure, a partial and half-hearted introduction of some of the Islamic laws is simply an exercise in futility and takes us further away from our real goal. Since different types of malformation are related to the national level, we should also initiate their reform at the same level. If the basic realities are ignored, it will not serve the purpose for which it is intended. It would simply be a cry in the wilderness or casting pearls before swine.

It is a programme of action which can facilitate the acquisition of national ideals in practical terms. The campaign must start with a political revolution. In my opinion, the fruits of a political revolution must be preserved through an economic revolution and after the completion of the economic revolution we should concentrate on social revolution because this is a phase of perpetual struggle. The desired moral revolution can be achieved only by adopting this course of action.
Daily Teh Post July 20,2007