People are stunned at Western leaders’ impotence to condemn the brutalities of Israel. They were rightly quick to condemn the Hamas atrocities but why aren’t they demanding a ceasefire? Here I venture to dig into the secular-godless mind that’s responsible for this lifelessness and silence. It also shows the dangers of disbelief and why human salvation lies in faith.
Here I explore the encounter between a spiritual way of living and modern society, its institutions (scientific, technological, cultural and political), and its lifestyle (secularism, individualism, narcissism and consumerism). Islam in contrast is theocentric, divinely revealed, it nurtures a god-loving person who lives austerely ever-yearning for the return to the majestic Lord.
The beliefs of modern society
Professor E.F Schumacher in his book ‘Small is Beautiful’ says there are six leading ideas that are the foundations of modern thought, these stem from the nineteenth century but continue to exert a huge impact on Western society today, they are:
- The theory of evolution; the belief that higher forms continually develop from lower forms.
- The survival of the fittest by natural selection.
- All higher manifestations of human life like religion, philosophy and art are nothing but supplements of the material life process, a superstructure erected to disguise and promote economic interests.
- The Freudian theory, which reduces human life and its struggles to unfulfilled incest wishes during childhood and early adolescence.
- The idea of relativism, denying all absolutes, denying norms and standards, leading to the undermining of the idea of truth.
- Positivism; the idea that valid knowledge can only be gained through natural sciences. There is no genuine knowledge except through observable facts.
Professor E.F Schumacher says, “No amount of factual inquiry could have verified anyone of them”. Although these ideas have an element of truth, they are far from reality. They represent tremendous leaps of imagination into the unknown and unknowable. Schumacher believes these ideas are now firmly embedded in the Western mind.
The implications of such beliefs suggest that life lacks inherent meaning or purpose, suggesting that humanity’s greatest accomplishments are merely veiled expressions of economic self-interest or manifestations of unresolved sexual tensions. This view is further underscored by recent events, where a 13-year-old boy reportedly became a father, followed by similar assertions from other boys of comparable age, highlighting a concerning level of moral degradation.
The beliefs of Islam
Islam has an alternative model based on revelation, the primary source of knowledge – a body of moral and spiritual teachings. The basic beliefs of Islam are; God, Revelation, and Life Hereafter. “Modern man sees himself as a purely earthly creature, master of nature but responsible to no one but himself” (Syed Hussein Nasr). Once God, the reality is removed the world then becomes a circle without a centre. So, we see the loss of moral and spiritual values.
Modern society believes in Utopia – an imagined ‘perfect’ place. The race is towards this ideal – the ‘New World Order’. The problem is that Utopianism is being sought through purely human means, driven by scientific and technological progress. It does not accept the evil in the world in the theological sense and aims at achieving progress without God. The sacred is absent, even King Charles III often lamented about the loss of a sense of sacred in our arts and architecture. In Islam, there is no such division of the secular and sacred; the worldly and the spiritual, the profane and religious, of God and of the world!
Modern thought has an obsession with the outward form – little is noticed of the inward and the hidden. However, our Islamic teachings marry the outward and the inward. Rumi the medieval Muslim philosopher and poet said: “The pure heart is a spotless mirror in which images of infinite beauty are reflected”. He then says: “Kill the cow of your ego as quickly as you can, so that your inner-spirit comes to life and attain true awareness” (Masnavi, Pg 281).
This self of ours is a part of Hell.
Only with the power of God can one overcome it.
The champion who breaks the enemy ranks is
of little account compared to the true victor
Who overcomes his own self.
The intelligent desire self-control.
While children want sweets.
As far as you can, become a slave, not a king.
Endure blows, be the ball, not the bat.
“A man’s head may be filled with knowledge of meaningless worldly matters, he may be familiar with all the sciences, and yet not know his own soul. He knows the properties of every substance but is as ignorant as an ass about the nature of his own essence. He declares, I know what is permissible and what is not, he knows the precise value of every article he buys and sells; but in his folly he does not know his own value. To know yourself and to live your life in anticipation of the Day of Judgment, is to master the highest science” (Masnavi, Pg 235). So, don’t be surprised if you don’t see justice and support for the Palestinians from leaders with this mindset.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Palestine. May peace and solace find its way to every corner of the land, bringing comfort to those who endure and strength to those who face hardship.