We are passing through challenging times. Most of us think our failures in meeting these challenges are rooted in our not living up to our glorious records in the past. If only we could recreate our golden pasts!
That, however, is not true. The nature of challenges threatening our future is very different from what we have gone through, calling for fresh thinking.
Islam and Muslims are facing today a world increasingly growing suspicious if not outright hostile towards them. They are fast gaining the reputation of something to be avoided, kept at a distance.
Gone are the days when the Prophet of Islam universally enjoyed the image of a sage, one of the great teachers of humanity, a compassionate, loveable personality to be emulated.
A conspiracy of circumstances, in which our own behavior may not be quite free from blame, tends to make us unloved and unlovable, with our great religion itself being seen in a bad light.
It is ironical indeed that some of us are considering the mission of calling humanity to Islam to be the remedy while ignoring the current antipathy which the very word DAWAH or calling others towards something you are privileged to have monopolized invokes!
This seems to be devoid of the HIKMAH advised by the Quran (16:125). Better be humble and, instead of behaving as superior and all-knowing, participate in solving the vexing problems of the day bothering everyone irrespective of race, region or religion.
There are many, but I single out three areas of universal concerns:
- Climate change or/and ecological imbalances
- Finance and monetary management
- Family and social relations
The deteriorations taking place in these aspects of living are so fast, so deep and so widespread that anyone able to contribute towards improving the situation is sure to earn people’s regard and respect.
Here is a chance to restore humanity’s regard for Islam by projecting teachings of Islam capable of relieving humanity’s distress and demonstrating how Islamic norms, values and the institutions that could be built on the basis can be able to serve humanity out of its predicament.
Climate change or/and ecological imbalances
Effects of global warming and related changes are now hitting people everywhere in the form of storms, out of season rains/ droughts.
It is no longer possible to pretend Nature will take care of these changes and mankind can continue living in comfort as before, relentlessly pursuing the insane objective of limitless accelerated growth.
Something needs to be done, but what and how to motivate people to accept the needed changes in life-style, etc.?
Finance and monetary management
No less tricky are the issues relating to the creation and management of money, provision of finance wherever and whenever needed. Both are currently debt-dominated.
All debts carry interest and the whole system siphons income and wealth upwards increasing inequality, making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Out of the seven billion plus humans inhabiting the earth presently five billions are poor, of whom 2 billion have to subsist on a dollar a day.
In the globalized world what is happening within national boundaries gets projected internationally, making indebted nations default, forced into austerity measures, face rebellion of their people, and ultimately threatening world peace.
Things can hardly continue as they are. Change is necessary, but what changes and how to get them accepted by those concerned: Monetary authorities, banks and other financial institutions, regulators and above all, the people in general?
Family and social relations
Raising children in homes accommodating both parents and preferably, some of the grand-parents would be the ideal setting for the health and wellbeing of the future generations.
But, alas, it is becoming a rarity rather the common setting, due to frequent break-up of families, tighter urban living conditions, career focused individuals and a host of other factors.
Very few care for others, most individuals try to use others as instruments for promoting their own interests. Social relations are increasingly, devoid of sympathy, sincerity, even honesty.
The very fabric of civilized living is threatened with most people out there: legislators, regulators, judges, shop-keepers, workers, bent on cheating.
Religions, Islam in particular, have something to offer by way of motivating people to behave by making them feel accountable to a supernatural being and making them care about life after the earthly existence.
Islam’s teachings of simple living, moderation and sincerity in human relations can help redress the imbalances in men’s relations with Nature as well as their relations among themselves.
Islam’s emphasis on sharing the risks and uncertainties of life, rather than shoving them all onto the shoulders of users of money and finance by making interest-bearing debts the king-pin of money and finance, has the potential of relieving humanity from tyrannies of current arrangements.
If only we could muster the courage to adopt a positive approach!
Protests, airing grievances, demands etc all have had their day. The founding fathers of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, 50 years ago launched it primarily seeking goodwill. It is time to explore the potentialities of service and participation in building a better future for all!