I have a proposition for the Muslim community: a social contract. A social contract with all of humanity – people close to us, around us, and even unknown to us. We already have our covenant with God via Quran and Hadith.
WHY do we need such a social contract?
As the world is getting globalised, and humanity becomes one, a hurt in one part of humanity is reflected in other part of our collective form – our global village. We need a social contract for peace and progress – within us, amongst us, around us.
In the past, the world divided by geography and different terrains created mini-worlds within it. Oceans, seas and rivers, deserts, forests and mountains, had separated humanity. Soon cultures developed to make sense of these mini-worlds. Until they didn’t, when empires took over. Peace was not a certainty in these early times either.
Along came religions to sooth human misery, mitigate our daily grinds, inspire us to greater heights, achieve our full potential. The world became expansive, but was still smaller to fight forol. Abrahamic children fought but kept the light of enlightenment burning, the Middle Kingdom kept some balance, the Vedas did the best they could. Concern for order and peace was the common theme.
Then came the discovery, science and technology into human conscious. The fear of embracing them outweighed the fear of losing it to ‘the other’ – in Europe. A new revolution began which accepted spiritual norms of the old ways as progress began to take hold.
The Rational Mind of the 19th-20th century drew on righteousness of its predecessors while ignoring the piling heap of contradictions – of the old ways and the new paths.
In the early 21st century, it is now up to us to entangle these contradictions, and attempt to bring clarity and transparency in the discourse of human interactions.
WHAT do we need to do?
In search of sustainable peace, humanity needs to find the source of contradictions in our respective actions, and seek a resolution. A social contract has no meaning if it is riddled with contradictions.
Since we belong to Muslim tradition, we should try the best we can to try to address these inaccuracies that has accrued in our current societies – of oppressing majorities to persecuted minorities.
The only way to address these contradictions is by reaching the truth. Where the truth is not obvious and plain, we should search for the best facts available and the most convincing evidence uncovered. Thus we need to devise a mechanism, to agree to the facts and evidence before us. The purpose of life will be to simultaneously marvel the truth and uncover the evidence.
WHEN do we make this social contract?
Individually, puberty is a good time – a period of transition from dependence of human body to independence of its soul. Keeping and perfecting this social contract will be our life’s purpose, some may take years and decades to perfect it. For such a noble endeavour, effective literacy is a pre-requisite for every child.
Collectively, we should start the process of drawing up, debating and agreeing upon this social contract. The geopolitical, economic and existential upheavals are ever around, and it is expected the flames to rise even higher. Humanity needs an agreement for peace and prosperity for generations to come.
WHERE do we start the process?
In our hearts, first. Acknowledging the need of change and improvement remains the highest obstacle.
Then, our homes, our societies and our locales. The change in grassroots will influence the powers-that-be too. And Allah is the better planner.
WHO to begin this process
Anyone who knows the truth, and are willing to keep learning the matters of truth, should come forward. The Quran gave them this authority (An-Nisa, 4:59). An Ijjaza may be necessary, a university degree may be needed. However, an understanding of how truth is derived is imperative.
HOW do we start the process
It comes easy if we agree to our aim, which should be reaching the truth.
We add science as one of the sources of Fiqh. Quran remains a time-tested source; Hadith elaborates the Quran, and inspires a young mind. So too will Science help us reach the truth wherever it is.
That defined, the process will take time to fineness but it should be approachable and implementable. As humans we are hard-wired to respect truth; the world’s brightest are not the only one to improve humanity.
Challenges to our Social Contract
When ~40% of world’s Muslims are illiterate, they will remain beholden to those who will look after their material well being. Ability to seek knowledge independently remains the prerequisite for peace and progress in the world. An hierarchy of merit remains the shortest path to reach any truth.
Despite availability of knowledge, one gets hamstrung by daily needs of sustenance and growth of self and loved ones. Being dependent on a fellow human’s lordship remains one of the primary obstacle to reach truth. A Basic Income or a welfare community will unshackle a seeking man to the vagaries of its fellow’s primitive urge to dominate.
Despite evident truths, one may be tied to one’s memories (eg childhood joy) and experiences (eg trauma). Change is expected to be slow, may even take a generation. An understanding of this profound pull on human brain on rational and reasonable actions will create sensitivity, patience and tolerance.
Despite acknowledgement of need for change, one may be emotionally tied to extended relations of blood, work or joy – and may want to respect their loved one’s traditions (religious and secular festivities). Awareness of truth and respect for other’s positions, combined with patience and goodwill, will eventually bring peace all around.