Religion and the present humanity crisis
By: Sayyid Ali Shahbaz
Without the least doubt, the main concern of the human being since the dawn of creation has been how to achieve prosperity and perfection. For the children of Adam and Eve, who were on the right track, prosperity and perfection could be achieved only through adherence to the laws of God, which means being religious and giving preference to spiritual matters over mundane material affairs. For those of the children of Adam that veered off the right track and allowed themselves to be duped by the ever-deceiving devil, religion and spiritual factors were cast aside in pursuit of elusive prosperity through blind love for materialism.
This second group thus started the crisis of religious identity for humanity that has assumed alarming proportion in our times because of the drifting away of the modern man from morals, ethics, principles, spirituality, and the laws of God. As mankind acquired knowledge, instead of sifting truth from falsehood, many became bewildered in this massive mass of mass of knowledge, although so many wonders of nature and amazing scientific facts were discovered. The astounding progress was supposed to bring welfare and comfort for human beings and societies, but what has actually happened is exactly the opposite, with no peace of mind or tranquility of heart.
Today we have more means of welfare but less tranquility; we have more experts but our problems have become more complicated. We buy more but we are less content. We have gone to the moon but we take no step for establishing better relationships amongst us on earth, especially with our own kin and kith. We claim to have discovered the intricacies of nature and tamed some of its violent aspects, but are yet to properly understand our own selves, and the purpose of our existence. In short, the prime victim of our era is humanity and humanitarian values.
Thinkers of what is called Human Science in the West assumed that the modern man does not need religion and God. This atheism have led them to come up with theories of their own in ethics, economy, sociology, and psychology on the assumption of creating better shelters and comforts for human societies. This has not only not happened but led to mankind drift away further from real prosperity and perfection, as anxiety, depression and psychological traumas depriving the modern man of peace of mind and tranquility of heart. The result has been exploitation, oppression, discrimination, wars, and massacres, with the help of the latest scientific devices. All this is happening because of the lack of lack which has created a spiritual vacuum and ethical crisis for the modern man despite the astounding material progress science has brought.
Once there is contradiction between the internal aspect of a person and the world around him, or in other words contradiction between the real human needs and what has been assumed, crisis is created. The human being is a two-dimensional creature. The aspect of existence that makes humanitarian values blossom is spiritual dimension, while the other aspect that makes a person enjoy life in this transient world, is the material aspect. The two should be properly balanced, since ignoring of spiritual values leads to doom and destruction.
The martyred Iranian scholar, Ayatollah Morteza Motaharri has likened such a situation to the extreme or abnormal growth of one of bodily organs of a person. For instance, a person would look ugly and disproportionate if a hand or a leg becomes too big while the other parts of the body remain small. This is how materialistic societies appear, because of their blind pursuit of materialism and complete ignorance of religion and spiritual values.
On the impact of materialist thought on the moral behaviour of humans and insufficiency of knowledge for achieving prosperity in its real sense, Martyr Motaharri has said: By rejecting God and ignoring spirituality the West tried to depict the human being as a mere economic machine functioning according to manmade laws which were presented as sacred social ideas. This is impossible. How could one claim there is no God and no sacred thing in human beings, but assigns them work for supposedly sacred social ideas for sympathizing with others? He means to say that one cannot achieve humanitarian values on the basis of materialist worldview, since the nature of mankind is based on ethics and spiritual values.
Thus, without the least doubt, part of the present crises plaguing human societies is because of ignorance of our own nature, innate talents and real needs. Since the modern man has confined himself to the material world he has restricted the power of cognizance. That is why those who do not believe in religion go to the extremes in pursuit of materialistic matters, but achieve nothing. In 19 of Surah Hashr, God says: \"And do not be like those who forget Allah, so He makes them forget their own souls.\"
This ayah means to say that whoever ignores God and bases life on flimsy foundation of atheism, will be deprived of the sense of knowing real human needs. In ayah 124 of Surah Taha, God says: \"But whoever disregards My remembrance, his shall be a wretched life, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall raise him blind.\"
Wretched life is not necessarily poverty, since there are many faithful people who are poor but due to their faith they enjoy peace of mind, and tranquility of heart, while there are many wealthy who eke out their life stress and anxiety because of lack of religion.
Religion\'s viewpoint of human nature is quite different from the materialistic viewpoint. Religion teaches us to fulfill our material needs in a proper manner, so as to avail of the bliss of afterlife. The human being is the most excellent creature of God and representative on earth. Therefore he/she is in need of characteristics designed and defined by God. As we said earlier, what makes a person perfect is maintaining the proper balance between the ethical and spiritual aspects.
There are many ayahs in the holy Qur’an which say that turning away from the remembrance of God is the source of eternal misery. Certainly Islam takes into consideration the material needs of human beings without calling for undue and unnatural austerities. Islam always invites human to self-cognizance.
A famous Hadith of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says: whoever knows himself, he knows his God as well. In several narrations, self-cognizance is the most superior knowledge and lack of it is the source of misery and ignorance. When a person knows himself/herself, he/she achieves proximity of the Power that created the universe. We read in ayahs 7 and 8 of Surah Zilzaal:
\"So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,\"
\"and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.\"
Thus, those who believe in God and practice religious values in daily life do not suffer from any crisis of humanity.