بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
We praise our Allah, our Loving and Compassionate Lord Who, out of His Mercy and Wisdom sent mankind guidance by which they can attain success in this life and the next. May the best benedictions and peace be upon our beloved prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who was chosen to be the paradigm of humanity and the Paladin for upright manifestation of faith. To proceed:
We find ourselves living in an age of insanity. A bold statement, certainly, but not necessarily hyperbolic. According to the Shariah insanity can be understood as the state of mind when a person can not distinguish between that which will benefit them and that which will harm them, between profit and loss, or even between right and wrong. An example may be offered of an individual who is mentally challenged and is offered a shiny new quarter worth twenty five for his wrinkled up price of paper with a five marked on it. An individual who would make such an exchange would fall into one of three categories. The first is a general ignorance based on language and culture. Say, a person who has entered the U.S. without any idea about our forms of currency or even the language yet. The second is an ignorance based on age, what we may call, immaturity. An example of this is perhaps a small child who is cheated at a store. The third category is the insane. That is, one who is mature in age and perhaps has some working understanding of language and culture but still is unable to distinguish profit from loss or benefit from harm.
Our age could be labeled as one of immaturity as there is definitely a level of this. As much as mankind seems to pride themselves of so called “advancements” we still find so many with child like minds, seeking to play games and shirk responsibilities. It should be understood that being an adult does not mean one can do whatever they want but rather, now one is responsible for the choices they make. How many still choose to live under parents, avoid starting families and spend their time playing with their peers rather than taking responsibility for their lives? For their communities?
Sanity and puberty (and this entails to some extend maturity) form the basis of what it means to be legally and morally responsible in the Shariah. It is not necessarily age based, but rather weighed and judged according to each individual’s case. If a person shows, they are not yet “fit” to be considered an adult, they must necessarily fall under someone’s guardianship.
This idea is important to understand when we say, we live in an age of insanity. How many perceive themselves as mentally competent but can not recognize right from wrong, benefit from harm or profit from loss? How many see themselves as mature adults yet still through tantrums to have their way; throwing emotional fits in the place of reasoned discussion? What is more, such perspectives are labeled with positive labels like “progressive” as opposed to “backward” or “stagnant”, “liberal” as opposed to “constrictive” or “oppressive”, or “modern” as opposed to “antiquated” or “outdated”.
In our time we see people spinning out of control so swiftly that there are so many different folk clinging on the fringes of extremes lest they be lost completely. We find Muslims who claim to believe in Allah and the last day fulfilling the prophecy of the beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), following the nations that have gone before us footstep by footstep. Were they to climb into a lizard’s hole these folk would follow behind them; if they to fornicate with their mothers publicly, these folk would follow them in this.
Perhaps it is the case that this seems too extreme of an idea? Believe that it is not. Today we see women being accepted as Imams and leading prayers, prayers which involve men and women intermixing. We see in our time masjid that prohibit women from covering their heads. We see people permitting the use of interest and calling any who speak against it as extreme. We see scholars permitting the drinking of alcohol as long as one does not become so wasted they can not tell a mountain from a valley. We see, not only open homosexuality welcomed in the masjid, but the act encouraged and the perpetrators making a mockery of the institute of marriage. We find women being told they don’t have to cover and men told they do not need to wear their beard. Our women are sexualized and our men are made feminine. We do see people oppressing others, using death and destruction as a means to gain power but how many of our men and women have also come to view Jihad as a dirty word and to equate legitimate mujahideen with terrorists? How many are the Muslims living in the United States today who not only prefer the U.S. Constitution to the Shariah but rally behind the constitution and speak out against the Shariah?
Regardless of what labels you give to these ideas, this all represents a level of insanity. You may call it modernity if you like, or progress, or liberalism, however, no matter what you call it it displays an inability to comprehend right from wrong, benefit from harm and profit from loss.
I am reminded by all of this of a quote by the 30th president of the United States. Perhaps not a truly classic but certainly a voice worth mentioning. President Calvin Coolidge was actually born on the Fourth of July 1872 and became president of the U.S. In 1923 after being elected as Vice President to President Harding who died in while in office. Coolidge was re-elected in 1925 and remained president until 1929. He died in 1933 and is viewed by some as the father of conservatism in the U.S. and in this quote we will see why. This quote, in many ways, mirrors exactly what I wish to communicate to my fellow Muslims today. President Calvin Coolidge said in his, “Inspiration of the Declaration”,
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
I would begin my own thoughts on this by saying that the ideals written in the Declaration of Independence (whether realized in this nations history or not) express some truths but are ultimately the make of man and as such, are open to change due to the changes in the society who adopts them. Similarly, regardless of the Justice or crevices found therein, the U.S. Constitution is also a man made system of justice and is open to change in time. My aim here is not to agree that these are either timeless truths in nature nor that they are “good”. This must be understood well.
After having said that, I would say that, as Muslims we bear witness to certain truths. We assert that we believe that God not only exists but that He is our Lord and sovereign. We assert that we believe that He sent Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as His prophet and messenger to mankind. We assert that we believe that the Qur’an is the uncreated speech of our Lord revealed to us through the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who then had the duty to not only deliver the message but explain and exemplify it. The beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is the pinnacle of humanity, and his example is the path to God and hence, one can never do without the prophetic traditions. We assert that we will die and then be resurrected and stand before our Lord for judgement. We assert that we will be judged not only according to our inward faith but also according to our outward manifestation of that faith through living in accordance with the guidance sent. We assert that we believe that there are only two judgements on that day, either one gets absolute justice from their Lord and hence enters the fire of Hell or they receive His mercy and hence are entered into the gardens of bliss. Anyone who rejects any of these beliefs would not be considered a Muslim, regardless of what they may call themselves.
It is true that the world has changed a great deal in the fourteen centuries since the Qur’an was revealed upon the heart of the beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). It is likewise true that the modern culture is different from the culture he and his companions (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all) found themselves in. Indeed, dispute moving towards a global homogenization, every people still display their own cultures in our own time, one different from the other. It is also very true that we have technologies that could not have even been imagined a century ago, let alone a millennium. Yet, despite this, if we bear witness that our Lord has, from eternity, given every human being the inalienable rights to their faith, life, intellect, honor, lineage, property and wealth – that does not change.
We should understand that progress is not always made in the right direction, liberalism does not always benefit and modern very rarely means better. We claim to believe in the guidance from our Lord Who we say is All-Knowing and All-Wise. We claim that the Qur’an is an actual address from our Lord revealed for our benefit. We claim that the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent as a light, a guide and an example for us. We claim that we will be judged by our Lord according to our willingness to our choice to either live according to God’s guidance or rebel against it. If this is what we truly believe, we do NOT discard this due to calls of “modernity” or “progress”. We do not leave of perfect guidance from God for the imperfect movements of people.
If we are Muslims and we believe that the beliefs which we assert are indeed The Truth from our Lord – understand this: Truth does NOT change. Either something is true or it is not. Truth does not modernize and the eternal speech of our Lord is a source of progress, it is not reformed or made liberal. One either manifests those truths and hence progresses in their humanity, in their lives, families and communities or the turn away from them and hence regress to a state of ignorance and animal instructiveness like a beast, running from every fear and chasing every want.
The age we live in is truly an age which displays signs of both insanity and immaturity, let there be no doubt. It is our duty to recognize this, remain firm upon our guidance and act as the guardians for our communities. This is as,Allah has informed us,
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ
“You are the best of people raised up FOR mankind
You enjoin the good
You standout against what is known to be wrong
And you believe in Allah”
And success is with Allah alone.