Crisis of Civilization | Pakistan Today

Crisis of Civilization

It is essentially a crisis of spiritualism caused by a misunderstanding of secularism

Civilization is in distress. It is hurtling towards nihilism. Sounds alarming, but it is there for those with eyes and intellectual honesty to see. The spiritual is in decline playing itself out in rituals and traditions. If only the principles of genuine spiritualism were followed, the human being would find the balm that heals civilization. Sounds easy, but it is difficult for people who would fear risking being tainted with the brush of the outdated and primitive. It would take a major global catastrophe for humankind to take the leap of Faith.

Civilization erodes when humankind loses the ability to tell between right and wrong. What we are witnessing today is a crisis of civilization that, to my mind, is essentially a crisis of the human spirit that was blown into humankind by its Maker, a spirit that is nourished by spiritualism. Like a book, every human being has a centre, which is his spirit, but to nourish and continually nourish the spirit he needs spiritual. The periphery around the centre, the body, needs healthy spiritualism to become complete and find understanding.

Some 400 years ago, the mistake that a desperate West made in trying to break the stranglehold and overhang of the ‘clergyman’ in every facet of life, personal and national, was that while trying to correctly separate state and Church, it ended up separating secularism, which by definition pertains to how to lead a good life on earth, from the spiritual. Eventually,  they ended up separating the spiritual from the secular, even though spiritualism informs us best how to conduct our lives on the earth plane. These advisories are clearly contained in God’s scriptures, most particularly in the Quran. Correct secularism cannot exist without spiritualism. In course of time, ‘secular’ has come to mean totally worldly and even denial or negation of the Creator, to the exclusion not only of the Church but of spiritualism itself. Both are two parts of the same body as long as we live on the earth plane. This unnatural separation has caused a great spiritual hole or void in human life, making life on earth incomplete, unfulfilled and dissatisfying, a void that can only be filled by spiritualism.

For better understanding, the tussle between good and evil is the constant tussle between Satan and God and depending on how well Man does in this tussle will determine the final judgment on him or her

To be sure the same crisis is also manifesting itself in the East, particularly in Muslim countries where people slavishly follow the semi-literate cleric and rituals and traditions, and also because a class of people. Add to this there people who call them ‘moderates’ in the western sense, forgetting that sensible moderation is built into the scriptures. The  idea should be to separate statecraft from clerics and the many man-made religions, as opposed to the genuine scholarship and understanding. Today’s semi-literate mullahs have become equivalent to the clergyman of old. To treat secularism and spiritualism as two separate ideologies or belief systems is a grave mistake. Without spiritualism we wouldn’t have any guidance or moral compass to tell us how to and on what principles to lead our lives on earth, which goes to make up civilization. Without spiritualism we would find an essential part of our existence absent and make our secularism bereft of direction and meaning. To fill the absence, Man searches for spiritualism in other religions (as opposed to Faith or ‘Deen’ or ‘Iman’). Man is floundering around searching for spiritual fulfillment before he founders on the rocks of secularism.

This leads to an erosion of morality in society and places it in grave peril. Thus Mankind is hurtling towards the precipice and spawning wars and immense cruelty, death and destruction wherever he can mistakenly find advantage. This leads to hegemony, which acts as the fuel for Man’s primordial instinct of survival that drives him to gather as much power and resources as possible, more than he needs. With growing global awareness, hegemony of occupation will no longer find any place in any society for it then leads to avarice, untold corruption of the financial and moral kind and reduces human beings to commodities. In today’s world, less than a few percent of people own much more than the rest. That is unconscionable. It has come to pass, therefore, that ‘success’ is sadly measured by wealth, how much more a man acquires than his needs, not how much he has done for humankind. Yes there are beacons like Bill Gates who has give most of their wealth to charity. It’s very ‘Muslim’ if I might say to. Its people like him, and the late Edhi, who give us hope.

Society’s religious success is measured by how many places of worship a State has built, to what extent it follows various religious interpretations to the point of fragmenting Faith, for Faith belongs to the Creator while religions, sects and their movements are man-made and take Man away from Faith and true spiritualism. Man follows manmade ways of life that in Islam he calls Sharia, forgetting that the only true Sharia is God’s Book. Sadly, today, the fundamentals and principles of God’s Sharia take second place to man-made sharias.

Muslims should know that the word ‘Sharia’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Shar,’ which means path that leads to the well or water which is the source of life. ‘Fateha’, the very first Surah of the Quran, is Man’s prayer to God to show him the Correct Path or Sirat al Mustahqeem, ‘Sirat’ also meaning road, the one trod on by those who please God, not the one trod upon by those who displease Him. The rest of the Quran is God’s answer to this prayer, telling him how to walk on the Correct Path in life on this world and the next. It is like a manual or route  map for walking on the Correct Path during life on the earth plane and how to prepare for life in the next dimension, the life Hereafter. That is the real Sharia, full of laws, essential fundamentals and principles on which man cannot do Ijtehad or any reinterpretation to keep his Faith contemporary, reinterpretation without analogy while not breaking any of the principles. In fact, Ijtehad is one of the pillars of Islam, the first of which is the Unity of God, prayer, pilgrimage, alms or zakat, and fasting. Ijtehad without innovation (bidat) is another pillar. Without Ijtehad we cannot achieve enlightenment. An essential pillar is belief in the Day of Judgment and in life in the Hereafter, without which a person cannot call himself a believer. All these pillars are common to every Abrahamic religion and to some others. Belief in the Quran as the Word of God and that Muhammad (pbuh) was His last messenger and after him there will be no other is specific to Muslims. It begs the question: what is the point of believing that the Quran is the Word of God if we are not going to try and understand it and God’s intentions and objective and follow it too. But instead we abdicate our thinking and actions to some semi-literate mullah, as opposed to the genuine scholar who can help us to understand. The final decision has to be ours and we alone are responsible for it.

Good and evil are built into Man in large measure and it is the battle or tussle between the two that determines how well people lead their lives on earth, to what extent they are able to walk on the Correct Path

The best way, I find, to remain steadfast on the right path is that before you take any decision or action, ask yourself: “Is this right or wrong? Would this decision or action of mine please God?” I believe that if you follow this principle you will acquire the automatic ability to differentiate between right and wrong and less likely to stray from the Correct Path. The prime sign of the fall of a nation is when they lose the ability to tell between right and wrong.

Good and evil are built into Man in large measure and it is the battle or tussle between the two that determines how well people lead their lives on earth, to what extent they are able to walk on the Correct Path. If this understanding exists on a national level that nation can never fall even if it goes through difficult times, for the decisions we take during tough times are what determine the extent to which we are civilised at the individual and national level.

For better understanding, the tussle between good and evil is the constant tussle between Satan and God and depending on how well Man does in this tussle will determine the final judgment on him or her.

Right now, civilization is being eroded grievously for our leaders and the societies they represent have lost the ability of telling between right and wrong. Thus look at the number of wars Mankind is fighting needlessly. The attacker is unable to understand that what he is doing is wrong and evil. The result is that in human history millions of people have been killed by sticks and stones and bones; spears, swords, slings, arrows, bombs, bullets, starvation, lack of medicine and absence of welfare. Muslims are right up there. God tells us to choose our leaders from amongst the best, yet the systems that we have devised, some of which go by the word ‘democracy’ which is sadly fast becoming pejorative, have led us to be ruled by the worst amongst us. Democracy is not just our ability to sack bad leaders at the next elections without considering how much evil and bad they have done during their time in power. Most ‘democratic’ systems are engineered to dilute the will of the people, which is a cornerstone of the creed democracy, through electoral colleges formed as in the U.S.A. or the lower house of a parliament purportedly ‘representing’ the people choosing chief executives. Hardly ever are the people allowed to vote directly on the basis of one-person-one-vote in a second ballot with a two-candidate race to ensure that the one who wins gets a genuine majority of the votes cast.

Call this ‘democracy’? Better to call it ‘Mockery.’

Humayun Gauhar

Humayun Gauhar is a veteran columnist in Pakistan and editor of Blue Chip magazine.