Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Personal Freedom in Islam

Personal freedom is one of the pillars of the "religion" of secularism preached by the West. So what role does personal freedom have in Islam?

Any human being is free to choose or not to choose Islam - they have full personal freedom in this matter. But once they have entered the fold of Islam they are bound to its system of laws. Just like one is not forced to accept a country's citizenship, but once they take that oath of allegiance, they are bound to fully fulfil the rights and obligations that it entails.

The laws of Islam are natural laws and if someone violates them they are going against the forces of nature, thus they must be brought back in line. A farmer is free to plant or not to plant the seeds in the proper season. It is a natural law that not sowing the seeds will result only in the cultivation of weeds. Similarly a Muslim may or may not follow Islamic injunctions. His choosing not to do so will have disruptive natural consequences for himself and the whole society. Since one of the principles of Islam is to protect human rights, property and honor, any violation resulting from following personal whims should be curtailed. Thus unrestrained personal freedom has no place in Islam.

Having said that, there is a lot of personal freedoms in Islam if one stays within the boundaries of its laws. One is free to adopt from a range of options about which the ulema have agreed to have a difference of opinion. Almost all laws depend on the specific circumstances of the individual and punishments can not be implemented except by the Qadi of a just Islamic government - something missing in today's world.

Maybe due to the latter fact, there is a growing global phenomenon among the Muslims in that they are making Islam a personal religion -- just like Jews and Christians have done before them. Rather than referring to the specialists in the field, they are interpreting many allegorical verses from the Holy Quran, while completely ignoring the Sunnah of the Propphet (SWAS). This is a calculated strategy of the opponents of Islam, so that Islam becomes a private religion, while Global Secularism becomes the functional religion of all societies of the world.

On the one hand many born Muslims are leaving the practise of their religion, enticed by the false attraction of unrestrained freedoms of this new functional religion. On the other, many more non-Muslims who have been suppressed by that system are finding true liberation in Islam, by accepting only the servitude of Allah (SWT). In Islam, one has complete freedom -- in fact one is bound to disobey everyone (including one's parents) -- if their obedience means the disobedience of Allah (SWT). In many Muslim societies, we follow decadent traditions instead of authentic Islam. Exploiting the weaker members in such societies has no place in Islam and should always be opposed. Muslims have a duty to filter their traditions and only keep what complies with Islam.

If one surrenders one's will to the natural laws that govern everything in the universe, one will be synergizing with all the natural forces in the world and genuinely feel true liberation. It was this understanding, that led to the triumph of Islam throughout the known world in the 7th century AD and still makes Islam the most practised religion in the world.

The immortal lyrics sung by the late Allan Faqir reminds us of this very idea:

Jissay darya ka pani jeevan day
Ussay dunya ki lehroN say DaRna kya?

Allah Allah kar bhayya
Allah hi say DaR bhayya


For whom the water of the river gives life
What fear should he have for the waves of this world?

Say "Allah! Allah!", Brother
Fear only Allah, Brother

Fathers & Sons

Among the foremost relationship that a father should have with his son is that of play. Unfortunately, these days fathers are eager to enroll their children in school even before they become toilet trained, so they deny themselves the opportunity to play with their children. In Norway, children do not go to school till they are seven. They have found that the first seven years of a child are wonder years in which the best development that can occur in the child is through play. By depriving the child of essential play time during these formative years it is observed that the thirst of play and amusement does not get fulfilled in the child and the child will long for play the rest of his life. No wonder we find grey haired adults amusing themselves to death. It is observed that most visitors to casinos in Atlantic City, NJ and Las Vegas, NV are senior citizens. A child who has got an amply time to play with his family will have a balanced and emotionally stable character. He will apply himself in his studies, so much so that he can cover all the studied material which he has "missed" in his early years in a short duration. Role playing in the first few years develops the child's imagination and cognitive skills like nothing else. It is during this time that the child's sense of excitement in interacting with the world around him needs to be nurtured. Thus the father must share this excitement with his son with full emotions, so that this essential feeling does not die from his son's heart, like it dies from so many adult hearts which become engulfed by materialism.

The relationship between the father and son then transforms into that of teaching/learning. The father has the responsibility of teaching his son which he should not just outsource to tutors and schools all the time. A father must sit with his son on a regular basis and teach him formally in which ever subjects he thinks there is a need. It is observed that those parents who leave teaching completely to schools and tutors lose the respect of their own children. If the parent's opinion contradicts that of the teacher, the child will always prefer that of the teacher as he does not see the parent as a source of knowledge and wisdom. The father should take his son with him to the masjid at an early age so that he gets used to seeing worshipers congregate for prayers. Doing so will also create an inclination for worship in his son's heart so when the time comes at seven years of age the son will be motivated to start establishing proper prayer. He should try and make his son associate with pious people in the masjid like the muazzin and the imam. The father should read to his son frequently from a full range of subjects according to the age of his son. He should establish a library in the home. The collection should include books/DVDs on Seerah of the Prophet (SWAS), stories of other prophets, other stories from the Quran and Hadith, Islamic history, Muslim heroes, world history, specific history of your country/region, non-fiction reading books in English, Arabic and your native language, nature and science, art and craft, good manners, etc.

The next stage in the father and son relationship is that of companionship/friendship. The son should trust his father and should not hesitate to share all secrets with him. At puberty when the child's body starts changing, it is the father of the child who should first educate him about these issues. Rather than learn about sex education from his cousins, classmates, teachers, TV, Internet, etc, he should first hear it from his dad. The father should attempt to explain these things to his child from an Islamic perspective to ensure that the child's thinking is not corrupted by the prevalent deviant teachings on this subject in society. The father should take his son with him outside the house, so that in his companionship he observes how his father carries out transactions with all strata of society. It is among the father's duties to provide his child proper Islamic worldview of life. Many times it happens that fathers have suffered some grievance/deprivation in their childhood and they are intent that that same deprivation does not affect their sons. So some parents who were financially deprived in childhood go to extremes in showering wealth on their sons. Others who had a poor education might send their sons to the best schools. Others who were in low social strata of society might marry their son in a high class family. Some may not speak English with the right accent and send their children to Western schools. Others yet might be raised in very conservative environment and they are eager to provide very liberal upbringing to their sons. It is important that the fathers do not go to extremes in raising their sons, but rather try to establish a balance. A father should try and not transfer his own phobias in his son's buding personality.

A father should observe his son carefully for the special qualities he has. He should have an opinion about what profession his son can excel in and it does not hurt if he gives his son cues regarding his opinion from time to time. Nevertheless a father should not impose his will on the choice of his son's education and career. It is sometimes wise to let the son make some errors early in life so that they can learn from it later. Today's society glamorizes interaction between the sexes before marriage, so it is important for the father to notice when his son starts to be tempted by such social cues. I believe that a father should try to arrange marriage of his son at an early age to a righteous young lady - even before he completes his university education - if he feels there is a need for marriage. It is foolhardy to believe that one's son will always do the right thing even if one immerses him in a society of fitn (temptation/trial).

Sons are trusts given to fathers who are tested in fulfilling their responsibilities properly. Rather than thinking of them as life insurances for old age, fathers would be wiser to consider them as sources of perpetual charity for their after life.

The Greater Evil

Most Pakistani Muslims going to the West only concern themselves with being safe from eating only halal/zabiha meat. They make inquiries about its availability. They meticulously check the ingredients before buying any product, etc. Unfortunately they have no qualms in dealing with interest in banking or borrowing on interest for their cars and housing. Eating halal food is mentioned in the Quran but there are no real warnings for those who do not like there are for dealing in interest.

Have a look at these warnings:

1. Dealing in interest is tantamount to WAR with ALLAH and HIS PROPHET (SWAS) {Quran}

2. Dealing in interest is as if you have been made mad by the touch of Iblees (Satan) {Quran}

3. Dealing in interest at the lowest level is equivalent to having intercourse with your mother {Hadith, Ibn Majah -- classified as Saheeh by Shaykh Al Albani}

4, The Prophet (SWAS) refused to pray janaza for those who had loans (non-interest bearing).
If this is the case with halal loans, imagine how serious is having interest bearing loans for 20-30 years!

Most of us borrow on interest to show off their wealth & status. If a simple used car would be sufficient for our needs, we borrow to drive a 4x4. If a studio apartment can serve our purpose, we go for a town house. The habits of living economically within our means are now becoming extinct. Why should one save money for such investments and pay zakaat on it when one can pay that amount in downpayment and enjoy the life of the privileged members of society?

Question: Why is Riba prohibited in such serious terms?

Answer: Because it pools resources in the hands of only some members of society and causes enmity among the haves and have-nots. Eating non-zabiha meat causes health problems which are limited to the individual. Dealing in interest tears apart the fabric of brotherhood in societies apart and has serious repercussions. Since the effect is more the severity of prohibition is more.

Unfortunately we often follow Islam on the basis of peer pressure. If we can find a fatwa that will justify our desires to our Muslim friends and relatives we will pursue that course of action. There is a great need to understand Islam holistically. Imagine that there is no one around you that you are answerable to no one except Allah. Will you still follow your desires and justify your wrong actions to the ALL KNOWING? Being answerable to Him is most important. Everyone else do not matter...