Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Fear Factor

It is said that when one gets bitten by a poisonous snake, one often does not die directly by just the venom but by its quick circulation with one's blood to all parts of the body due to the intense fear one undergoes. It is often our negative perceptions to neutral situations that harms us. The solution of coarse lies in focusing on positive aspects of events. Indeed, the Prophet (SWAS) has been reported as saying: "How amazing is the affair of the believer! Allah does not decree anything for him but it is good for him. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks, and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This is not for anyone except the believer" (Muslim).

Often we find ourselves locked in the same routine of life, daily facing the same problems through which Allah (SWT) has chosen to test us with. So much so that we find ourselves overwhelmed by our troubles which tend to become exaggerated due to their persistence in our lives. Try to remember that issue which caused you sleepless nights in the past. Looking back, it seems so trivial now, so much so that you might not even remember what was it that bothered you so much! Look at the brothers from Jamaatut Tableegh Wa Dawah. They go out to travel throughout societies studying what problems people in all walks of life are facing and search for Islamic solutions for them. Granted their Islamic knowledge may not be much, but one thing one has to give them is acknowledgement for focusing outside their own parameters of social life and genuinely caring for others. In doing so Allah (SWT) protects them from all sorts of personal phobias.

Other than traveling, one can be free from fear through reading non fiction. The Arabs have a saying, khairul jalees al kitaab which means the best companion that one may sit with, is the book. Indeed the best of books to sit with is the Holy Quraan. In it we find parables and similitudes which we can relate to the problems of our daily life, in addition to the wisdom to guide us through the most difficult of situations. Other non fiction books on social sciences including those of history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, biographies, travelogues, political science, education, economics, religion, etc. provide a wealth of insights which we should use in our decision making. Muslims tend to deliberately ignore studying the social sciences by focusing in specializing in high paying physical sciences fields like engineering, medicine, computer sciences, etc. This results in a society in which the wealthy leadership is ill equipped to deal with major problems it faces as most such problems are social in nature. Care is needed to interpret these sciences from an Islamic perspective as many of their theories are against the Islamic ideals. Many "successful" individuals in our societies, to whom the others look up to, have chosen the shortcut of grafting unislamic social solutions to Muslim societies, without thinking about them deeply. No wonder the blessings in our societies are evaporating as we follow others to their lizard holes as the Prophet (SWAS) rightly predicted. This loss of blessings is the cause of the paralyzing fear which we experience while facing our social problems.

The solutions to our problems must come from ourselves, not through some drastic, sudden, irrational reaction to what is happening to us; but rather through analytic, cool-tempered, well though out, long term policies and courses of action which are grounded in reality and Prophetic wisdom. This work can not just be delegated to our political or religious leadership as was done in the past, but everyone of us should undertake to educate oneself, drop Cultural Islam, adopt Islamic Culture, understand the true nature of the world we live in and come up with an individual as well as a collective response. We must learn not always to follow the crowd but rather to use our minds, develop a perspective and live by it.

If you live in fear and insecurity, you are not the only one. Perhaps you do not realize that those who you look up to may be in deeper anxieties than you. A drastic action is more likely to make your situation more precarious. It might be wiser to be more grateful for the blessings you enjoy and patiently bear the problems you face, while constantly trying to improve yourself in your reaction to those problems. Recently, I read a tweat which said "The problem is not the problem. The attitude to the problem is the problem. That's the problem!"