Monday, September 9, 2013

Parallel Paradigms

Have you ever seen a 3D movie? You can visualize the same scene with or without the glasses but only one depicts the extra virtual depth dimension that seems missing from plain 2D. Experiencing the reality of this world can be sensed the same way. You can either look at the apparent, outward and material aspects of this world; or you can try to put on glasses that allow you to holistically sense extra dimensions of its reality. This is the difference between the materialistic worldview and Islamic worldview. The two are diametrically opposite ways of sensing. They are two parallel paradigms of reality!

The materialistic worldview removes God from the grand narrative of reality of this world. It states that the world, its characteristics, mankind with all his capabilities and adaptations, etc. came about by a chain of probabilistic events. The highly improbable likelihood of everything happening by chance does not deter the proponents of this worldview. They vehemently deny any grand purpose. As opposed to this the Islamic paradigm is God-centric. It provides a purpose of the creation of the Universe, this world, mankind and his position in it. It points to continuation of the human experience in afterlife which will be based on actions of this life. In its philosophy, there is a struggle between Good and Evil and it promises the eventual victory for the Good.

Islamic worldview is enhanced by a continual study of its sources and its implementation in our lives. A viewer of a 3D movie would only be confused if he puts on glasses with one glass missing. Likewise it seems ridiculous to put the glass of materialism on the right eye on Islam on the left. I assure you, by doing so you will not enjoy the movie (narrative) from neither perspective and will waste your theater ticket and time. Yet this is what most Muslims are attempting to do!
Have you seen the optical illusion that shows an image of a young woman and an old woman in the same illustration? (If not see Based on your initial perspective you can see either and eventually both. In many ways this life is a series of such illustrations. Based on the type of glasses you are wearing you will see a certain image, which might be diametrically opposite of the image you see if you were wearing the other set of glasses. In many ways our perspective is colored by our intentions. We go along life making decisions based on what we sense and in the end we would be accountable for all our decisions. At that point we will see all our optical illusions for what they really were. Outward religious practices like the 5 pillars, keeping good company and studying the Quran with comprehension are supposed to help you be inspired to keep making the right decisions and keep you on the right track (Siraat al Mustaqeem).

It is important to emphasize that the same way a 3D view does not eliminate any benefit from 2D, the same way the Islamic paradigm does not belittle any materialistic detail that may be good for us. Thus in trying to achieve the Islamic goals you will accomplish those materialistic goals that may be good for you anyway, whereas they opposite may not be true.

To be true to Islamic practice, it may be useless to try to just cling on the apparent forms of worship of our religion in the face of a global materialistic onslaught. We cannot force our children to do the same either. What is needed is for us to taste and keep enhancing our Islamic spiritual experiences by truly studying Islam from its sources and attempting to implement it in our lives. Only then can we be hopeful to be always inspired to the Truth.