By: Mahnoor Shafaq
The subject of the holy book of Muslims i.e. the Holy Quran, is “human” and so is the focal point of social sciences in theory, and manifestation of liberal arts in practice, in a collectivity of humans termed as “society”. But, it is heartrending that today, in the very society on the “land of the pure,” children are manhandled, adults are depressed and the aged languish. In today’s globalized world, domino effect is no surprise; be it the practice of using a minor for homosexuality or a 16-year-old with hands on smoky-smelling poppy on the west of Pakistan’s border, the missing girls to the north, or the ceasefire violations to the vulnerable east of it. Innumerable roles of humans, being the basic parts of social institutions like family, education and religion etc., may be grasped by a rough classification into three age groups; sometimes imparting differently to problem-creation and to solution implementation, at others. Most likely, observance of realism in the former case, and of liberalism in the latter! What stands the exigency of time in an Islamic Republic is the prevalence of moderation so as to suppress the effects of inability in childhood, mischief-making in youth and impotence in old age.
This article is aimed at pinpointing the maladies as well as suggesting the remedies in the light of Religion, International Relations, General Science and Sociology; spiced with its twin sisters: Criminology and Gender Studies, utilizing the micro-and macro- perspectives.
It is, at times, vexing that “man,” being the crown of creations, stands out to be the ultimate authority on the face of the earth, as he associates with the likes of him so as to form a family, a society, an ethnicity, a city-state, a region and the world at large. Such legal fictions are choreographed by humans and ain’t sacrosanct. Hence, it is humans who assist and humans who are assisted, or otherwise, who oppress and who are oppressed. Furthermore, it is but systemic in nature that out of the three age groups, only one is vigorous and independent: apparently the victor, but sarcastically the vanquished, being the one to shoulder twofold responsibilities of dealing with an average 30-year lag and lead of time respectively, more appropriately the generation gap.
At grassroots, the problem arises in the first transition, that is, from juvenility to youth. A life which has just begun must be free to flourish beyond the stretches. It never makes one powerful if one defeats the debilitated – enslaves those whose mothers had borne them free (Umar RA) – and to strangle the chi of a budding sapling, which gives it a fresh breath to be a massive, fruitful tree one day. But factually, many a seedling wilts before reaching fruition. So do the little angels when they are subjected to undue regimentation, thus producing more and more “living dead” in the society, who lack regimentation when they ought to have it, only because they were, needlessly, dosed its unjustified amounts. Ecclesiastically, this mismatching of “time” goes on to define and shape their lives, the disasters of which are easily discernable today in the form of stubbornly irresponsible youth whose childhood had been a gloomy picture, as an enchained Sindhi pupil in a madrassa, a pellet-gun-blinded Kashmiri, an orphaned Syrian toddler or a traumatized Rohingya refugee, a sexually-exploited and dumped little girl, the child labourers in public schools who are inculcated subservience rather than knowledge or, in short, any such bird whose wings were clipped long before he could learn to fly. The Tabula Rasa (blank slate as John Locke puts it), hence, gets indelible prints of what often leads to “juvenile delinquency”. A plethora of problems with respect to all social agencies awaits such child, as (s)he enters adolescence. “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chained,” says Ecclesiastes, and it may be extended to encompass every such being. Therefore, in the next interaction and transition (of youth to age), at the same time, a lack of direction and a course of action emerge as the Achilles’ heel.
As mentioned above, the mid age (or the 2nd generation) seems to be bridging the gap between the past (1st generation) and the future (3rd generation). People are quite confused and clueless regarding “what to go after”. The greatest conflict is observable in adherence to either religion or society, making one ponder “is it an end of history or clash of civilizations!”
“I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice,” to borrow Garrison, to give an account of the termite eating up the solidarity trunk of this nation. In the arena of education, discrimination rears with many parallel educational systems – a few of them having Cambridge system targeting Ivy League/CIE institutes abroad. Career counselling and respect for the passion are the traits in oblivion. The situation lands the bewildered students or good-for-nothing graduates in a pathetic mishmash, where practice is divorced from theory, industry and academia are poles apart and where discounts on brands, and not on jobs, are offered. It won’t be an exaggeration if I term the situation a PGD (Post-Graduation Depression) – whatever the field of study, majority is the sufferer. Enormous talent is still trapped in this vicious cycle. What a pity!
To add more somber strokes to the picture, the answer most probably would be in affirmative if we ask ourselves: “Are we mentally still colonized?” If not, why an air of pride in intonation while speaking a foreign language, according special regard to acquaintances residing in Europe or America, watching MTV, wearing Adidas or eating at McDonalds? While it is no offence, rationally speaking, what’s the point of pride in imitating others? Why wish for digital age theoretically, when stuck in the stone-age practically? Isn’t it hypocritical to physically relish independence in one country and have mental loyalties to another? Conversely, why not let our own actions speak louder than our words, and be proud? Why not make our popular culture a high one for the rest of the world? There is no blinking at the fact that like society (an invisible driver that steers our lives), social media are the 3rd unbidden partner, which dictate the interaction of apparently two so-called tech-savvy subjects in an unintentional and unfelt manner, giving rise to the phenomena like post-truth and cybercrimes.
“Humans are becoming machines, who need orders and nothing but orders.” (Weber)
No wonder, open a random post on any social media outlet and feel the thwarted ambitions, mortified pride and lacerated egos in general comments and of heads of states in their unending blame game. There is a pressing need to raise ourselves high, instead of bringing others down.
Seems all negative, so far? Talking only about the good bits may be hypocritical but talking all bad is also tyrannical. Let’s be “optimistic realists”. Well, each one of us is suffering from some problems, not all. Let’s analyze the evils along with the buds they are to be nipped in. On a macro-perspective, why can’t it be so?
Let’s start with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is a choice – not the only – saviour of our economy as it brings in FDIs or the only ray of hope for employment in our factor-intensive country. The utilization of IP, TAPI, CASA-1000 projects is a greater necessity for the neighbours owing to geostrategic position of Pakistan. The carrot-and-stick policy combines with the ideals of Wilsonian optimism in the diplomatic sphere to preempt the do-more mantra and similar relational vicissitudes of the hobbled hegemon. A highly human-resource-developed nation, instead of living on foreign remittances, would become a crucial dependable ally for Saudi-Iran amiability and a potent force to halt the emerging new Cold War in the Middle East. The unidirectional brain-drain can be reverted only by building educational systems staring, competitively, at the Korean and Scandinavian ones. While the archrival India boasts to be the biggest democracy, Pakistan can dispel the India-created negative impression of being a sponsor of ‘terrorism’ in Kashmir from the platform of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). And while the belligerent neighbour boasts having silicon valley, Pakistan, by playing the Russia-China-Pakistan bonhomie card rightly, strives for getting a seat at high table of international community and sophisticated tech-equipped Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), alike. Gwadar is the deepest port in this region; hence, the world renders Chabahar as its “twin” – not an “identical” one. Having said all that, it is high time each one of us literally owned this motherland and put its house in order.
Switching back to micro-realities, the institution of family is rendered extremely fragile, with majority of population belonging to lower-middle and upper-middle classes, according to Warner’s classification of social class. Besides love and war, everything is fair in upper-upper and lower-upper classes and nothing is fair in upper-lower and lower-lower classes. The middle class is where the conflict perspective holds true and my emphasis on middle class and middle age because they are in majority in Pakistani society. Young people, largely, are sceptical of God’s creativity as they indulge in extreme body-shaming. Likewise, these cyber-maniac hipsters are accustomed to have perceptional myopia and inferiority complex, with our pseudo-intellectuals unable to decide which has greater precedence; religion or society? While culture takes a longer time to change, the pacing multi-culturalism and overlapping of socio-religious issues asks for the cruciality of research or Ijtehad, remaining relevant; the very spirit of Quran.
Who shift not their outlook, but the Quranic content;
How wretched are the jurists! (Iqbal)
If we really are the citizens of an Islamic Republic, let’s read between the lines the Holy Quran: the best book ever of religion, sociology and science. Even for religious minorities, laws of science (social or natural) are never in contradiction with the laws of nature (Religion of Nature: Islam). A Muslim is supposed to discern man-made (society) from God-made (religion) e.g. not bride’s passing under the Quranic shadow but implementation of the golden teachings of the very book is a guarantee of prosperous life. Likewise, ritual of endogamy even in the 21st century appreciates the ascribed status, while achieved status becomes secondary in importance, thus putting a subconscious bar to the diversified choices of adolescents, who always thought on the lines of: “Tribes and clans are only for recognition, The rank of superiority is not caste/creed or colour, but piety” and who never ever throughout their life get Nobel-awarded for abstinent conformity to undue social expectations. Domestic violence is rampant; an activity condemned by religion but having the flawed societal garb of ‘male dominance’, resulting in broken families and again juvenile delinquency. Baffled feminists, on the other hand, amid unnatural LGBT campaigns of the West (society) and the perks offered to fair sex by Islam (religion) are chanting irrational slogans. It’s not a point of comparison at all.
“And of everything, we created a pair.” (Yasin: 49)
When roughly 50 percent of the population is at loggerheads with the rest, talking about trans-community rights is a far cry. In the Hobbesian situation of “war of all against all,” it’s a community of humans (God-made) longing to be acknowledged as humans by other humans (God-made), present often on crossroads waving hands on a good day. Similarly, ideology of declaring others infidels (Takfiriyat) as inherited from Spanish “society” doesn’t suit to the genius of Muslims (the followers of peace-loving religion). Furthermore, combining social agency of family with health, it was only recently that Pakistan got its name off the list of top 10 global warming victims, but still at the alarming 11th. Climatically, in an already warm country, the high-on-hormone youth either becomes morally depraved or diseased with respect to health, to say mildly. In the former case, generally ostensible modesty doesn’t let society discuss what even religion explains elaborately, resulting in the latter case where evil soars its head high rendering virtue as coward. Eventually, in the tug-of-war between what is right, what is possible or what is in the good interest of youth, people are raising ailing angels or healthy libertines and not normal humans, all due to illogical social constraints.
In a bid to conform to the social norms, we most often deliberately neglect the religious ethics. Since all social agencies are inextricably tied together, we begin observing something as a means to some end but in the course of action, we start taking the means as the end itself. It is same as everybody wants to have rosy surroundings, but some can’t resist plucking roses for themselves, thus disturbing order (of themselves and the surroundings equally). Quite justifiably, too many of us are living their fears, not their dreams.
In all the three said debates (feminist-anti-feminist, Muslim-infidel, society-science) we need to understand that we are humans in the first place. The rights of one become the responsibilities of other. Even the largest of collectivities owe their existence to the basic unit “human”. So only humans can either heal humans or lead them to doom. Let’s reorient “society” by implementing in our lives the societal norms described in Al-Hujarat, being a strength for one another and not a weakness. Simultaneously implementing “religion” as per Marx’s description: “The sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions.” In a nutshell, anything that is not repugnant to Islam and not in violation of law is right. Let’s ease our lives with these two greatest certifications. Blood is to water, what family is to other sociological institutions. So let the charity begin at home and be spread out to the longitudes and latitudes of this country. In the final stage of old age, people will have to decide, whether they want to follow Al-Isra: 23 and 24 (My Lord! Have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small) or keep resorting to the shameful acts like granny-battering and reliance on old homes in case they themselves also want to be bidden adieu in a similar manner in a few years to come, after a long lush life.
Let’s learn to respect humans. Let’s amalgamate positively innovation of juvenile, vigour of youth and wit of age. And, above all, let’s be nectar-collecting bees and not wound-sucking houseflies. Using the greatest gift of wisdom human, are endowed with, let’s learn how to turn hell to heaven and not the vice versa. Let’s not harp on the repeated concerns since we are accustomed to lead a life seasoned with violence, self-pity, stagnancy and hedonistic tendencies. Let’s stop before drawing our daggers to assassinate some human literally or figuratively and think for a moment of the knowledge base and evidence that back our take. Let’s not always wait for some apocalypse to awaken our slumbered philanthropist. Quoting D.H. Lawrence’s “Give her a pattern” and replacing “woman” with “human”, the situation may be summarized as:
“When a human is hysterical, this is because the one doesn’t quite know WHAT TO BE, WHICH PATTERN TO FOLLOW.”
Let’s be the change we want to see in the society and the world at large. Let’s make earth a heavenly abode for the very little time, we are to spend here, when compared to the vast stretches of time and space. And then with the proper mix and match of “free will” and “destiny”, one may rightly prove that “life is an art”.
Though I have little of rhetorician’s art,
Maybe these words will sink into your hearts (Iqbal)