To use our freedom to please God, we must acquire not only true divine knowledge but also knowledge of human nature. Combining both types of knowledge will save us from acting blindly and destroying the environment and ourselves. The Creator knows best and He alone is in the best position to guide us to the right path. With research, scientific ex-perimentation, and knowledge, we will come closer to the true guidance of the Divine and discover the right answers to our questions in time.
Consider the family as an example. Many modern psychologists and sociologists tell us that the family unit is necessary and society will collapse without it. If humanity had not understood the need for family structure from the dawn of time, there might not have existed viable societies today. Various basic values like honesty, trust, respect for life and property, sexual restraint, equality, and freedom from oppression are fundamental requirements for human existence. Without these values society cannot flourish, and it is in the family unit that these values are best nurtured. So important are these values for humankind that instead of waiting for humanity to discover them (if at all), they have been ingrained into our very inner selves, our innate nature or fitrah, as well as being revealed to humanity as essential values from the beginning of human existence, in order for human life and society to thrive on this planet.
Hence, it is not a coincidence that Prophet Adam, who was to father humanity on earth, and Eve, the mother of humanity, were taught these basic eternal values so that they could teach them to their children immediately, and in turn all the future human race. God illustrates the sanctity of life in the story of Cain (Qabil) and Abel (Habil). Just imagine, if Adam, Eve, and their children had been alcoholics, drug addicts or sexually permissive, what would have been the result?! Revelation is akin to a knowledgeable guide who shows us the way across a desert; without it, humanity would be lost and perish. Rightly-guided freedom produces civilized children and civil societies, who can survive because they have self-control, good habits, and proper environmental practices.
The universe is a perfect system: cells, atoms, and galaxies project a system of the highest order, and all these organized systems operate within set rules and limits. Ignoring these limits leads systems to disintegration.
The Creator founded this universe on a precise and balanced measure with great emphasis on complementary and integration. This concept of balance is mentioned three times in the following verses:
[At His behest] the sun and the moon run [exactly] their appointed courses; [before Him] prostrate themselves the stars and the trees. And the skies has He raised high, and has devised [Jar all things] a balance, so that you [too, 0 men,] might never transgress the balance [of what is right]: Weigh, therefore, [your deeds] with justice, and cut not the balance short! (Qur’an 55:5-9)
Key values, therefore, must be preserved at all costs. People must not abuse life and commit suicide, even if suicide is what they desire when things go very wrong for them. People should not commit incest, even if this is what they desire. People should not become alcoholics or drug addicts, destroying themselves, their families, and their society. Guidance was given to humans through divine revelation since ancient times. Human knowledge is limited and it may take a long time before most people can fully appreciate the value of the family, and realize the problems caused by racism, suicide, alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and adultery. Divine guidance from the very start of human life on earth sought to warn against these evil practices to allow humanity to realize its highest virtues.
Reverend and author Dr. Ierald F. Dirk: former ordained minister (deacon) in the United Methodist Church, who embraced is lam in 1993, when asked at a lIlT seminar what would be the single most important re form that he would like introduced into the religious church curriculum, responded: “1 do away with the disease of relativism in values and morality which keeps changing dangerously without bounds:’ The basic message stays constant and preserved and does no change according to the wishes of a your generation. After all, the essential needs human beings remain the same. The family system must be preserved and protected to avoid the disintegration of urbanized an modern industrialized families. Muslims can learn much from the positive aspects of Western freedom to liberate the oppressive and authoritarian ways of thinking and governing that have enslaved them and caused them to lag behind the West in development and re progress. Muslims have lost their worldview as civilization builders. The ‘adl and shuriar system (system of justice and consultation) which is supposed to govern all affairs of Muslim politics and economics, and of social solidarity – including the family and parenting has been replaced with tyrannical attitudes.
The West needs a vision to discipline its system of unguided freedom, whereas Muslim societies need liberation from strict and oppressive discipline. In other words, guide freedom in the West and free Muslims from the shackles of their misguided practices. Both to societies need to learn from each other and balance their concepts and actions in line with ill true authentic Divine revelation.
THE STORY OF RONALD KELLER
We need a stable spiritual and value system to live happily with certain firm standards.
“Born in 1954 in the farm country of the northwestern United States, I was raised in a religious family as a Roman Catholic. The Church provided a spiritual world that was unquestionable in my childhood, if anything more real than the physical world around me; but as I grew older, and especially after I entered a Catholic university and read more, my relation to the religion became increasingly called into question, in belief and practice.
One reason was the frequent changes in Catholic liturgy and ritual that occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, suggesting to laymen that the Church had no firm standards. To one another, the clergy spoke about flexibility and liturgical relevance, but to ordinary Catholics, they seemed to be groping in the dark. God does not change, nor the needs of the human soul, and there was no new revelation from heaven. Yet we rang in the changes, week after week, year after year; adding, subtracting, changing the language from Latin to English, and finally bringing in guitars and folk music. Priests explained and explained as laymen shook their heads. The search for relevance left large numbers convinced that there had not been much in the first place:’
NUH HA MIM KELLER 2001
Where to Raise Children A Case Study of the Culture Shock of Moving Between East and West When families move from East to West or vice versa, they experience a culture shock either way. Here for instance is the true story of one unfortunate family returning to their Muslim country after graduating from College in the United States with two new children. Although they had the option of working in America, the family decided to return to the Middle East so that their children could learn Arabic and the Qur’an. Upon landing, the children started experiencing the civilizational shock of a new country and commented:
“Yuck, this is a dirty place:’ Entering their apartment, anything that they touched dirtied their hands. Although the parents had been assured that the apartment had been thoroughly cleaned, the carpets, the walls, the stairs, and the balcony were not really clean.
Their real problem now was how to unpack in the midst of all the dust. The only solution was to clean the apartment themselves. The second shock was that while the construction materials were expensive, the workmanship was mediocre. The bathroom doors could not be fully closed. The tiles were beautiful but uneven and slippery. The plumbing was shiny but leaking. In spite of the scarcity of water and the daily interruptions to the water supply, the taps leaked. In the third floor, the water pressure was low and one had to fill buckets with water and store it overnight.
Another shock was schooling. The private schools were expensive and the public schools were an educational disaster. The teachers needed training and the children in many ways lacked manners and discipline. Parents could only weigh the advantages and disadvantages of sending their children to school at all!!
Transportation was too slow owing to congestion and lack of road maintenance. Packed school buses could cause children to spend hours traveling to and from school. For many, it was quicker to walk than to drive. To visit a relative or a friend, one had to plan the journey like a major trip from city to city.
Driving a car demanded the best of skills and all one’s nerves (akin to entering a war zone and facing the vicious maneuvers of enemies). In addition to the air pollution there was noise pollution. The children lost their privacy and peace of mind owing to the continual loud noises surrounding them, even within the home. Noises in the schools, the streets, and from the neighbors were even invading their bedroom. The only way to have a quiet moment was to travel to neighboring villages, a whole project in itself.
This is just one example of a possible culture shock that can occur to illustrate the issues that families who choose to move (whether from West to East or vice versa) can face. It cannot be generalized of course for not everybody will face the same difficulties or issues, nor does this imply that families should live in the East or the West. More to the point, each country has its own attractions and problems and each family is unique in its circumstances. There is no general directive of where it is best for children to live. Families who choose to move should realize that they have bought a package deal which will include negative and positive outcomes (and a wise decision for the family needs to be made).
In several discussions held with the authors, Dr. Taha Alalwani, a trustee of IIIT, Virginia, explained how the West lacked two essential concepts: 1) God is the Greatest (Allahu Akbar); and 2) God knows best (Allahu A’lam).
In terms of the first concept, when humans neglect the wisdom and authority of Almighty God in their affairs, they have in effect declared themselves “gods” in place of the Creator, the One and Only. If people become arrogant, misguided, and assume that they are free from error and the ultimate source of knowledge, then they can justify doing whatever they please to themselves, their families, their society, their world, and their environment. They may knowingly or unknowingly destroy the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom, and pollute the land, the sea, the air. Arrogance leads to the destruction of the order and balance of nature, and the skies and space around them (the ozone layer). Because humans have devalued the creation of God, they have tampered with the ecosystem and nature (such that clean air, pure water, and chemical-free meat and vegetables have become a rarity). Global warming is a real threat to human existence. No matter how much we progress in science and technology, we are still an insignificant proportion of the infinitely vast universe of the Creator. Humbleness is to say that God Knows Best (Allahu A’lam). The incredible scientific and technological discoveries of humankind up to the twenty-first century have caused many people to boast of human knowledge with arrogance. However, the irony is that the more we know, the more we discover how much more we do not know. Humbleness toward others and humility before God are essential ingredients of respectable scholarship. The truly great thinkers understand this. Humans should continually explore and discover new frontiers of knowledge. Remember that our desire to learn is due to the blessing of the Creator, the Supreme Being, who has endowed us with intelligence and provided us with the earth and the universe.