World crisis: results of a growing individualistic attitude, alarming depreciation of compassion & an unfortunate definition of ultimate success

BBC-news revealed a report by the United Nations (UN) in which the world was projected to face the worst crisis since 1945, over 20 million people are estimated  to die from severe hunger and malnutrition (mostly in poor countries and war stricken areas).

The growing individualistic attitude in our society is one of the causes of this unfortunate development. The family system has almost broken down, family members virtually have no time to ask about the welfare of each other. An atmosphere of “the world against me”, “each one for himself” etc. Preachers of various faiths are continuously turning people against each other (your grandmother wants your downfall, your mother is the cause of your problems, your  family hates you etc). This has created that mental makeup of an individual concentration of needs and wants, breeding selfishness and greed. If I get all and my neighbour doesn’t get any, who cares? After all, he doesn’t even wish me well, he’s a secret enemy. A world filled with unhealthy rivalry and injustice, nations rising against nations with a hidden agenda of taking their natural resources. With absolute disregard for the living conditions of the innocent citizens of those countries.

The unhealthy rivalry among mankind has resulted in an alarming depreciation of compassion. Most human hearts no longer have soft spots for the suffering or death of a neighbour. Preservation of life is so sacrosanct in the teachings of Islam so much that the Holy Qur’an says, if you kill an innocent soul, it’s as if you have killed the whole of mankind, and if you save an innocent soul, it’s as if you have saved the whole of mankind. Prophet Muhammad (saw) is also reported to have said that if you even go for hunting and you have no intention of using an animal as food or derive any benefits from it, never kill it for fun. This is the level of reverence that Islam places on every single soul on the surface of the earth as well as lives of animals. But today, the human  heart is so deficient of compassion, that the death or suffering of our neighbours means nothing to us, some even rejoice at it because of certain differences and affiliations. Some are also only interested in being the first to announce the death or suffering of a neighbour, or take pictures of the event to circulate. People will have extravagant celebrations (throwing away “excess” food) whiles their neighbour sleeps in hunger. It is for such reasons that Islam has made “Alms giving” as one of the pillars of faith. The concept of Islamic festivals, celebrations or rites is such that, if your neighbour has no course to also share in your happiness, then your celebration has no moral grounds in the presence of God. A non-Muslim friend once jokingly told me that when Muslims are having festivals, their neighbours even enjoy more than the Muslims themselves. For example, when Muslims have their Eid-ul-fitr or Eid-ul-adha celebrations, all their friends share in their happiness (give me my eid/ sanla meat as the non-Muslims usually put it, give me my “sanla food” etc) we all share. Another friend also jokingly said that he becomes a Muslim during Ramadan (fasting), because he is assured of his free porridge, free fruits, free food and drinks etc, at mosques and residences of his Muslim friends. The Ramadan period is to imbibe in us a high level of generosity and even transcend beyond Ramadan to every single day of an individual’s life. Aside the numerous spiritual enhancements of Ramadan, one of the additional benefits of Ramadan is that,  it also gives you a feel of the pungs of hunger for you to grow in compassion towards a neighbour who is hungry. Welfare of your neighbours and the less privileged is so important in Islam that in most of our sacrifices, you are required to keep only one-third and distribute the rest of the two-thirds of that sacrifice to your neighbours as well as to the less privileged.

Our beloved master, the Holy Prophet is also reported to have said, that when you are praying and you hear or see that your neighbour’s (Muslim or Non-Muslim) house is on fire, it is incumbent for you to stop the prayer and ensure that you help put off the fire before you come back to offer your prayer. If you continue with the prayer whiles your neighbour is in agony, then such a prayer will have no acceptance in the presence of God. This is the level of compassion that Islam seeks in the heart of every human being who walks the surface of this earth. A practical demonstration of “Love For All, Hatred for None”.

In another development, the unfortunate definition of success is also a major cause of crisis such as suicide. Success has now been wrongly defined by the world as an individual who gathers more of worldly possessions. This has resulted in widespread corruption and all sorts of vices in the quest of the masses for this false success. Hence an individual who doesn’t get a particular target of a worldly possession, unfortunately sees him or herself as a failure and develops a tendency of doing the unthinkable because the society ridicules him as a failure. The situation is so worrying that young people who have made wealth through all sorts of foul means are now given the front roles of leadership during events and occasions. Our elders or those who have exhibited high standards of virtues which are worthy of emulation by the coming generation are relegated to the back seats, rarely getting an opportunity to   share their rich experience of wisdom, knowledge and virtues. This is the level at which the world has wrongly defined success. Preachers of other faith are also not doing us any good, the word of God has been dumped aside as they keep focusing their congregation on worldly possessions all in the name of miracles.

One interesting thing is that, the chasing of worldly possession is like chasing of wind, you will never catch it and you will never be satisfied. A renowned psychologist compiled the “suicide notes” of some very wealthy men, and surprisingly most of them had an aspect in the note which talked about their inability to get content with certain worldly possession they considered as success. They indeed got what they wanted, but they found no contentment in their hearts. A summary of their story was like, “is this all we wished and excessively toiled for??”.  So people who define success by worldly possession, if they fail to get it, they are miserable and become suicidal, those who acquire some, find out that they were just chasing wind, they found no true happiness and contentment in worldly possession, they are more miserable and also opt for suicide to bring their misery to an end. For us to properly define success in this world, we must know the purpose for which we were created for this world and strive for excellence in that purpose, that will be the true success and the true contentment of the heart. The Most Gracious and Ever Merciful God has clearly stated this purpose, unequivocally in the Qur’an. God said that the only purpose for which He created man is to worship Him.

The worship of Allah is a very detailed topic, but briefly and with respect to the subject matter, we can say that the worship of God encompasses all virtues. Therefore the person who excels in virtues is the successful one. In your daily life, all your deeds and actions should have a link to the worship of Allah. Even as you work, you work in sincerity, making a living with genuine and truthful means, to be able to take care of your family, to be able to help those in need, to be able to contribute to the work of God. Everything you do must foster peace, harmony and justice (that is worship of God too), your deeds should practically demonstrate “Love For All, Hatred For None”, and the spread of all virtues to all corners of the world, this is also worship of God, and this is the true teachings of Islam. He who excels in the worship of God, he is truly the successful one.

God has also mentioned in the Qur’an, that it is only in the remembrance of God that the heart finds its peace. Thus, worldly possession can give us no true contentment of the heart, except in the true worship of God, following His true teachings and striving for righteousness.

If only Muslims will let their lives be a true reflection of the true teachings of Islam, if only the world will take a second look at the true teachings of Islam without any prejudice, we would have found the solution to all the problems of mankind. All praise belongs to God,  Lord of all the worlds, A

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