There is a fundamental flaw in the current worldview that dominates our intellects and actions and it causes our current situation, both at a human level and planetary one. This flaw is that we want -and pretend to- operate in the world as if we, the earth, and every living thing is cold, hard matter; obviating the unseen -and unmeasurable- reality that lies behind it all. And, first and foremost, obviating the Divine reality.
This has resulted in a plenitude of ideologies competing to grasp our understanding but all emerging from the same place. Adhering to one of these ideologies -or any ideology at all- it’s contrary to nature. Nature is not a system, said Goethe. And Islam is nature. This, in turn, has caused our current situation.
Our situation results from what our “own hands have earned”. It will be difficult to argue with this, whether or not from the perspective of a believer. The current scientific worldview is based on the relationship between cause and effect. What we are seeing is the effect of something that we have caused:
Any disaster that strikes you is through what your own hands have earned, and He pardons much. (42:30)
Although our current situation is not a kind of divine punishment for our irreligiosity. Allah says that “He pardons much” and the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us, in a Hadiz Qudsi, that Allah is “as His servant expects of Him” (Bukhari and Muslim). Sometimes, claiming divine intervention is avoiding our responsibilities. It is “what our own hands have earned”.
Seeing a consequence and attributing it a cause is not negating the fact that Allah has power over everything in creation and that nothing happens except that He makes it happen, rather, is discerning patterns. Attributing power to the cause to bring about the effect is not having understood the nature of the Divine and Reality:
They will ask you about the crescent moons. Say, ´They are set times for mankind and for the hajj´. (Quran, 2:189)
Set times means that we know when it will be day and when it will be night, so we can discern patterns in creation, act accordingly and maintain sanity.
Sanity is discerning patterns and acting accordingly. However, we are living through a time so bizarre it seems difficult to make sense of it. It seems difficult, only, when you look at it through the lens of the current zeitgeist, and the definitive marker of this time is the absence of the centrality of the Divine in the human project. Put God back at the centre of the stage and everything appears clearer.
The root cause of the problem is, as in a classical Greek tragedy, our very own humanity. When the human puts himself as the master of the universe -something that no other creature can conceive doing- he forgets that the universe and himself have a Master.
Making man the measuring stick for reality is not the mark of any particular system that has emerged over the past three hundred years, but the foundational stone of all of them. Therefore, trying to make sense of the particularities of our circumstances by attributing it to a particular ‘ism’ is not realising their common origin and missing the point. It is, as well, not realising that we have put something into motion of which we are living its resultant inertia; which has also affected all religions, although not all religious people.
This is the meaning attributed to this Ayat:
When they are told, ´Do not cause corruption on the earth´, they say, ´We are only putting things right´. (2:11).
To cause corruption in the earth is to act as if there is no Divine reality. This is what Ibn Abbas said when explaining the meaning of this verse: to disobey God in what He has commanded and what He has forbidden. The corruption that we are seeing on our planet, so painfully clear, results from that. Our current condition, too, results from that.
However, we should not consider this as an issue of personal morality, that is a danger we need to avoid, but of social, civil and ecological responsibility. I certainly have to do what is in my hands to avoid contributing to this corruption, but, if we reduce the problem to a guilt trip, we would ignore the actual causes and making it very easy for the establishment of any kind of dictatorship; neither of which will contribute much to the betterment of our situation.
It is only natural than when we discern a pattern of cause and effect, we would ask what causes that of which this is the effect, and, more poignantly, who -in practical terms- brought about the cause which effects we are contemplating. When these effects are harmful, this question becomes very relevant.
Groups with questionable intentions -if not outright indictable- have always existed and will exist. These are the same that over and over have opposed the Divine Reality and its Messengers and when told “not to cause corruption on the earth” they answered, “we are only putting things right”.
However, to think our situation results from a single mind or group throughout time conspiring about how to control us all and make us suffer, it’s a proof that we have not understood how pervasive our current worldview is. It takes over our intellects and hearts, not leaving a single gap for a blade of grass to grow. And it downplays the issue back to personal morality.
In the study of psychology, one learns that even the more delusional psychopaths have a justification for their actions. If you were to ask them, they would probably answer that they were “only putting things right”.
It is hard to believe that Bill Gates -a source of much conspiracy, and rightly so- wakes up every morning and has breakfast whilst thinking about how to control the world. It is much more probable that, if you ask him, he would say that he is “only putting things right” and he probably believes it. So, he comes up with ideas such as massive vaccines programs, free books for entire populations or genetically modified seed to withstand plagues. All very practical and valuable solutions emerging from the same worldview that created the need for those solutions in the first place.
Not only that, but we applaud those solutions and hail their proponents unaware that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”, a definition that it is commonly quoted in psychology books.
To the betterment of our situation, there are three things that we should keep in mind -and heart-.
The first, recognising the Divine reality constantly behind every process in the universe and, by consequence, giving back to man what technique has taken, his soul.
Second, recognising that acknowledging the Divine reality must have an impact on our actions and that we are not the measuring sticks for reality. Man is the observed, not the observer.
And third, that there is no evil force or force of any kind that can oppose these first two.
A good place to start:
He is Allah — there is no god but Him. He is the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible. He is the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful. He is Allah — there is no god but Him. He is the King, the Most Pure, the Perfect Peace, the Trustworthy, the Safeguarder, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Supremely Great. Glory be to Allah above all they associate with Him. He is Allah — the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Quran, 59:22-24)
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