Rafed English

Freedom in The Personal Sphere

Modern western civilization has tried hard to get the largest possible share of freedom for each individual in his personal conduct, the share which does not harm other people's freedom.

It is not important, after making this freedom available for all individuals, how they would use it, the outcomes resulting therefrom, the psychological and intellectual reactions thereof ..., as long as each individual is free in his behaviour and conduct, capable of executing his own will in his personal spheres. The drunkard, for example, is allowed to drink as much liquor as he wants and sacrifice the last particle of his consciousness and awareness as long as he does not bother others or become a men- ace to their lives in this way or the other.

Mankind has become intoxicated with the tones of this "freedom" and slept therein for sometime, feeling for the first time that he has ruined all the chains and that this giant, who has been suppressed within his depths for thousands of years, has set out for the first time and has been permitted to do what- ever he willed in the light, without fear or worry.

But this sweet dream did not last for a long time! Man started waking up slowly to gradually realize that he is disturbed, that this freedom has chained him with huge chains, destroying his hopes for a free humane setting out ..., for he found himself being pushed in a carriage running on a planned path without being able to change or im- prove its course.

All of his consolation and solace, while looking at his destiny on his planned path, is that there is someone who has said that this carriage is the carriage of freedom, in spite of these cuffs and chains in his hands!

But when did freedom change into a chain? And how did setting out lead to those cuffs which pull the carriage along its planned destiny, and in the end man woke up to witness such bitter reality?! This, indeed, is what Islam had predicted fourteen centuries ago when it did not satisfy itself with pro- viding such superficial meaning for freedom for man who has been inflicted with all these contradictions in the modern living experience of western man. Rather, it went to further than that and brought forth a much deeper concept of freedom. It declared a revolution not only against the chains and shackles as they appear, but, rather, against their psycho- logical and intellectual roots. Thus has it guaranteed man the highest and purest norms of freedom people have ever tasted across the passage of history ... !

If freedom, according to western civilization, starts from "liberation" to end in hues of slavery and chains, as we shall explain, ... then vast free dom, according to Islam, is quite the opposite, for this starts from pure submission to Allah Almighty to end with liberation from all norms of humiliating slavery.

Islam starts its operation to liberate man from the inner content of man himself, for it sees that granting man freedom is not by saying to him: "This is the path! We have cleared it for you; so, walk on it in peace! " Rather, man becomes truly free when he can control his path and maintain for his humanity the right to determine his path and portray its char- acteristics and directions. This depends, above all, on man's liberation from the slavery of the desires which occupy his mind so that the desire may change to a tool which attracts man to what he likes, not a pushing power to exhaust man's will without being able to practise towards it any potential or capacity, for if it has been so, man would have lost his freedom in the first place! It does not change the reality when his hands are free as long as his mind and all his hu- man concepts, which distinguish him from the animal kingdom, are chained and frozen! We all know that the essential thing which distinguishes man's freedom from that of the animals is generally the fact that, although they both act according to their respective will, man's will is always subservient to his desires and instinctive inclinations ... As for man, he is equipped with the capacity to control his desires, using his mental logic in their respect. The secret of his freedom, as a human being, then, is confined within this capacity. If we freeze it within him, being satisfied with granting him the superficial freedom in his ractical behaviour, providing him with all capabilities and temptations to respond favourably to his desires, as the "modern" western civilization has already done ...

then we would gradually de- stroy his human freedom in exchange of the desires of the animal confined within his depths, making him a tool to satisfy those desires, so much so that when he looks upon himself, during his passage, he will find himself the indicted one, rather than the indicting, one whose affairs and will are over- come ...

Contrariwise: If we start with that capacity wherein the secret of human freedom is confined, giving it growth and nourishment, remaking man as a human being, not a beast, making him aware of the fact that his message in life is much more sublime than that abhorred beastly destiny driven to him by those desires, and that his high principle for the purpose of whose achievement he is made, is much, much more elevated than these trivial objectives and cheap gains he gets through his materialistic pleasures ... I say: If we do all this until man is liberated from the slavery of his own desires, eman- cipating himself from their captivating influence, possessing his own will ..., the free man will then be created who can say "Yes" or "No" without his mouth being suppressed or hand chained by this temporary desire or that cheap pleasure ... !

This is exactly what the Qur'an has said when it put for the Muslim individual his particular spiri- tual stamp, developing his criteria and principles, pulling him out of earth and its limited goals to vaster horizons and more sublime objectives:

Fair in the ey es of m en is the lov e of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence) ; and ( wealth of) cattle and well- tilled land. S uch are the possessions of this world's lif e; but in nearness to A llah is the best of the goals (to return to). Say: "Shall I give you glad tidings of things f ar better than those?" For the righteous are gardens in nearness to their Lord, with riv ers f lowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with companions pure (and holy) ; and the good pleasure of A llah. For in A llah 's sight are (all) His servants. (Qur'an, 3:14-15)

This is but the war of liberation in its internal content of man, and it spontaneously is the first basis and the head-start to liberate mankind according to Islam. Without it, all norms of freedom would become falsehood and deception, and in the end a captivity and a chain ... !

We see, in the light of this Qur'anic guidance, that the method the Qur'an uses to deliver mankind from the yoke of desires and the slavery of pleasure is the general method Islam always uses to cultivate humanity in all fields: the method tawhid ( Unity of God). Islam, when it liberates man from earth slavery and its vanishing pleasures, connects him with heavens and its gardens, the similitude of which is the Pleasure of Allah, for tawhid in Islam is the aid for man's inner liberation from all norms of slavery, and it is the aid for the human liberation in all fields.

Suffices us here to mention one example which we have passed in a previous chapter, in order to know the glorious results of this liberation and the extent of the difference between the true freedom of the Qur'anic man and those artificial norms of freedom advocated by the modern nations of the western civilization. The nation the Qur'an liberated, when it called her in one word to renounce wine, has been able to say "No" to wine and erase it from its dictionary after it used to be part of its entity and an article of its necessities, for it was in pos- session of its will, free in facing its desires and animal impulses. In short, it enjoyed a true freedom which allowed it to control its conduct.

As for that nation modern civilization has cre- ated, granting it its individual freedom according to its particular method.

Adopted from the book: "Contemporary Man and The Social Problem" by: "Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr"

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