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Islam and Modern Life - II

Man is not the only living being which leads a social life. Many animals, especially insects, are gregarious. They follow sensible but fixed rules of co-operation, division of labour, production and distribution, and giving and receiving orders.

The bees, and certain kinds of ants and termites enjoy such superb systems, that it will take man, who considers himself to be the prince of creation, years, even centuries, to reach that level.

Their civilisation, contrary to the human civilisation, has not passed through such periods as the forest age, the stone age and the atomic age. They, from the very beginning, have had the same civilisation and the same system as they have today. It is man who started his life from a scratch: Vide Surah al-Nisa, 4 : 28 "Man was created powerless" and is marching forward towards infinity.

For the animals, the requirements of life are always the same. For them, modernity and new fashions have no meaning. The ancient world and the modern world do not exist for them. So far as they are concerned science does not make new discoveries everyday. The latest products of light and heavy industries do not come to their market; why? Because they live by instinct, and not by reason.

But the social life of human beings is always subject to change. Every century, the world is changed. There lies the secret of man's being the prince of creation. Human being is the mature and worthy child of nature. He has reached a stage, where he does not require the direct guidance of that mysterious force which is called instinct.

Nature recognises that man is mature, and that is why it has left him free. What an animal accomplishes by its instinct and by following inviolable natural laws, human beings should accomplish by one's intellect and knowledge, and by following the viable enacted laws.

Man, being the master of his own destiny, can always deviate from the path of progress, and there lies the secret of his slips, setbacks, lapses and failures.

Just as the way to progress and advancement is open to him, the way to corruption, perversion and failure is also not closed.

Human beings have reached such a stage that, in the words of the Qur'an, they can shoulder that trust which the heavens, the earth and the mountains could not carry. In other words, they can lead a free life and can accept legal, professional and other responsibilities. That is the reason why they are not immune to mistakes, selfishness, ignorance and injustice.

Where the Qur'an refers to this wonderful human capacity, it also immediately describes man as 'unjust' and 'ignorant'.

These two human capacities - the capacity of evolution and the capacity of deviation, are inseparable. Man is not like an animal which, in its social life, goes neither forward nor backward. It turns neither to the right nor to the left. On the other hand, man, in his life, sometimes goes forward and sometimes backward. In human life if there is motion and speed, there is halt and pause also. If there is progress and evolution, there is corruption and perversion, too. If there is justice and virtue, there is injustice and aggression also. If there are manifestations of knowledge and wisdom, there are manifestations of ignorance and base desires, too.

It is possible that the changes which take place and the new phenomena which appear, may be of the latter category.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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