The Worst Predicament of Modern Man

By Professor Abdul Rauf

Despite the innumerable technological advancements and intellectual achievements of modern man, his life is smothered with countless dilemmas of gigantic magnitude. Economic disparities, political upheavals, vicious cycle of violence, social tensions, psychological traumas and other such appalling crises have robbed him of peace and tranquility. This pathetic condition of man has been diagnosed and numerous remedies have been suggested by the leading thinkers and intellectuals of our time, but the most comprehensive assessment was given by the Holy Quran in a single verse about one and a half thousand years ago. “Be not ye like those who forgot Allah and He made them forgetful of their own souls. They are the rebellious transgressors.” (Surah Hashr, verse 19).

Man who has been created from dust, does not possess the force of storms, the depth of oceans and the magnanimity of mountains and yet, he has been elevated to the prestigious status of the crown of all creation and the vicegerent of Allah on earth. The reason is that besides having some animal traits, there is the angelic or spiritual dimension of his personality which enables him to comprehend his unique position in the universe, lifts him over and above all other creatures and brings him closer and closer to Allah. But when out of his sheer stupidity, he is only pre-occupied with the animal side of his personality, he falls deeper and deeper into the abyss of meanness, and is condemned as the worst of all creatures. “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds and then We abase him to the lowest of the low.” “Surah Watteen, verses 4 and 5).

Such a person apparently possesses all human faculties like hearing and sight and yet, he uses them just like animals without attaining any deeper understanding about himself and his creation. Referring to such people, Allah says in the Holy Quran, “Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning).” (Surah Aaraf, verse 179).

In the same Surah, we read the story of a man who instead of rising above with is spiritual powers, deliberately clung to the earth like animals. “Relate to them the story of the man to whom We sent Our signs, but he passed them by: so Satan followed him up, and he went astray.

If it had been Our will, We should have elevated him with Our signs; but he inclined to the earth, and followed his own vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject Our signs” (Surah Aaraf, verses 175 and 176).

The root cause of all the miseries and catastrophes of the modern man is that inspired by the views propounded by the Western thinkers, he has completely lost sight of his angelic or spiritual side and is only concerned with the gratification of his sensual, physical or animal desires, like +++ and food. Darwin insists that man is only an improved version of apes and chimpanzees, while Freud vehemently asserts that as is the case with animals, +++ is the most dominant of all human passions and the strongest motive behind all his actions and relations. Some of the ardent admirers of Freud have gone to the extent of saying that since man is basically an animal and animals do not differentiate between the members of their own family and others in the matter of +++, human beings should also freely enjoy +++ with their own brothers, sisters and even parents. Another Austrian psychologist Adler is of the view that the urge to dominate others serves as the strongest motivation for man. In other words, just as stronger animals love to kill the weaker ones in a cruel and callus manner for their food, the most powerful human urge is also to dominate and suppress others. Those who believe in such ideas exhibit the worst form of beastliness, brutality and barbarity while exploiting others at the individual, social, national and international level. The unparalleled scale of bloodshed and butchery in the two World Wars and in the on-going conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir and even in our own country is a glaring manifestation of the dominance of animal instincts in man and the subjugation of his spiritual side which teaches love, sympathy, compassion, pity, humility, justice and other such noble moral values. The predominant theme in William Golding's prize winning novel “Lord of the flies” is that man behaves in a civilised manner only under some social constraints, but when these constraints and restrictions are gone, he exhibits the deep rooted savagery of his nature and behaves worse than the wild beasts.

Whereas Western thinkers often describe man as a social animal, rational animal or talking animal, Marxists emphasize that man is an economic animal. In other words, the only difference between animals and man is that the latter has only one major pre-occupation in life and that is, the fulfillment of his economic needs like food, dress and residence, which are of course related to his body and not to the soul. Quite naturally, those who are inspired by this concept of humanity, wholeheartedly concentrate their entire struggle of life on the accumulation of wealth, which may also involve exploitation, extortion, corruption, money laundering and all such other techniques. Like animals, they are only interested in the fulfillment of their physical desires and never bother to think about the life hereafter and their accountability on the Day of Judgment. They are proud to tell others that their children have become doctors, engineers and bureaucrats, without ever thinking for a moment whether they have also become good human beings or not.

While most of the Western thinkers highlight the excessive animalism of the modern man, they fail to pinpoint its causes. The first Quranic verse quoted above explains the whole matter in a nutshell. When man severed his ties with Allah, He punished him by making him forgetful of his spiritual side and thus made him slave to his animal passions. As a natural consequence, from dawn to dusk, he labours hectically for the fulfillment of his physical desires and yet, he feels a dire vacuum and horrid emptiness in his life, resulting in depression and frustration, leading up to suicide and violence. Unnatural deeds breed unnatural consequences and thus, when man, who was destined to be God's vice gerent on earth, becomes a rebellious transgressor and behaves like contemptible animals, he is bound to incur God's wrath in the form of earthquakes, famines, floods, wars and suicide bombings. Apparently, billions of people inhabit this planet, but those who really deserve to be described as human beings, are like a drop in the ocean. If somehow or the other, we get those eyes which are capable of penetrating beneath the surface of things, we will discover to our utter dismay that most of those who wander around us posing themselves as human beings, are in fact no better than dogs, donkeys, pigs, wolves and vultures; and this indeed is the worst predicament of modern man.

The Holy Quran not only diagnoses the problem, but also suggests its most effective remedy. “Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped.

And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you - of a sudden while ye perceive not.” (Surah Zumur, verses 53, 54 and 55).

[B]Source: The Worst Predicament of Modern Man