Islam's response to contemporary world problems (17)

Ahmadiyya Community

In issue 16 we looked at how the platform on which the laws relating to moral behaviour are based has begun to waver

Continuing the theme of moral degradation, a comparative study of legislation in this area over the last few centuries illustrates the case we are discussing. Gone are the days when chastity was not only a virtue but also a social good which, if violated, met with a response. The weakening of crime is no longer seen as a cause for alarm. This is the problem.

The very definition of crime is undergoing a fundamental change. What was considered a crime yesterday is no longer a crime today. What was hidden out of fear or shame or reprimand is now displayed and shown with great pride. If this philosophy were sound and worthy of survival, then all religious ethical and moral philosophies should be considered obsolete and unwanted. They would serve no purpose in the contemporary age.

The driving force of nature, which is common to the animate and the inanimate world, lies in the all-powerful principle of crime and punishment, and goodness and its reward. In the inanimate world, it can be guessed how this principle operates in the unconscious operation of the laws of nature. In the animate world, the evolution which preceded man, was directed by the same principle which adopted a semi-conscious or semi-latent state. As one ascends from the lower rungs of the stages of man's evolution, the journey takes place from the more unconscious to the more conscious. In evolutionary terms the principle of crime and punishment and goodness and reward is described as that of survival of the fittest. Throughout the evolutionary process, this remains the driving and motivating force that constantly moves evolution onwards and upwards.

It is inconceivable that, when this process has reached its consummation in man, the best of creation; and consciousness has acquired horizons far beyond those attained by anything sub-human; that this principle of crime and punishment should suddenly be abandoned and be considered obsolete. If there is any higher goal for creation, there must be some responsibility, without which all effort would be meaningless.

It is amazing in the extreme how sometimes the greatest of intellectuals and visionaries fail to see something as obvious and self-evident as the truth we are discussing. This is the case of Albert Einstein, the architect of the theory of Relativity, who states:

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the object of his own creation, whose purposes are shaped by our being; a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty." (Albert Einstein)

If there is a God, the Lord Creator whose existence Albert Einstein does not deny, and if all the scientific laws operating in His creation are created, designed and governed by the same creative Supreme Being, it is inconceivable that He would abandon the ultimate object of His creation by suppressing the principle of crime and punishment and letting man stray into the chaos of undisciplined and irresponsible behaviour.

As far as the second part of his observation is concerned, it is obvious that he has failed to understand both the role of crime and punishment in the progressive development of creation and the significance of man's being created in the image of God.

Man is created in the image of God, not as a perfect model of God on earth. If this had been the case, the world would be more than a paradise on earth and all human beings would be exactly the same. It would have to be debated, moreover, whether this place should be called "heaven" or "boredom", since there would be no variety, change or difference between smells, colours and shades; on the contrary: a calm, multitudinous, colourless sea of identical drops. This is not the meaning and purpose of man created in the image of God.

The phrase possesses great wisdom and speaks of the potential that man has been given. It speaks of the noble ultimate goal which man must constantly strive to achieve. The goal is to strive to be perfect as man by acquiring divine attributes and becoming more and more like God. It is not a fixed goal which one can attain in such a way that, being clothed with the glory of having become the image of God, he remains there. Since God is limitless in His attributes, every journey towards Him remains limitless. Perfection in this context only means movement towards perfection from a lower state to a higher state of things.

According to the Holy Quran, God (Al'lah) is the Most Perfect, the Most Just, the Most and Ever Merciful, All-Knowing, All-Wise, the Lord Creator and Master of the Day of Judgment. All praise belongs to Him. The Holy Quran declares:

                                            ہُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ۚ عٰلِمُ الۡغَیۡبِ وَالشَّہَادَۃِ ۚ ہُوَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۲۳﴾ ہُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ۚ اَلۡمَلِکُ الۡقُدُّوۡسُ السَّلٰمُ الۡمُؤۡمِنُ الۡمُہَیۡمِنُ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡجَبَّارُ الۡمُتَکَبِّرُ ؕ سُبۡحٰنَ اللّٰہِ عَمَّا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ 

"He is Al'lah, and there is no God but Him, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. He is Al'lah, and there is no God besides Him, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Source of Peace, the Giver of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Most High. Holy is Al'lah, far beyond what they associate Him with. He is Al'lah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful Names. All that is in the heavens and on earth glorifies Him, for He is the Mighty, the Wise". (Q. 59: Al-Hashr: 23-25).

According to the Holy Quran, it is this God Who has created the Universe. He does not suffer from human frailties. The Holy Quran constantly urges the believers to reflect on His Signs.

تَبٰرَکَ الَّذِیۡ بِیَدِہِ الۡمُلۡکُ ۫ وَہُوَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرُ ۣ ۙ﴿۲﴾ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ الۡمَوۡتَ وَالۡحَیٰوۃَ لِیَبۡلُوَکُمۡ اَیُّکُمۡ اَحۡسَنُ عَمَلًا ؕ وَہُوَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡغَفُوۡرُ ۙ﴿۳﴾ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ سَبۡعَ سَمٰوٰتٍ طِبَاقًا ؕ مَا تَرٰی فِیۡ خَلۡقِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ مِنۡ تَفٰوُتٍ ؕ فَارۡجِعِ الۡبَصَرَ ۙ ہَلۡ تَرٰی مِنۡ فُطُوۡرٍ ﴿۴﴾ ثُمَّ ارۡجِعِ الۡبَصَرَ کَرَّتَیۡنِ یَنۡقَلِبۡ اِلَیۡکَ الۡبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَّہُوَ حَسِیۡرٌ 

"Blessed is He in Whose hands is the kingdom, and Who has power over all things. Who has created death and life that He may prove which of you is better in his deeds; for He is the Mighty One, the Most Gracious. Who has created seven heavens in harmony. You can see no imperfection in the creation of the Gracious God. Look again, Do you see any fissure? Yes look again, and once more, your sight will only return to you frustrated and weary. (Q. 67: Al-Mulk: 2-5)

Under the guidance of the Holy Quran, having understood the meaning of the words the image of God, when we look back at all the forces of the creation of the universe - from the moment of the Big Bang to the present day - the entire journey of creation from the unconscious to the conscious is, in fact, a journey to become the image of God and to develop in man the divine attributes.

(To be continued in the next instalment, number 18).