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Khamis, Julai 12, 2012

Selected Article : Freedom & Values

This articles from IKIM, Dr. Mohd Sani Badron, Fellow Kanan/Pengarah

freedom

Libertines promote the type of freedom which lets every individual lives according to his fancy. Let every person acts as he wishes for his own good as he sees it, as "man is the measure of all things", and judgments of right and wrong are relative.

For libertines, the very same man is all: the perpetrator, the law and the judge. They believe that there should be no other standard and judgment that matters, even if it is God's law and judgment. They vehemently oppose any ‘intrusion' of religious considerations into the realm of practical affairs. In effect, they treat religion as a jest. They mock that religion or "faith is good enough to fools" (their mockery is recorded in the Qur'an, 2:13).

Without moral perception, such conception of freedom is dangerous to our nation. It concerns the worldly life but not the ultimate consequences of individual and societal actions. As religion is treated as a jest, there is no more serious basis why one should be true to oneself. This habit of mind leads to the flourishing of social and moral confusion in terms of false motives, pretense, deception and hypocrisy. If religion is treated in jest, no one will value the higher life earnestly. Left alone with his own fancy and subjective desires, man is apt to misjudge good and evil, right and wrong. As God says in the Qur'an, "man covets what is immediate and abandons what is distant in time to come (ultimate life after death)" (75:20). Man can easily commit himself to utter self-abandonment to earthly joys.

Given that "selfishness is ever-present in human souls" (4:128), man tends to "gravitate down to the earth and follow his own desires" (7:176) and become slave to wishful thinking. Indeed, men are prone to deceive themselves in order to evade spiritual commitments. They tend to have a misplaced confidence in their own deeds and pride themselves on their works or in their wishful thinking.

God warns in the Qur'an, "Say: Shall We tell you who are the greatest loser in their actions...and who, nonetheless, think that they have made wonderful achievements. These are the ones who rejected their Lord's messages and denied that they would face Him [with their accountability]" (18:103-105).

These verses refer to people who have a smug sense of self-righteousness, that while they go on doing wrong, they think that they are acquiring merit. They think that they have a universal mission of peace when they do not even have a true perception of right and wrong.

In another Qur'anic verse, it is recorded thus: "When it is said to them: ‘do not corrupt the earth [with your negative deeds]', they say: ‘we are but improving things!' Beware! They are spreading corruption, but they do not perceive that" (2:11-12). By their blind arrogance, they depress the good and encourage evil in its stead. The removal of God and religion from conception of freedom means the removal of meaning and purpose from human freedom and life. Those who forgot God will eventually forget themselves (59:19). God warns in the Qur'an, "Does man think that he is to be left to himself, free to do what he likes?" (75:36). In other words, does man reckon that he is to be left uncontrolled, without purpose, without being held morally responsible for his doings, without being held morally accountable for his actions?

On the contrary, God creates neither man nor the universe in jest, mere idle play (23:115), without meaning or having no purpose (38:27). That high, serious purpose (maqsid) refers to the implementation of the divine imperative for man's own benefit, whether at the level of individual, family, or society at large. Religion promotes the safeguard from human selfishness, which is a prerequisite of a really prosperous, successful and happy state of individual and society. By religion, God's presence is remembered. And God's presence means the purposefulness of life.

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Such a remembrance ensures the consolidating of personality, where there are proper integration and harmonization of all details of life and particulars of human activity, be it in education, language, economy, politics, law, technology or art. On the contrary, forgetting God means fragmented existence. In such a condition, life is secularized, personality left un integrated, ethical vision narrowed down, and moral faculties rendered numbed.

Eventually, this leads to distracted life and disintegrated personality. Of such a personality, there is an entrapment in the details at the cost of the whole, as the transcendental dimension provided by God through religion is no longer present. Religion is all about attaining self-control, self-discipline and self-mastery so far as lower desires or base impulses are concerned. Nurturing human ability to resist or turn away from capricious pleasures or gratifications, religion is out and out about taming passions and appetites, which impinge upon economic, political and personal aspects of life. Properly instilled, religion builds human capacity to follow the dictates of sound reason or moral duty and to overcome the promptings of passion.

Hence, right and wrong, integrity and corruption are not a matter of human subjective desires, "for whosoever perpetrates evil (su') must get its requital and he shall find none to protect him from God, and none to bring him succour" (4:123).


(References: Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur'an; Mortimer Adler, The Idea of Freedom, 2 volumes)

Illustration by : Team Freedom and Hanoverian Flickr

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