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A Muslim's Destiny

                                                    A   MUSLIM’S   DESTINY     
 
 
 
 

    With so much of advancement in the world and so much of information explosion, it is perhaps pertinent  to examine the basics of religious thought and look at the foundations  and fundamentals of Islam from a new angle, without the help of the self entrenched experts and adamant promoters of status quo.   Amongst the distorted fundamentalists  there are bound to be some who ask themselves the reason for this violent conflict of ideologies when the axioms of  all religious beliefs are similar. For, no religion teaches to steal or murder, destroy or plunder. In fact the pursuit of every religious thought is to build, to advance and to uplift human beings. So no religious ideology would  propagate the annihilation of morals of others  for the sake of its  own selfish propagation. Therefore let us, on our own,  try and explore the basics without provoking the conflict of orthodoxy or inviting their myopic views. Let us  examine the definition of Islam in the broadest possible terms and see if it makes any logical sense in today’s society.  The word ‘Islam’ is said to mean submission, surrender,  perhaps alignment  and integration with. ---  

    Submit, surrender or align with what, and why?     
     

    Take any action as an example; be it an act of thought, word or deed.   Every act must submit to a logic, plan or scheme for it to make sense, or be called  a meaningful pursuit. Unplanned behaviour is aimless and unpredictable and may not achieve any result, except perhaps destruction or negation of order — that which some planned or coherent action is trying to establish. One may however say, that this too is a pursuit; but destruction is generally not accepted  as a viable  purpose.   It is perhaps a negation of the very concept of  a purposeful action. A purpose is progressive and forward bound, where as negation is annihilating in its approach. We thus infer that, submission must also make some logical sense and should have a purpose to be viable and generally acceptable. Now,  submission itself becomes a voluntary act if  one’s awareness and knowledge support its reason and logic. 
     

    The whole exercise of ‘ being ’ must have had a motive, for otherwise, it becomes a meaningless farce. Now,  for the fulfillment of any motive, some tools, means or implements are essential. In the case of human beings these means may be  mental , verbal or physical in nature. Thoughts are mental tools, language and words are verbal aids and actions are means of physical expression. To elaborate and explain it a little more, let us say that, to praise or curse someone one needs thoughts and /or  words -- which are the tools for  accomplishing the desired act.  And, to physically help or harm someone one needs appropriate tools to do the job.  Now again, the tools and implements must be functional,  within ones control and must  somehow relate to the task. For example to kiss someone lips would be a more appropriate tool then legs. The latter,  though  also a tool and perhaps functional,  would  be more appropriate to implant a good  kick instead.  Again, the tools or implements one chooses must perform well and efficiently to accomplish the task, or they will  either be modified or replaced.   The tools must also obey  and serve the master.  Each one of us has some  natural tools and some others one  can improvise. The personal tools would be the parts of ones body -- arms, legs, eyes, heart, liver etc. Some of which are external and some internal.  Some work under the control of ones free- will, and some function autonomously, under natural laws. Each part of the body has a specific function that it performs dutifully and efficiently according to its nature and structure. All things that function and perform their naturally assigned tasks are called ‘Muslim’ as they obey and submit to the laws that govern them, that  is, the laws of Nature. In nature, everything obeys these natural laws and cannot deviate from them. Humans however,  have a unique position in this regard. They have the extra quality of a ‘free- will’ ; which becomes pronounced with development in age and sense. This free-will is an inherent human quality and comes from the fact that they have evolved  as a species and have reached a high level in Nature’s design of things. The free will is human being’s   most distinguishing attribute.  It can be put to use with the aid of the mind and its power of reasoning. How one uses this free- will is the real test of ones ability to discipline and control one’s other faculties and their function, those that he/ she has in common with other living things. E.g. hunger, self-preservation, need for shelter, love and hate etc. etc.  The faculties therefore, too, are  also all  Muslims because they all submit and perform the assigned tasks competently and diligently.   
     

    So what is the purpose of human beings?   
     
     

    If the definition of Muslim, given above is understood, then to begin with, every person is a born Muslim, because at that stage one is completely under the control of nature and its laws and  dutifully submits to them.  One does not have a developed sense or free-will and in fact very limited independence. Notably, a human baby is more helpless than the offspring of  other creatures, and remains so for  a relatively longer  period.  Even here there is a logic, but we will deal with that some other time perhaps. The thing to note however, is,  that this most helpless of creatures eventually becomes the most powerful, and perhaps the most useful in the scheme of nature’s evolutionary process. At the present stage of evolution humans have gained the ability to be aware and also be able to participate in nature’s own scheme of things.  Every thing  thus seems to have a purpose and value on the scale of nature’s balance.  In fact human beings can aid in it and  even promote certain natural processes by virtue of their intellect and consequent overall superiority.  This may sound as an ode to ourselves,  but which other creature has the ability to write an ode to itself, or for that matter even read and write on its own.  
     

    The higher up on the scale of evolution the creature is, the more the awareness it has, and can understand both its own rights and obligations. As evolution progresses and reaches the stage of self- perpetuation,  it becomes self-participating and self-directing  as well.  For, if it is not so the result would be self-destructing and self-diminishing. Now the tendency of self-destruction  in an evolving system is a negative or detrimental trait, and does not serve the  logic of  its very existence.  Humans  are  also a part of this self - perpetuating system and are positioned at a very high level in the whole spectrum of evolution -- whereby  they have gained the capability of being conscious of the system itself. They may not fully appreciate or understand the purpose of the system of which they are a part, yet they are aware of it and know that such a structure exists. They probe and search for its meaning in every thing around them. They do this  by the use of their most important and uniquely private tool – the mind.  This mind however, like every thing else, is a double-edged sword. It is both positive and negative. It is both creative and destructive. It has the power to both accept or reject.  This in turn, depends on the basis of the  thought itself, and ones approach to the subject. If the basis or origination of thought or conscious analysis is   positivism and open mindedness, it will endow progressive and constructive results. But if the idea takes birth in doubt and deceit it will promote negativity and resistance to progress. Let us take an example. The  splitting of a heavy atom (fission), or  joining two  small atoms (fusion), releases tremendous energy.  This release of power  can be utilised  either constructively,   e.g. to generate electricity; or destructively, e.g. to make a bomb.  Interestingly enough, however, the process for electrical power generation is based on the principle of a  controlled and balanced nuclear reaction; whereas a bomb is uncontrolled release of energy.  This points to the fact that progressive processes are usually harnessed,  balanced and controlled activities.  Uncontrolled reactions can be catastrophic.       
     

    We have now come to a stage where we can understand  what it means by — ‘to submit, surrender and align with’. It is really, Nature, and its  process of self-propagation and perpetuation which is to be accepted, submitted to and participated in.  One  who consciously does so, with a belief that there is such a thing as a Natural system with its supreme laws and submits, is a  consciously believing Muslim;  and one who denies it, is not. Questioning, probing, fathoming and then accepting natural phenomena are all Muslim traits. Our tasks as humans is then to study,  explore, understand, align and harness  the progressive aspects of the ‘Laws of Cause and Effect’;   in other words to correctly  use  ones personal and or improvised tools towards the furthering and promoting, not only of the self, but of the system as a whole. Is this not alignment with  the ‘Laws of Nature’?.  These Laws are the frame work under which Nature itself operates and accomplishes the process of change and evolution.  
     

    Human beings are perhaps at such a stage of evolutionary development where they are now, themselves, consciously participating in the functioning of the system.  See the capability of human endeavour that has brought it to the stage of self-replication through the advancement of scientific knowledge and techniques – cloning, for example.  Genetic know how has been firmly established in the genetic engineering of food, animals and medicine.  Robotics and electronics are two other fields being rapidly developed. All these processes have remarkable potentials for equipping human beings with some of the most powerful tools yet imagined. As a consequence they are able to perform deeds that were so far unimaginable – cloning, space travel etc. etc.  
     

    Why do we do what we do, and where will all this curiosity, quest and effort lead to?    This is the age old question of -- Who we are, and why we are what we are? 
     
     

    The purpose  of  human existence  cannot be  the all   ‘here and now’, -- or as it has been said, “ Eat, drink and be merry,  for tomorrow you die”.    Notice, that every   Now  ( which is also known as present)  was once out  There  ( that is  also called the future), and  will eventually  become a  Then  ( which is the past );  and so the natural cycle of life continues to churn.  This is how time is spent, and with it, all human effort.  Or to say it another way;  -- time and effort seem to recede or deplete. In a way they go back.  Now, according to the laws of Physics and so also of Nature – ‘to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’.  Hence, if time  and every thing connected with it goes in a certain direction, something should come out of it as the ‘effect of that cause’, and would proceed in the opposite direction. The outcome of this decrease in time, etc.  is the increase in knowledge and/ or awareness.  In other words there is a price to be paid for every thing. In yet another way, gain in awareness is the return of ones investment of time and effort --  or, ‘consummation  of self ’.  This achievement may not be a monetary gain, but believe me it is worth much more. One thing that comes out of all human activity is the unveiling and expanding of new  vistas  of vision i.e. the furthering of knowledge.  Every step in physical, mental and spiritual advancement is basically the increase of awareness and knowledge which consequently leads to  ‘self-growth’ and further evolution.     
     

    Now, having borne with the logic so far, let us  take the next step. 
     

    According to the theory of Holostic hierarchy or holarchy, all things consist of holons.  These  holons are  complete entities and wholes in themselves.  They  can evolve to the next higher stage of holonic level and become parts of the new holons;  which in turn become the building blocks for the next higher level, and so on.   Now, each set of holons that evolves must contain the holons of the previous level. These new holons  are different from the  predecessors  in as much as the previous ones have been integrated in them and have acquired something extra to establish a fresh identity of their own. They have in fact transcended the previous order and have acquired some more, new properties.  The higher mode  of holons  however, cannot exist without  containing  the lower levels,  but the lower ones can exist on their own even if the higher order of holons is destroyed. The higher the holons grow in the holonic hierarchy  the more autonomous they become and their capability increases.   
     

    Let us see how this  theory explains  evolution – and,  as we shall see in a minute it goes on to explore phenomena even beyond.    Matter, the physical manifestation of the Kosmos -- ( this is different from the Cosmos ,  better explained in books on holonic theory. Briefly, it is the cumulative manifestation of all matter, energy and even psychology of the Universe.),  -- may be taken as the starting point for our understanding of the levels of holons.   A higher level of development, or further evolution of matter, would be  the holon of life or bio-physics. ( In between these there may be some sub levels, but we are avoiding them for the sake of simplicity ) .  The new holon, the holon of life has developed over the holon of matter, in as much as it  incorporates  the phenomena of  self-replication and multiplication with the holons of matter. It would thus be a step higher up in holarchy, and would be the higher stage of the  evolution of matter. The result would be the manifestation of living organisms, i.e. plant and vegetation. A further stage of advancement of plant life would be the incorporation of mobility in the holon to reach the next higher stage --  animal life .   A further evolution and  development of some species to the next stage is the holon of the mind. Here the holons of life have  evolved to the stage where it  has acquired the ability to think for itself.  This is the stage of  psychological interplay incorporated with the holons of the animal body.  Humans are the manifestation of this stage of evolution in the holarchy.   Let us stop here for a minute and see how far we have come.  It will be observed that  for the  holon of the mind to exist it needs to encompass the holons of the animal,  which in  turn must have advanced over the holons of plant and matter.  And so, on and on it goes.  Now, continuing further along the holonic hierarchy we reach the holon of the Soul;  and finally,  perhaps  the Spirit. The above is only an attempt to familiarize the reader with the idea of holons. ( the  whole  theory of holarchy is a complete subject on its own and should be studied in detail to acquire an in-depth knowledge.)   
     

      

    The beauty of the theory of holarchy lies in the fact that it goes on to show how  the development  of higher level  holons  enhance the very essence of the holon itself. This means that where there is vertical growth there is also lateral advancement; meaning  that with progress along the scale  of ascent, comes  the increase in capability to perform  and finally  to acquire the ability to self-improve. This is the consequence of the  fact that with the growth in knowledge comes the increase of understanding and awareness and the overall expanse of

    ‘ self.’  Each individual has a capacity to grow – physically, mentally  and spiritually. A balanced diet and regular exercise promote physical well being.  Reading, learning and mental exercise promote mental development. A healthy attitude in life promotes a desire to self-improve. If this is done in a balanced evolutionary manner durable progress is achievable. To develop this healthy attitude  life requires a balance in both the  physical and the  meta-physical domains of  personality. 
     

    All  stable systems in nature have one thing in common -- they are all balanced and are evolving.  A controlled evolutionary change is perhaps  more enduring and longer lasting than a violent revolutionary one.   Observe both the macrocosm and the microcosm.  The solar system maintains its stability because it is balanced and evolving.  At the other end of the spectrum of the Cosmos,  the classical atomic structure follows the same principle of balance and poise.   We thus infer that balance and evolution are not only the keys to a successful life they are also its basic principle. The greater the dawn of  awareness, the greater the attainment of balance and, the more the elevation of poise.   Sages, Monks, Sadhus and  perhaps Prophets are a set of people that demonstrate this. They seem to be that group of individuals who have harnessed the tumult of material desires and mental agitations and reached the balance of mind, body and soul, to acquire the poise of serenity.  They are evolved souls who have reached  the next level of holonic hierarchy. They would   surely be  a holon level higher than  common human beings.  Their next step would be the holon of Universal Spirit, where all souls integrate and acquire the oneness with Nature itself, perhaps, the final stage of the great Holarchy. — The Spirit. *   
     

    We have now reached that stage of our discussion where we can perhaps appreciate the fact that submission, surrender and conscious willingness are the only ways and means to align with the dictates of  Nature and the Natural Law in order to progress.  This  will perhaps, not only unveil the secrets of those Laws, but in turn alleviate the Self to  a level of awareness where the Created can look  at the Face of the Creator and  admire His/ Her work. 
     

    This, in a nut shell  perhaps, is the essence of being a Muslim, and the broad teachings of Islam as seen in a contemporary light. 
     
     
     
     
     

 

*     I am  not using the word ‘God’ intentionally, because,

     (a) it restricts the mind to an over all reverential Being, that supposedly predetermines everything, thus confusing the issue of free-will and reward and punishment.

   (b) A psychological barrier is imposed on the free flow of thought for examining fresh ideas and beliefs.      
 
 

    Ziauddin Ahmed

    Canada   February 2005


 
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