Islam and the contemporary crisis of humanity

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Islam Views: 7406
7406

There is increasing awareness in modern technological societies that humanity has taken on a new meaning, and is in some ways changing. But if the meaning of humanity has changed, then it may also be possible to say that this has altered the relevance of ideas, practices, ideologies and even religions that depend on a certain understanding of what it means to be human. How can that be? Is it possible to not be human? A good place to start gaining an understanding of this issue is with the work of sociologists and social theorists, as well as historians, who have traced the way that modern bureaucratic and institutional societies have somehow altered the meaning of what it means to be human. 

An essential ingredient of being human is having a connection with nature and with the rest of the creation. In the past, human beings lived very close to nature and it was unthinkable to be separate from animals, weather patterns, and other phenomena that are rarely part of "human" life today. Modern humankind has enveloped itself in cities and buildings, living in so many concrete boxes, controlling every feature of temperature and light, in an artificial man-made environment. Most people no longer have a sense of where their food comes from. If people do have any contact with animals, they are for the most part domesticated animals, living in the same concrete spaces, not in the wild. It is possible to say, from a certain metaphysical perspective, that the Quran presumed a kind of human existence that was somehow closer to nature than most people have today. Look at all the many verses that ask human beings to ponder nature, to observe the wonders and signs of creation. Is it still possible to do that today, while living in an air-conditioned house, driving a car, working in an office? Other than using science to "see" nature, which is only seeing it in a limited, quantitative way, many people have lost the ability to see and experience nature for themselves. This is not to say that the Quran is irrelevant, or that Islam is somehow arcane. But it is possible to say that many people have in a sense become somehow dehumanized, with respect to their connections to the rest of Allah's creation, and that without recognizing this possibility, believers may unknowingly alter their understanding of Islam, or any other tradition, to fit this dehumanized condition. 

In light of this proposition, one can reflect on where humanity is now, and how things got to be that way. The next logical step would be to ask, where is humanity headed? It seems necessary to clarify something, before proceeding. This discussion is about "humanity," which is a relatively new and unusual term in human history. It is part of the increasingly global outlook that many people have been adopting in recent decades. In the past, what one can see as humanity today was most often divided, as in, for example, the Muslim categories of darul islam/darul harb, muslim/kaffir/mushrik, ahlul kitab, ahlul sunnah/ahlul shi'ah, not to mention the myriad social realities based on ethnicities and nationalities. But the meta-idea of "humanity" supersedes all these divisions, and is perhaps most closely captured when the Quran speaks, in many instances, of "insaan" or "naas," (which, by the way, is related to the Arabic word "forgetful," itself a clue to the Quranic perspective about human nature). In any case, the concept of humanity today implies a common sense of existence and fellowship, or shared identity and shared habitation on a single planet, which is fairly new in human history. This is not to say that the various historical, ideological or social divisions are wrong or useless - each is relevant in some way and all are needed for understanding - but it is important to recognize that the idea of a common humanity is in many ways a revolutionary idea, and that this idea transcends the usual divisions based on ideology, religion or ethnic identity. 

Given this definition of humanity, one can set aside for the moment the various sorts of predictions or prophesies, found in many religions and ideological systems, that say that only a particular group will be elevated to heaven, or wherever that belief system sees as the ideal and eventual goal. In some sense, to talk of humanity and where it is heading means one needs to consider the totality. It is a different discussion than asking where the Muslims are going, or what the future of the ummah is. Humanity is bigger and more complex, but of course Muslims are part of that humanity and are living within its precepts in one way or another. In fact, the idea of humanity is almost so big that it becomes difficult to get one's mind around it, and even more difficult to predict where it is going. 

So let's look at this in a different way. The future is not there to predict, and only Allah knows the future for certain. For mere humans, the most constructive way to look at this issue is to ask the question: what kind of world do you want to live in and what can you do to bring that about? This question needs to be asked in ever-widening circles, culminating in humanity as noted above, to avoid heading in the wrong direction, since what happens in one part of humanity does have an impact on other parts. Muslims did not build the cities or develop the technologies with which they live today, but certainly those forms of living and working are having a great impact on what it means to be a Muslim - and a human being - today. This is a way of addressing the question of humanity that is different from that of the usual global slogans, such as "information age," or those various ways of undermining humanity that are at bottom cruel or exclusive. 

Muslims often see Islam as the true way of humanity, and think that the crisis of humanity in the modern world is simply a matter of "being far from Islam." This sentiment can be expressed from a variety of sectarian perspectives, both within Islam and within other religions. Everyone believes that the problems of humanity are caused by straying from their own presumed ideal. Christians can say the same as Muslims, that the problems of humanity are caused by not living the "true" Christianity. All these positions can lead only to interminable debates and circular arguments. While such debates are not useless, it can be instructive to put aside these differences for the moment, and reflect on what it means to be human, and how the human identity has changed as a result of living the modern technological lifestyle. This is not to advocate going back to living in caves or the desert, a silly and specious argument even if its inevitable result today were not that most people would die of starvation and exposure. In any event, before thinking about solutions, it is important to really understand the nature of the problem. The problem, from a certain perspective, is that the life many people live today is a dehumanizing life. This has been most forcefully argued by some of those most deeply embedded in the modern bureaucratic mega-technic society; but that sort of society is spreading globally, like a virus, so it is only a matter of time before everyone is in a similar situation. So the question of humanity is paramount. 

The discussion of what makes us human is found in many different areas. The American secular humanist Harold Bloom, in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998), argues that the concept of humanity was not really fully developed until the advent of Shakespeare's writings. Although it is an oft-cited and respected work in some Western intellectual circles, Bloom is Eurocentric and even somehow pompous in his definition of humanity, and his work is generally dismissive of the social construction of such broad concepts. But that is the point: all peoples like to think that their particular tradition is the one that best defines humanity. So, rather than muster one or another proof or opinion, it is important to suspend that impulse for a moment, and reflect on the idea of common humanity as it stands today. Only when that is understood, can one go back to the great classics of any tradition and realize that they may have had a very different understanding of being human. It is not that those traditions are irrelevant, but without understanding where people are coming from or where they are now, the risk is run of altering those traditions to suit the present dehumanized state. For example, technological futurists are taking the idea of human "progress" to an absurd conclusion, opining in fantasies of the Star Trek sort that people will one day be able to transcend death or the earth, or be able to upload themselves into orbs and transverse the universe. In a way, these sorts of fantasies are the strongest indication that some people have already become severely dehumanized. 

Muslims living in the West sometimes wonder whether they have a chance of developing a truly Islamic humanistic mindset, given the complexities of living and growing up in modern technological societies. Imam Khomeini once said that becoming Adam - in the sense of being born human - is easy, but becoming a full human being is difficult. Like many religions, Islam is profoundly humanistic, not in the sense of secular humanism, but in the sense of learning to live the way humans lived for thousands of years, before the modern period. That way of life supposed close contact with nature and time to contemplate one's existence. Many people have neither today. They have jobs, cars, TVs, computers, more books than they know what to do with, but do they really know who they are? If that question can be answered, then it may be possible to see traditions in an entirely different light. Without pondering this question of what it means to be human, there is a danger of somehow normalizing a state of dis-humanity or pre-humanity, which means altering the way religions and traditions are understood, whatever they may be, to fit the peculiar conventions of the present age.

Muslims often wonder how the prophecies of the beloved Messenger (upon whom be peace) about the future can offer an intelligent way to discuss the direction in which humanity is heading. It is possible to look at prophecies, and all traditions have them, often conflicting with one another, but this endeavor may not be fruitful at this point in time, since like any tradition, prophecies can also be pressed into service to suit the particular ideological constructs of the age in which they are invoked. In addition, this opens up sectarian ways of claiming and disclaiming the Messenger of Islam (saw). Often, people who invoke prophecies of one sort or another have not read all the traditions of the Prophet in all the various schools of thought, claiming and counterclaiming that some or another is false or the work of a rafidi sect. If that be the case, then it is not yet the right time to talk about humanity, since the idea being developed here suspends - for the moment - any sort of sectarian bias and is trying to make room for reflection outside of the boxes in which we usually think and live. Many prophecies come and go, depending on the human condition of the people that see a need to turn to those prophecies. Looking at history, one is amazed at how often people have been convinced that they have witnessed the signs of the day of judgment. They were wrong then and might be wrong now, too. In the mean time, mankind marches on. But in a sense, then, the time is ripe to have some serious discussions of a different sort, to ponder the sense of common humanity, and what it means to be a human being outside the particular understanding of any one tradition or its various subdivisions. Again, this is not to say those traditions are irrelevant; it is only a call for opening minds. 

In another part of trying to understand what it means to be human, one can look at present-day humanitarian efforts, such as charitable work, and Muslims, like others in the world today, have their sectors of society that are truly humanitarian and others that are not. But that is not the question here. The question is, can one live as a human being in today's world? Or, more fundamentally, what does it mean to be human, and can one be a good Muslim if one is a bad human being? In this vein, it is not entirely accurate to lay all the blame for our current condition and difficulties on Western society. Yes, some of the problems of modern technological societies began in the West, but the pathologies of dis-humanity are going global fast, and that is why it is necessary to step back and ask how the meanings of being human have been altered, not by "the West" or any geographical or ideological entity, but by the lifestyles that people have adopted, especially the sort of lifestyle that separates them from those essential features of being human, namely a connection to nature, a connection to the world of the unseen, and a connection to one's fellow humans. 

Modern life is, in many ways, about disconnection. Sure, people are connected in a limited sort of way through communication technologies, but there is a huge difference between communication and connection; computers can communicate but only humans can connect. Yet the lives that many people live - the clock dictates, the boss dictates what the clock dictates, the money decides what the boss dictates - consist of little more than a cruel and dehumanizing cycle in which connection is impossible. It is possible to say that if one truly reflects on life, the meaning can be clearer. And this is not to claim despair in feeling inhuman, because anyone can start right now to recapture their humanity, in even small ways, to discover, for example, the beauty of existence, the spiritual significance of the natural world, and then ponder the riddle of human mortality. 

Returning to the issue of humanitarian efforts for a moment, some Muslims living in the West may wish to participate in humanitarian activities, while holding true to their traditions, by, for example, not mixing men and women in social settings. It is certainly admirable that Muslims in big cities are organizing shelters and feeding people in need, but at the same time many feel that they cannot do so while keeping men and women separate, or working with non-Muslim members of the opposite sex (in particular Muslim women with a non-Muslim men), common in such situations where it is difficult to avoid intermixing. Many Muslims in these communities want to be more involved with helping the poor, but wonder how they can, in view of the requirements of Islam about avoiding unnecessary intermixing. In some sense, these concerns are for the doctors of the law to rule, to seek a fatwa for such activities, but in general it might be possible to find some kind of way of living that allows Muslims to survive in and contribute to the society in which they live. If that's not at all possible while maintaining a sense of being a good Muslim, then it might be the wrong society to live in. In any event, feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless are noble and humane activities, and if Muslims can find ways to expand efforts with the sense of humanity being suggested here, then maybe there can be some successes. The alternative is to leave those activities to other groups without such concerns, which fuels propaganda on behalf of, for example, Christian missionaries or secular activists, who often hijack such initiatives. For now, it has to start with small-scale local activities, and in that context serious discussions can be held on finding ways to balance the concerns of practicing religion and contributing to humanitarian efforts. In another sense, however, this is not only about humanitarian activities like charities and feeding the poor, since it is important to reflect on those deeper questions of what it means to be human in today's technological societies. 

Regarding the issue of secular humanism, which came about in the West during the Renaissance period, it has displaced the centrality of God with the centrality of humanity, "to celebrate our humanity," as it is often put today. Given the inversion of reality imposed by the narrow secular view of humanity, it may be asked how Muslims can contribute to the discussion of humanism from an Islamic perspective. While this is an important point, it refers primarily to what has become the institutionalized ideology of "humanism." That is something entirely different from asking the simple question, are we still human? Humanism invites a never-ending evolution of humanity toward wherever the imagination leads, including pathological and dehumanized technological fantasies and dystopias of the type with which Hollywood and the entertainment industries seem to be obsessed. The question is more simple, and one does not need a degree in the humanities to think about it. Many of the defining features of being human in the past - one of which is living close to nature - have been radically altered in the modern technological period. That means it is possible to say, in a sense, that people are no longer human. While it is important to ask this question locally, such as within the narrow confines of the Western academic tradition, it is also necessary to address it on a global scale. And Muslims ought to search broadly for dialogue partners outside the West, because people all over the world in a variety of traditions have ways of addressing this. Why get mired in interfaith dialogues or debates on secular humanism? What do indigenous peoples who live close to nature have to add to this? What do people of Eastern religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, have to add to this discussion? Part of the problem is that Muslims are in a love-hate embrace with the West. Breaking out of that might well reveal entirely new ways of understanding the world and those who share it with us. 

Sometimes Muslims in the West ask how to best show that Islam is a religion of compassion and humanity, especially by way of specific acts and conduct, and many believe that Muslims do not do enough to show the humanity of their religion. This often leads to calls for public relations sorts of activities. But the real question here is, show who? And why is it important to show the humanity of Islam to others when Muslims often cannot show it to one another? This begs the larger question of whether or not it is really known what it means to be human. While public relations and da'wah have their place in such situations, they also have a way of reducing complex realities into simplistic slogans, which is detrimental to the type of reflection that is necessary to understand the crisis of humanity. In any case, if others want to see compassion and humanity, they will see them, and if they want to see cruelty and selfishness, they will see those too. It is like reading the poetry of Rumi and Hafez: readers can apprehend the poem wherever their nafs is, in, for example, understanding the frequent references to love and intoxication in different and conflicting ways. But this question has at root an important point. What matters is how people live, and this point can be expanded a bit more to include the idea of living as a member of humanity, in light of the points made above, and then reflecting on how that new-found sense of humanity translates within the Islamic tradition. To help reflection on this point, questions must be asked such as, how is it that Muslims feel they do not show their humanity? What does that mean? What is an example of some one who does or does not show their humanity? In other words, how is what it means to show compassion and humanity being judged? 

One major problem related to the lack of humanity in modern technological societies is selfishness. Many people, including Muslims, don't seem to have time to help others, or they use various restrictions as excuses to keep them in their own worlds rather than being out helping others - they want to ignore the other people around them. Such people seem to be too self-focused, forgetting that this is just the dunya, that what is important, for Muslims at least, is remembering Allah and performing good deeds, as a prerequisite for being a good human being. While it may be difficult with a busy and distracting lifestyle, especially in the West, at the same time people can find time to play sports, watch TV or take vacations. Part of the problem here is what has been referred to above as "dis-humanity," a factor of which is selfishness and greed. And it seems that the "global economy" and the "information age" are normalizing that even more. If one expands the idea a little bit further, to make room for people who are not necessarily Muslims, but who may be good human beings, then the idea of humanity being posited here can be better apprehended. Part of being human, in one way of thinking, is to accept that on some level people are all related. Retreating into self-focused ways of living is, in a sense, a cop-out, but it is also a survival strategy. So then the question becomes, why are such survival strategies somehow becoming more inhuman? This is a question of priorities. Part of being selfish and greedy is making prioritized decisions to seek wealth, fame, fortune or whatever, rather than the favor of Allah, for Muslims, or rather than finding a sense of true humanity, which is being developed here. The busy lifestyle of modern technological societies (which is ironic, since technology was supposed to give humans more time for reflection) is not limited to the West but it is part of the problem. That lifestyle, in the way of understanding humanity developed above, is responsible in part for creating a sense of dis-humanity among everyone, Muslims included. 

In the end, this essay is suggesting an open dialogue on the meaning of humanity. Given the possibility of different ways of seeing, how can the question, "what is the meaning of being human," be usefully answered? At the moment, there are no concrete answers to this question, and it is even doubtful that most people really understand that there is a crisis of humanity. But for those who want to learn about this issue, and then try to understand their own society and the way they and those around them live, such questions need deep pondering and a requirement to really listen to one's heart, and think about how life really feels. Most people can recognize the condition of dis-humanity if they open their hearts to it, but this is often painful and so they retreat back into sectarian, ideological or other sorts of boxes. 

Since this discussion is taking place among English-speaking people, and primarily among those living in some way or another the modern technological lifestyle, then some useful books in English can be recommended that might further help gain a better understanding of the points made above. Further, to see different perspectives on this question, for the time being, it might been useful to recommend books written by those maverick or dissenting voices from deep within the technological societies before going into one or another traditional outlook for answers. In this vein, a good place to start is with Ivan Illich's books, Deschooling Society and Medical Nemesis, in which he talks about the effects of educational and medical bureaucracies. In these and other books, Illich makes a good case that modern education, health care, transportation and urban life have become dehumanizing, and that modern bureaucracies and institutions are distorting people's humanity. After that, in order to gain some historical perspective, one can move on to The Pentagon of Power and The Myth of the Machine by Lewis Mumford, both of which trace the roots and development of what he calls "mega-technic society" from Pharaonic Egypt to modern America, making startling parallels between the two. This course of reading can be rounded out be looking at works that develop the environmental perspective, such as Nature and Madness and Thinking Animals by Paul Shepard, which argue that the further from nature and animals that modern man has travelled, the more insane he has become. These people are not Muslims, but they have tapped into something deeper than any surface understanding many religions can claim today, and their works are widely read by English-speaking people in variety of contexts, which can form a basis for common discussion. For those more eager to move on to Muslim writers who have reflected on these issues, one can recommend The Machine in Captivity of Machinism by Ali Shariati and Occidentosis by Jalal Ale-Ahmed, both of which discuss the impact of "mechanism" and addictions to technology on humanity. To gain a sense of the metaphysical dimension of this discussion, one can consult Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. There are many other works, of course, but the above list is a good general introduction, and some of these readings are currently available online in the Multiversity Group (http://groups.msn.com/multiversity). 

While embarking on this quest, it is important to remember that all religions are deep and profound in their own way and on their own terms, but people's minds can become too small to really apprehend their depth. One reason for the loss of that depth is the normalization of the current state of dis-humanity. In order to reverse that, it first has to be recognized. The works mentioned above can help open a way of understanding the crisis of humanity, and after reading them Muslim seekers can then go back into the Islamic tradition, in whatever shape or form they prefer - or any tradition for that matter - and look at it anew, and ask fresh questions, with new eyes, and, insha'Allah, develop a deeper sense of humanity.

Source: Crescent International


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Islam
Views: 7406

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Older Comments:
TARIQUE FROM USA said:
The author fails to mention that Sharia Law is the
antithesis of humanity. This primitive custom usurps
individual freedoms for those who needed it most
women and religous /ethnic minorities. Is there
humanis in Saudi Arabia, the so-called holy land?
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MOHAMMAD AKRAM KHAN NADWI FROM INDIA said:
this is the best article ,there is no need to criticise in it. thanks for allah.
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YUSUF AL-KHABBAZ FROM DUBAI said:
As the author of this article, I find that reading the comments is almost as interesting as the conversations I had while writing the article itself. I should say, first of all, that this article arose from discussions I had with a number of people in recent months, Muslims and non-Muslims in a variety of locales, on a simple question, "What does it mean to be human?" Of course, it is a deceptively simple question, since everyone had a different view and answer to that question. I could have written a lot more from those conversations, but I tried to capture their overall feeling in this article, which is why it seems unfocused at times and why it rambles a bit, as I am struggling to respond to the various views I found that people held on the topic. So, try to think of this article as a stream of consciousness, as a meditation on that deceptively simple question, and you will be more or less in the frame of mind I was when I wrote it. It is not really meant as a definitive tract or a declaration of principles, nor is it even entirely relevant to the problems many people face today, Muslim or otherwise. It is first and foremost an invitation to think, and beyond that it is a snapshot of some conversations I had, backed by some readings with authors who seemed to have reflected on the same idea.

Regarding the comments, first I have to say thank you to everyone who has shared their viewpoints, since that is how this article began, as comments in a dialogue. I will take each and every comment to heart as my own quest to understand continues. Maybe one day there'll be a part two, and I'll look forward to discussing that, too. For now, all of the comments, whether for or against or neutral, have helped me to find further clarity in this quest to understand our shared humanity, and if any others have felt inspired to embark on their own quest, then I am deeply honored to have been a part of that. Wishing you all the very best, Yusuf al-Khabbaz.
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MARUF FROM NIGERIA said:
All we need to do is to follow Alla's guidance that begin creation and who continue to take care of humanity
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FAQEER SHAH FROM BAGLADESH said:
I think the author is not able to differntiate between humanity and civilisation.
He has listed the books which, perhaps he has not understood at all.
I would agree with him if he meant civilisation should be redefined.
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ACC said:
Much of the present descriptions of Islam in grandiose terms which may not be borne out by the actual history of islam are reminiscent of the propaganda during the peak of Soviet Communism during the 1950s and 1960s. This is not the first time that an ideology pretends to be greater than it is and convinced that it is the wave of the future. When Khruschev visited America in 1959 he told President Kennedy that Kennedy's grand children would live under communism. Two years ago Khruschev's sone became an American citizen at age 65!! Much of the present propaganda re: Islam sounds dangerously like Soviet propaganda. Despite killing millions in the gulag, old Joe Stalin still believed that Marxism-Leninism alone would save the world. When I read sentences like "Islam is profoundly humanistic" or "Islam is a religion of compassion"
this is truly shocking blindness to the real history of Islam. Ask the poor discriminated
original Persians of Iran who were slaughtered by
blood-thirsty Arab invaders if Islam is "profoundly humanistic" and you will find out
the truth. This is just one example. The Pope
had the decency to ask for forgiveness. May be
Islam should do the same instead of cramming this ideology down the throats of people who are quite sick of this ideology which is actually disrupting world economic development and perpetuating poverty. Islam has produced nothing for the past 750 years, most Islamic societies are dirt poor, unemployment in Islamic countries varies from 25% to 45%, and most suffer from over-population and now suddenly Islam wants
all the attention and adulation. There is a need for drastic reappraisal before Islam goes the way of the Soviet Union. There is a saying in a non-Islamic country that "All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims." Yes.
Its time for re-evaluation and re-appraisal. The present trend line is only bringing shame to Islam
notwithstanding all the self-delusion.
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ABU SAKINAH FROM UK said:
The understanfing the author shows of a human has nothing to do with what a human is. All humans are the same. They are made up of their instincts/organic needs and a reasoning mind.
Their beliefs/values shape their soceities.

ISLAM is the only set of beliefs and laws that do not go against the instincts/organic needs of man and yet its belief is rationaly based.

This article with respect is woolly and doesnt say anything of much interest.
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OMRAN AL-SHARIF FROM EARTH said:
Salaam Alaykum,
some guts and truth, Perhaps Allah has allowed man to use his arogrant nafs and his small brain how far man can go astray. The technology is just play, ok we have better understanding of the universe (chemstry, physics, biolgy...etc) but unfortnatly we use it more to comfort our selfs (nafs) It is time to asl Allah to take the steering will and put more trust in him . To get out of this mess I think we have to go far into worship, overdose ourselves with Ibada to remove ourselves from this bad cold.
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DANIEL CERESA FROM USA said:
Excellent and clear! It has good insights and brings interesting and realistic ideas.
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ZAHRA KHAN FROM CANADA said:
I do not agree with the author's argument that living in cities, etc. dehumanizes us. Sure, we're a little away from nature. But people still contemplate nature, be it by taking trips out into the country, by observing the stars (even though not through the naked eye but with backyard telescopes). Most human beings, wherever they live, do contemplate, appreciate and enjoy nature.
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ABDULLAHI ALIYU FROM NIGERIA said:
While the Qur'an (and indeed Allah (SWT)has called attention to nature as a way of attesting to the unity of God and the purpose of creation, the proofs have not been limited to only what is found in the 'bush', where the 'modern man' does not have access to. In the Qur'an, "wa fi amfusikum" also refers to what the 'modern man'can find in the best reseraches conducted by biologists, the most advanced professors of medicine, and many more. Conveniently therefore the 'modern man' may decide to remain in the exclusive reserves of the city's air-conditioning and well paved streets and still experience nature. Islam (and the Qur'an) appeals not to the 'primitiveness' of humans but to their intellect. The references to the fact that man could be allowed to reach the farthest depths of the cosmos was made by the Qur'an before the study of astronomy formally began (surah Arrahman). The fact that references are still being made by today's scientists to those contents of the Qur'an is enough testimony to the availability of enough 'humanistic experience' in Islam.
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VIOLA FROM USA said:
As Salaamul Alaykum, this article is a good attempt in trying to explain why humans are acting the way they are in today's society as compared to the society of the Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) time. At least that is what I understood from this article. I am awed every morning I wake to find I still have a chance to praise the One and Only Creator of all things in Heaven and Earth. I have been given the best plan for my life and that is Islam. I have been given the instructions how to conduct myself alone and amontst humans of both sexes. I have been given the best instructions to live in this world until I die which is a certainty. The world is changing because people are changing because rules are changing because laziness has set in because people are giving in and giving up because because because. Once you stop believing in a Creator that sees and hears all you do and you are not fearful, you have stopped your life. You have begun your death even though you are breathing and have faculties of hearing, sight, etc. This article is really poignant and we need to reread it again and take from it the good and leave the bad or what we don't agree with. Fear Allah. Follow His Last Prophets's Sunnah to the best of our ability. And Fear Allah as though you see Him for He truly Sees you. Try to give good dahawah to the people and be kind to the Muslim. I love you all for the Sake of Allah (awj. Read AlQur'an daily and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw). That is all I have to say. Jazakalahu Khairun.
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ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Asalamu alaikum,

Sexual segregation is an impediment to being a member of nowadays humanitarian institutions. There is not enough space for me to discuss the origin of Hijab and sexual segregation ruling that took place in Madinah the day after the messenger of Allah got married to Zainab bintu Jahsh. Sexual segregation was the result of Madinah hypocrites barbarianism and is not natural if we are to talk about mankind & its connection to nature. If in the West women that wear skirts are viewed as sexual objects, let me also deduce that by rapping up a woman in clothes like an onion, we are telling her indirectly that if you don't cover your entire body you are a sexual object. We have not grown yet from Madina's barbarians to truly treat women as persons yet by controlling our sexual appetite like Ghandi did. Does that mean that We Muslim men and you non-Muslim men are randy dogs that cannot possibly control our/your sexual urges and instead need to either control or manipulate women to our advantage.
Let's just admit that the West and the East are nothing but two different faces of the same coin.

Wa Allahu a'lam (Allah knows better),

Zinedine

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APARNA FROM INDIA said:
This article splendidly arrests our de-humanized minds and reminds us of the divine idea of Insaan and Insaaniyat (humanity). Often, we forget that ALLAH (Subhanahu wa ta'alaa) is Rab-il Aalameen, the Lord of All Creatures, His Creatures. When we claim Him to be the Lord of only one community or the other, we dehumanize ourselves.

May He give guide us to HIS Ideal of Humanity and may we become truly human.

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SA'ID ALI FROM U.S.A said:
I think that the author while affirming the relecency of the Qu'an and Sunna explicitly seems to be implying that they are irrelevant. I grew up and live in the technological society he describes because as a muslim I measure my humanity by the way that I relate to Allah s.w.t to my self and to the community which includes nature and people. I get a sense of awe about Allah's creation when I get a telescope and look at the stars or when I reflect on my own biological makeup. I do not subcribe to the author's moral relativism and the spiritually bankrupt assumptions that set aside the relevancy and centrality of islam. the author's suggestion to set aside islamic idealogy in order to better contibute to the discussion is like asking someone to read a book without using your eyes. Islam is the future and road to perfection for humanity. any muslim who doesn't see that should abondon his/her cultural/religious complexes, vain questions and intellectual exercises and go back to study Islam in all its branches
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ABDUL BATIN FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
THIS IS A VERY GOOD ARTICLE.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
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ABID HUSSAIN FROM UK said:
Asalamallekum,
I read this artical with great interest. And would like to share some of my views on the poits raised.

I feel that the essence of where muslims for a start have lost the reality of being human is in their greed for the Dunya. This coupled with with very low education levels about the real menings and message of ISLAM i think has lead to s state where people chose to do as they please, however convice them selves that they are actually MUSLIM.

I do agree that in this very westernised society we are totally excluded from the contact with nature allowing us to really experiance this life and there fore be able to escape from the trappings of the dunya. But on the other hand advances in science have opened our eyes to the prefection of Allah's beautiful creation, there fore you could argue that perhaps people should have realised that there is a GOD and thus had a stronger link to fellow humans and there fore have a stronger link to there own exsistance.

However that has not happened. Man has excelled in his arrogance in denying the existance of Allah ( may Allah save us all from that great sin). This has happened to the extent that people have more faith in LUCK, PROPABILITY, CHANCE EVENTS than actually see the perfection in the heavans and the earth. For example man ignores the perfection of humaity and relys on the fact that we came into being by a matter of chance.

In my opinion in todays society we may have increased our level of knowledge about how things work but we've as people have lost the wisdom to interperate the true meaning of these signs.

Abid Hussain
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STEVE FROM USA said:
I find that the following short essay has the most in-depth understanding of what a human is - from a Biblical aspect. Not only does it explain what a human is, but also the types of humans as well.

http://www.harvestermission.org/essays/beinghuman.html
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MAGGIE FROM UK said:
Thoughtful article, and I disagree that it is too long. In fact, the people who are complaining of its length are perhaps illustrating one of the author's points, that we are losing our humanity and ability to reflect by living in a complex technological society. I was also interested in the point about losing humanity, and that if we are losing our humanity then our beliefs that are based on an idea of humanity are no longer relevant or comprehensible. If that is true, if we can say, "Humans have become dogs or donkeys," and then ask "Can dogs or donkeys understand the Quran or Bible of Upanishads or whatever holy book you revere?" then maybe I grasped his point. I also applaud the author's temporary injunction to put aside sectarian or even faith-based answers to this question. I don't think he is being irreligious in doing this. In fact, it seems necessary to insure that more people will read and reflect on his points. Anyway, thanks to this site for reprinting this great piece.
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ALIYU MUHAMMAD ABDULGHAFFAR FROM NIGERIA said:
All praises to All-Mighty Allah for His Mercies. This observation is a devine Guidance from Allah (SWT)to return His Slaves to the right path after deviating for so long. Hopefully, I think this is the begining of our demand for Shariah Law all over the world.
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TAHIR DARR FROM UK said:
I found the article to be negative and unnecessarily critical of this great age we live in.
If i can start with the point that i assume that you are being critical of life in the present time compared to a bygone age where humans were more in touch with Allah than now.I am going to go one step further and assume you mean at the time of the Prophet humans were in a much better place spiritually. Let me start by saying that you have no proof of this.In fact, are you aware that before the Koran was written there was no literature written in Arabic!! So the arabs pre Islam had virtually nothing to read (except a handful of poetry). The enlightened people of that time were killing their daughters , even though they were in touch with Allah! There was more starvation and famine(proven by archaeological finds) and people died at a younger age , thus finding it hard for the knowledge and wisdom of elders to be passed down to children. It was also a time where science was little understood and we know many stories were contrived to make up for a scientific lack of knowledge (which is why paganism thrived!).
So, whats wrong with us living in a technologically advanced time? We have time to contemplate the TRUE meaning of life without being confused by LACK of scientific knowledge.We are more informed of world events and by just watching TV can see how people liveand think in other parts of the world.We no longer have the excuse that we have not been exposed to the huge variety of culture , thought process, logic used by the great number of civilisations around the world. So what if we are busy, at least we are not busy warring with rival tribes and being conned into performing acts of atrocities on our neighbours (not stricly true , depending on your political viewpoint). And one of the reasons we are not doing this is because their is global reporting and policing, which is supported by technology.
We are living in a great time and will evolve mentally and adapt.
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DR. MOHAMMED WASEEM FROM NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA said:
May ALLAH SUBHAN TALA made us make all the sincere efforts to learn and act in accordance with the clearly, unambiguously RULES made known in in QURAN AL KARIM, QURAN AL HAKIM, FURTHER EXPLAINED AND DEMONSTRATED BY KHATIMUNABI MUHAMMED SALLAH LAH VASALLUM, reexplained and demonstrated by KHULFAI RASHDIN. May ALLAH GAFOOR AL RAHIM bless the editor(s) Crescent International. I would like to know the adrees to which I should write for the subscription. JAZAL ALLAH, ..
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NOON FROM USA said:
Thank U for "coming back to life" so to speak.
Your InSites R so InDepth & UpLifting, thank All of U
for coming back to us.

This article, as usualy, was Fantastic. Thank AllaU, again.
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DR YUNUS AYDAROOS FROM UAE said:
Excellent and true.It is sad some people criticise it as too lengthy etc. They are the ones who want a few words only , and on a plate, to solve their problems overnight !!!
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SHAKIRAT FOLAKE OLAWALE FROM CANADA said:
This is a very interesting and educating article. I agree with the author that it necessary for people around the world irrespetive of their belief to ponder on what make a genuine humanity. It seem people are really deviating from normal way of living to fantasy and holding on to this life of nothingness at a greter level. A reminder call like this is very necessary.
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RIAZ QUADIR FROM FRANCE said:
Excellent call to awaken to the real crisis of humanity by Mr. Al-Khabbaz. I do believe that we have largely forgotten that humanity includes the entire human race and is not a sectarian issue. As is consistently repeated in the Koran, Islam was revealed time and again throughout human history all the way back to Adam. That we have distorted it to suit our own purposes is the common tale - which the muslims are repeating yet once again. As we are blessed with the miracle of Mohammed (PBUH), the Koran, which will be preserved through time, there will be no other revelations. Hence for muslims and non-muslims alike the problem is the same and so is the solution: to rediscover our lost humanity and find means of living together in harmony. The divine sense of humor lies in the beauty of the solution. It is a paradox. To overcome greed is the opposite of all of the forces that has shaped the dehumanized, modern man. Yet therein lies his salvation. Give and you shall get! So easy to ennuciate, so difficult to assimilate into our daily lives, so hard to let go and jump into the unknown world of faith when all we can talk about are retirement plans and insurances for all we own, can own, will own... A comedy, a tragedy.....
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ZAHRA FROM IRAN said:
That is great! A new out look to the crisis of living in modern world. And as the writer says "crisis of humanity"! How long it would take human being to realize such a crisis? If it ever happens! I can hear Illich's words again from several decades ago: "Contemporary man attempts to creat the world in his image, to build a totally man-made environment, and then discovers that he can do so only on the condition of constantly remarking himself to fit it. we now must face the fact that man himself is at stake"!
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MANNA SADIKU FROM CANADA said:
I agree that this article is unnecessarily lengthy and the author does ramble every so often. For us, as muslims, humanity is what the qur'an and sunnah defines it to be, the good and the bad of it. Allah (SWT) who created us, describes very clearly over and over in the qur'an our basic nature, fitrah. It also explains how we deviate fron this intrinsically good nature, the causes for it and the cures for it. Humanity remains basically the same as it always was. Greed, heedlessness, arrogance and all these diseases of the heart are, always have been and always will be. It is the methodology that differs. Technology being one of such methodologies. Disbelievers in the message of Allah (SWT) are alike right from the time of Nuh to this day. As Allah (SWT) states in the quran, "......their hearts are alike" Let's not spend too much time ruminating over these concepts and really just focus on how we can all make this ailing world of ours a better place for us all. May Allah show us the way.
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SAIF FROM U.S.A said:
Most definitely a thought provoking article. The author asks many pertinent questions, but approaches the entire issue from a very areligious, and non sacred point of view. Indeed the problem today arises from modern humanities abandonment of it's sacred traditions, muslims, christians, jews all of us have had our minds conquered by the post renaissance, scientific mode of thinking. As a native american had said, I'm paraphrasing 'when Man loses touch with nature his heart grows cold and soon he commits violence against his fellow man' The same process that wiped out the traditions of the innately muslim(those who submit to the One) native americans continues to this very day. Indeed it would probably be better if we could walk away from this madness and restore the rivers, the sky and the forests, our brother animals, all which worship Allah in their own way, back to a more beautiful and pristine state. Why not hold to the truth and die than capitulate to the greed around us, is that not the real test?

May Allah illuminate all our hearts and minds,
Peace
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HASSAN MAJID FROM CANADA said:
The article is in my opinion unnecessarily lengthy. The writher could have made the points more succinctly. Or, should I say, one does not have enough time and patience to carefully read an analytical and lengthy article in this technologically advanced age, which implicitly demands more efficiency in almost every aspect of human life.

In general, I agree with the writer. Here, I also like to add some observations. Firstly, modern western civilization, which is based on technological advancement, is unlike any of the human civilization previously existed. Therefore, any analogy or comparison between them is sometimes difficult and one must be careful when analyzing. Secondly, from a philosophical point, motivation that drives the technological development is mostly greed. Yes, there are many innovations and discoveries that have genuine concern for humanity, but in general, it is safe to say that acquire and possession of more goods and services and of better quality is the primary motivator of technological development. Consequently, greed robs mankind from compassion, which is the essence of humanity.
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HASSAN MAJID FROM CANADA said:
The article is in my opinion unnecessarily lengthy. The writher could have made the points more succinctly. Or, should I say, one does not have enough time and patience to carefully read an analytical and lengthy article in this technologically advanced age, which implicitly demands more efficiency in almost every aspect of human life.

In general, I agree with the writer. Here, I also like to add some observations. Firstly, modern western civilization, which is based on technological advancement, is unlike any of the human civilization previously existed. Therefore, any analogy or comparison between them is sometimes difficult and one must be carefully when analyzing. Secondly, from a philosophical point, motivation that drives the technological development is nothing but pure greed. Acquire and possession of more goods and services and of better quality is driven by greed. And, greed robs the mankind from compassion, which is the essence of humanity.
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MD. SARFARAZ KHAN FROM INDIA said:
As the author has initiated this discussion among english speaking people or western mindsets, it may be considered as good efforts to define humanity. At some stages, he blames Muslim community towards their efforts for human causes which may be right. But at the other moment he puts a question mark at the authencity of Quranic rules (for instance mix-up of opposit genders to perform the welfare works). 'Humanity' is well defined in Islam. One can go through the Quran, Hadiths and the History of Islam and Inshaallah he will find that those practices are best guide for this ultra modern society too. You will see a lot women with "Aisha(rta)"in the battle field, giving treatment to the warriers(this is only one example). Hence Islam is never a hinderence in the way of humanity. Further, Humanity based on Islamic rules is only authentic and time tested. Such humanity is based on the 'will of Allah', hence it is practiced even at a lonely place , only to please his creator(Almighty). Hence, before producing true Humanity to the mankind one must arm himself with all the realistic views rather than being biased.
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