Thursday, 7 May 2009

I am free to do what I want

In this society, many of us really believe we are free to do what we want with our lives. And being a teenager or young adult, brings with it a whole different perspective. Soon as we enter into the world of being a young person in this society, we are tempted to take on a whole outlook on the way we live life. Whether its going out to clubs and pubs, looking for no-strings-attached romance or being typically rebellious with family and authority; the attitude of just living by whatever takes ones fancy or gives one pleasure is a common one for teenagers.

In Western society, the youth have created as well as have been pushed into a niche where responsibility is a far concern as seeking pleasures is the only concern. Thus being sexually active without responsibility has grave consequences – Alfie Patten, the 13 year old who became a father was a shocking example of this. This is no surprise as a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International in 2005 revealed that in the US, 27% 13 to 16 year olds and 41% of 14 to 15 year olds are sexually active. It is therefore no surprise that teenage pregnancies are a significant problem in the West, with the US and Britain having the highest rates.

Although the attitude of doing as one pleases exists in the West, the reality is that we live in a society, not in isolation. Therefore although some of us may interprete freedom in our lives as just trying to get a good job, have a decent career and start a stable family to make ourselves happy, another person may interprete this freedom in a totally different way. So making oneself happy for a rapist has a lot more of a disasterous consequence, although they have acted upon the same idea that we ourselves hold - the freedom to please ourselves. So if we really believe we all should be allowed to exercise our own freedoms as we live quite a decent and righteous life, then we should not have a problem with a rapist existing in our society too, who also has exercised his freedom.

Are you really free?

This is the question which many of us living in Western societies assume the answer to. However if we really ask ourselves this question we will find the answer to be in the negative. We are not at all really free. Although society promotes sexual freedom to satisfy ones desires, the British law requires that you must be above the age of 16 to do so. Although we believe we are free to dress in whatever way we please, be it a sack even if we chose, the reality is if you decided to walk down the street stark naked, you would be arrested. If you asked a newspaper to report some type of abuse about the Queen you would be told that it was not allowed.

Therefore it is clear we are not at all totally free – We are just free to the extent that society and the Government allow you to be. Therefore the question then begs, that if we are not free, but all live by a set of norms and rules, then what rules should we be following? The norms of a society which human beings have decided for themselves, or the norms and rules of the Creator who created our very bodies and souls?

Freedom causes you to think only about yourself

The desire to exercise their desires before anything else, damn any responsibility naturally fuels a certain mentality within young people. The endless quest to make oneself happy, makes people put their own desires first, above anyone elses.

The idea of individualism in society causes young people to just have fun without limits, without thinking about the impact on other people or on society. Individualism gives boys the licence to do behave sexually in whatever way they please, but never intend to commit to the girl they are intimate with. Individualism means a superficial desire of always wanting a pretty size 8 girlfriend, as a woman on a BBC reality TV show about single mothers disclosed, that her partner left her whilst she was 5 months pregnant because he felt she lost her ‘looks’. Individualism means parents who prioiritised their own career success or love life over the wellbeing of their children, as reported by the 2009 Children’s Society report; which has resulted in children being more anxious and unhappy.

The panel which produced the 2009 Children’s society report stated that the current ‘excessive individualism needs to be replaced by a value system where people seek satisfaction more from helping others rather than pursuing private advantage’. [1]

Western societies breed the idea of individualism as an idea people live by in society and you are told it does not matter how your actions affect others – if you are fine that’s all the matters. However this is not at all true as everything people do in society affects others – If a man is intimate with a woman and gets her pregnant and then does a runner, he not only affects the life of the woman who has to survive and bring up a child and fend for herself alone, but he also affects the life of the baby who grows up without having a father figure. Actions by individuals affects society, and this is the idea that must be understood by Western society for it to deal with the current social breakdown that is being witnessed in society.

Islam cares about others around you

There is a Hadith reported in Bukhari, narrated by Nu'man bin Basheer (ra) that the prophet (saw) said,
"The example of the one who stands for the Deen of Allah and the one who has left it are like the people in a boat, some of whom occupy the upper deck and some occupy the lower deck. Whenever those in the lower deck need water, they have to go to the upper deck to retrieve it. So some of them said, ‘why don't we make a hole in our deck so we do not harm the people of the upper deck?' If the people do not stop them, they will all fall and be failures, but if they stop them they will all be saved"
The Prophet SAW is here aliking the example of the situation of people needing to work together to keep a ship afloat, like people in society – If people just seek to fulfil their own needs and desires without thinking about everyone else, then eventually they will all sink. Islam therefore necessitates that we think about the community and society, as well as our own selves. Under the Islamic Khilafah, the social system of Islam necessitates that the agitation of the sexual instinct is totally removed from society, so that the society and community are protected from the ravages of unrestricted promiscuity which occur as a result of unrestricted freedom. The Prophet SAW said:
‘Oh you youngsters. Whoever amongst you who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him more to lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e.chastity). And whoever is not able to marry he should fast, because it will be a protection for him’ (Bukhari and Muslim).
The stability and commitment of marriage is the place for the satisfaction of this instinct, so that it is not let loose in society.
We are slaves of Allah

The idea that we are free to do whatever we want and fulfil are desires in whatever way we want, is a total fallacy. If we have no freedom over the number of times our heart beats, how many electric impulses our brain sends and how much oxygen our lungs intake, how can we possibly believe that we are free to fulfil the needs and desires of our body in other respects, as discussed above? Clearly we have been created by Allah and are being kept alive by Allah, so how can we have the audacity to believe that when it comes to the areas of our needs where we have a choice, that Allah has no room to tell us what to do?

Rather Allah SWT has clearly told us in Surah Adh-Dhuriyat,

‘I have created jinn and man for no reason but to worship me’.

This makes clear that whether it is the involuntary or ivoluntary needs and desires, everything we do must be in line with what Allah loves, and abstaining from whatever Allah hates, as our very purpose in this world, is for Him.

The Prophet SAW narrated in a hadith, ‘Any action not based upon our affair will be rejected.’

Therefore there is no room for a Muslim to feel that he has the freedom to choose however to fulfil his desires – Every single action he does must be in line with Islam. This does not mean that a Muslim must pray and fast 24 hours a day and nothing else, but it just means that in the way we have relationships with people, how we buy and sell, how we behave with our parents, where we go in our free-time, must all be in line with the deen of Allah.

This is because as Muslims we know that death is the most definite thing and that after death the Day of Judgement will inevitably come, where we must answer for every single deed that we carried out in this world. This will be the Day when, ‘he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it And he who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.’ (surah Zalzalah 7-8)

Thus knowing that Allah will account us for even the smallest error we make in arrogance defying his deen, should make us people who use our minds to always think before we act. The behaviour of doing as we please, damn consequences and whether it is right or wrong, is never for the thinking, mature Muslim.

The thinking, mature Muslim has taqwa, fear and consciousness of his Creator, which ignites within him a desire to continuously remember his Lord in everything he does, so even if she wants to freemix and join in with the other girls with their flirting and college romances, her fear and love for Allah far exceeds her small and human desires. She remembers that Allah’s promise of the great reward of the Hereafter which will satisfy ones desires beyond imagination, is the best reward to wait for:
"And whoever fears Allah, and keeps his duty to Him, He will forgive his sins from him and will enlarge his reward." [TMQ At-Talaq 65:5]
Indeed, life in this society is extremely difficult to withstand for the Muslim youth, as they are constantly forced into submitting to their lowly human desires and seek their own benefit. But a Muslim knows that this is simply the path to destruction, in this life and the Hereafter and for the community around them. With the help of their Creator, therefore they are able to seek the higher ground for actions and live purely for Allah over the base desires of human beings:
‘Those who believe and constantly guard against evil, for them are glad tidings in the life of the present and in the Hereafter, no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity.’ (Surah Yunus 63-4)

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