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Opinion

Islam's response to contemporary world problems (16)

Islam

In issue 15 we mentioned the characteristics of the materialistic society and the absence of responsibility in societies towards a possible Future Life. 

Continuing the theme of moral degradation, we see that societies not only impose on individuals a progressive number of rites, taboos, impositions and prohibitions, but also indulge and gratify them in romance and courtship, and play a vital role in this area. Poetry, literature, art, music, styles, fashions, exhibitions, taste for fragrance, and the development of decent and cultivated conduct, are results, in important measure, of the same fundamental impulse manifested as social response. 

There may come a time when the future generation will rebel and reject the social achievements of many years of progress. This rebellion may not take the form of outright rejection, although the critical eye can only note that the movement is in that direction. Hippiedom, bohemian life, the increasing violence associated with sex and the return of sexual behaviour to its bestial and primitive aspect are some of the examples of the reversal of trends mentioned above. 

One only has to go outside to see how the immaculate clothing of yesteryear has given way to shabby and utterly neglected clothes. Gone are the days when a moment's inspection of our attire was highly embarrassing. Today's jeans, intentionally ripped to show off the body, are becoming much more valuable than a new pair of trousers. Of course, not all of society manifests such extreme signs of discontent with past or traditional heritage, but, when a disease takes hold, not all of the body has to be ulcerated. Indiscipline and disorder begin to be the order of the day. Many other signs of decadence surface in different areas of human interest. 

The pursuit of pleasure in every sphere of life calls for changes and novelties that provide greater stimulation. Things that satisfied in the past do not do so now. Tobacco and traditional intoxicants are no longer able to provide the stimulation that the increasingly restless society needs. All kinds of drugs are beginning to appear and no measures taken to stop the progressive drug addiction are sufficient. For the drug addict there comes a time when he needs even more stimulation and new, stronger, more addictive and lethal drugs are invented. 

In the area of music, the same trends have been gradually introduced in the last decades of this century. The study of the development of music over the most recent centuries, in the face of the rapid changes of decibel eruption in the last decades, provides interesting data to analyse. 

The progressive development of music in the West over the last centuries has been in the direction of the sublime, the exquisite and the noble. Such music produced simultaneously peace of mind and peace of heart. The best music was that which was identified and coupled with the latent music of the human mind and spirit. Harmony and peace were the ultimate goals of this musical evolution. Of course, there were passages in the works of the great composers and artists that created images of volcanic eruptions, typhoons, lightning, and a sense of commotion that corresponded to the external phenomena of nature. Their memories were stored and preserved indefinitely in the memorising mechanism of life. At times, the climax reached such a crescendo that it seemed as if the whole universe would explode. However, the audience remained motionless, immersed in the musical flood, without moving a muscle or blinking an eyelid, until, suddenly, there was total silence. Only then did the hall burst into tremendous applause.  

Professor Bloom, who must be credited with some knowledge of Western music, seems to agree in his book "The Closing of the American Minds", when he laments the erosion of the sensibilities of adolescents in the contemporary era, who, in his words, are brutalised by constant exposure to rock music.  

There are numerous visible and palpable signs of this decadent state of society which is making man's life increasingly disordered and increasingly devoid of happiness, contentment, peace and security. Man can deny the existence of God as much as he pleases, but he cannot deny the existence of an all-powerful nature that knows well how to punish the crimes committed against it. 

Returning to the subject at hand, in all materialistic societies, the most important factors which are responsible for the proliferation and growth of evil, are more or less the same, which we have already partially discussed above. I will list them again by way of summary: 

Progressive atheism; the weakening of belief in a real, Mighty God, who has a real interest in human affairs and in the way human beings shape their conduct; the progressive weakening in beliefs in ethical and traditional values; and, the growing tendency to forget the end and to regard the means as ends in themselves. 

This is the situation prevailing in the so-called "advanced" or "civilised" societies of the world. Slowly, as moral and ethical values continue to wither, they begin to influence the legislative and executive process of governments. When no law emanating from God is accepted and absolute ethical values and noble traditions are daily challenged and contravened, any legislation that purports to discipline moral conduct also becomes lax and complacent. The platform on which the laws concerning moral behaviour stand begins to totter.

To be continued in the next instalment, number 17.