A Simple Thought – Friday, 14th May 2021

Downfall of Civilisations

Edward Digby Baltzell was an American sociologist, academic and author. He became an eminent professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and was credited with popularizing the acronym WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). His work shed new light on the ruling elite of America, changing public perceptions of American society and history.  In one of his writings, he says “The downfall of every civilisation comes, not from the moral corruption of the common man, but rather of the moral complacency of men in high places”.  While it is widely argued nowadays that his own moral commitment shaped his assumptions about the nature of the social matrix and his research strategies, the essence of his statement provokes some measure of thought.  He believed,  and as many of us might as well, that whereas similar actions are perfomed by men and women of all cadres and social classes, those of people in places of power and position, do normally tend to mould the definitions around acceptable and unacceptable practices of society.  Indeed, advocates of the devilish ideas of same-sex marriage, for example, knew this hypothesis rather well, and this is the reason famous and influential men and women, are to this day used as poster boys and girls to promote the regularity of this new form of union. 

This quote also establishes immense responsibility on the shoulders of anyone who society regards as influential.  While not limiting ourselves to the recently-coined term of ‘influencers’ mainly ascribing the actions of young individuals who are used by corporates to set trends via social media, influential people are well beyond the seasonal mesmeriation of the new breed of influencers.  They are wealthy, well heeled and more often large family units, who society looks up to, for moral inspiration.  They pick their success stories and inspect their failures, and learn from them.  But more frequently, fanatics of such ‘role models’ usually rationalise even the negatives of their idols and successively adopt them as right moral behaviour.  Unbenown to the unsuspecting crowds, most of these high-placed net worthy individuals are far from altruistic, and are themselves pursuing their own self-serving agendas of power and fame, while thoroughly enjoying celebrity status.

In their book ‘Factors of the Rise and Fall of Human Civilization based on the Perspective of Al-Quran’, co-authors Zaidin Mohamad and Basri Ibrahim (both of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin), enlist the following factors derivative of the stories and statements of the Holy Qur’an, as those that bring down civilisations.  In the coming series of ‘A simple thought’, we will try to examine each one of these separately to see if our own civilisation is imperilled by the presence of any of these factors.

In the meantime, if we are in any form of powerful position, let us return to base and invoke the protection of Allah (SWT) against the relentless whispers of Shaitan, the damned one. 

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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