Most parents are familiar with the task of trying to instill in their children the art of good thought, or thinking, if you may. For the person who has nice thoughts, will live up to lead a nice life, it is widely held. “As a man thinks, so does he become. Every man is the son of his works,” said Cervantes. In other words, if a person develops nice and pleasant thoughts, he will lead a life built around those thoughts, but if he thinks constantly of, say, evil and terror, he will one day conduct that nature of an act.
As a community, we are duty-bound to create a certain “entry-requirement” of thoughts that should be applied across the board for testing each and every individual’s character, personality, etc. This requirement should be based on a code of conduct commensurate with the teachings and trends of our Holy Aimma (AS). We should teach men to be bold and brave (like Imam Ali (AS)), patient and perseverant (like Imam Hassan (AS)), aggressive and submissive at the same time (like Imam Husain (AS)), and so on. We should teach our womenfolk to be charitable like Janabe Khadija (SA); gracious and resolute like Bibi Fatema (SA) and brave and courageous like Bibi Zainab (AS). These being the primary qualities, that can then be mixed up with other traits that are necessary for today’s living as well as in tune with an individual’s innate qualities. Wrong should be wrong, bad character regarded bad. No one person should cherish thoughts that are far flung from the rest of the people. In this similarity would thrive, diversity. How you may wonder. In a way that would show how different people group together to perform the same action to achieve the same end. In our daily lives, we do that with great results. Think about the Jamaat prayers, where there is a solitary goal, a unified action by a group of many different individuals. Similarly, with Hajj whereby people from far and wide, in obedience to the great command of Allah (SWT) act in one direction, and with one scale of thought. That would, of course, be an ideal society.
Unlike animals, human beings are endowed with the faculty of thinking, which can be as lethal as I can be useful. Someone said, “Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.” Hidden in this saying is the teaching that not only do thoughts shape our inner selves, they also give the colours and the shape to the outside world that we see. As a simple example, and a common one, we say that a pessimist talks of the glass being half full. These are reflections of people’s thoughts and how they perceive the outside world. It is true that we must first prepare the ground for our children’s positive and productive thought. In these times of material affluence, depressed generosity, rapid information and unrestrained sexual openness, our children need the line of thought that has been described earlier. Today’s media which is king and kingmaker all in one, is no longer an uninvited guest, as they used to say, it is now your roommate. In one form or another, the media shapes up much of the life around us today. Paradoxically so, this is both good and bad. Good because it means that information can travel faster than the speed of light (eh!) and that human progress and mental growth can be achieved with the push of a button today, and bad because with the overwhelming influence that the media has over the mind, it leaves little room for any other culture to thrive. The Media culture teaches our children to wear ragged jeans, to want material things, to attract mates and mating, to show off, through publicity hoards and commercials. It teaches the new generation that they are apart from the oldies and that the 21st century has brought them the life they most wanted. The messenger that delivers this information to them is the TV, the Radio, the Internet, the Newspapers, Movies and Magazines. No longer should we ask ourselves whether we should keep a TV set at home or not, or whether an Internet connection at home is a good idea. We must have all of it, but with supervision and guidance for them to use it for progress, both moral and material, and to counter any negative influence with the Islamic teaching of an Islamic community, which it must be understood cannot be outdated nor outclassed… Then what you will have is an ideal society.