by Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
mongst the many faculties endowed upon humankind by the Beneficent Lord, there is conceivably none that exists in His insubordination or lacks purpose. Whether we look at our salient five senses, and the latent sixth, or our propelled actions through the limbs, tongue, eyes, and so on. Each has been created to facilitate our good living in pursuit of attaining his ma’arifaa and subsequently praise Him. This is exactly why separated from us, these facilities will attest for and against us on Dooms Day, to reconcile the book of our deeds, in the face of our vehement denials.
In His profound mercy, Allah (SWT), has also granted us the superior power of reason and intellect, and this, therefore, qualifies us to be the custodians of these facilities or senses and depending on how we direct them, and in chasing which particular life goal, will effectively determine our fate on the day that matters most.
In acknowledging the perils of self-navigation through this intensely distracting world, Imam Zainul Abideen pleads to Allah thus in Du’a Makaarimul Akhlaaq:
bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.
Raise my faith to reach the most perfect faith, and make my conviction to be the most excellent of convictions.
Make my intentions to be the best of intentions, and my actions to be the best of actions.
O Allah, increase my (good) intentions, through Your Grace,
Improve my conviction, through what is with You, and reform what is corrupt in me, through Your power.
Indeed, the more we think about the realities of life, it becomes amply clear that subservience results from self-control, and all the goodnesses that the contemporary world touts around as virtues (Akhlaaq) today are in actual fact, rooted in religious teachings that help to reign in our animal side of beings.
May studies show us how indiscipline is correlated to crime and misdemeanour. Kochuosef Chittilapilly in his write-up ‘Indiscipline, the Root Cause of Crime’ picks up on the state of Kerala in India, which stands proud of the 100% literacy rate as well as the ascent on various social and human development indices. In spite of this enviable achievement, the crime rate in the state is over 400 times higher than India’s national average. And this, he firmly asserts is due to the lack of discipline in society. In this article, he strongly states Paving a strong value foundation (Akhlaaq) in children through proper parenting cum value-based education and enforcement of the law on offenders based on quick and strict judgment are the ways forward. Don’t be quick to blame it all on the strayed modern youth. There is a saying: family is like a water tank, children are the taps. The output through the taps will solely depend on the tank’s quality. No point in blaming dirty water coming out of the taps if the tank itself is dirty. Parents and teachers should introspect to see if a conducive ambiance for self-development is provided at home and school. I believe character formation takes place by the age of 18, and after that correction is nearly impossible. During these years of growth, the most influential people in the lives of children are parents and teachers, who have the responsibility to channel their high energies into what is good.
There are several other similar examples we see around the world, where devoid of Akhlaaq, societies become self-destructive, germinating into a savage civilisation.
Many years ago, a famous tyre brand slogan, screamed on their billboard advertising ‘Power is nothing without control’. The attribute of the tyre and its firm tread provided sound control to a fast-moving vehicle, and in absence of such tyres, speed would almost always kill, at least such was the narrative.
As a community entrenched in the value systems promoted to us by the eminent Merciful Prophet and the Ahlul Bayt (AS), the question that we need to frequently address if the advancements of our children in science and technology, or any other fields, are going to benefit anyone if we do not genuinely ingrain them with Akhlaaq as taught to us by Imam Sajjad (AS). The world we live in, is talking about personal choices first, individual progress at any cost, selfishness in transactions, and announcement of good deeds that we perform. If there is no counterbalancing argument affixed to the minds of our children, then we may as well alienate ourselves from future generations of our own lineage. We may also have understood our religion much less than we ought to have if we do not understand that the power provided by knowledge and learning, by wealth or social status is nothing if there is no inner sense of debasement. And this then leads to arrogance and conceit, terms that Allah (SWT) abhors and holds in utter displeasure,