A wind of change is blowing across societies of the world, be the Eastern or Western, religious or secular. The remarkable material progress of the current age has been more than counterbalanced by its deplorable spiritual decline, to the extent that the souls of men have lost their ability even to grasp obvious truths. It is apparent from a close study of humanity that a hidden and formidable force is pulling it downwards, and man is swiftly being dragged into a pit which is termed “Asfalus Safilin” [the lowest of the low]. The Holy Quran states: “Surely we have created men in the best time; Then if he does evil deeds, we degrade him as the lowest of the low, Save those who believe and do good works, so for them is an unfailing reward.” Such a complete change has come over the intellects of men, that they have come to admire and praise things which are abhorrent and detestable to the spiritual eye. Every soul feels itself being dragged downwards by a force, which, through its devastating influence, has already caused a whole world to fall into decline. Pure truth are laughed at and ridiculed, and complete submission to God is looked upon as an absurdity. Attraction forms the basis for everything that happens in the world, and the side which possesses greater conviction is able to attract others towards itself. Darkness has completely pervaded the world and the flickering lamp of righteousness is about to die out. Customary belief, traditional knowledge and superficial prayers can no longer bring back its faded light. Can the blind lead the blind? Can darkness dispel darkness? No! A new minaret has to be built on the earth which rises above the lowly dwellings, so that the heavenly lamp may be placed on it, and the whole world may be illuminated by its light. How can light reach distant places unless it is placed somewhere high?
Do we not believe in God? Do we not fear Him? Do we not love Him? Do not all people, with the exception of a few, believe in Him? And do they not still commit every kind of sin, and are they not involved in every type of evil and impiety?” There is a great difference between belief and true awareness. Who thinks that everyone who believes is able to refrain from sin, no, only he who truly recognizes God can safeguard himself against it, for he has experienced Divine fear as well as Divine love. The water which satiates thirst and quenches the fire of sin is none other than certainty. Nothing else under the sun can avail one in this. One will soon realize that no light, apart from the light of true certainty, can deliver one from the darkness within him, and that nothing, except the pure water of perfect insight, can cleanse the inner filth, and that the clear water of Divine ‘sight’ alone can soothe the burning of one’s heart. One can see with open eyes and reflect! Is it not true that, unless there is light, one cannot see, and unless one follow the right path, cannot reach the destination? Is it possible for anyone who has eyes to remain standing on the brink of a bottomless pit?
Unfortunate is the heart that is cold, and the spirit that is dead, and the conscience that possesses no insight. Become like a pail that is lowered down a well empty and comes out full, and not like a sieve that cannot hold any water. One should take care his [spiritual] health, and rid of the fever of materialism, whose poisonous influence causes one’s eyes to go blind, and his ears to go deaf, and which deprives his tongue of taste, and hands and feet of vigour. Cut yourselves off from this world so that you may forge a connection with the Celestial One. Prevent your heart from moving in one direction so that it may move towards the other. Throw away the impurities of this world so that the shining jewel of heaven may be granted to you. The heart which has been blessed with the knowledge of God and with conviction is like a full-flowing river that irrigates all the fields in its way, and whose cool and clear water brings peace and solace to their burning hearts.
In the beginning faith must have some fine reason to support it. It must have something as the first generation of a religion does not derive the strength of their belief from mere fantasies. Their rationale, however, may not seem convincing when viewed from the remote distances of, for instance, the present time. The generations (at the beginning of a religion) believe in things which they have witnessed as having been fully supported by evidence which at the time was considered to be sufficient evidence. However, with time the aspect of evidence fades away but the element of faith continues. As faith continues through different ages, it is challenged from time to time by the new realities which appear and when the new realities challenge faith, one must examine with a cool head the pros and cons on both sides and if reason then rejects faith, faith should be rejected and reason should be adopted. One should not believe in anything unless one has sound reason to believe in it. Without any sound reason for believing, belief is mere fantasy and it cannot stand the test of time. Allah the Almighty has also said at another place: “Prayers restrain one from indecency and manifest evil.” (Ch.29: V.46) In this materialistic age and in the Western culture where man has made progress in every field, has reached other planets and has discovered many unfathomed secrets of nature, he has also crossed all bounds of indecency and invented means and instruments for moral depravity, obscenity and filth. Though man is the most conscious of beings, yet he is worse than animals in such indecencies.
Many parents with their children, like other immigrants, moved to Canada to settle. In doing so, have we changed who we are? Have we allowed ourselves to indulge in certain things or remove so-called hindrances to attain an apparently better lifestyle? Many of us have. We have lowered the high standard of our Purdah; we eat food that has not been sanctioned, and we participate in events and activities, which are neither wholesome, nor permitted for us. It is a world, where to be chameleon and change with the tides, is to prove your intelligence and character. However Allah exhorts us to remain steadfast to His will. Religion and faith require man to be good with people who come in his life in whatever relationship. As faith requires husbands to be good with their wives, so husbands should be faithful and good with their wives. People of faith required to be protected and supervise their families, stay away from sin, adultery, follow religion and be protected. Religion commandments encourage wives to be faithful and sincere with their husbands, so according to the faith wives should be faithful and good to their husbands. Faith teaches us that as parents we should be more polite, caring and loving with our children and children should be obedient, caring, loving and respectful to their parents. Our faith requires us to be good, loving and caring with our brothers and sisters. Brothers should be good, caring and respectful with their sisters, likewise, sisters should be good and respectful with their brothers. Our faith teaches us to be good with our neighbors and all the people in our community. We should be more helpful and caring to our community friends. Religion teaches us to respect our elders and be good with them. Our faith wants us to become law abiding good citizen, be faithful and patriot to your country.
We believe in God Almighty and have accepted His religion and we have faith. Have we observed change in our lives? If we have accepted religion and practice our faith accordingly, have we succeeded in saving ourself, our family, and our children from sinful world? Are we successful to teach religious education to our children? New generation follow religion and faith accordingly and they are protected from sin, adultery, bad company and becoming good human beings? Husbands are faithful with their wives, likewise, wives are faithful with their husbands and families are following the religion? No one interferes others lives and wrong-doings which results family breakup, divorce. People are scared from each other, try to degrade each other, everyone thinks he is superior than other and distance is widening. Have we created a peaceful society and brotherhood, which religion required from us? Now if we have not become a better human being, a better husband, a better wife, and a good law abiding citizen. If we have not became more peaceful people in our society and country. If we have not became good in dealing with people, then all this religion, faith and believe were not for us because we made many sacrifices for this religion. People laughed at us, joked at us, we were persecuted because of our religion and faith. We have faced hatred circumstances, but we did not get any benefit out of it. We even could not practice this faith and lost in this materialistic world. Did we waste ourselves? Did we make a right choice for us? Hereafter generally refers to the life after death. But, in making our daily choices, if we look at the long term consequences of those choices rather than the immediate gratification or expediency, we can save ourselves a lot of grief. A sense of right and wrong and the potential to be good are built in our DNA. God has implanted in man’s nature a feeling or sense of what is good and bad and has revealed to him that he could achieve spiritual perfection by eschewing what is bad and wrong and adopting what is right and good. As torch bearers of Islam, it is our fundamental obligation to prevent moral degradation in our community so that we may attract others to the beauty of Islam.
Moral degradation is worse than a complex and serious disease with devastating long term consequences. It refers to the process of declining from a higher to a lower level of morality and is seen as preceding or concomitant with the decline in quality of life as well as the decline of societies and nations. It has destroyed individuals, families, dynasties and nations alike from within. It starts slowly with seemingly harmless choices by some individuals but then it spreads like an epidemic affecting the society at large. Moral decline or degradation begins when transcendent moral values, which have proven to be beneficial over time, are discarded for vain lustful desires. In our times, examples of this phenomenon abound; like immodesty, adultery, cohabitation, teenage pregnancies, drinking, drugs, pornography, homosexuality, financial and political corruption, etc. However, all religions are either silent or inadequate on this subject, except Islam. No other religion claims to be complete and universal, except Islam. It is only Islam that claims to provide perfect guidance for all human needs: physical, moral and spiritual. Islam prevents moral decline by Explaining the nature of man (i.e., his strengths and weaknesses, his potential to do good and his propensity to do evil). As well as, Differentiating right from wrong and Warning about the risks and dangers of moral degradation by providing complete guidance (dos & don’ts) on avoiding those risks.
To preserve the morals and integrity of families, Islam provides a complete code of conduct. The ideal Islamic family starts with the marriage of a believing man and a compatible believing woman and culminates with the raising of believing children. To successfully navigate through this family journey, Islam defines the roles and responsibilities of the married couple first as spouses and then as parents. Islam wants the home to be the center of attraction for family members and a peaceful place when they come home after a hard day at work or at school. Islam wants to establish an air of trust and belonging within the family circles, thus creating a form of heaven on earth. The loss of trust between husband and wife results in broken families and the consequential scattering of society. If homes are like motels, where people unload their burdens and then seek satisfaction and enjoyment outside of their homes, then such family units will not survive for long. People from such homes go to bars and clubs to satisfy their carnal desires. Women are men’s target of pursuit and they knowingly dress to attract male attention in preparation of this game. As a result, the attention of a society is increasingly drawn towards sensual pleasures, a faculty which was provided to ensure survival of the human species. Pleasures is a by-product but not the ultimate objective of achieving this purpose. However, when a society becomes decadent, it demands a greater license to satisfy advancing desires, thereby changing the by-product to become the objective. This results in greater demand for promiscuity, where every type of sensual outlet and lifestyle is consider a norm.
Regarding the married couples, Allah admonishes: Men are guardians over women…..Virtuous women are obedient and guard the secrets of their husbands with Allah’s protection…. (4:35)Regarding the married couples as parents, Allah admonishes: O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from Fire… (66:7)So, as parents believers are responsible for striving hard in protecting themselves and their families from breaching any and all boundaries of human behavior commanded by Allah.
For example, Allah commands: Slay not your children for fear of poverty… (17:32)Explaining this verse, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IIra states that: “Those miserly parents who do not provide proper education (secular, moral, and religious), food and clothing to their children, in fact, contribute to their physical and moral death.”We can use on a daily basis to save us and others from moral decline. As a general principal, Islam states that: Follow not the footsteps of Satan. (2:169) Who is Satan? Satan means the rebellious and the one who transgresses or exceeds proper bounds. So, to protect ourselves from any moral lapse, we should not follow those who exceed the boundaries set by the Islamic code of conduct, rather we should follow the practice of the Holy Prophetsaw.
In selecting our company, we should have the goal, and we all have the potential, to become those seeing whom others may remember Allah, listening to whom others may increase their knowledge and whose deeds may remind others of the Hereafter. Obviously, in some professional and educational settings we may not have complete choice, but pious company should be our default setting. We can have such pious company if we frequent our mosques for salaat and other jama’at or auxiliary activities. Salaat, especially congregational salaat, plays a significant role in preventing moral decline as Allah guarantees that: Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil. (29:46) Purdah has been prescribed in the Holy Quran as one of many directives for both men and women. Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim to practice it in their daily lives and aim to follow this commandment of God as mentioned in the Holy Quran: “And say to the believing women that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment save to their husbands, or to their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or their husband of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, or women who are their companions, or those that their right hands possess, or such of male attendants as have no desire for women, or young children who have not yet attached knowledge of the hidden parts of women. And that they strike not their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may become known. And turn ye to Allah all together, o believers, that you may prosper.” (The Holy Qur’an, Ch. 24, v.32)
The entire notion of covering and shielding her beauty from unknown men is almost futile for a Muslim woman, if the reasoning behind the action is not known. The act of purdah has been deemed necessary for Muslim women as a means of protecting them. Falsely interpreted by Western society, purdah is not a means of oppressing or limiting women; rather purdah has been prescribed to free Muslim women from social evils and provide them with the responsibility of safeguarding the moral standard of society. By practicing purdah in her daily life, a Muslim woman makes a statement; saying, that she deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and honour; she also conveys the message that she does not have to rely on her physical beauty to have high self-esteem, or to be successful in all aspects of life. It is combined effort of these two groups that create an environment of social harmony and moral stability to be envied by modern Western society. Allah has commanded men in chapter 24, verse 31 of the Holy Quran: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is Well-Aware of what they do.” This is clearly shows that men and women euqually share the responsibility of observing this commandment. They should both restrain their looks when they face each other, or in other, they should observe the purdah of the eyes. When our mothers was a daughter, it was without doubt, instilled in their to be moral. And now they are mothers; we, as daughters, will repeat that natural cycle. This cycle bears fruition for us all later in life because we reap what we sow. Our mothers respectfully looked after their parents, and we will look after them. So let us follow the good examples set for us by our beloved mothers and Inshallah! They will provide us with stronger role models.
“The Islamic concept of segregation is only to be understood in the context of measures to protect the sanctity of female chastity and the honour of women in society so that the dangers of violating these objectives are minimized. Free mixing of both sexes and clandestine affairs between men and women are strongly discouraged. Men and women are both advised to abstain not only from casting covetous eyes at each other, but to obstain from such visual and phycial contacts as may lead to uncontrollable temptations. Women are expected to cover themselves decently and are advised not to behave in a manner as to attract untoward attention from wayward man. The use of cosmetics and ornaments are not forbidden but they should not be worn when appearing in public to attract attention.” (Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues, pg.80) It is clear that it is the shared responsibility of men and women to ensure that chastity and the dignity of the woman are upheld. We should not think that we are fulfilling our utmost duty by only teaching our daughters to practice purdah. It is religious responsibility to also teach our sons to follow this valuable commandment. By teaching both our sons and daughters, we can make sure that the next generation continues to reap the benefits of the blessed commandment of purdah. There is a common objection from both Muslim and non-Muslims that the concept of Purdah is outdated and it has no relevance in today’s modern society. They argue that Purdah is prescribed by an old, backwards religion that does not understand the workings of contemporary society. It is our duty as Muslim women to clear up this misunderstanding and teach these objectors that purdah is our only savior from all of today’s social decline. The fact that in the absence of purdah and segregation of sexes in today’s Western society, significant moral degradation is happening. Women are dehumanized and degraded and are blatantly and willing turned into sex objects.
When we look at today’s free society where purdah is discouraged, we visibly see the moral degradation and inherent corruption that is taking place. In the name of freedom and rights, we see the erosion of morality and spirituality, leading to the dissolution of society and what are now considered common social disease. We see examples of broken marriages, illegitimate children, adultery and intentional abortions, in all these cases, it can be seen that it is the women who are the first to suffer. Islam offered a solution to this problem fourteen hundred years ago. The Islamic veil is not a hindrance or disgrace to a Muslim woman. Rather, it frees from social obstacles, protects her, and allows here to focus on talents rather than her physical appearance. In reality, it embodies the mercy of Allah on woman. If the women of today’s world living in the Western society can understand the teachings of Islam regarding purdah, and realize the benefits they can gain from adopting purdah in their daily lives, and allow them to free themselves from their ill society, Inshallah! They will soon be advocating for the adoption of purdah throughout the world. Instead of purdah conjuring images of oppression and restriction in the minds of others, it will be seen as an institution to be envied and will send message of honour, freedom, and social harmony between sexes. Then will society enjoy the bliss of living under Divine Protection.