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O Muslims, Have a Purpose!
This is a report of our trip to Pakistan, as we promised. Although six weeks is not enough time to know what Pakistan and Pakistanis are all about here are some of our impressions.
Not all is well with that country of more than 120 million Muslims, but all is not hopeless either. There are, to be sure, a large number of youths, especially male youths, who are disillusioned, frustrated and angry. There are, to be sure, a large number of middle-aged and older Pakistanis who are disillusioned. There are, to be sure, a large number of confused Pakistani men and women. They seek higher education and well-paying jobs. They seek safety and security. They seek a purpose in theirs and their lives and in their children's lives. All these goals seem unattainable in the chaos, confusion and disorder that seem to prevail presently in and around Pakistan and indeed in the whole world of humanity. They are also very cynical about any promises of hope. Fifty years of purposelessness will do that to any group of people.
Among them has developed a large group whose aim in life seems to be 'get rich and get rich quick'. The ends justifies the means. These are relatively affluent people. They have some spare time to dream of how good life could be "if". The beginning and end of their lives seem to be the limits of their physical existence, however. They are willing to serve any master that promises them quick fixes. Purposelessness will do that to any group of people.
There is a larger group of people whose purpose in life is a "struggle to survive." They have no time to think. They go from day to day chasing jobs to fulfill the very basic needs of their families. If they are aimless wanderers, they have some justification. They too seem not to care who their master is. Purposelessness will do that to any group of people.
The third group is the elite. They have money. They have positions. They have influence. They have access to the halls of power. They have time to think if they want to. Pleasure of this world is, however, all they seek and think about. They have the means to get what they seek. They also have the assurance that if life gets too tough in their native land, they can always fly to the affluent "West". They have the financial means to be secure, thanks to their foreign bank accounts. They too, however, feel a hollowness inside that even a five-year visa to the USA on their passports cannot fill. Theirs is a true description in Qur'ān: "Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life;". (3:14). They seem unaware that, "but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to)." (3:14). Purposelessness is a dreadful affliction.
There are many more groups that one can identify and describe, if one has the time and desire, that exhibit this purposelessness. These groups are not always mutually exclusive and the boundaries are not hard and fast. Most do not openly disclaim their faith in Islām. They, however, wish to know what Islām can do for them before they ask what they should do for Islām. They share one more feature; they wish to copy the life style of the West but also harbor a deep-rooted resentment against the highhanded behavior of the West. Purposelessness is a dreadful affliction.
A fourth group, has members that represent all of the above economic strata, yet are not related to any of them. This group has always been there but their number surprised us the most. They are young and old, rich and poor, educated and unlettered, university graduates and street vendors, soldiers and civilians, males and females, northerners and southerners, natives and immigrants, Asians, Africans and Europeans, and they are in the millions. One does not find hopelessness in their eyes or in their behavior. They have a purpose in life but it is not the material success of this life. If affluence in this world comes, it is collateral, it is not the desired finale.
They know very well that Allāh has created this universe for a purpose. "And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in vain. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe unto those who disbelieve, from the Fire!" (38:27). They know well the verses of Qur'ān that describe this purpose. "I have only created jinn and men that they may worship Me." (51:56).
This last group is not one jamaat. They belong to different jamaats that vary in style of leadership and methodology, but the purpose is the same. They wish to know what they can do for Islām, they already know what Islām will do for them. "For the righteous are gardens in nearness to their Lord with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with companions pure (and holy) and the good pleasure of Allah. For in Allah's sight are (all) His servants." (3:15). They are to be seen in masajid and in homes and meeting halls. All are trying to learn what Islām demands from them and are willing to fulfill those demands.
This group displays no fear and no grief, their personal problems, political conditions of the world, or the aggression of the kuffar notwithstanding. "Lo! verily the friends of Allah are (those) on whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve. (10:62)
They wished to know from us only "how Islam is progressing in the West and what can they do to hasten its success". They hate none and love none except for the sake of Allāh, and Allāh is surely most loving, most merciful. This group was a pleasure to meet and be with.
The situation of the people of Pakistan in a way is no different than the situation of Muslims in any other land. We can identify all the above mentioned groups among our acquaintances here. Numbers are small but we are here, those of us who ask what Islām can do for us and those of us who ask what we can do for Islām.
No matter what the grouping, we found none who would, at least openly, disclaim Islām. They are all Muslims, those who pray salaat and those who do not, those who dress like Muslims and those who do not, those who earn like a Muslim and those who do not, those who spend like a Muslim and those who do not. When confronted with the question, "are you a Muslim?" they are actually offended. Somewhere deep down inside we are all Muslims. And this also is no different in Pakistan than it is in any other land. Many wish to accumulate wealth, by hook or by crook, and may not live like a Muslim should, but in their sub-consciousness they have not completely relinquished Islām.
May Allāh help us to nurture this subconscious Islām to its full bloom so that we become a true picture of what Allāh orders us to be: "Thus We have appointed you a moderate nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you." (2:143). "And if they argue with thee, (O Muhammad), say: I have surrendered my purpose to Allah and (so have) those who follow me. And say unto those who have received the Scripture and those who read not: Have ye (too) surrendered? If they surrender, then truly they are rightly guided, and if they turn away, then it is thy duty only to convey the message (unto them). Allah is Seer of (His) bondmen." (3:20)
Published: September 2002
Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756