Fazal Masood Malik, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Islands have always held the fantasy of humanity. Perhaps it is the seclusion, the illusion of complete autonomy that draws the hearts of men. Be it Arabian Nights or Gulliver’s Travels, the cultural aspects of these islands are unique, depicting a life not tied down by the rules of the cities.
Perhaps we too, at some point, imagined our life to be that of an island; our rules, our ways. But time and technology have changed those rules, wavering the beliefs once held. No matter how far or how remote a place existed, it is part of our lives today. We can taste the foods from the forbidden streets of Afghanistan and wear clothes from far off places like Mongolia. Life has become integrated and an imbalance in this coalition affects the lives of those far and near.
In the past, we could ignore the problems of lands that were beyond the seas, small and irrelevant. Yes, we became wealthy from the rare metals, the oil and the fish, but at what cost? People imagined themselves immune to the problems and diseases of other nations, believing that ebola in Africa is not for us to worry, but alas, no more.
Now when a distant-nation becomes destabilised, the waves of instability shift the sands of the Western world. Terrorism, violence, human rights, hunger and poverty are all impacting the life in our universe that we imagined being an island.
Today we see issues and diseases at our door that we thought could be addressed by promoting economic development in countries whose resources we depleted. We are clearing out the forests at an unprecedented rate and in the process, polluting the waters and killing the inhabitants.
There is a cost for this. There is a cost to eyeing the riches of others that do not belong to us. Take Covid-19 for example; a virus so small yet an enemy so formidable it has brought the world to its knees. Nations around the world are spending an unspeakable amount of money to counter its negative effect.
We have only begun to see the human cost, the social cost, and the economic cost at the surface. People are dying unnatural deaths, they are becoming mentally ill because of the self-isolation, the financial cost is staggering while personal income is dwindling. Canada, like other first world countries, is designed for economic growth; the minute it stagnates, the whole infrastructure falls.
If we glance at the past two decades, we see a pattern emerging with exceptional renewal – each illness more global in its reach, each calamity deadlier than before.
The good news is that there is a way out. The Islamic principle is that we should look at God.
You may rightfully ask, what does that mean? It means that we should follow His teachings and to seek the wealth of guidance in His message. The teachings are simple at heart, but heavy in fulfilment. Teachings such as, “Do not create disorder in the World” (Ch.7: V.57; Ch.2: V.206) and to act with absolute “justice”, even with enemies (Ch.5: V.8). If the world abides by this wisdom, then the future of the world can be safeguarded; otherwise, the cycle of destruction will continue to spin faster, bringing with it untold disasters.
There is always a cost of following a path. The path of goodness and giving is life; the path of greed and gluttony is death.
(No man is an island entire of itself is taken from John Donne’s [d. 1631] poem.)