Dr Nasim Rehmatullah, Naib Amir USA
The current world chaos, disorder and confusion highlight a widespread failure in global leadership and societal values, played back endlessly on a loop. This reflects broader societal challenges where many fail to uphold responsible behaviour. It arrives when our civic culture has become so debased that many nations are currently struggling to uphold the virtues necessary for responsible leadership and governance.
Rationality, reason, and knowledge are not enough to stem the tide of this cultural pathology of faithlessness, immorality, and flaunting deviancy. Many of our elected politicians are an affront to the basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. The Holy Quran refers to such a state and warns:
“And when We intend to destroy a township, We address Our commandment to its rebellious people, but they transgress therein; so the sentence [of punishment] becomes due against it, and We destroy it with utter destruction.” (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17:V.17)
It has been the Divine practice to have good and evil coexist. Each needs a point of reference. When a threshold of defiance, depravity, and deviancy is triggered, divine admonition and guidance are the only ways to free ourselves from the cage of wickedness and adopt righteous behaviour. The Quran spells it out as: “Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.” (Surah an-Nahl, Ch.16: V.91)
Now is the time we shed our ambivalence and work on drastic self-improvement and fostering a culture of responsibility and virtue in our environments. It is a struggle against the negative tendencies that can arise in any human. The question is not how the righteous will gain victory over the unrighteous or how the good will triumph over evil but how the evil in every good and unrighteousness of the righteous is to be overcome. The goal is to trounce pious hypocrisy and sanctimony. Till we recognise and believe that all human life is equal and there is justice, dignity, equity and respect for all, we will fail. Hate is a plentiful resource. It is endlessly renewable. Just because we have a legal right to say and do something does not mean we have a moral right to do so. We must exercise courageous restraint to refrain from irresponsible speech and reckless behaviour.
Peace is not the mere absence of trouble—it requires the presence of God in our lives. Secular laws alone cannot bring about peace and justice on Earth. While secular governance is important, without personal godliness, it is incomplete. Morality cannot be legislated. Secular laws cannot hold accountable those who wage illegal wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die. It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts. To know God is to know each of us has a fundamental responsibility to serve all humanity, and a fundamental obligation to constantly self-reform and self-reflect. This is the purpose of our lives. Till we recognise that all human life is equal and there is justice, dignity, equity and respect for all, there will be no peace.
It is incumbent on all of us, Muslims, non-Muslims, believers and non-believers, to shed our ambivalence and stop all forms of hypocrisy. The world is too small, our wisdom too limited, and our time here too short to waste any more of it on winning fleeting victories at others’ expense. After all, war does not decide who is right, only who is left.
Leadership matters profoundly. The world benefits from leaders who shape positive societal narratives and challenge the self-destructive and dehumanising trends in our society. Such leaders do this by speaking out boldly, raising awareness, and emphasising the consequences of our words and actions. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, epitomised this ideal. He revived the world through his prayers and pleadings in the dark of night. Following his legacy, throughout early Islamic history as well as in the present era of the revival of Islam at the hands of the Promised Messiahas, the rightly-guided caliphs have consistently exemplified these noble ideals and continue to do so.
President Lincoln, in proclaiming a National Fast Day on 30 March 1863, aptly said, “And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war [… ] may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins […] We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace […] and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” (“Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day”, www.abrahamlincolnonline.org)
If there is any hope for civilisation – for an uplifting, ennobling and worthwhile human community – to emerge from the current cacophony of strife, debasement, nihilism and fanaticism, we must all revert to God and reform ourselves. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, a man of God and God’s man on earth, is calling us all to come to God and to adopt a life of prayers, love and compassion. Let us follow the voice that calls us in the name of God. Let us not pick a fight with God.