Rameen Masood, Leicester, UK
As we come to the end of 2023 and enter 2024, I reflect on the lack of peace widespread across the world. It makes me wonder whether we’re heading towards a dystopian society. Perhaps not yet quite as strict as depicted in novels like 1984 and The Hunger Games, but could the underlying principle be somewhat reflected in the reality of the world today? Are we succumbing to anti-heroic traits like violence, war and injustice? Are we being controlled by power, by materialistic desires over the inherent nature of mankind? It is an interesting point to ponder.
I would say the worldly powers, driven by their relentless pursuit of authority, have opened a contemporary Pandora’s box.
Pandora’s Box relates to a parable from Greek mythology where Pandora opens a forbidden box, releasing all the evil spirits and miseries into the world and discovering that something remains inside.
With each unjust decision someone in authority makes, the lid of the box creaks a little wider, staining the tapestry of society with the indelible ink of indifference. It unleashes not mere shadows but the stark realities of suffering and how the architects of societal structure seem to disregard the predicament of the defenceless. I distinctly remember sitting in my Year 9 History lesson five years ago, learning about World War II and discussing how the war could have been prevented. What use is reminiscing when we can’t learn from the past and prevent the same mistakes from recurring?
The coveted position of power has caused many to overlook the suffering of their fellow human beings and have mercilessly drowned out their pleas for help. Peace and justice remain nothing but the fatalities of this unrestrained ambition, sacrificed at the altar of inhumaneness.
An example of this is the heart-breaking situation in Gaza. I guess some are under the misconception that this war is not their matter. But they fail to realise that this war’s rippling effects are not just confined to now. They will unfold further and shape not only lives but centuries; displaced people, orphans, and broken families. Young children will grow up suffering from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which, in the medical world, are traumatic events that can impact a child’s future life not only emotionally but physically as well. The children, who should be encompassed by education and fun activities, are living with a constant fear of death. The dreams they had cherished for so long are now forgotten, oppressed and buried. We can’t even imagine what that must feel like. We must protect the children of today and the future generations. Innocent lives matter, and they will always matter.
So, now that the Pandora’s box has been opened, what is the one thing that remains?
Pandora’s parable highlights that there is always hope, no matter how desolate a situation becomes. And so I ask, can we not live amiably as humans? Is this too much to ask? Why are homo sapiens the biggest foes of homo sapiens? When the inherent nature of being human binds all of us. The other day, I was reading the book A Message of Peace by the Promised Messiahas, and it beautifully encapsulates how humans should be brimming with compassion for each other. The Promised Messiahas writes:
“[A] human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all. Our God has never discriminated between one people and another. This is illustrated by the fact that all the potentials and capabilities which have been granted to the Aryans have also been granted to the races inhabiting Arabia, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Europe and America.” (A Message of Peace [Paigham-e-Sulh], p. 6)
When God Almighty Himself hasn’t discriminated between people, who are we mere humans to discriminate against each other? The attributes of God, especially His attribute of Lord of all the Worlds, are a testimony that at the crux of it all, before religion, ethnicity, creed, and before anything, all creation is under the Supreme Creator. The Promised Messiahas further elucidates: “These attributes of God teach us the lesson that we, too, should behave magnanimously and kindly towards our fellow human beings and should not be petty of heart and illiberal.” (Ibid.)
So, what must happen now?
An immediate ceasefire.
For those in authority, I ask you to restore peace. To do whatever is in your capacity to curb the flames of this terror. Don’t think you will be immune to them because these atrocities will not be confined to one area. They will find their way to you, too.
O Muslim countries! Unite, unite and unite! Do you not feel for your fellow brothers and sisters? Whose hearts beat in the same way as yours, whose minds hope in the same way as yours, whose lives hold the same importance as yours?
What is the point of a life that lives to afflict rather than heal the afflicted? What is the point of a life that isn’t of service to your fellow brothers and sisters?
We must save our world from crippling. The shadows cast by the malice of power threaten to eclipse the very foundations upon which our societies stand. We must close Pandora’s box before it’s too late, and we’re left with nothing but the remains of our world – our humanity.
As we enter the new year, let’s continue praying and playing our parts to let the rays of hope shine forth luminously.
May Allah the Almighty, who is As-Salam and Al-Mu’min, bestow peace and security on all suffering souls. O Lord of all the Worlds, have mercy upon us all. Amin.