By Danish Hameed
Materialism is an ontological form of slavery. People do not own themselves. They are being owned. They cannot think properly on their own, for they are being “watched” and manipulated all the time.
All such matter is “dark matter.” Together with its twins: “black holes,” it sucks all life, all meaning and all beauty out of one’s life.
On the whole, what an existential story that is!
Even the Holy Qur’an alludes to such a horrible state when it on two separate occasions describes a psychological consequence that results from disobeying divine injunctions. It says that the condition of those who resort to such a wrongdoing is like the one caused by the earth which, with all its vastness, appears as though closing in on them (al-Tawbah, 25); or like the one caused by the earth which, with all its vastness, appears as though closing in on them, and their own souls appearing likewise (al-Tawbah, 118).
Indeed, this is the most excruciating form of claustrophobia (the fear of being in a small space or confined area and unable to escape).
As a remedy, the Qur’an highlights the concept of sharh al-sudur (expansion or dilation of breasts and hearts). The Qur’an equates guidance and faith with the opening and expanding of breasts and hearts, just as it equates falsehood and disbelief with making breasts and hearts tight and constricted “as if they were climbing up into the sky. This is how Allah dooms those who disbelieve” (al-An’am, 125).
However, as a reward for the righteous, the Qur’an emphasizes the idea of Paradise as an abode as vast as the heavens and the earth, “which has been readied for the God-conscious” (Al ‘Imran, 133). This verse, and another one in Surah al-Hadid, verse 21, clearly call attention to the vastness and extensiveness of Paradise, as opposed to the smallness and constriction of the earth and its transitory life.
This means that the reward of the righteous people will not be confined only to their heavenly gardens and palaces. Rather, the whole Paradise – the whole heavenly universe – will be their home and at their disposal. They will not be restricted to one place as they were in this world, where just for reaching the moon, mankind’s nearest neighbor in space, man had to struggle hard for years and expend excessive resources only to overcome the difficulties of a short journey. In Paradise, the whole universe will be accessible to the righteous. They will be able to see whatever they would desire from their stations and be able to visit whichever place they would like, easily (al-Maududi).
It is no wonder, then, that the (materialistic) world’s suicide rate is very high. Despite possessing things, people feel empty, worthless, and cold. Despite the ostensible progress, people feel deceived and abandoned. On their very earth, in their very houses, and in their very selves… people feel incompatible, outsiders, and unwanted. All this generates a sense of incurable hopelessness, anxiety and ennui, which inexorably leads to suicidal thoughts. Such lives are so boring and meaningless to be lived.
Allah thus warns the deluded and self-centred ones along the lines of their actual life condition (material captivity, or entrapment): “You shall not walk arrogantly on the earth, for you can neither rend the earth asunder nor attain the height of the mountains” (al-Isra’, 37).
Also: “You, the assembly of jinns and men! If you have the power to get away from the boundaries of the heavens and the earth, then get away! You cannot get away except with Our authority” (al-Rahman, 33).
Is There Any Hope Left?
Modern materialistic man is aware to some extent of the nature of his predicament. That is why he desperately tries to do something about it. However, all his approaches and strategies are downright wide of the mark, while time is running out.
The problems caused by worshiping matter cannot be solved by more matter and within the orb of matter alone. People cannot do the same things over and over again and expect different results. Albert Einstein calls that tactic insanity.
Certainly, intensifying and broadening a worship-like attitude towards matter is not the way either. Developing a quicksand into which entry could be swift and easy, but from which extrication would be impossible, is not what man needs today.
And that is exactly what modern divorced-from-spirituality-and-morality science – as the only claimed hope – offers. As exciting, promising, and forward-marching as science is, it is also positively deceptive, misleading, and anticlimactic. In the long run, it is set to perpetuate the woes of mankind.
Stuck itself in matter, materialistic science can only be as good as it gets. It can penetrate only as far as it can observe and experiment, which is only a momentary now and a restricted here. It is therefore an insult to the miracle of life that science only has been sanctioned for its authentication and appreciation.
Thus, thanks primarily to science, modern materialistic man still has no clue about the meaning, origins, purpose, and destiny of life, man, and the universe. The issues of Truth, moral values, authentic knowledge, wisdom, and aesthetics are as elusive as ever. Both modern man and science have virtually given up on them.
And what is more important and fulfilling than solving those problems and nourishing mankind with appropriate answers and solutions?
Consequently, as a result of their entrapment, modern man and his science keep oscillating from one extreme position to another, to at least superficially appease their intrinsic penchants for answers and explanations. Hence, we hear within the ambit of and in the name of science such debates as regards, for example, aliens and alien worlds, space colonization, evolution and end of history, time travel, the immortality of man, etc.
While all these may be conceived and hailed as segments of modern man’s ultimate philosophy, vision, and daring ambitions, the same in the eyes of such as have absorbed and luxuriated in the revealed Truth is regarded as signs of scientific arrogance, ignorance, and essential defects. It is yet seen as bordering on the laughable and embarrassingly nonsensical.
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