Contemporary Problems and their Solutions-II [Religion, Human Nature, and Materialism]

Materialism brought disaster to life by allowing the evil in human nature to overcome the good in it
"This was the mystery the angels could not understand when God told them that He was going to create man as His vicegerent on the earth." [Representational Image]
"This was the mystery the angels could not understand when God told them that He was going to create man as His vicegerent on the earth." [Representational Image] Flickr [Creative Commons]

Let’s first try to understand why man turned to materialism for his comfort in this world. According to the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’ān, God created Adam and then his spouse, Eve.

God embedded the power of doing good as well as bad in the nature of man to make this world a place of test for him. He revealed to him that if he nurtured the good in him and did righteous deeds, he will attain success.

But if he allowed the evil in him to flourish and overcome the good in him, he will have to suffer not only in the life to come but also here in this life by making this world a virtual hell for him.

This was the mystery the angels could not understand when God told them that He was going to create man as His vicegerent on the earth.

After finishing with the creation of Adam, God commanded the angels to bow before Adam in order to show their devotion to God and reverence to Adam. Then both Adam and Even were asked to reside in the Garden of Eden and have a blessed and comfortable life therein. Every material comfort was available in the Garden.

Since there was no evil over there, there was no suffering also. Therefore, within a short time the yearning for material comfort became the second nature of both Adam and Eve. But God Willed that man also must prove his devotion to Him.

So, He forbade him to eat the fruit of the ‘forbidden tree’ in paradise. But Adam and Eve fell due to the seduction of the devil, their avowed enemy. They ate the fruit and were commanded by God to get out of the Garden. They were sent onto the earth.

Ever since his descent on the earth man has been tremendously longing for his original home and the material, mental and spiritual solace he had available there. He is longing for a life where there would be comfort and happiness everywhere and no suffering and pain anywhere.

Those who believed the Prophets knew that the place of ultimate happiness is the same Garden of Eden. So, they took to spending a vitreous and religious life to regain their original place while those who did not believe the Prophets tried to find the ultimate happiness here in this world only.

So, they took to struggle for getting more and more material comfort for them. This entangled them into a cunning and soulless competition. The result of this competition is termed materialism — a competition that has made the world a jungle and the humans outlawed beasts. This is what one can understand from what religion tells us about human nature and its yearning for material comfort.

Materialism and Evil

Materialism brought disaster to life by allowing the evil in human nature to overcome the good in it. Darwinism’s denial of the Creator, Marxism’s economic interpretation of life, and Freudianism’s sexual interpretation of human emotions and social relationships—all these isms drove human beings like cattle to believe that materialism was the only reality of life.

While Darwinism at its core is the antithesis of the belief in the Creator, Marxism tried to fill the void by claiming that the true God is money itself. Unfortunately, even after the despicable end of Socialism, the poisonous fruits of Marxism are still being eaten by the ‘civilized people’ as nutritious food.

We are being told that science does not favour the belief in the existence of a Creator. Nevertheless, by its essence science should not say anything about God. It is the domain of philosophy to discuss God. But today science has assumed the position of philosophy when it pokes its nose into metaphysical issues. So be it Darwinism or Marxism, they should be understood more as philosophies of life, than to be pure science. No doubt, all these people were thinkers; they thought to understand life and its intricacies. But since man is essentially fallible, his free-thinking unaided by the revealed guidance always led him to erroneous conclusions.

With the rise of materialism, since the matter was given unquestioned supremacy over faith, man’s natural tendency towards greed and gluttony overcame his natural tendency towards generosity and concern for fellow beings. Therefore, by its essence materialism proved to be against religion and religious emotions as it was against the engagement of intellect in search of truth.

We are now in a world where money matters. Values have no relevance other than policy issues. Honesty can be the best policy for making money but not the best value for upholding the meaning and purpose of life. Materialism has rendered life meaningless and purposeless.

In such a situation of malaise, a total reorientation of the educational system, howsoever painstaking it be, is a must in order to bring it in accord with the spiritual needs and aspirations of man. It is necessary to purge all the subjects of study of the position of excessive materialism and of the denial of the higher moral and spiritual values and to inject, in its place, the spirit of piety and godliness and solicitude for the Hereafter.

The enormous harm the ascendency of the Western materialistic approach to life and education has done to mankind needs to be replaced by a balanced education system. We need to shun the slavish submission to the mental attitude of the West.

‘In every progressive country which holds dear its freedom and seeks to preserve its identity, it has now come to be admitted that the aim of education is to foster and strengthen the basic values of life in which the society believes and which have become a part of its tradition. Such being the case, the primary object of the educational system of a civilized country is to instill into the hearts of the younger generation these fundamental concepts so effectively that they may become with them a burning reality, worthy of being preserved at all costs and at all times.’ (Abul, Hasan Ali Nadwi, Western Civilisation, Islam and Muslims, 1969, 166).

Today’s man must turn again to religion and religious values for making this planet a place worth living. Otherwise, today’s man has nothing to distinguish himself from wild beasts other than the technological advancement that has turned him into a commodity with no value as the crown of the creation.

To be continued…

Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar, Coordinator, Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir, Ganderbal

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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