A look towards the slaves of today and the way out
By Umer Raza
It is interesting to see how slavery has transformed over the years. We have understood from the message of Islam, 1400 years ago, that Slavery was abolished. Indeed Islam is the religion that treated every one alike and was first to give civil status to slaves and equal rights with others. Then the next most prominent historical anti-slavery drive known to us is the 1200 years later Abraham Lincoln’s abolition of slavery. Even later slavery kept it’s shape till Martin Luther King had to deliver his famous “I have a dream” speech. Did we abolish slavery thus……….? Physically yes (we think as such), mentally no.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”. Goethe
But now after almost half a century of complete physical abolishing of slavery we seem to have unobtrusively gone back to the physical nature of slavery. Just stand on a busy intersection of any road in Pakistan during 8 am to 9 am in the morning. You will see hundreds of thousands of slaves rushing towards their masters. Salves on bikes, in cars, on buses – Slaves in suits, in casual, in uniforms – Old, young and children slaves. Everywhere, everyone is worried to reach in time…….there will be an attendance register to sign in, a time card to swipe through, a hand impression to give through, a pseudo master to salute in to…………..all are thus a shape of physical slavery of our modern times. Slavery continued……………slavery of bills, schools fees, life standards, family traditions, peer pressures, systems followership.
All this is done in the name of modernism, the need of time and discipline. Thus physical slavery has not been abolished, but gradually, over the years the same slavery has got it shape changed and created a smooth by-in from its slaves. Now the master does not have to force the commands, the slaves are on auto and get themselves tuned in to the system. Be it a Director of a big firm or a fresh starter, be it a school going kid or a teacher of that kid, be it a women who moves out for work or a man who does not have a work but searching for a job – all are slaves. The only difference amongst these and the salves of yesteryear is that past slaves wanted to have freedom but slaves of today want conformity, captivity and consistency, a shape and jargon of modern slavery. If they do not do conformity, they fear the loss of the pseudo comfort they are enjoying. They Fear the loss of life support system and they fear the loss of those who love them.
All these fears are not (broadly) a result of infidelity but rather naiveté. We have these fears being ingrained into us. These fears are ingrained because we have been brainwashed to see the things through the eyes of fear. We have been told and seen this happening, that this is how the life moves on, You go to school, college and university, when you get a degree – you get the job, when you get the job you have a strong case to get married, then you have kids and then you put them in schools and then the cycle continues. This is the way it is happening and this is the way it ought to happen again and again. If you do not do so you are doomed and dusted. So a vicious circle continues and you are to follow the crowd. Thus taking you to a circle of slavery, which you and your kids and their kids and their kids have to follow.
These slaves are given a monthly fix income, a home work and sometimes few other sources of limited enjoyment. The salary that these slaves are paid is then extracted through “Another Master” of shopping, health, food, enjoyment etc. What we earn is as good as surviving through the month. What we lose out of this self imposed slavery is the “free will” to decide about ourselves, our future and our kids. What we supposedly get is a monthly fix pay that secures our monthly survival. Then another day, another week and another month and we as slaves are bound to follow the system. Those who are in this system thus tend to develop even greater fear and that fear is of losing all as a result of not following the system. It is perhaps because of this that educated elite, the white collar workers and the middle class gentry is called the most frightened lot.
They have thus drained down to all kinds of slavery – slavery of food, media, entertainment, happiness and sadness. We eat of what is asked of us to eat, we watch what is being told to us to watch and we work day in day out to let no time left for ourselves. On roads, in restaurants, on ceremonies, in TV show, in hospitals, in mosques, in parliaments do you see a commotion or peace?. At times other than early morning peace, there is a commotion. This commotion is what we see at the surface, and have understood it to be a way of life, a sign of development and a rhythm of success. But under it there is a deep sense of discontent and disconnection. This discontent and disconnection comes to surface through our health issues, our stresses, our tensions and our focus towards limited gains.
What is the solution to this? Do we have a testament strong enough to negate this slavery and push us forward. How could the fear be neutralized and transform into courage. The knowledge of religion and teaching of Islam categorically transforms fear into courage. It enhances the Faith and minimizes the fear. Faith and Fear are two worthy opponents. You can kill Fear through Faith or else Fear will bulldoze you to ashes. How the faith could be developed. For us (Muslims) faith is necessarily a realm of unseen and unknown. The basic ingredient of Faith in Islam is the belief on the unseen.
“This is the book, there is no doubt therein, a guidance for the pious. Who believe in the unseen, establish prayers, and spend of what we have provided them”. (Quran 2: 2-3)
This is the essence of what we believe in. The faith thus has a direct fight with fear. We do not know what is to come our way tomorrow. If we believe in this how we can have fear, how we can then cover our fears with making things certain. How we can turn day in day out towards the certain elements of growth, development success and achievement. How can one have a certain income falling in one’s lap every month, how can a student then be so certain to cross matriculation/o’levels by the age of 15, how can one be certain that when one will be age of 30 he should be having a job, how one can be so certain that if he will not go to school he will not be successful in life, how can one be so certain if he does not take a pill he will not be cured and so and so forth. All these are attempts to kill fear out of manmade certainties while brushing aside the very essence of our existence which is uncertain and unseen. This fear and dependence makes us a slave still and not only the physical and mental slaves but slaves of time. Once we get out of this certain elements of manmade system only then we can have a push forward towards faith, out of fear and out of slavery.