- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Islam and the Modern Man
The problems that confront man in the present age can all be traced, directly or indirectly, to one underlying cause: the separation of man from God. In this modern age man has acquired many material comforts, but he has lost his faith in God. Material progress has provided man with plenty of physical nourishment, but it has left his soul to starve. The soul is essential to the life of the body. If it is separated from the body entirely, then the body dies; and if it is deprived of spiritual nourishment, then it starves in the same way as the body does. It is this spiritual nourishment, which the Quran describes as ‘better and more lasting’ (20: 131). And this is what Prophet Jesus was referring to when be said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ (Matthew, 4:4).
The greatest asset that Islam has to offer man today is this belief in God. All religions originally preached the true concept of God, but as time passed, none of them were able to preserve the concept of God in its original form. Some groups turned God into a national fetish. Others took to worshipping a variety of objects in the name of God. In some religions the concept of God was tuned into an abstract philosophy. Thus no religion remained capable of offering a true picture of God. Only, Islam has preserved the true concept of God in a pure and complete form. So only in Islam will modern man find the God he so desperately needs (3:85).
I t is thanks to modern civilization that man has been deprived of God and his soul left to starve. It is this spiritual starvation that has driven some young people in Japan to say: ‘Our culture is a merchant culture, and a merchant culture does not fully cater to man’s needs.’
The phenomenon of the hippy culture is also an expression of modern man’s hunger for true faith in God.
The case of a hippy youth, seen walking down the streets of Delhi, illustrates this point. He was dressed in simple eastern clothes. He wore beads around his neck, rings on his fingers, and bracelets on his wrists. In his hands he held a tambourine. He was from Canada. ‘There I had my own house,’ he said, ‘my own car, a good wife, a suitable job... Here I have no house. I sleep wherever I feel sleepy, even if it happens to be on the pavement. I have no car, no job. My wife has left me.’
‘But why did you leave all these comforts in Canada and come to India to rough it on the road?’ someone asked him.
‘There I was comfortable physically, here I am comfortable spiritually,’ he answered thoughtfully.
Modern civilization has provided man with countless material benefits. But these things have brought comfort to only (one half) of his being; they afford no comfort or satisfaction to the rest other half. Modern man’s loss of inner peace—the result of this contradiction in technological civilization— finds expression in hippyism, boredom, unrest and frustration.
The late Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the renowned Swiss psychologist, made a correct analysis of this modern spiritual malaise when he wrote: “Over the last twenty years people all over the globe have consulted me about their psychological problems. All of my patients who were in the latter stage of their lives, that is, over the age of thirty-five were, in the last analysis, suffering from one thing alone: lack of religious belief. One can truthfully say that each one of them was suffering from a lack of the very thing that present day religions have provided their adherents with, throughout the ages. These people could only be cured by a renewal of their faith in God.”
From the Book: Islam And The Modern Man