The external reality


It has been seriously claimed that religion has been rendered outmoded and unnecessary by modern civilization. But what actual contribution has western civilization made to humanity? New modes of travel, new architectural designs, new means of communication, new styles of clothes. In short, commodities and conveniences have become more luxurious, more glamorous, more effective than ever before. The question we must ask ourselves is what the existence of such amenities has to do with belief in God and religion.
Does the possession of a modern house and a luxury car turn belief in God into a meaningless cipher? Do telephonic and digital means of communication leave no room for belief in inspirational forms of revelatory transmission? Does the ability to fly in the earth’s atmosphere and beyond preclude the possibility of an afterworld in the cosmos? Does the availability of gourmet food, high fashion clothes and elegantly designed furniture reduce belief in the Garden of Paradise and the Fire of Hell to things of the past? While acknowledging the importance and utility of modern technology and its resultant amenities we fail to comprehend in what way these things verify or negate religious truths.
The relevance of religion is its concern with fundamental values rather than with social manifestations. Social phenomena undergo constant changes, whereas the values of life are immutable. Although fast, modern forms of transport have replaced their slower forerunners, it does not mean that the ethics of vehicle manufacture and use are thereby invalidated. Modem means of communication may have rendered the older methods obsolete, but whether these facilities should be utilized to convey truth or falsehood is as pertinent a question as it ever was.
Speaking of ‘Islam in modern times’ has, as little meaning as referring to ‘the sun in modern times.’ The true meaning of Islam is the guidance of man by God, and, being an eternal reality, is unaffected by considerations of modernity or antiquity. Just as man requires a constant supply of the sun’s light to sustain his material existence, so does he require God’s constant guidance for the moral sustenance of his spiritual life. Rejecting Islam is like eliminating the sun from the list of human priorities. Just as the world would be plunged into darkness, chaos and ultimate extinction without the light of the sun, so will the Hereafter be plunged in eternal gloom and damnation without the divine guidance of the Almighty.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan