Slavery and freedom

Slavery and freedom

The only option for man is to choose between two slaveries: slavery of his Creator, or slavery of all else. The prevalent Western thought today is essentially atheistic in nature, for it traces its origins to a reaction against the Church authority in medieval Europe, which subsequently became a reaction against religion in general. The effort was really to formulate a philosophical basis independent of religion, which was to become the foundation of the new scientific, political, economic, social and psychological thought.

This does not imply that all the details of knowledge thus produced are false, but that in essence, the foundation of all such knowledge is frail.

Often we mistakenly isolate the Western thought from its original environment and its secular and atheistic roots, considering it sound human thought valid for all times and places. Quite often, we even naively go on to claim, about one or another aspect of this thought, that our own Deen (religion) asserts precisely the same, or at least there is no contradiction.
In this article, I give an example of the concept of freedom, that is more or less agreed upon in the contemporary world that illustrates my point.

A free person is one whose freedom is absolute with no bounds whatsoever. He acts as he wills and does what he wills. However, any act necessitates knowledge, motivation and ability. An absolutely free man, thus, must possess absolute knowledge, perfect motivation and limitless ability. This is outright impossible. No actor can possess absolute knowledge, motivation and ability unless he is totally independent and self-sufficient of others and needs no knowledge or skill from others, for that would violate absolute freedom.

Hence, the claim of the advocates of democracy that man cannot be free if he obeys a law that is not of his own making, is essentially correct. However, they admit that man must live in a society, and this social life necessitates the existence of a State that commands, prohibits and watches; and the laws whereby the State carries out all these activities cannot be made by all the constituents of society.

Though the participation of individuals in a democratic system is more, than in alternative systems, the enactment of laws is inevitably the work of a minority of individuals who constitute the legislative system. It follows that even in a democracy, the people are not really free except to a small extent.

In fact, we argue that even participation in the enactment of laws is not a guarantee, for individual freedom for the individuals will invariably be dictated by the desires of their lower selves.

An individual who deprives himself of Divine guidance ends up doing all that his lower desires demand or his lust dictates -- like engaging in excess in food, drinking wine, drugs and obscenity. Such a human being -- and the likes of this abound in the West today -- is not free. True, he may not ostensibly be a slave of another human being, but he is a slave of his own low desires.

What is the way out of this slavery? The kind of freedom demanded by Western philosophies, in fact, is outright impossible. All people, including the atheists, admit that man is not his own creator, or his own sustainer; his knowledge is earned, not essential, and imperfect, and that he must depend for his life on factors out of his control. Sunlight comes from sun, water from rain, vegetation from the land, and he needs all that, without controlling any of it. So how is freedom possible? How can he be self-sufficient?

The faithful believe that Allah is the Creator, the Omniscient and Omnipotent, Who does as He pleases, and needs no one. Man, on the other hand, is created, and by virtue of this, is owned by his Creator. The one owned is a slave, not free. This essential fact of creation points to man being a slave, not a free entity.

However, he is a slave of the Creator and not of creation like himself. This slavery to his Creator is the very essence of his being, whether he likes it or not. In all that he does, he is bound and limited by the Will of his Creator.

True, man too has a will and freedom of action, but it is his Creator who decided to give him this freedom of will. Man's will, therefore, is not absolute, but limited by the Will of his Creator. If the Creator has the absolute Will, man may will what does not actualize, and may encounter what he does not like.

The Creator who made for His creation natural laws that are beyond the domain of human will, also made the laws of Sharee'ah -- a code for a life of willing submission to Allah, without which true success -- worldly or heavenly -- is impossible.

Doing what you will against the will of Allah even with your own property is a challenge to His authority, as mentioned in the Quran (which means): "They said: O Shu'ayb! Does your salah (prayer) enjoin you that we should forsake what our fathers worshipped or that we should not do what we please with regard to our property?" [Quran 11:87]

Pharaoh also thought his opinion superior and dictated it to his people, as mentioned in the Quran (which means): "Pharaoh said: 'I do only show you what I see, and I do but guide you to wise policy'." [Quran 40:29]

But the Creator Lord says (what means): "No just appraisal of Allah do they make when they say: 'Allah sends down nothing to man (by way of revelation).'" [Quran 6:91]

And (what means): "Does man think that he has been left aimless?" [Quran 75:38]

And (what means): "Say: 'See what things Allah has sent down to you for sustenance? Yet you hold some things unlawful and others lawful (without authority from Allah).' Say: 'Has Allah indeed permitted you, or do you attribute lies to Allah?'" [Quran 10:59]

We conclude that the assertion that man is free or must be free, in the absolute sense used widely in the West, is utterly falsified by reality. Furthermore, such an assertion negates belief that man is a slave-servant to Allah and must obey His decrees. Even some Christian authors seem to have realized this, among them the famous English author Lewis who said, roughly: 'I was not born to be free, rather to listen and obey.'

By: Dr. Ja'far Shaikh Idris

Related Articles