The Right Lens by Ustaz Noor Deros
As we raise our right hand and take a look at it, we see several things: the number 18, lines, tasbeeh and we also see light. But is it light that we see? Or do we see through light? Light is the most manifest of all things but light in itself is the most hidden of all things.
Metaphor of worldview; what is worldview?
We see by it. We see through it. And without it, we cannot see. But it in itself is not something physical, it is something that is in you and it is partly connected to your ‘aqidah and your iman. This is because worldview is connected strongly to your belief system.
When we look at physical objects, we see them with our physical eyes and it is only with the presence of light that we are able to see the said objects. However, when we see ideas or concepts, we look at it with our mind’s eye.
And if that light is distorted, everything that we see is distorted. The ‘aql (human reason), is like the eye and revelation is like the sun. Without light, no matter how strong the eye, we cannot perceive things. The sun, no matter how bright it is, if our eye is defective, we cannot see too.
Our worldview is dependable on our lenses. The lens can distort our perception of reality. How do we currently perceive happiness, success and freedom?
In Arabic, huriyah (حرية) is freedom. But the word حرية in today’s context is already affected by the alien lens. A proper Muslim who understands his ‘aqidah will not translate freedom as حرية. Hur (حر) means somebody who have unshackled himself from restriction or slavery. But as Muslims, we are slaves of Allah. There is no such thing as unshackling ourselves from restrictions in Islam.
So what is freedom in Islam?
Islam is higher than the two dichotomy of extreme restriction and complete freedom. Islam calls for its believers to move beyond all these and rise above it. Islam is not all about total restriction or total freedom as we are to give 100% for dunya and 100% for akhirah.
In western context, progress has no clear definition because they have no starting point and finishing line. Progress to them is moving faster, being more efficient, being cleaner and moving forward. But where does it start and end? In Islam, when we say innalillahi wa ina ilaihi rajiun (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) we know that our starting point is Allah SWT and our finishing point is Allah SWT.
An imaginative story of Awang and Raffles:
One day Awang was sitting at the jetty with one fishing rod. Raffles came along, approached Awang and they had a conversation.
Raffles: Oh Awang, what are you doing?
Awang: I’m fishing
Raffles: How many fish will you catch like this? You sit here for hours and sometimes, in a day you can’t even catch a fish. Well, let me teach you something... Take a loan! And buy a boat. So that you can go to the middle of the sea and get more fish.
Awang: Hmm, okay. Then?
Raffles: Okay! Then when you get more fish, of course you will get more money right?
Awang: Oh yes, of course!
Raffles: So you take that money, you buy a bigger boat so you’ll get more fish and more money!
Awang: Ahh! Great idea! Then?
Raffles: Then you can buy a big house, then you can start to control the people around you, you’ll have more influence, your words will have more weight in the society. And then, you will be happy.
Realising how human wants are insatiable, Awang replied, “But brother, I’m already happy now. Why must I go one big round just to reach where I am now?”
We need to realise that as we take oil from the Earth and dig for more resources from Earth in the name of progress, Earth will eventually come back hard on us. It will give us bad weather, typhoons, tsunami and earthquakes. And then there we are saying, “Allah is testing us.” Let us understand the purpose of progressing in our daily lives; from Allah and to Allah.
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. – Surah Ar-Rum, Verse 41
“We need to prove to the world that we are happy Muslims.” Question yourself why must you go around and tell people that you are happy?
Be associated with the deeper form of happiness: sakinah (tranquillity). Sakinah is the spiritual feeling that will stay with you even in times of anger or sadness. Because when you are in the state of sakinah, you will know that at the end of the day, everything is in the hands of Allah. And this is why such happiness will allow you to continue being grateful towards Allah and bear good thoughts towards his divine decree.
Do not be fooled by the false psychology of happiness which is to “have fun” and laugh. Real happiness is when you attain tranquillity, knowing that you are in the safe hands of Allah and at the end of the day, things will be good for you.
The Lens and Light that we should use:
Know that Allah is One because everything and everyone in this universe is interconnected. Everything is one and nothing is on its own; holistic. When we take oil from the Earth, thin the ozone layer and corrupt the minds of people on Earth, everything in this world will be corrupted. There is an invisible web that links all of Allah’s creations together as one.
Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And at the heaven, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out? – Surah Al-Ghashiyah, Verse 17-20
What we can do:
1. Learn the worldview. The book by Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib Al Attas is recommended.
2. Organise ourselves into small Jemaah and start doing something in the cause of Allah (في سبيل الله).