Perspective and Beyond

“If you wish to find yourself, you must first admit you are lost.”

― Brian Rathbone

Indeed, we as an individual as well as a nation are lost!

They say exploring the world lets you explore yourself but the truth is a little in-depth analysis is a good thing. It plays a more vital role in letting you discover other aspects of your identity besides just having a name or profession. But, what if you travel the world and seven seas and find nothing? And, what if you dive deep into yourself and still find nothing?

The question regarding who you are is the first part of the whole dilemma whose second part is why are you here? And if the former isn’t answered correctly, it can lead to a very horrible state of ignorance which, unfortunately, has victimized 90pc of the mankind who only seek the second part but never ponder over the first. The other 9pc of them get so much entangled and confused in the first part that they hardly reach the second. The problem with this population is that each and every individual paints his own canvas, never completes it and leaves the world without any contribution. The successor repeats history and meets the same destiny. Trust me! this world is full of unfinished canvases.

In my journey as an art enthusiast, I have tried to explore the reason behind these unfinished canvases. One of my mentors made a traditional remark while saying “free your thoughts from the societal, cultural or ethnic boundaries and you will be able to paint a complete and true self”. In fact, all of us often see and hear around some powerful statements like “be yourself” or “let your inner self guide you” or “let the real you come out.” Yes! They make us positive for a moment. We like them; we share them and we feel a sense of freedom of letting out everything that we have been holding on without considering the fact for once that what it was and why it remained hidden so far. And then what?

To find the answer, let’s get to the base. What exactly is this “thought” which governs us and which needs to be freed? Oxford university defines thought as: “a formation of a philosophy” whereas, it defines philosophy as: “A theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.” So, guiding principle means direction and direction means, Perspective and what we are is what our perspective towards life is.

Therefore, Quran states: And hold firmly to the rope of Allah SWT altogether and do not become divided (03:103) which means that let the rope of Allah SWT (Quran) be the single and strong perspective of your thoughts. Such an immortal and perfect horizon, broader than all the aspects of humankind will definitely develop a mature philosophy granting us the true freedom of thought. The question is if undoubtedly Quran is the perfectionism that we must attain then why are Muslims still lost and confused?

Well, although we call ourselves Muslims, unfortunately, we haven’t caught even glimpse of our Holy Book’s message (2:101). It is clear that sorrows, worries, insecurities, hardships, and loved ones play the same role in leading mankind astray as worldly desires and lust for money. And those who go astray are often ignorant about it themselves (2:9) and consider the righteous as fools (2:13).  Why do we forget for a second that we are custodians of our faith? Our religion is merely the trust of Allah towards us and we are continuously betraying Him by helping the culprits in robbing our religion. Indeed, we are deceiving none but ourselves (2:19) and we will be questioned for this betrayal (7:6). Is betraying a human greater sin than betraying Allah SWT? Are we afraid of humans more than Allah SWT? And is the punishment of death severer curse than having a dead soul? (2:18)

Oh, we have a specially designed argument for it i.e. “it’s impossible in today’s world”. So, what is today’s world? Definitely a mirage! In the name of globalization and technology, our thoughts have been enslaved without our consent making us think, speak, dress and react the way we are told, making most of our time and energies useless. Every day we hear about thousands of people getting killed, injured, molested and enslaved around the world. We feel sad for a moment, fulfill our responsibility by expressing our condolences with trendy hashtags and then return to our busy lives naming it a twist of fate. Wow! what freedom of expression. We have become no more than animals. We are on the verge of same ignorance which prevailed the Arab peninsula hundreds of years ago. About whom Caliph Umar Farooq R.A claimed that their heads were bowed to everything from a stone to an animal. They hadn’t any personal respect. Quran gave them dignity.” Even our Holy Prophet SAW after so much revival had prophesized this time long ago when he said: “For whoever among you lives after me will see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold fast to them. ” [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

For all the said reasons, we are still in that 9pc who after a lot of struggle is unable to conclude anything or reach any destination due to baseless and countless perspectives of their own. And before the time comes that we also leave the world without any necessary contribution, we shouldn’t waste our time and energies on the things that we aren’t supposed to. Instead, we should add up ourselves in the remaining 1pc who know the truth i.e. be it the universe of inside or outside, the canvas has been made, colors have been selected and the picture has been painted. We have just been handed a simple and easy task and that is to explore and praise it. We should adopt the Quran as a single and strong perspective to see and understand ourselves and the world around us. Only then even a single individual out of a nation could bring back the same unity, grace, prosperity, and dignity to the whole civilization which prevailed 1400 years ago in the minimum time frame of 25 years.

Unity in Diversity

“And hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (3:103) states the famous verse in the holy Quran. This verse gives the message of convergence of ideas, thoughts, belief, and efforts, etc. regardless of different perspectives and ethnicities to a focal point which Allah has clearly nominated only Himself. This verse is the best and initial concept of “Unity in Diversity” succeeded by a concept called “Whadat-ul-Wujud” by Ibn-e-Arabi, a Sufi philosopher who demonstrated it in the metaphysical concept of “Oneness of God Almighty” reflecting “Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Unity”. Later on, it has been adopted as a motto or slogan by various religious or political groups which although being diverse were working towards a common goal.

Pakistan which came into being in the name of religious identity despite having diverse cultural backgrounds has a more righteous claim on this concept. Based on its geographical position and the historical settlement of people since its formation, it is home to various multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups. It must be noted that culture, which is simply an expression of one’s belonging, be it intellectual or artistic or any other form can vary from much smaller fragments like a batch of a particular class or an organization to larger like province or country. Every group has its own culture and people associated with these groups tend to have a sense of individualism at smaller but collectivism at a broader level.

Recent research conducted by professors of COMSATS University compared cultural diversity with nationalism. They used different indexes to measure different behaviors and norms that varied across the country. In their study the Power Distance Index (which is the acceptance and expectation of unequal distribution), Individualism Index (the manner in which people of society look after themselves and each other) and Masculinity and Femininity Index (the way in which males and females are treated in society) although varied to greater extent from province to province but were very much similar on national level as compared to each province.

Similarly, Long term Orientation Index (showing nurtured desired towards future outcomes) varied among provinces but resembled the national level to a greater extent. Most interestingly, despite high political instability, increased inflation and various terrorist attacks, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (which shows the level of how people get threatened by the uncertainty of future event) was very low both on cultural as well as national level probably due to an inner locus of control and greater faith in religion. Most important of all Monumentalism Index (which shows people commitment towards their heroes including religious, national, fighter, political and trend heroes) demonstrated that people not only love and praise the former four but also don’t hesitate to sacrifice their life for them. It was the strongest index of all which was not only similar on National but Provincial level.

The result of these indexes clearly shows that no matter what our cultural differences might be, we accept and celebrate our differences which bring us closer together. This is the reason that even the strongest ethnopolitical movements in history like separatist rebellion in Balochistan, sectarianism, inter-provincial disparity (although valid up-to much extent) couldn’t tear us apart and Pakistan stands stable and firm as always in the name of religion that unites us together and teaches the same lesson.