Before launching upon the quest to find out the competence of man to deliver guidance to his species, it is desirable to find out the greatest need of man from among his most indispensable needs.
In this respect we have first to discuss the basic needs of man and then discuss why guidance is the greatest need of mankind. The fundamental needs of man are as follows:
- Clothing and Shelter
- Medical Aid
Let us discuss the manner in which the above needs are fulfilled today.
Food, clothing and shelter are the basic economic needs of man and fall within the purview of man’s first two urges for rest and food.
The Creator Himself has taken the responsibility of providing livelihood to each and every living creature on this earth.
He has not raised man on earth to search and devote his best time for material provisions only. He is not just an economic beast of burden but a moral being too.
“I created the Jinn (spirits) and human beings only that they might worship Me. I seek no livelihood from them, nor do I ask them they should feed me. Lo! Allah! He it is that gives livelihood, the Lord of Unbreakable might.” (The Qur’an. 51: 56-58).
“And Thou give sustenance to whom Thou chooses without stint.” (The Qur’an. 3: 27)
“And there is not a beast (living creature) on this earth but the sustenance thereof depends on Allah. He knows its habitation and its repository. All is in a clear record.” (The Qur’an. 11:6)
“Do not kill your offspring for fear of want: for it is We Who provide him and you as well. Indeed their killing is a heinous crime.” (The Qur’an 17: 31)
This verse also cuts at the very root of the movement of birth control, which has been going on from ancient time to our present age.
It was the fear of want that induced people to kill their children or resort to abortion. In our age another plan has been added to these, i.e., contraception.
According to this verse, it is one of the biggest mistake of man to check birth rate as a solution to the want and the scarcity of provisions (and the fear of fall in the standard of living therefore it warns him (man), as if to say, “O man, it is not you who make arrangement for food, but Allah, Who settled you in the land and has been providing for you and will provide for those who will come after you.” History tells us that the food resources have always expanded in proportion to the number of inhabitants of a country: nay, often they have exceeded far more than the needs of the inhabitants.
Thus it is a folly on the part of man to interfere with the arrangements of Allah (to maintain a set standard of living). [The Meanings of the Qur’an Vol. VI, P. 138 By S. A. A. Maudoodi]
“And how many are the creatures that carry not their own provision! Allah provides for them and for you. He is the Hearer and the Knower.” (The Qur’an 29: 60).
“And We have provided therein Means of subsistence, – for you And for those for whose sustenance Ye are not responsible. And there is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures (Inexhaustible) are with Us; But We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.” (The Qur’an. 15: 20-21).
Thus, the provision, which is a commitment from the Creator to arrange for human beings and other living creatures, cannot be termed as the greatest need of man.
It appears to be somewhat in contradiction to the present pre-occupations of man for earning his livelihood.
Man for me whole of his life remains bus] in earning his provision. One may ask that if it is the commitment from the Creator it should come to him automatically.
This is another fallacy of our approach and contradicts the three basic principles of man’s existence on earth as it has already been discussed earlier in this book.
- Nothing will come to him on its own accord, i.e., automatically.
- Man will get only what he strives for.
- He will get only what His Creator wants to give him or destined for him.
The Creator, in His infinite mercy, has arranged for the provision of each and every man and animal of this earth.
If you take the world as an economic entity as a whole and the human beings its rightful inhabitants, there will be no scarcity of food on earth.
It is man, who, in his self- interest and out of ignorance, has divided the world into more than 192 watertight-national compartments and very often created an artificial shortage of food.
There are regions in the world that have the capacity to develop their resources and turn their lands into granaries of the world. Those who are producing more have the capacity to feed the world with ease and comfort as stated earlier.
Contradictory to this natural flow, they are sitting over their production, controlling prices and creating artificial shortages to maintain the tempo of production at home and demand in the world market.
They maintain the price structure of their respective countries by subsidizing agricultural products and imposing trade restrictions on imports.
Ronald Reagan resorted to this method when he gave cash incentive to farmers to cut down their production of wheat by 30 per cent during his regime as president of America.
The European countries are paying huge subsidies to their farmers to maintain the price level at home and discourage imports of agricultural products.
This issue was the bone of contention in the conference of GATT in December 1990 at Brussels.
The scarcity of food and its supply is thus a man – made issue. It is artificial. It is a human creation and a distinctive disturbing element in the overall distribution of the bounties of the Creator for the earth.
This is due to the misuse of free will by some people or nations. If equal opportunities are made available to all individuals and to all the people of the world to explore and develop the natural resources of different regions of the world with no unnatural or man-made restrictions either on supply or on production, there will be no scarcity of food on earth. The economic means to sustenance will be available to all with ease.
The equilibrium set by the Creator will then come into operation. This will be possible only when man gives up his habit of exploitation and resorts to the spirit of cooperation and dedication to the welfare of his fellow beings.
In the midst of nationalistic rivalries and worshipping their respective nations like idols, it seems a cry in the wilderness till man disciplines himself to a set of guidelines.
This is not a dream. It would be possible when human society as a whole will believe in one and only one God, foster equality, stand for justice, follow only one way of life and learn to live together on earth with love, cooperation and respect for each other. This is the ultimate destiny of man. Man has to attain it if he or she wants to make the earth an abode of peace and happiness.
THE OTHER NEEDS OF MAN
The other basic needs, education and medical aid, are very much linked up with the economic well being of the society and its individuals.
These needs are better served in the economically developed societies, whereas they are far below the standard in the underdeveloped societies.
The existing pitiable condition of the poor and underdeveloped countries of the world is the legacy of their past exploitation by those nations who were blind to their physical urges, and concentrated the world resources, capital and technical know- how in their hands for the few fortunate people.
The world in its present state of affairs will suffer and bleed until man changes his concept of life and attitude towards his fellow beings as stated above.
The foregoing discussion shows that man’s future hinges on the availability of a proper guidance that favors none but benefits all.
It also confirms that food, shelter, etc. are not the greatest need of man (not in a biological sense).
Guidance to live in moderation is man’s greatest need on earth – the guidance that could free his life from all the evil consequences that have enveloped him.
STANDARD OF LIVING
Let us now discuss about the modem man’s greatest desire to raise his standard of living. This is the sum total effect of man’s slavery to his physical urges.
He wants to maximize his personal pleasures and luxuries by raising his standard of living higher and higher in a hilarious crescendo.
It has become the barometer to judge the quantum of prosperity of a people or society. The progress of a country is measured by the standard of living.
It has become the national target and the ultimate goal of almost all the nations of the world to raise their standard of living through a planned economy and projected economic growth.
Let us see:
1. Is it really a measurement of success?
- Does the standard of living guarantee me real prosperity and happiness that man seeks out of all of his economic growth or is it amply a mirage?
We see that the Western societies which are affluent, wal-low in resources, enjoy a very high standard of living, play in luxury and are busy, day in and day out, in maximizing their personal pleasures and comforts to the brim of their capacities are perhaps the most bewildered people on earth.
All kinds of vices have crept into their social, moral and cultural life. They lack peace of mind and pass their life in extreme tension.
Neither are their comfortable houses nor their roads safe. The evil forces are free, but man lives in his home under many locks and alarm systems as if he is in captivity.
For married couples, perhaps very few can claim that they are modest, and faithful to each other as husband and wife.
The political field is corrupted and is over-whelmed or influenced by vested interests through hundreds of political action committees.
The will, the sovereignty of people is in jeopardy. The capitalist class, the employer, the entrepreneur are busy with only one goal in mind, how to maximize their profits. All the advertising agencies, the radio, the TV, the banking, insurance and other financial institutions are busy serving this end.
The employee, the wage earner, has no object before him except to earn the maximum amount of dollars in order to satisfy his physical urges in a manner he or she likes, while being able to pay the bills.
He serves only the interest of the bankers, corporate bodies and the capitalistic class of producers of goods and services.
It appears that everyone is obsessed and working like a machine with all his physical energies and mental faculties to maximize his personal income in order to maximize his pleasures and comforts.
The urges for comfort (sleep), food and sex are his idols and men and women are their slaves. He is just living for them only and for their utmost satisfaction.
This state of affairs is a convincing proof that satisfaction of the basic needs and high standard of living are not the greatest need of man.
If the case had been so, the welfare societies of the West would have been the most contented ones. These societies would have been free from all kinds of evils. Man would have attained mental peace by this time.
The ‘enlightened societies’ of the West would have been able to solve the basic problems of man.
If the high standard of living, the maximization of personal comforts, the industrial developments, and the excellence in the overall performance of technical knowhow had been anywhere near producing an ideal society for man, his fate would have been quite different than what we see today.
He would not have lived under a constant fear of war and tension. He would not have been subjected to a lot of economic and political exploitation. This society would have been free from the pressure of human wants.
This is another proof to convince people that economic wellbeing is not the greatest need of man. The more he is increasing the standard of his living the more he is drifting away from peace of mind and contentment of heart.
Man, in fact, is standing today in a jungle of problems created by his own attitude towards life. He is surrounded by a lifestyle that is artificial in nature and unnatural in substance.
It appears as if he has lost the guidance altogether, if he ever had any. It shows that in running after his physical urges, he has landed himself in a quagmire.
The more he tries to come out of it, the more he finds himself sinking with every effort.
He is totally lost in the interwoven trap of his or her animal instincts. His greatest need, therefore, is a proper guidance to lead him out of the quagmire of lust, greed and unlimited quest for personal pleasure.
He or she is in such a desperate position that they run after and follow everyone who claims to show them the light, unaware or not caring that it may sink him or her a few inches more in the filth tank of his or her life.
Man’s condition is thus very pitiable. This is his self- inflicted tragedy. He is following his urges blindly by exercising his own free will.
Now by exercising his freewill again, he has to find out the right guidance, which he has lost, to pull him out of his existing quagmire, fill his life with equilibrium of moderation in every walk of life and make him the master of his urges. Both men and women are standing at the same footings. Both have to struggle equally in that respect.
Before making any probe elsewhere, man’s competence or incompetence must be exposed before his eyes. That would be the best trial of his freewill.
He, as a free man, deserves it.
It would be fair and scientific. It appeals to reason that the choice to deliver guidance to mankind should first be given to man. Justice demands it. If he comes out successful in his trial, that is fine.
If his efforts meet failure, the choice will then be logically open to find it out elsewhere. This will also answer the questions that were raised at the end of the previous chapter.