What Is an Ideal Society Desired by the Divine?
By Dr Aslam Abdullah
Las Vegas, NV
People often talk about an ideal society based on their values, religions or otherwise. Jews talk about an ideal society where their Messiah would restore peace and prosperity, Christians talk about Jesus returning to establish the kingdom of God on earth, Muslims espouse the idea of a society based on the values revealed in the Qur’an and traditions promoted by the Prophet, Buddhists talk about a society where individuals will deliver them from the tribulations of pain and sufferings, Sikhs envision a society where differences of caste and race would no longer exist, atheists talk of a world where people will be free from the yoke of religion and exercise their free will the way they want, and so on and so forth.
Every religious or non-religious community has its vision of a society, yet the reality is that no religious community has ever been able to recreate an environment that reflects its values in totality. On the contrary, the zealots in all communities have created conditions that contradict the basics of their own faith.
There may be several factors for that, but the two main reasons are the differences among communities on the scope and dimensions of an ideal world and the differences several factions and sects have within each community on the definition of an ideal society. For instance, what is ideal for Muslims is not ideal for Christians and Jews and what is ideal within one group of Jews may not be ideal among other Jewish factions.
Logically speaking, all those who believe in the existence of God or gods, believe that there is one ultimate supreme power regardless of the varying definitions they give for that being. Yet, all of them have different visions of an ideal society with one common factor that each assigns a superior role to its values and traditions.
Thus the unity in God diversifies itself into competing visions that have often led to conflicts, hatred and disorder, all in the name of religion.
The concept of the unity in God is a powerful one as it expresses the desire of having a unity of human beings and a unity in the vision of an ideal society. This concept liberates human beings from accepting the slavery of others and free from the dictates of fellow human beings. God did not confuse human beings by proposing conflicting ideals to his creation. He is the source of unity and reason. The disunity is the outcome of diverse human experiences and interpretations of the divine guidance.
The purpose of faith is to enable human beings find the ultimate unity in a manner where diversity can express itself in a framework so that the human society achieves its true potential in terms of exploring the universe and human capability in living in balanced and peaceful life.
Even though people speaking for different faiths often talk of an ideal Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Jain or Sikh society, the deductive logic suggests that the human society can either have a unified divinely guided society or a disunited conflicting society based on the experience of each separate race, nationality, ethnicity, tribe, community or nation. The former is the intent of the divine and the latter is the outcome of asserting values that are determined by the narrow and limited experiences of humans.
If one has to reconstruct the basic outlines of an ideal society desired by the divine, who is the creator of everything that exists in the universe, then one has to give consideration to the following minimum requirements.
1. There is one supreme power that alone created the universe.
2. The unity of humanity is the essence of the creation as everything revolves around the human beings.
3. The resources that exist in the universe are given to human beings as a trust to be used to enhance life and progress, not to destroy and regress.
4. Regardless of gender and race and the differences in the intellectual capabilities of human beings, the society and its instruments of governance have to ensure dignity of everyone in terms of guaranteeing the right to life, right to mind, right to work, right to explore the universe, and right to create a nucleus in the form of a family to live peacefully.
5. Violence in any form or shape is based on coercion and it must not have any place in an ideal human society.
6. Justice and peace are the two essential values that should dictate all spheres of life.
7. Freedom and the responsibility to use freedom in a social context are paramount to secure justice and peace.
8. Pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right of everyone that should be secured without infringing upon the rights of others.
9. Human beings should not be restricted in their pursuit of happiness anywhere in the world provided they do not violate the rights of others and do not exploit resources to their racial, ethnic and tribal advantages.
10. Punishment and reward should be based on the concept of maintaining justice and peace in the world on the basis of doing the job for God.
Perhaps this ideal society is deep in the conscience of every human being. But each religious and non-religious community represents these values in its limited and narrowest form within their own context creating conditions that often result in conflicts and violence in the name of God or progress.
In order for this ideal society to emerge, one must start with oneself so that an individual can identify with it in a non-sectarian and non-factional manner. It must be reflected in our education system and it must be espoused by those who claim to be speaking in the name of God. In the absence of serious commitment to these ideals we would always be in a race to prove others wrong and unconsciously fighting for our sectarian superiority.
This in essence is the divine call, a call that has been misconstrued most of the times, a call that has been distorted in the places that are described as the houses of God. This idealism needs people who are willing to dedicate them to achieve it in an organized manner, because these values are the ones that will deliver us from falsehood that our human society has been living for centuries.