Religious beliefs key to sustainability


  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 25 Mar 2003

By Nik Mustapha Hj. Nik Hassan, Deputy Director General, IKIM. 

TODAY, it is the view of many that a sustainable society is a qualitative concept involving all the aspects that make up a society of equilibrium.  

Creating a sustainable society requires more than achieving economic success and increasing prosperity. It demands a multi-dimensional approach to human civilisation. 

Despite an agreement on this holistic approach to develop human society and the need to sustain this momentum, the secular intellectual thought and theoretical frameworks are still not free from the realm of the materialistic worldview. 

This secular worldview does not think spiritual considerations are important and believes man, in organising his social life, should be devoid of divine requirements. 

The secular man is too confident in his rational ability to organise his individual and social life without any need for guidance from the Creator. 

The recent Bruntland Commission Report entitled, Our Common Future, defined sustainable development as: 

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future questions to meet their own needs.” 

He elaborated that “in essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.” 

This approach to material goals has resulted in a serious setback to our present human society and the ecosystem. 

Indeed present men are talking aloud how to sustain the present state of society in the future. It seems the future may not be as bright as now. 

This negative outlook of the future may be due to the present damage done to humanity by the unsustainable human activities attributed basically to adopting a worldview solely based on absolute material development. 

Our present worldview definitely has to undergo soul-searching for the genuine truth to lead to the real well-being of present and future generations. 

The truth can be discovered through religious guidance. Islam has a genuine right to provide this guideline. 

Islam does not view sustainable society as a national vision; instead it is a global vision of man’s future. Mahmoud Abu Saud, a Muslim scholar, illustrates a clear Islamic perspective of a sustainable society. 

He listed the need for a strong commitment and belief in the following: 

·ALLAH, the sole Creator of all beings, the owner of everything, and the Absolute and the Ultimate; 

·THE human community as an entity integrated into the cosmos; 

·THE human individual is ordained to be responsible for himself, his collectivity and environment; 

·MAN is made of matter and spirit. He attains cognition by means of the logistics of his meditative faculty and the awareness of his spirituality; and 

·THE revealed standard of values, commandments and basic criteria will have to regulate, govern and guide human behaviour. 

According to Abu Saud, unless these beliefs and guidelines are translated into moral and positive rules and regulations and directives for legislature, the basics on which the foundations of our aesthetic, social, political and economic systems are built, our efforts to save humanity from the present amoral materialism will be in vain. 

When this belief prevails, Abu Saud continues, our way of thinking and feeling changes. Our mind would try to find the means to achieve the spiritual by sublimating the material. 

We would love God, in His creatures, be it another person or thing. Matter, power and rejoicing become a means to help uplift towards the ultimate, but never an end that is ultimate. 

The present chaotic international world order, which could lead to a great human disaster, is an imposed secular American hegemony to maintain America’s dominant position to exploit other societies. It is a clear testimony of a godless society. 

This, if allowed to go on, it will contribute to the decadence of our entire human society. The rule of the jungle should not be allowed to regulate human society.  

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