Fear and grief are a great reality of the world that we live in – so much so that they cannot be disentangled from the idea of life itself – wherever there is life, there will be fear and there will be grief. This notion holds true especially if we look around us in today’s world and see the heart wrenching levels of suffering around us. Most of us read or saw the news this morning. How many human beings were killed, injured or maimed, physically or psychologically through hunger and famine, acts of terror or violence or in an act of so-called counter terrorism carried out by the self-proclaimed champions of peace. All this human suffering undoubtedly strengthens the notion that life is just full of grief and fear, and pain and suffering are inevitable and unavoidable realities of life.
Fear is not only the basis of physical suffering in this world, but an underlying cause or result of a variety of different psychological disorders. Due to this reason, psychology has addressed the notion and idea of fear extensively. Fear, in Psychology, can mean anything from physiological and emotional arousal in the face of real danger to an unplaced feeling of dread due to perceived or impending danger on the part of the individual – which often manifests in the form of different anxiety disorders or Phobias.
According to the great poet-philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, “All the principal forms of vice can be reduced to fear.” This statement holds true in every field and faculty of human life and behaviour. If we study human behaviour, reactions, and psychological illnesses closely we will find fear to be the underlying, root cause of all negativity. As individuals, we are afraid of loss, afraid of public opinion, afraid of what the others might think or say, afraid of not being able to perform our roles up to the standards set by society, all of which may ultimately lead to clinical depression or anxiety, or in other words, sorrow. On collective levels, foreign policies are almost entirely found on fear, a very clear example being the US-led “Global War on Terror,” in which entire countries were destroyed and reduced to dust as a result of fear of looming terror.
Latest psychological research points to the fact that sometimes fear makes us react in advance to actual danger, in expectation of an approaching horror, which fully explains all the preemptive strikes and measures the US-led coalition forces have carried out in different parts of the world. Collective fear in nations inevitably results in Collective Paranoia, and the resultant actions or reactions cause unprecedented levels of grief and suffering among humanity.
“It is fear to which man is a victim owing to his ignorance of the nature of his environment and want of absolute faith in God. The highest stage of man’s ethical progress is reached when he becomes absolutely free from fear and grief.”
(Iqbal – Islam as a Moral and Political ideal)
The concept of fear and grief is mentioned extensively in the Quran, especially in the mention of those who shall be absolutely free from them. The Quran repeatedly mentions peaceful souls to be ones who “shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.” These words appear numerous times in different Quranic chapters, whenever the perfect picture of peace and tranquility is being presented. Though it is primarily in the context of the dwellers of paradise that this state of peace and tranquility is mentioned, yet, according to Iqbal, such a state can be implemented in this world as well.
Islam teaches that evil is not essential to the universe; the universe can be reformed; the elements of sin and evil can be gradually eliminated.
True to this belief, Iqbal wrote his famous Persian work Javednama in 1929, in which he mentioned an ideal world called Marghdeen – meaning the Pasture of Deen, or religion – which was a place free of all fear, sorrow, grief and suffering. Marghdeen was, in Iqbal’s mind, a parable for the independent Muslim state which he proposed the following year in his famous Allahabad address – Pakistan. For Iqbal, Pakistan was meant to be the ideal state, where human suffering would be minimal, and its residents will live according to the ideal principles of Equality, Solidarity and Freedom propounded by Islam.
For the Quaid, Pakistan was meant to be a “laboratory where we shall test and apply the basic tenets of Islam” and show the world that an ideal state can indeed exist in the modern world of today, a state where the living conditions are optimal for its inhabitants; where each individual can live up to their potential and contribute to the welfare and progress of Humanity.
Such an ideal state cannot be established overnight, it takes time and dedication. Our founding fathers, as a consequence of their hard work, handed over to us this independent but raw piece of land in order for us to carve an ideal world out of it, yet even after 70 years, Iqbal’s Marghdeen or the real Pakistan appears an elusive fantasy, far out of reach; and we are struck with fear upon fear and grief upon grief. Heart wrenching tragedies like APS continue to jolt us and we are engulfed by corruption and terrorism.
Yet, 70 years are not much in the lives of nations. We are still a young nation. If we can only carry out what Iqbal called ‘reflective criticism’ of our history, learn from our mistakes, and resolve not to repeat those mistakes, we may as well be able to alter the state of affairs, and, consequently, our future. According to Iqbal:
“Keen, as a sword in the hands of Destiny
Is the nation that evaluates its actions at each step” (Masjid e Qurtuba – Bal e Jibreel)