Paradise lost or gained?

— By Islamuddin

Migration has been a common phenomenon through ages. Generally people migrate in search of safety but in recent times more people immigrate looking for greener pastures and these are referred to as economic migrants. Economic migration got a boost following the onslaught of MNC driven globalization and promised liberalized visa regime which never came. Meanwhile there came nationalistic reaction against globalization epitomized by Brexit, rise of Trump and right wing parties throughout Europe and North America. Nationalist reaction against globalization owes much to the rush of migrants and rising incidents of crimes and terrorism attributed to Muslim migrants. The West is now wary of Muslim migrants but at the same time also eager to make up for its aging and falling population. Climate change and its impact have now opened a window of opportunity to the West to be choosy about the migrants that they would accept.

                 The melting of Polar glaciers and resultant rise in sea levels are likely to dislocate 60 million people in the islands and coastal countries. These people have to be accommodated. The Christian West is likely to make room for their Christian brethrens and sisters even it means expelling the Muslims who are already on hard times thanks to the Jehadists and proselytizers. Mainstream Islam has not been able to distance itself from the terrorists nor has succeeded to convince the world that terrorism has no religion. If terrorism perpetrated by the Salafis can be equated with Islam then what about Christian, Hindu, Jewish and capitalist terrorists? But then Muslims are convenient scapegoats for political adventurers and crusaders not to mention jealousy over their success in a foreign land.

                 In the changing global environment emigration should not be a preferred choice except in rare cases. State of hopelessness and fear of helpless death alone should be the basis for migration. If one can have a reasonable quality of life in his or her native country there is no reason to migrate to a country where people do not like you, nor treat you equally. Living there as a second or third rated citizen is not a good bargain to make for few ephemeral material comforts. It is human nature that after getting material comforts one wishes to get respect, recognition and equal treatment which will not come by in one’s adopted country. The loss suffered in terms of values, norms and relationships simply can never be compensated. I know at least two individuals earning tons of dollars in the West who came back to their native countries once their children attained the age of puberty because they could not countenance the waywardness of their children. It does not mean that Western culture is inferior or bad but the issue is that you cannot have the best of both worlds. You lose your soul and the flavor of the clay that you have been raised from just to get material comforts that in any case were available to you in your own country though in lesser quantity. But then how much wealth one needs to remain happy, perhaps none. There is proverb that bad children squander wealth while good ones do not need it. You only need to give them good education and values, the rest they can make on their own.

             It is unfortunate that a Muslim should praise liberties in the West and say that Islam being a patriarchal religion discriminates against women. Nothing can be further from truth. Islam recognized women as human beings in the 6th century when the West was still considering them as chattel. Women were being forcibly sold into slavery in the name of religion but Islam made woman’s consent the basis for marriage with the proviso that it should result from consultation. It makes the lofty promise that a child can do “Ehsan” to his or her parents if he or she includes parental willing consent in his or her decisions especially matrimonial. Those children are fortunate who can do “Ehsan” to their parents and this “Ehsan” is just not forthcoming in the Western culture. It is therefore not surprising that 80% marriages end up in divorces as against 80% success in Muslim families where such matters are finalized through consultation.

                     Despite having pioneered human liberties and equalities, Muslim societies have failed to become role models. It is because the West moved forward and Muslims remained stuck where they were in the 6th or 7th century and became imitators rather than creators of knowledge. Part of the reason for this phenomenon was the emigration of our bright sons and daughters to the West to enrich their traditions and economies. Had they decided to become fighters instead of becoming escapists, they could have changed their societies. There is reason to believe that West conspired to drain out the best brains who opted to become ostriches rather than eagles that Allama Iqbal wanted them to be. So the fault is not of Islam but of Muslims. If our expatriates had chosen to remove road blocks in their own countries and worked they way they are doing in their adopted countries they would not only have enriched themselves and their communities but also their countries.

                   There are few expatiate Chitralis who pay their debt of gratitude to their soil from which their “Khamir’ was raised. Majority have just forgotten their roots. Jean Paul Sartre on whose philosophy the Western civilization has been raised speaks of eternity in the form of positive impact that one can have on his/her times. Such kind of people are said to have souls and live on forever while others who just live for themselves simply exist to disappear in the dustbin of history without anybody remembering them after they are gone. So even by Western standards expatriate Chitralis owe it to themselves and to their soil that they repay their debt to Chitral. They should never sever their connections with their soil in which they will find eternal comfort once they become part of it. They should never forget the Chitrali proverb that autumn leaves that fail to enrich the roots are blown around by rough winds benefitting no one. Children owe it to their religion and ethos that they follow their norms while going for relationships. Instead of relying on digital technology for match making they should rely on the Islamic injunction of “Bainahum Shoora” and “Ehsan”. The fundamental function of marriage is procreation which is a divine attribute and going for it without ensuring social correctness and willing parental consent is tantamount to going against the will of Allah. A society that allows rebellion against divine approval cannot become a model, notwithstanding its patriarchal or matriarchal nature. A society cannot be judged on these bases rather a good society is the one that values and strengthens relationships. — Islamuddin, Garm Chashma 26 Jan 2017

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