A cursory survey of the condition of the Ummah indicates that it has not escaped the terrible rot of degeneration and decadence that has overtaken the whole world. It is as though the Ummah or at least a big percentage has returned to Jahiliyyah (the dark ages of ignorance) along with the other nations of the world, despite being blessed with guidance and a beautiful Deen like Islam. The Ummah actually should have been showing the road to others and served as the guides to suffering mankind, but alas, the guides have themselves become lost and astray, so how would they be able to carry out their task and mission of guiding others!
A GLIMPSE OF JAHILIYYAH
What happened in the days of Jahiliyyah? Much can be written about this dark era but in a nutshell, it was the worst of times to be living in. The strong and mighty oppressed and exploited the weak. The strong and mighty treated all others with utmost disdain and scorn. They were arrogant, proud and ruthless. They worshipped power and wealth – these were the 'gods' they knew. The strong and powerful did not believe in the rights of others in the first place, so the question of fulfilling of rights did not even arise. The entire purpose of their living was to enjoy life and have fun and pleasure. Beyond the materialistic world, they knew nothing of a spiritual world.
On the other hand, the weak and down trodden awaited the first opportunity to rise and seek vengeance from the strong, and this was done without any regard for justice, mercy and compassion. Wives, daughters, women in general and orphans suffered the most. People fought over petty issues. Disunity, suspicion, enmity, hatred and harming others were the order of the day. People were cunning and shrewd, awaiting the first opportunity to deceive, trick and rob others. Exploitation was the order of the day. They spoke the worst of lies with the straightest of faces. There was no honesty, no modesty, no dignity, no shame, no values, no principles. The law of the jungle was the only law that prevailed. It was like the animal kingdom, if not worse. Mankind suffered terribly in those dark days. After this long, dark night, came the bright and brilliant morning of Islam, that brought relief and hope to the suffering world.
In our times, all of the conditions that prevailed in the Jahiliyyah era have returned to the world. The only difference is that it is disguised with a thin veneer and a glossy cover, so it is not recognised so clearly. However, it is very evident for those who are able to see it. Leaving aside the non-Muslim community, if we look at the Muslim Ummah alone, how many of the practices and ways of Jahiliyyah are not found today?
THE ARROGANT AND WASTEFUL WEALTHY
Do we not see the wealthy puffed up with arrogance and pride? Their disdainful attitude towards the less privileged is so glaring! How they flaunt their wealth! Whilst millions around them are grovelling in debilitating poverty, they squander huge sums in frivolous and vain pursuits and pleasures! Look at the wasteful week-long wedding ceremonies of today! There is a mad frenzy to outdo one another in lavishness and extravagance. Look at how they flaunt their wealth through flashy cars, designer label apparel, opulent lifestyles and so on. This is how the wealthy behaved in the days of Jahiliyyah!
Then, how is this wealth earned? The sad reality is in many cases, it is earned through exploitation, cunningness, dishonesty, unscrupulous and unethical ways! How many scams and scandals are not being uncovered in which Muslim names feature prominently nowadays? How many have very knowingly bought and profited from stolen goods, without a care in the world? How many are ruthless and merciless in making their claims and demands!
How many are driven by sheer greed and exploitation to make the most no matter what it takes! How many are there who care nothing of the hard-pressed who stands to lose everything and depend on their mercy, but will not bother to show any mercy, despite having the means to do so? How they seem to enjoy kicking and trampling on those who have already fallen down! How many have used loopholes to evade and avoid paying their rightful debts and dues? How many a debt remains unpaid but the debtors have built up huge empires, and gone for Umrah after Umrah? All of this is done without an iota of guilty conscience. In fact, people are quite proud about their 'achievements' in making money like this! This is how it was in the days of Jahiliyyah!
DEVICES THAT PROMOTE VICES
Look at the craving for fun, pleasure and entertainment that consumes the lives and energies of the Ummah! Parties, shows, outings, dining out, movies, fares, functions and so forth, night after night, week after week is now the norm for many. The insatiable crave for gadgets and 'toys of entertainment' has overtaken young and old. Video games, PSPs, fancy mobile phones, DVD players, Dish TV, MP3 players, iPods, hand-held devices, etc. is the fashionable in-thing that consumes unlimited hours of time, leaving no time even for basic and essential tasks. The vices of these devices is too well known. Indulgence in Haraam through these 'toys' in the form of pornography, music, vulgarity, etc. is the most beloved pastime of the youth. The behaviour of young boys and girls revelling in drugs, drinks, partying and worse is so disgusting, that it is not worthy of going into details. All vestiges of modesty and shame are gone. Is this not what happened in jahiliyyah?
TRAMPLING OF RIGHTS
The dark face of Jahiliyyah was the rampant Zulm and trampling of rights and ignoring of duties. How the weak and oppressed struggle for justice and fairness in today's Jahiliyyah order, especially women! How prevalent is this not even in the Muslim community today? How many wives (and husbands) spend their lives in silent suffering and misery, because their spouses will not bother to fulfil their rights! If they dare to ask, it results in greater conflict and oppression. How many are they who resort to open abuse – physical, verbal, financial, emotional, mental and psychological, to oppress their partners?
After the years of abuse when the marriage eventually breaks, the bitterness and resentment at this time results in even further oppression. How many a malicious husband will withhold Talaaq although they have no intention of continuing the marriage, just to punish and frustrate the woman? How many a divorced wife will not allow the father to visit his own children, out of spite? How many are they who will not bother to pay maintenance towards their children after divorce, leaving the burden on the poor, divorced woman and her family to bear, whilst they enjoy with other women? How many take second wives for the fun of it and in secret, in many cases, and are hopelessly unable to fulfil the right of either of the two thereafter, in direct violation of the Quranic injunction of justice? Is this not a return to the order of Jahiliyyah!
FAMILY TIES AND SOUND VALUES
Long standing family relationships are shredded for petty reasons. Blood brothers and sisters are not on talking terms for months and years for trivial matters. Disunity, suspicion, malice and hatred have become the norm in many families. Even where there is no enmity, family relationships are weak and superficial. Nobody has time to visit family, and those who do, are not welcome anyway! Preference is given to friends over family, and family are regarded as outcasts and obstacles.
Long established traditions, based on sound values and principles, have been thrown out of the window, and replaced with an artificial and hollow lifestyle. Simplicity, hospitality, generosity, honesty, modesty, dignity, piety and other wonderful values are brushed aside as unimportant, and even scoffed at as being orthodox and old-fashioned, just as it used to be in the days of Jahiliyyah! These have been replaced by vanity, pomp, show, niggardliness, false impressions, shamelessness, selfishness, dishonesty, hypocrisy, etc
THE REMEDY AND SOLUTION
The solution and remedy for Jahiliyyah was offered fourteen hundred years ago, and still remains the same today. The answers all lie within the Quran and Sunnah, and the guidance of the pious predecessors, and their righteous followers. If only the Ummah would seriously turn to this treasure, we will be easily rescued from the crushing grip of this modern-day Jahiliyyah and we will be able to take up our rightful position of helping the rest of mankind to escape from its clutches as well, Insha-Allah. This is what our Creator wants from us and this is what the world expects of us as Muslims!