Human history bears witness that voices against injustice have always been raised. A large part of human history has been struggle of many against a few. These voices took as many forms as their ever changing names indicate, be it revolt, war, uprising, satyagraha or civil society. Many of social institutions have been manipulated by the unjust, the corrupt and the tyrants. For example, the so-called war on terror is being led by the most unscrupulous regime on earth. The slogan of ‘safe sex’ is being given by the AIDS-ridden people who indulge in heinous acts. The west’s ‘civilising missions’ were the products of those who brutally massacred and bombed not lakhs but crores of human beings, most of them civilians, in the two World Wars.
Civil society has become almost a ‘fad’ today. Nevertheless, some people take it seriously, and some others very seriously. Let us critically analyse how fruitful is the concept of civil society.
No sane sociologist, social anthropologist or political scientist in our country or abroad, would agree that the term ‘civil society’ has, or could ever have, one single definition accepted by most of its proponents and thinkers. In fact, its glorification has been used to overshadow the conceptual un-clarity and the ambiguity it inherently carries. Yet it is widely praised, its possibilities calculated and its promises addressed. Some scholars believe civil society is a political ideal, others call it a social behaviour, and still some others claim it to be a description of ‘social condition or structure’ at a particular time. Let us perceive it as the collection of all of these, with an addition of an involved struggle to fight for the oppressed.
The fountainhead of civil society is the belief in the supreme power of matter (the material forces). It is invariably perceived that the cause-and-effect mechanism shapes the outcome of actions more than anything else. Civil society completely avoids the spiritual needs of man and neglects them to the extent of suppressing them. It constantly cuts short the belief in God and invests it in the absolute power of man and his material possessions. It derives its inspiration from the doctrine that man can do or undo anything and is capable of shaping his destiny without the ‘interference’ of God if He exists. This is quite contrary to the Islamic teachings and beliefs that everything belongs to Allah, including our souls – and we are allowed to use them only as He pleases and commands.
Civil society ‘worships’ the physical and natural laws, rather than the Creator and Sustainer of these laws. This worship of matter injects a slow poison into human minds, which in the long run makes man’s living solely for this world – be it by making the world more beautiful for oneself or a living hell for others. The belief in being accountable to God is absent from the body and soul of civil society. More than scepticism of spirituality, it is this denial of Ever Watchful God that is dangerously troublesome, as this has been the root of several anarchies and many deadly ‘Isms’ that rose in history.
Morality is again a major victim of civil society. Given the huge money motives and TRP ratings involved, media and other organs of civil society play with the baser instincts of men and women by eroticising their contents meant for social consumption. News is increasingly moving to be ‘Adults only’. The PETA activists go naked like animals for fur and animal rights. For filmmakers, now woman is no more than a sex toy that dances to the tune of their songs. Even the people with moral sense are sarcastically called ‘moral police’.
Another weapon of civil society is the senseless support to unethical western values like Gay and Lesbian rights, sex-changes, advocating single parents, hired wombs and live-in relations. It also has deep remorse-driven ‘animal-rights-activism’ while the unsolved worries of humans are multiplying each passing day. Alas! Civil society has changed our priorities to helping animals rather than a poor person, a black man, a tribal youth or someone belonging to a different nation.
Last, but not the least, civil society led by NGOs, writers, activists and journalists unquestionably supports Corporate Interest, even if it is inhuman. Thus sex education or condom distribution is preferred to other ethical means like promoting moral values or curbing prostitution, cracking down on pornography and eliminating obscenity from cinema and TV screens. One of the aims of campaign against AIDS could be to sell condoms rather than encouraging ethical sex relations.
Think again! Take your own time! But do not be silent! Think where this Godlessness, blasphemy of religion, kicking out spirituality and spitting at morality would lead us. The purpose of civil society then, in the long run, would not remain limited to social transformation, but it would stretch to moulding the minds and reshaping thoughts towards dangerous negatives.
This includes twisting the society’s perception of what is good or bad, who is sinful and who pious, who is modern and liberal and who orthodox and extremist, what is true in the religion and what is obsolete, unjust, doubtful and unnecessary. Mankind will no more face any deadly crisis because of these structures of Batil if they penetrate our societies and creep into our minds. There is no reason to doubt that these all add up to the altering of the very meaning and purpose of life that we believers have. No doubt that not only our lifestyles but the very ‘thought styles’ of ours would be systematically moulded. May God the Supreme keep us from all kinds of Mun’kar and Batil that they design. Amin.