RIGHT OR WRONG: WHO SAYS?

Filed in General by on July 6, 2012

Right Or Wrong: Who Says?
Fri, 06/07/2012 – 1:46am | IBRAHIM BALOGUN Islam Faith

I had an encounter with a friend’s friend on Facebook sometime back and I was struck by how much damage has been done to the thought processes of many a youth in this era. The scenario is no different from one which you have seen before but the brouhaha it generated was disturbing nevertheless.

There was a picture which our mutual friend had posted on his wall where he wondered what kind of a role model a particular woman who wore an armless evening gown (the underwear showing beneath the outer wear) with tattoos on her arm would make for our young ladies aspiring for high office in life.

The woman was appearing in that casual way before the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on her first day at work as a Special Adviser to the President on one thing or the other; that was not the point though. The appearance and its impropriety was what my friend was addressing and so were many people in their comments on that picture.

The friend’s friend to whom I was referring joined the fray and told off everyone who had condemned that dressing. He queried where in the Nigerian constitution it said she could not appear that way at work. He insisted that there were places in the world where nakedness is the dress code.

He did not add that most sane people include such communities in their list of Satanic and mentally deranged communities. He also did not reiterate the fact that such places have to be shielded off from the rest of the sane world like the mental asylums that they really are.

Someone asked why he does not go to his workplace in his underwear. He ignored that question more than once and instead said anyone who thinks it is morally wrong is a hypocrite. He maintained that many ‘so-called’ appropriately dressed people watch pornography in secret and that many well-dressed people like Farouk Lawan were caught breaking the law.

That is the only valid aspect of his argument; although that says nothing about the appropriateness or otherwise of dressing in your underwear to work.

He kept referring to the Vatican and the Ayatollah in Iran. He wrote that those who held the opinion that it was wrong to dress that way were either trying to be better than the Pope or the Ayatollah. For sheer ignorance the fellow in question raised the bar, or should I say he lowered it? He was as cantankerous as they come on Facebook, or Sahara Reporters where he has a soul mate called Deri.

By and large, the man came across as one who had lost the rudder to his boat of morality a long time ago. He also seemed to have had very little quality education. It struck me as profound that people are sent to school these days to get less education than they had. Your son or daughter goes to school and can barely speak good English anymore.

First, many students started to speak sentences punctuated with “I was like” and “as in” (pronounced ‘azzin’). Then came the hairdo that leaves them with a crested shock of hair running from the forehead to the nape of the neck. The ‘skinny’ denim trousers with the mandatory ‘sagging’ are also part of the symptoms of this progressive degeneration of values and morals.

And the speed of degeneration is alarming. The manners are gone to be replaced by “swagga” and “magga”; whatever those mean. Why should anyone be surprised? Very few parents know or have researched the effect television has on their children; especially in the age of cable television with more channels than any normal person needs. Subscription is also quite cheap.

The poor kids are hypnotised and shocked out of their cultures on a daily basis.

Many parents don’t even notice that their daughters and sons live in the same house but in different worlds. The world I mean is the world of social media. In bed, in school, at work, at dinner; young adults chat more with people they scarcely know or haven’t met at all more than they chat with real people around them.

The buzz word these days is “freedom”. Even advertisements urge you to “Rule your world” among other things that seem to suggest that you are completely and unrestrainedly free to do as you well please.

Building on this shaky and evil foundation of absolute freedom, relative truth and relative right and wrong, many impressionable minds have been led astray; sadly so by virtue of their exposure to supposedly educated people, refined individuals and so-called education media. The contents of these media are unnerving and perplexing. Information has never been made available in so many forms and with such ease as now.

Ploughing through the garbage of data and sifting the debris for useful and beneficial information is the daunting part of it. More and more people are losing themselves to Facebook, Twitter and other ‘weapons of mass distraction’. On such media, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad; depending on how well you can sieve what you get and refine your interaction with them.

It is especially on these media that many get hooked with the wrong ideas. It used to be that books were censored for their corrupting influences on young and adult minds but today nobody censors these new media whose influence far outweighs that of books.

We are confronted with the likes of the fellow I met on Facebook on a daily basis. I asked a rhetorical question that day: are we even dealing with someone who has any idea of God? I asked that question because, as Robert Thouless rightly mentioned in his wonderful book; Straight Thinking and Crooked Thinking, many do not distinguish between a verbal argument and an actual argument.

An example of a verbal argument is a situation where I would be condemning being gay and having someone else saying there was nothing wrong with that; only for me to realise we were not talking of the same thing- whereas I meant being homosexual, he meant being merry and happy.

I wanted to be sure I was dealing with someone who believes in God in at least the way either Muslims or Christians do. If I were sure of that, there would be a rational basis for arguing with him; else, it would be an exercise in futility. But I beg the question; let us look at right and wrong together.

This brings me to the next point: What is right and what is wrong and who is to say? Since we have people who say there is nothing wrong in doing what others consider to be wrong and vice versa, who is right? Or more to the point, what is right?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives these definitions in the context of our discourse:

Righteous, upright, being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper (right conduct), conforming to facts or truth, correct (the right answer), suitable, appropriate (the right man for the job), acting or judging in accordance with truth or fact (time proved her right), being in a correct or proper state (put things right), most favourable or desired, preferable; also: socially acceptable (knew all the right people). Examples of usage are in parentheses

I have removed those definitions that bear no relevance to what we are discussing. Despite these clear definitions, why is there controversy over what is right? The simple answer is that people come up with their own standards of right and wrong as well as what is socially acceptable or not. These are aside whatever their religious scriptures say or do not say.

For example, Americans, majority of who are Christians, are legalizing homosexuality and lesbianism despite a lot of protests against it by those our friend would like to call “holier than thou” and despite the fact that their faith outlaws either. Likewise you find in Muslim lands and among Muslims similar acts. In spite of the prohibition of alcohol in Islam, some Muslims drink it.

So we are down to these two questions; does the fact that many people endorse or engage in an act make it right? And does the fact that a lot of people condemn an act make it wrong? The answer is not as straightforward as many would like to assume.

For there are many things we do that are right but which people frown against and many are the things we do that are wrong which people applaud today. This does not take away from the rightness of a popular right deed or the wrongness of an unpopular wrong deed. Let us examine some examples together:

Suppose in the case of Otedola has against Farouk Lawan, Lawan has lied, it will be wrong to say there is nothing wrong with that because it is a common trait in politics and politicians. It is wrong regardless. Whereas although it would expose the man’s guilt, it is also wrong to entrap a friend; or looking at it from another viewpoint, it is wrong to ask bribe from a friend or an enemy; and Otedola and Lawan were once friends.

Suppose a lady is dressed in a lascivious way as to call the attention of men or even provoke the lust of others; it would be wrong to rape or molest her under any pretext but it would still be wrong for her to appear that way.

The words indecent and inappropriate are not subject to interpretations of men. If left to that, the armed robber would define his and the drugs addict his own. This is why there is something wrong with leaving humans to determine what is right and what is wrong.

Islam instils into its true adherents a respect for individual opinion and a complete obedience of the Divine opinion; wherever it leads. Dogmas which have been subjected to test are not wrong to hold or follow; only when you follow a dogma which has consistently failed to be consistent would you be wrong.

Allah tells us He created man in the best form and showed both the right and wrong to each soul. The one that keeps purifying the soul with the right deeds has succeeded and the one that stains it with the wrong deeds has brought ruin upon itself.

It follows that only our Creator defines what is right and what is wrong. And to appreciate this Divine wisdom, just think of what would have happened if man was the sole determinant of right and wrong when we know that inherently, most people would do what benefits them alone and not others. Whenever God’s opinion is disregarded, the result is there for the wise to see.

No adultery; ignored- the result is the spread of AIDS and other STDs not to mention broken homes and hearts. No smoking; ignored- the result is lung cancer and nicotine addiction and other cigarette smoke induced diseases. No alcohol; ignored- the result is incessant motor accidents while driving under the influence and broken homes with the attendant crime rate increase.

There is a direct correlation between what is right and a right state of affairs among mankind. When Allah says something is right it is right and when He says it is wrong, it is wrong regardless of your personal feelings on the matter. So as for those who think otherwise, they are wrong in spite of how they feel and that is the right approach to this matter.

— You can reach Ibrahim Balogun at ibrahimbalogun3@yahoo.co.uk

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