Moral Degeneration in Disbelieving Societies
Swerving from the real purpose of life is, in a way, losing one's values. Indeed, one does not expect elevated values from those who believe that the world is the one and only place in which to live and that all persons, including oneself, will cease utterly at death. Similarly, one does not expect humane qualities in someone who does not think he is being tested in his deeds in this world and that he will be paid in full according to them in the hereafter.
It is unavoidable that those communities clinging to such distorted philosophies will experience spiritual idleness. In this short life, individuals are mostly concerned about gaining personal benefits and satisfying their own desires, with the basic objective of leading a life for which they do not have to be responsible. Meanwhile, their ambition is never to attain perfection of character, believing that this will not add anything beneficial to their life. On the contrary, on the basis of their distorted outlook on life, they consider helpful, conscientious, compassionate and indulgent people somewhat "foolish." Their rationale commands the strong to exert pressure on the weak and use violence against them, without respecting any of their rights.
Allah, in the Qur'an, stresses that those having no faith in the hereafter and the Day of Judgment see no limits to committing wrong actions:
Woe that Day to the deniers: those who deny the Day of Reckoning. No one denies it except for every evil aggressor. (Surat al-Mutaffifin: 10-12)
These people, who have drifted from the true religion, aspire to possess more and they instill this ambition into the minds of others around them, predisposing them to disobey the limits of Allah.
We are living in a time when those who have entirely abandoned religious values are in the majority. Not content with what they personally do, these people are also willing to cause others to drift along this dark path. This is the time when all forms of immorality are being revitalized: not seeing any limits in committing wrong actions, violent aggression, spiritual idleness, moral degradation, prostitution, inciting to "avarice" as in the words of one verse, perverted sexual orientations, drug addiction, gambling… In the following pages, we will dwell on the dimensions of moral degradation consequential to disbelief.
Indoctrination of Immorality
A disbelieving person as well as a person who has poor faith in Allah and the hereafter readily commits fornication, gambling or theft deeds Allah made unlawful. Disbelief actually lays the basis of this inclination. This rationale maintains that human beings came into existence as a result of chance and that thus man does not have to feel responsible toward his Creator. The theory of evolution, which ideologically nurtures disbelief, holds human beings to be nothing more than a developed form of animal. In this sense, nothing should be a matter of concern for us, except meeting our own needs. As for meeting the desires of the wicked side of his soul, we do not have to observe any limits; we can act just like animals. In brief, such philosophies, which do not contain any spiritual dimension, utterly fail to recognize moral values.
Indeed, renowned materialists and advocates of Darwinism clearly express how disbelief sees moral values. William Provine, a professor from Cornell University, explains how materialism assesses morality:
As this scientist, a materialist himself, puts it, disbelief allows no faith in the hereafter. People simply believe they will perish with death. This perverted belief of disbelievers is related in the Qur'an as follows:
What is there but our life in this world? We die and we live and we will not be raised again. (Surat al-Muminun: 37)
Those not believing in the resurrection from the dead observe no limits and see no harm in immorality. For these people, there is no reason a man should exert his willpower. This is why disbelief is the foremost reason accounting for moral degeneration, as is also affirmed by the aforementioned words of Prof. Provine. The distorted thoughts and moral values of a disbeliever are evident in these words.
It also deserves mention that not everyone engaging in immorality does this having Darwinism or materialism in mind. However, one should remember that these ideologies, and their disbelieving mentors, instill these distorted notions into the minds of people and, consequently the majority of people feel greedily attached to this life rather than leading their lives with the hereafter in mind.
The understanding of those of the '60s generation who seized upon sensual liberation was also a consequence of seeing no limits to behavior. They are remembered for all forms of immorality such as free sex, drugs, arrogant independence and rebellion. Three decades later, today, many of those '60s iconoclasts are either ruling countries or teaching at schools. The parents who raised today's youth also belong to the same generation. Today, we observe an immorality that is almost unprecedented in world history. One cause of this is the existence of a highly degenerate generation, who were raised by disbelieving parents. Allah, in the Qur'an, mentions the community who are unaware of the religion because their fathers were not warned:
(You are one of the Messengers) so that you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned and who are therefore unaware. (Surah Yasin: 6)
As is also stressed in this verse, those generations who are born to disbelieving people become irreligious and devoid of moral values like their parents.
Today, the main cause of moral degeneration pervading the world, from America to Holland, Far East to Russia, is the existence of people who, because of their disbelief, assume themselves to be unanswerable for their actions and to be independent. Because disbelief is so widespread in our day – as never before in world history – homosexuality has become a socially accepted norm; for the same reason prostitution, pedophilia, gambling, fraud and bribery are out of control. The rot in society is self-evident with distrust everywhere – even among immediate family members – evil habits becoming a matter of prestige, pre-marital and extra-marital sex becoming a defining characteristic of "modernism". Again, disbelief accounts for people's loss of virtues such as modesty, shame and good conduct. People are steadily encouraged to adopt behavior as a norm that was morally unacceptable only a few short decades ago.
It is undeniable that disbelief brings immorality. Yet, there may be people claiming to be moral, albeit disbelieving. They assert they do not get involved in any of the aforementioned immoral behavior. Indeed, it is entirely possible that a person having no faith might never become involved in any form of corruption, and that he could be determined to remain so. Yet, this does not indicate that he is a person who possesses moral values compatible with the Qur’an. A person who displays virtuous conduct only because he has fear of Allah remains consistent in his manners, no matter what the circumstances. A disbelieving person, who claims he has never received bribes, can readily lie if it serves his interests. Alternatively, the same person admits to receiving bribes to pay his son's hospital bills. In brief, as conditions change, under the pretext of "compelling circumstances", a disbelieving person may well commit acts he himself accepts as wrong. For instance, a disbelieving person who deems murder unimaginable may one day give in to his anger and commit it.
Having good values, however, demands patience and willpower. No matter how compelling the circumstances, one has to strive for good character. To display such unyielding patience and willpower, one needs to have a purpose. Believers manage this because they have an ultimate aim in life: to attain the good pleasure of Allah, His mercy and the Garden. They know that as the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, "There will be nothing heavier in the balance of the believer on the Day of Rising than good character."12 To this end, they take every opportunity to strive for excellence. A disbelieving and purposeless person, on the other hand, has no reason to persevere in patience and willpower. For instance, those earning their living by prostitution claim that it is the only way they can support themselves. If they had faith in Allah and the hereafter, however, they would never stoop to such a shameful way of earning a living. Being aware that they will not be able to give an account for it, they would meticulously avoid it with great fear.
Satan threatens you with poverty and commands you to conduct unseemly. Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara: 268)
As indicated in the verse, because of the fear of impoverishment, a majority of people dare to indulge in all forms of immorality. On the other hand, even the thought of living immorally does not occur to the mind of a person hoping to earn the mercy of Allah. In the Qur’an, Allah stresses that the fear of Allah that believers have makes them strive with good character:
Those who join what Allah has commanded to be joined and are afraid of their Lord and fear an evil Reckoning; those who are steadfast in seeking the face of their Lord, and establish prayer and give from the provision We have given them, secretly and openly, and stave off evil with good, it is they who will have the Ultimate Abode… (Surat ar-Ra'd: 21-22)
The Trouble the Elderly Experience
In crowded buses, elderly people stand while seated youngsters avoid eye-contact… Elderly people wait in queues for hours under the hot sun or in heavy rain… Frail aging parents need to be cared for and are thus perceived of as burdens in the house… Elderly women and men with mental and physical weaknesses whose presence no more endears them to their beloved ones.
These are only a few things those who grow old, who definitely deserve respect, not neglect, face in the later years of their lives. In disbelieving countries, people who experience aging-related problems, both physical and spiritual, experience a lot of trouble. Many individual and societal challenges related to the quality of life in old age make life hard for these people. The mistreatment they receive, and the type of places in which they are left, add greatly to their problems.
Protecting the elderly and showing them due respect, however, are commanded in the Qur'an. In the following verse, Allah relates the respect elderly people deserve:
Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of contempt out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity. (Surat al-Isra: 23)
The elderly and needy never encounter intolerance, violence or rage in a society with people who have Qur'anic consciousness. For elderly and young alike, believers provide the most peaceful and comfortable conditions. Meanwhile, they only expect their reward for these services from Allah.
If one has faith, whether young or old, one always strives to remain compassionate, respectful and understanding. In societies distant from religion, elderly people annoy people around them because of their touchiness or other unfavorable qualities. This is not the case in an environment where people adhere to the Qur'an and the Sunnah since the elderly, too, strive to display excellent character under any circumstance.
People are Encouraged to go into Immorality:
Today, under the guise of "modernism","liberation", “courage” or “freedom”, people, especially teenagers, are conditioned towards immorality. Concepts strictly avoided a few decades ago are readily internalized by many societies today. All forms of vice are displayed on TV, in the tabloids and magazines. Forgers, homosexuals, those who sell their bodies, parents pushing their daughters to prostitution, gamblers, the so-called celebrities with deplorable manners are presented to public as role-models. Even if they are sometimes genuinely abhorred, they become people whose life-style is emulated by the masses. Meanwhile, the dissolute lives they live are offered as a defining value of so-called “courage”, "modernism" or "civilization".
In recent years, widespread effeminate behavior, style and clothing among men typifies one consequence of this indoctrination. That some people in the society tend to such attitudes is of course a token of their imprudence. Similarly, some renowned people in the public eye promote extramarital relations and drug use. The ignorant masses imitate attitudes associated with these people – from behaviors to philosophies, clothing styles to use of language. They hardly realize that these people – the objects of adulation to millions – are simply shallow people battling serious psychological, sexual and spiritual problems and are therefore constantly humiliated by their close associates who are aware of their real inner worlds. Yet, many people who live far removed from Qur’anic moral values fail to comprehend this. Allah draws attention to the fact that those having no faith are devoid of wisdom in many of His verses. In one verse, Allah reveals as such:
Anything you have been given is only the enjoyment of the life of this world and its finery. What is with Allah is better and longer lasting. So will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-Qasas: 60)
However, thoughtful, wise, conscientious, intelligent people with strong fear of Allah have to be the ones forming the moral framework of society. They would nurture a healthier social model, pushing all vices out of society. Rather than trifling matters, teenagers could be far more preoccupied with enriching their characters. Obviously, conscientious people are those who would commit themselves to the betterment of society instead of its destruction. These are the open-minded people, who can think freely and independently of society's conditioning. Having dismissed disbelief, they do not become blind and thus can grasp the purpose of life. Being aware that they were created by Allah, these people only feel responsible to Allah and so display excellent character. Since they only adhere to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, they only follow the example of sincere, wise, conscientious people who strive with good character:
You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much. (Surat al-Ahzab: 21)
Praising those striving for excellent character in society and presenting the virtues a good character brings to the human spirit while expressing dislike for moral failings will surely stop people tending to immorality.
A Token of the Lack of Willpower Peculiar to Disbelievers: Drugs
Drug use has had an alarming increase, especially during the last decade. That the majority of teenagers use drugs is a fact confirmed by surveys. Similarly, the number of addicts around the world is in no way negligible. A survey conducted in 1992 concluded that 50% of the teenage population of Britain were drug users. Addicts constituted 30% of British teenagers. Another survey indicates that, between the years 1988 and 1995, Americans spent $57.3 billion on drugs.13
All drugs are detrimental to human health. A drug user ultimately ends up in society's dark corners. He needs substantial sums of money for drugs, yet, paradoxically, drugs physically hinder him from working. At this stage, the addict starts to make his or her living outside the law, stealing, cheating, engaging in heterosexual or homosexual prostitution, etc. Ultimately, the urgency of obtaining money, and the failure to become involved in any decent work reinforce each other in a self-perpetuating spiral.
That a person from his own free will would drift into such an ignoble life is inconceivable. A wise and conscientious person never falls into such a situation. Yet, the lack of willpower, which is purely a consequence of disbelief, may cause one even more harm, as stated in the verse: "Allah does not wrong people in any way; rather it is people who wrong themselves." (Surah Yunus: 44)
Those tempting young people into using drugs show another aspect of the effects of disbelief. Drug dealers, who have entirely lost values such as conscience, compassion, mercy and pity, strive to attract more young people just in order to earn more. For instance, in some countries such as Latin America or Russia, drug smuggling for commercial gain is among the most profitable activities. By and large, the State in these countries controls the drug trade or allows networks involved in the drug trade to keep working. If, at least, one of these parties were faithful and had belief in Allah and the hereafter, the world would be rid of such a problem. If, due to fear of Allah, nobody got involved in drugs in any form – neither trading with them nor using them – this problem would end forever.
Today, initiatives against illegal drug dealing and drug use fail to provide lasting solutions. For instance, if addicts lacking the will to overcome addiction are treated in hospital, they soon return to their former habits. In jail, members of drug networks continue to traffic in illegal drugs internationally. The only way to rescue a drug addict, on the other hand, is to give him strong willpower. Only the true religion provides man with unshakeable willpower. Even disbelievers who demonstrate strong willpower have a passion for something, a factor making them weak. Only the fear of Allah and of torment in the Fire provides the sort of willpower no one and nothing can overcome.
Some Shameful but Widespread Acts: Prostitution, Adultery and Homosexuality
Prostitution, as a way of earning a living, is rapidly becoming widespread. With each passing year, the average age of young prostitutes decreases. Even their own families force very young girls and boys to sell their bodies. At an age when they still need protection and care, that children are pushed into such repulsive areas should alarm the countries of the world enough so that they protect them from such damage. On the contrary, however, countries like The Philippines are promoted as popular tourist attractions for obtaining children for sex. In many parts of the world, tourists pour into these locations strictly for this purpose.
Fornication is another indecent but widespread act. According to the National Certified Health Statistics, 32% of all children born in the USA are born extra-maritally, which means, every year, 1,267,383 babies are born to unmarried couples.14 A concept, which was unimaginable only two or three decades ago, has now become a part of daily life.
The material and spiritual harm fornication gives society are evident. Nor is there any need to point out that children born to unmarried parents or single mothers, who are themselves still children, inherently have a problematic upbringing. The future of these children is often blurred. "A Synopsis of Current World Crisis Reports" (March 9, 1998) remarks on the moral degeneration in family structure as follows:
The last transformation in the early part of this century necessitated the ruin of three societal foundational factors… The first factor this time around was a more complete dissolution of morals and the family as a foundation. This was brought about primarily since the 1960s. The radical elements which now govern the country were called the hippies in those days. Free love was their watchword. Hardly anyone noticed that they were not free since they were always fighting someone, and it wasn't love they had. It was immorality and degeneracy.15
Fornication is an evil prohibited in the Qur'an. The end of those who commit it is torment in the Fire unless they turn in repentance from it:
Do not go near to fornication. It is an indecent act, an evil way. (Surat al-Isra: 32)
… those who do not call on any other god together with Allah and do not kill anyone Allah has made inviolate, except with the right to do so, and do not fornicate; anyone who does that will receive an evil punishment. (Surat al-Furqan: 68)
After intense indoctrination, the majority of people see fornication, which is in fact an act leading to the Fire, as "modernity" and many are lured into it.
Homosexuality, which was unacceptable in the moral code of societies until the recent past, is another shameful act that today is regarded as normal, and is spreading with alarming rapidity in many societies. Homosexuals in our day enjoy many social rights, from homosexual marriages to having babies through surrogate mothers. or the right to adopt children. They have access to parties, clubs and congresses organized only for their own purposes. Meanwhile, many magazines and press organs instill into our minds that homosexuality is a popular and acceptable way of life. Homosexuality is, however, a perversion. Nevertheless, with words like "everyone is free to choose his preference or his sexual orientation", an "intellectual" quality is attributed to it and thus it is legitimized. As everyone would agree, there is an absence of moral values in the lives of homosexuals and prostitutes. They are usually aggressive people who are hard to convince on any given subject. They curse a lot. They do not keep their bodies and homes clean. Their hearts are full of rage and hatred towards people to such an extent that, without any feeling of quilt, many of them readily transmit their infectious diseases to other people. They do not observe any limits in any subject and are devoid of honor. Being in poor health psychologically, they are highly prone to suicide or even murder. These people do not have any contribution to make to society at all. Rather, they always become a source of unrest, tension, sickness and immorality in their environment. The reason why the press places the promotion of homosexuality at the top of its agenda is to degenerate public. Since there is a high proportion of homosexuals in the media and the world of entertainment, their active campaigning for homosexuality is extremely effective. Their spreading this propaganda even further weakens the moral values of society forever.
Disbelief is the most essential attribute of a degenerate society. Homosexuality is a form of perversion, for which in return Allah promises torment both in this world and the hereafter, unless the person turns to Him in repentance. Allah, in the Qur'an, proclaims that the cities of the people who disobeyed the Prophet Lot, peace be upon him, were razed to the ground because they practiced homosexuality, a disaster which went down in history. When the Prophet Lot, peace be upon him, told them to give up this perversion and brought them Allah's warning, they denied him and carried on with their perversion. Upon this, his people were destroyed by the disaster of which the Prophet Lot, peace be upon him, had informed them in advance:
Of all beings, do you lie with males, leaving the wives Allah has created for you? You are a people who have overstepped the limits.' They said, 'Lot, if you do not desist you will be expelled.'
He said, 'I am someone who detests the deed you perpetrate. My Lord, rescue me and my family from what they are doing.' Therefore We rescued him and all his family – except for an old woman who remained behind. Then We utterly destroyed the rest and made a rain come pouring down upon them. How evil is the rain of those who are warned! There is certainly a Sign in that, yet most of them are not believers. (Surat ash-Shu'ara: 165-174)
The way social institutions and related bodies deal with the problem is highly alarming.
None of these institutions give emphasis to the fact that this perversion is a wrong action, displeasing to Allah, and a reason for pain in this world as well as eternal suffering in the hereafter. The sickness these perverted people give to society should be removed. However, what is more urgent is to save these people from that in which they indulge. Today, there are millions of people around the world living in perversion and depravity, who through intense indoctrination have incorporated immorality, rebellion and all forms of awful behavior patterns into their lives.
On the other hand, in a believing society people strive for what is better, more honorable, more esthetic and honest. Allah informs us about the people who are rightly guided in the following verse:
… Allah has given you love of faith and made it pleasing to your hearts, and has made disbelief, deviance and disobedience hateful to you. People such as these are rightly guided. (Surat al-Hujurat: 7)
The only force that prevents man from indulging in wicked deeds and perversion, and that makes good values spread in society is religion. In a verse, Allah informs us thus:
Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Prayer precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do. (Surat al-Ankabut: 45)
Gambling is Detrimental to Human Life
In our day, gambling blights entire societies. Nevertheless, gambling continues to be one of the most profitable sectors. However, enormous amounts of money spent for pure pleasure, namely for gambling, could well be channeled to better purpose, i.e., to promote the public welfare.
The influence of gambling over people is entirely malignant. Society cannot afford gambling, which is also evident from the news in the newspapers and on TV. People commit suicide due to debt, they cannot keep their families together, they suffer from depression, and even commit murder, since they can easily gamble away what they've amassed over years in only a few hours. This sector of the economy, established on broken families, ruined marriages, and money made outside the law, is a significant example of moral degeneration.
It is astonishing that gambling, which does so much harm to society, is extensively promoted. To make money out of gambling and legitimizing it is surely not done by people who are listening to their consciences.
Those who allow gambling to become widespread in society, which is a source of mass suffering, confess to this vice only when they themselves start to suffer from it. Until they meet such an undesirable consequence themselves, however, they cause many people to drift into a gloomy life. Eradicating such conscienceless attitudes is only possible through adherence to the Qur'an. Allah defines gambling as filth and warns man to stay away from it:
You who have faith! Wine and gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are filth from the handiwork of satan. Avoid them completely so that hopefully you will be successful. Evil wants to stir up enmity and hatred between you by means of wine and gambling, and to debar you from remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not then give them up? (Surat al-Ma'ida: 90-91)
What is incumbent on faithful and conscientious people is to raise awareness about the harm gambling brings, and summon people to avoid this vice.
11. Philip Johnson, Darwin On Trial, 2.b. Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1993, p. 126
12. At-Tirmidhi, reported by Abu'd-Darda