Age of Crises
MODERN MAN & PROGRESS & PROTESTS
Peace be with you
I am sure that we all believe in human progress, but we must ask: what kind of progress do we really believe in? Is it ‘Eternal Economic Growth’ which Greta Thunberg quite rightly called, ‘Fairytales’.
While we look around at what is actually going on all over the world right now, we see street protests, up-risings and disturbances everywhere.
We ask, ‘Why is this happening?’
The answer is in the philosophical and economic atmosphere which has polluted the air we, as humans of the 21st Century, breathe. The problem is the common view that Modern Technological Man has come of age. That in the past, there was darkness, stagnation and ignorance, due to lack of industrial and scientific knowledge. While the post Industrial Age is seen as bright, progressive and full of benefits for the whole of humanity.
Remember the riots on the streets taking place today, will they really stop tomorrow? Those who still believe the ‘American Dream’ are being rudely awoken by the tremors on the ground caused by protesters, those who are suffering the inequality where the top 1% of the earth own over half of its wealth.
Look again at the threats humanity is facing: weapons of mass destruction which could destroy this planet in a matter of minutes; increased poverty and famine caused by reduction of forests, increased danger and destruction of wildlife; oil and gas exhaustion; pollution and depletion of the clean seas and fish life; global warming; untold masses of waste disposal of plastics and rubbish — the increase of mental illnesses, strange new diseases, suicide, mass migration movement of refugees fleeing war and economic disasters…. The list goes on.
I ONCE BELIEVED IN THE WEST’S SUPERIORITY
I once believed in all those ideas about progress and the Western model of superiority – like Judy Garland looking for what lies over the rainbow… until one day—after searching for answers and going on a journey of study, through various paths and religions, I discovered Islam.
All of a sudden a curtain was lifted from history and I saw another model for humanity. One where progress was linked to something even beyond the the limits of this blue planet. The state of ‘Peace’ and human equality was not a dream, but a reality. The Last Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
‘You will not enter heaven till you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not guide you to a thing that if you do it will increase love amongst you? Spread Peace between your selves.’ 
Looking at the life and times of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the internal wars and bloodshed we are witnessing today, we have the right to say that Muslims have not necessarily progressed much in the direction the Prophet guided us I was fortunate to discover Islam before I entered the Muslim community.
HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE IS BELIEF IN GOODNESS
There is no hope or vision which has driven man to goodness and the acceleration of civilisation than belief in that which is greater than ourselves; imagining something greater than ourselves naturally leads to belief in God – and this will lead to all things that are good for every human being, rich or poor, old or young, male or female..
An important part of attaining a state of goodness, is to want the same for others as well. The Last Prophet said:
“None of you will have faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourselves.” 
The modern man tries to attain peace and happiness by more and more technical and luxurious means, but this often leads to more dangerous outcomes. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with technology, if it is used properly for the benefit of all human beings and not if it destroys the balanced nature of the world and becomes just a commercial means to immorally enrich certain small groups or individuals. That is what this event is all about. It’s about being good to others.
Goodness and morality should be the goals of humanity. The best of human examples – whether we focus on Abraham or Muhammad (peace be upon them) – could never be improved or diminished by technology.
The way to improve the world is to follow the examples of the Prophets. And the simplest of teachings was given when someone asked the Last Prophet, ‘What part of Islam is best?’ He answered, ‘To feed the hungry and spread peace.’
Insha Allah, may Allah Almighty make us people of the best.
This talk was delivered on 28th November at the TRT World Citizen Awards in Istanbul, Turkey, where Yusuf was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 for his humanitarian work.
For further information about TRT World Citizen please visit:
1 Sahih Muslim
2 Sahih Bukhari