Dignity and Equality in Perspective

If there is disarray among humankind in today’s world, it is because many people have been refused their rights of dignity and equality. Dignity affirms identity and equality makes it possible for peace to reign. The restoration of the basic rights among human beings, of both dignity and equality, would surely pave the road to peace and justice. But can the fulfillment of such an endeavor be possible in today’s world? Not to be pessimistic, but such an endeavor cannot ever see the light as long as the concepts of dignity and of equality are not a part of a universal scheme aiming at the wellbeing of the whole universe. In fact, ignoring the high objectives in defining basic human rights leads to confusion, division and chaos. Take the example of the concept of freedom. It has been carefully defined in the Western version of the enlightenment as being the ability to govern one's actions on the basis of reason, and not on that of desire. So, freedom is not to do whatever one’s whims dictate, but to use reason to fulfill a high objective, which is - according to the enlightenment thinkers - the common good, represented mainly by socio-economic progress. But when reason is not bound to a moral structure, it does not lead to the common good, but ends by inducing hatred, division and conflicts! The French definition of freedom of speech is an example …

Despite the correctness in defining freedom as the basis of the enlightenment (excluding desire from affecting actions!), those high objectives mentioned have not been quite achieved. Just think of the two world wars and the mass colonization of independent countries perpetrated by the protagonists of freedom and human rights! Today, the situation is more alarming than it previously was. It is, in fact, desire nowadays that is governing actions, not reason. The high objective is self indulgence, not the common good. It is the era of the “cancel culture,” used as a weapon to terrorize with the “voice of truth" and forge a new moral standard edified completely on desires. When legalizing immorality and justifying it with reclaiming dignity and equality, then dignity and equality will not be able to build peace and justice, but only yield division and confusion! The creed of gay pride is an example, which is defined by the promotion of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility... This creed might be right when it is regarded within a godless system, but is denied and rejected within the revelation of the Divine.

To seek the right path to justice and peace, one should think with reason, not with desire. A view of dignity and equality restricted to the promotion of a sexual orientation, or favoring an ethnic group, or emphasizing a certain color, cannot bring justice and peace. Instead, the result will be more disarray and division. Indeed, following whims and desires without any moral basis leads one to forget his/her identity of being human. “Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way” (25:43-44).

In seeking the right path, one should approach this vital matter within a perspective that regards a comprehensive understanding of the existence, and from which the definition of the concepts of dignity and equality are derived. Indeed, the comprehensive understanding of the existence allows to extrapolate a universal vision, regardless of ethnicity, color or status, which serves to guide people to success in this life and in the Hereafter. The role played by dignity and equality within such a vision, is to have everyone contributing to the effort of achieving wellbeing in the universe. Such a contribution will be effective when one adheres wholeheartedly to the belief structure of the universal vision, mentioned above - meaning embracing its definition for the purpose of life, the basis of the morality upon which it stands and following the path designed for the journey of life. Allah (swt) describes such a vision in the Quran by calling believers to work for the morrow (Day of Reckoning), to not be like those who forget their Creator, and as a result, forget themselves. It is to understand that the life of eternity is the life for which human beings were created. Therefore, seeking ultimate joy and bliss should be the goal to be achieved unto the eternity through the building, in this present life, of peace and justice in concordance with the Divine structure of morality. It all starts by first diving into the world of the beautiful names of Allah to try to grasp how great Allah SWT is. The following Ayat summarize it all:

“O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow - and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Aware of what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. Not equal are the companions of the Fire and the companions of Paradise. The companions of Paradise - they are the attainers [of success]. If We had sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and splitting from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people, that perhaps they will give thought. He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. He is Allah - there is no god but He: the King, the Holy, the All-Peace, the Giver of security, the Overseer, the Most Mighty, the Overpowering, the All-Great. Exalted be He from whatever they associate with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colors). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (59:18-24).

Article by Sh Jamel Ben Ameur PhD

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