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Newsletter for April 2012



The Role of Change in the human destiny
by Nasir Shamsi

People can be divided into two groups, for the purpose of this study. Those who acknowledge that to change is to live and to look forward to the future.
Others who fail to acknowledge the role of change in time and tend to perpetually live in the past, unaware of their present and future.

The former are people of Tradition, who guided by the Tradition and interpreting the current realities of life according to the changing circumstances (ijtehad) are able to carve out their present and future. The latter group clings to " Traditionalism",  unwilling to accept the role of Change in their lives.

People who perpetually live in the past fail to recognize that besides past, there are two other segments of Time: the " Present " and the " Future "; while each of these three segments of Time are parts of the essential  " whole ", they are bound or held together by the inevitable, ever-present element. That is " Change ".

History (past) is as essential to humanity as brain is to the body. But to tend to always live in the past is equivalent to being  continually obsessed with one's brain, failing to realize it is part of the whole body; it has a function; it is not the "whole"  body.  

Tradition and traditionalism are poles apart? Tradition embraces change; traditionalism abhors change. One is  forward moving, with eyes on front, the other is  static, with eyes on the back. One embraces change and moves with the time; the other resists change and defies the changing times.

Tradition is a living phenomenon, a flowing river, with fresh waters, ever moving and changing its course when it goes up and down the valleys, the plains and the mountains. Traditionalism resembles a stagnant pond, an an abiding obsession with the past, characterized by a pathetic indifference to the living realities, a kind of backward phenomenon.

Tradition, according to the Evangelist Charles Windall, is the living faith of a people, while Traditionalism is the ' dead faith ' of the living, a person's  fixation with the past. Tradition acknowledges change; it is healthy and leads to prosperity. Traditionalism defies change; it is sick and leads to adversity.

Allah swt swears by the Time (al-Asr) in Quran's shortest chapter, al-Kothar; in another Aya of Quran makes the significance of change manifest in these most clear and eloquent words:

"...Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves..." Qur'an 13:11






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