Man’s Duty to Live a Decent Life
“Finally, I managed to overcome the uncontrollable lust through prayers. Allah the Almighty tests us with trials and desires to let us endure and win the fight.” An honest confession was made in a recent local television programme by Jefferi Mohd Nor, a teacher who once became a transgender. Jeffrey admitted that the fight against homosexual tendencies was really hard. This highlights the importance of unconditional support given particularly from the family and society. The struggle to return to man’s natural inclination (fitrah) is a manifestation of believe and submission to the Creator as stated in Quran.
As such, Islam is called deen al-fitrah, the religion of human nature because its teachings are in full harmony with belief and supplication to the Creator. Meanwhile one of the connotations of the term al-deen comes from the root word daana, which is defined as an indebted person. According to Professor Naquib al-Attas, this is significant as man is indebted to Allah for his existence and sustenance. The debt that must be returned is his own self, and this can only be achieved through supplication to Allah. By worshipping and obeying Allah’s commands, man is fulfilling the ultimate objective of creation and existence. In this regard, if one is aware that he belongs to Allah and is forever indebted to the Almighty, he would not do things simply according to his whims and fancies. In addition, he would not claim as having self-ownership and self-determination over his body or keep insisting “My Body My Choice” as he is aware that the real owner of the self, body and soul is Allah.
Therefore, he would never do any reassignment to his God-created body upon dissatisfaction over what he has which will lead him wanting to become a different person from what he has been originally assigned at birth. Neither would he commit suicide out of failure to endure the pain from sadness and heartbreaks. A thankful servant would always be grateful for what He has given or destined for him.
Allah’s servant is also aware that man is distinguished from other creations for the intellect and free-will endowed to him. Thus, he could use these faculties to complement his fitrah and live a good life. However according to Asha’irah, one of the major theological schools of thought, it is not possible for the human intellect to comprehend good and evil unless it has been stated by the Lawgiver (Allah). Thus, what the Lawgiver perceived as good is good and what He perceived as evil is evil. A human being is incapable to understand both of these concepts without divine guidance through Allah’s revelation and His messengers. Essentially, the values and principles determined in Islam are absolute and consistent.
Unfortunately, there is a major dispute between the Islamic and western worldviews. A big part of the western society reject religion which has led to inconsistencies in the principles that they embrace with regards to what is right and wrong. On top of that, the philosophy of humanism adapted by them glorifies humanity and human freedom without religious restrictions. This philosophy gives full autonomy to man in making decisions based on his own thought and freewill.
Apart from the concepts of right and wrong, Islam also teaches the true meaning of freedom which is free from ignorance of his own self and God, his destiny, God’s purpose for his creation as well as what keeps him safe or leads him to destruction in the hereafter. Islam also teaches man that he is responsible and accountable for his actions. It empowers him to struggle against the wrong-doing of his lower self (nafs) and negative influences from social circumstances.
Undeniably, at times man would fail to control his lower self although directions and good examples have been given. However, Prophet Muhammad SAW reminds that, “Every son of Adam makes mistakes and the best of those who makes mistakes are those who repent.” (Al-Tirmizi). Therefore repentance, self-improvement and doing good deeds are applauded in Islam. These actions could be performed by enjoining good and forbidding evil as propagated by the Quran. Helping others to follow the straight path and abstaining from reprehensible acts is an expression of the meaning of brotherhood (ukhuwwah) as emphasized in Islam. The concepts of love and brotherhood include the act of saving others from oppression. This involves prohibiting others from committing sins which means oppressing one’s self and instead, leading them to the right path and attain Allah’s mercy.
It is under this spirit of love and brotherhood that JAKIM’s rehabilitation programme is implemented since 2011 for the LGBT Muslim community to assist them to live a better life. Though the programme has received unfair criticism, it has been successful to help its participants who have voluntarily took part to lead a normal life. The programme also complements Ministry of Health‘s initiative in tackling HIV/AIDS. Apart from this programme, JAKIM also holds series of dialogue session with the transgender community with an aim to help them overcome problems faced by the transgender hijrah community and to foster close co-operation among themselves.
Laws and punishment are enacted inter alia to preserve public order and rehabilitate the offenders. It is the responsibility of citizens to abide to them and ensure that their actions would not cause heightened sensitivity to the community at large. This is particularly relevant, taking into consideration the high position of Islam in the Federal Constitution, and the importance of principles of morality in our society. Adherence to rules helps to keep everything in order, and assures harmony in the society to be preserved. As what people normally says, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.