SHAFAQNA – As the dust settles on a weekend of Arba’een marches across the world; London successfully staged two of it’s own processions- the eternal flame that is the Hussaini movement supported by thousands undoubtedly now lives on in the West too.
They say you can never kill an idea. No amount of weapons, strategic planning or wealth can destroy a thought, a virtuous principle or a vision. So it follows that ‘Hussainiyat’ as an ideology of virtue ethics is indestructable but what about the idea of Yazeediyat?
Is it dead or alive?
Neoliberalism may well be yet another slice of evidence; beyond the obvious cruel despots dictators and imperialists, that Yazeediyat does indeed also still live on in a new modern Western guise. Neoliberals are arguably the 21st century’s most dangerous reincarnation of oppression; rebranded, rejuvenated and revitalized by history’s perennially ever-present money lenders. One only need look at the moral relativism of the West to realize something has gone seriously wrong within its much vaunted ‘first world’ self-labelling civilization.
If the idea of Yazeediyat is reborn as neoliberalism then how is it manifesting itself given most people won’t even have heard the term? How is it operating ? Who are its devotees and what are its goals?
A major impediment to secular society’s understanding of the sacred and spiritual nature of Hussainiyat is arguably due to the way most Westerners have been trained to learn and absorb information.
Just as Yazeed and his father Muawiya set about covertly and overtly undermining the virtue ethics principles, established by the Ahlulbayt, so too does neoliberalism today. Concepts or information which contradict the doctrine, dogma and belief system of the West’s most pernicious new ‘religion’ can offer us the clue to identifying the modern day Yazeediyat. For neoliberalism is indeed a religion in all but name. It has an ideology – hyper capitalism; and a priesthood – the plethora of lobbyists from Douglas Murray to Majed Nawaz and politicians from Michael Gove in Britain to Donald Trump in the United States.
This narcissitic new faith also has its places of worship – the mega shopping malls and banking institutions worldwide, and it has its false gods too; pop culture celebrities ranging from sports icons to music divas.
It boasts a pernicious dogma and doctrine too – individualism, hyper capitalism, ethical relativism, neo feminism, democracy, gender fluidity, evolutionism, scientism and islamophobia for starters. It’s narratives have ripped apart the Church even further, bought off politicians, taken firm control of much of the global economy and fuelled the exponential rise of the industrial military complex. All this at a rate unparalleled in the previous century.
Its pervasive culture seeps into every lever of power and has effectively rewritten the West’s morality codes and undermined its ethical fabric.Yet ask the average man on the street and he will not even know it exists. Therein perhaps lies neoliberalism’s most cunning achievement – it’s invisibilty. What could be more powerful than a movement that pervades and dictates all areas of our life but cannot be identified?
Humans have been programmed to think the way we think. We don’t all think the same because we’ve been programmed into believing layers of lies and misinformation, to divide families, communities and nations into multiple factions or “identities”, while being subjected to “tribal” conditioning, thereby ensuring that we never engage with the “other” to understand why our beliefs and attitudes differ.
To understand modern Yazeediyat we need to move out of the comfort of our social circle to explore other perspectives to gain deeper understanding of reality.
We are like the blind men of Indostan trying to describe an elephant but each “sees” (by touch) a different part of the beast.
We’re not listening to the “other” to understand the nature and effect of the political economy from their perspective before deciding we know how the world works. Once we’ve made up our minds, we brook no argument. We are engaged in multiple levels of binary groupthink telling each other, we have the answers but all the while we are arguably just victims of the structural elites neoliberal social engineering programme.
Another reason we are easily managed is that our perspectives are so narrow that we can only absorb so much information, particularly if we attempt to look beyond “authorised” sources. No one mind can absorb, sift, analyse and synthesize sufficient information to get a grasp of part of the system, let alone the whole because there are numerous hidden influences and connections at work. To “see” the modern form of Yazeediyat and it’s political economy, we need multiple perspectives to understand the nature and workings of the political economy. The only way to cover sufficient ground to gain these perspectives is through self-organised, co-creative learning.
As succesive Muslim civilisations built on the original Yazeediyat template, emerging knowledge became the preserve of the ruling elites in societies and those in their service (priests, scribes. tax collectors etc.) Just as it did in the West. Later, the establishment of compulsory schooling segregated and trained humans to fulfil different roles in the political economy but not to question authority nor what we are taught- both religious and secular instititions have done this.
Yazeediyat and its Muslim imperialism did all this contrary to the spirit of Islam; restrained only by the personification of the Holy Quran by the Ahlulbayt (a).
Our modern day servitude (as “domesticated cattle”) is self-imposed through fear and ignorance; we scoff at the beliefs of traditional “primitive” peoples, ignorant of what made those societies thrive – the glue of fitri co-creative learning. We are divided and conflated through ignorance of the “others”’ perspective especially the Divinely inspired variety. We may scoff at others but we’re in the same or even worse state than Etienne de Boetie’s contemporaries when he wrote Discourse on Voluntary Servitude 500 years ago.
Competition is the founding principle of the current political economy and, for us, it starts with compulsory education – standards, testing and grading – and continues throughout our lives.
Control of how we think is the primary “domesticating” force. In the same way as we train pets and working animals, we are incentivised and penalised to yield to authority in many ways.
Thought is the last kernel of freedom that the political economy seeks to expunge from humanity using the levers of power controlled by the few.
The current Yazeediyat mimicking hierarchy and the usurious political economy they control the masses with should be our focus as Hussaini social justice activists. For it is arguably the root cause of our own modern day albeit unwitting pledge of allegiance to neoliberal Yazeediyat; and inevitable worldly enslavement is the price we pay for our socio-political blindness to its growing insidious power.
By Syed Mohsin Abbas for Shafaqna – Television Producer, Broadcaster and Journalist with over 25 years experience working as an independent for the BBC, Channel 4 and many other international television and radio broadcasting corporations. Currently establishing a British-focused Muslim community development Think Tank.