We’re all in search of a community, whether we realise it or not. A place to belong. Community starts as our family, friends, relatives and neighbours. This is not something we chose, we were born into it. If lucky, we were part of a nurturing and kind environment, which instilled a sense of belonging.
As we grow older though, this changes. We start to pick at things, we may take some of these relationships for granted. Maybe it’s no longer what we want, it’s a bit claustrophobic, we need a bit of time or space to develop our own identity. This might mean moving away to study or work elsewhere.
In some cases we may return home with a greater appreciation for what we left behind. That separation creates a sense of longing for what once was. For others, they’ve branched out now and there’s no return. They’ve found something they want to build on, a new life, work oriented or with people who they’re starting to call friends. A new journey has begun.
Yet is any of this new life community centric? In the modern world it feels like we’ve lost a lot of what community was meant to be, we’re essentially living independent lives and coming together for short periods of time for a specific purpose like work or socialising.
Who do we call on when we have struggles? When we need help? Will those people at work help with personal problems? Will those social buddies give us a loan when we need it? More than ever we’re surrounded by a density of people yet loneliness and depression is at all time highs.
It is not clear that the modern way of living has created a greater sense of community than what we once new, what we grew up with. What evolution provided for us. So what’s the solution? How do we get back to something more meaningful and connected in the way community was meant to be?
Religion was brought forth as a form of guidance and unity for people, a way to remind us why we are here and how to act accordingly. In the case of monotheism and more specifically the Abrahamic chain of revelations, God revealed to us that he is the one and only God, the creator of everything, and that we are here for a purpose, to worship him alone. This life is a test, a test of our faith, our moral character, our goodness, kindness and charity for others.
Life is to be lived in attempting to do as much good as possible, to help others, to take care of the poor and needy and to earn our place in the ever lasting paradise, Jannatul Firdaus. Religion teaches us this, Islam codifies this into a basic set of five pillars; shahada, salah, zakat, ramadan and hajj. The five pillars are key to living a good and meaningful life, one that’s inline with what God has set out for us. These pillars of Islam were established by the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Islam emphasises the community at the heart of everything, the Ummah as it’s called in Arabic. Regardles of race or geographic location, we are one people, with a singular believe in “la ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah”, there is no god but God, and muhammad is the messenger.
Community in Islam strongly emphasises brotherhood amongst believers, over kinship, tribes, race or anything else. There is respect for everyone, kindness is shown to everyone, but we prioritise the Ummah and the most needy first and foremost. In the case of Islam, we believe it’s a reminder of what came before, what was revealed to Jesus, Moses and Abraham. We include Christians and Jews in our community. The term Muslim means, one who submits to God, and so those who believe in the one true God and worship God alone are included in the Ummah.
So if this is community, why does most of humanity still feel so lost? It is because we are not truly living like one Ummah. We continue to separate ourselves based on our differences, our wealth, our status, our nationalities. We have forgotten what it means to be a global Muslim community.
The world has evolved since the days of the prophet Muhammad, it has changed, it is now driven by technologies that could not have even been imagined back then. Modern day living is encompassed in screens and consumption of media for hours on end. There have been countless wars all for wealth and power, millions have suffered so that nations can demonstrate strength and create barriers between the people. Enough is enough. Somehow we must reclaim our Ummah, our community. Somehow we must get back to global unity and overcome these heinous atrocities.
We are being blinded to the truth of why we are here. And once we come to understand that, we’ll be able to rebuild our community at a global scale.