A Question of Identity

A Question of Identity

By Amreen Rehman – An MBA graduate from Pakistan’s top business school

“Roti (food), Kapra (clothes), Makan (housing) and sex! Yes, sex! These are the basic human needs of today that motivate a person to do something. Our politicians have not been successful, because they have failed to address these basic human needs. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs ignores the sex aspect…” The debate goes on in the classroom.

“Now we will watch some interactive videos that will depict human behaviour,” the teacher announces. Next, I see some advertisements revolving around nudity and sex, followed by a useless discussion on how these ads promote successful brands.

I am sitting in a marketing elective course known as Consumer Behaviour, but sex is all I’m hearing. As I look around, I see students of both genders, comfortably and casually watching, laughing and taking part in the discussion, leaving me bewildered and confused.

“Am I the only one feeling ashamed to be part of such a group? Have we lost all our values and morals?” I wonder.

I guess I’m talking about the so-called elite class of students, for whom such topics reflect confidence and boldness. What a pity that we have lost our Haya.

Islam defines Haya as modesty that beautifies our lives. “Haya, an inner control, and modesty in one’s talk are two branches of faith; while ill talk and excess talk are signs of hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi) Haya literally means ‘to be alive’, as it keeps our hearts spiritually energized.

Sadly, we have forgotten what Islam stands for. Islam is our Deen – a complete code of life – and our actions and speech should reflect this. In this very course, my teacher had clearly told us we were not allowed to discuss two topics – religion and politics. In fact, all my teachers feel Islam is just a personal matter.

I realize we receive MBA and BBA degrees at the cost of our Deen. Are we spending huge amounts of money in order to debate whether or not gay marriages should be legalized?

This is the state of education in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has made us secular, and though we excel in speaking and writing English more than an ordinary Englishman, it has taken us away from Islam.

Suddenly, my thoughts are disrupted by the sound of the bell. I slowly get up, collect my books and leave the classroom with questions haunting me: “Whatis my identity? Am I a Muslim or have I just become part of the secular class, for whom such concepts as Haya are dead?”

This reminds me of a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “Islam began as something strange and shall return to being something strange. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Sahih Muslim)

It is sad to see how far we have deviated from our Deen and have lost our identity as Muslims. In today’s world, people who act upon the true teachings of Islam have become strangers and constitute a minority. But glad tidings to the few strangers for they are the beloved ones.