The Delusion of Individualism Spreading to the Muslim World

If you thought the Muslim world was safe from the extreme individualism and hedonism of the West, think again. Westernized Muslims are pushing these destructive values in Muslim newspapers around the world. One recent example comes from Morocco World News, where Houda rants about the “cultural” emphasis on marriage and child rearing:

I have decided to write this after having gone through quite a bit of criticism over the past few months (or is it years, I don’t remember). My ideas and beliefs are apparently so outlandish that people around me feel obliged to criticize me and “wake me up” from my “delusions.” Am I an alien who needs to be taken back to its planet, or am I simply, harmlessly different?

My “unforgivable,” bizarre ideas often revolve around me trying to convince people that marriage and/or having children is not made for everybody. Marriage and procreating are first and foremost choices; choices that no single person has a say in, except he/she who wants to or does not want to get married and procreate.

We know from Allah and his Messenger ﷺ that one of Iblis’ tactics, when it comes to leading astray the human being, is to whisper things to him until he can’t differentiate between his own thoughts and the whisperings of the Devil. Here, the author is under the delusion that she is arguing for something special and unheard of when, in fact, she is just regurgitating the talking points of the noxious modernist dogmas. This delusion of choice as superseding all else is the rotten fruit of the pernicious indoctrination that we’ve all been victims of through multiple means, from secular state education to various forms of entertainment. Such ideas are shoved down our throats by the most politically dominant entity of our era, Western imperialism, and have been used as a justification to invade and colonize the Muslim world for more than two centuries. Once ideals of individual choice settle into the heart, one will inevitably start to feel disdain towards Islamic values, which do not have such a self-centered emphasis.

Society and its constituents have placed norms and constraints on our lives to the point where most of us follow the crowd, abide by many unwritten rules and bury our real desires somewhere deep down, just to fit in. Well, as much as it is a choice not to question who put those boundaries on our lifestyles and where they come from, isn’t it also a choice not to conform? Not to want what everybody else wants?

The institution of marriage is clearly a major part of Islam. Making a case against it and, thus, contributing to its decline isn’t just challenging a culture. Rather, it is tantamount to arguing against the way of life that God revealed for our own salvation and fulfillment.

Let’s clarify something. When we label a practice as “cultural,” we are merely saying that this practice can be found among this given group of people. In other words, any social practice can be labelled as “cultural.” The potential problem with such categorization is that it can detach practices from their origins, deeper meanings, and significations. We must keep in mind that ultimately “cultural practices” have their roots in the way(s) of life (Dīn) of the individuals that compose such a society. We must avoid two extremes: 1) To blindly assume that every single facet of a Muslim culture is from Islam, and 2) To blindly assume that not a single facet of a Muslim culture is from Islam. The truth is, some “cultural” practices are grounded in Islam and others are not. As Muslims, we must make sure that what is being labelled as a “cultural” practice isn’t a part of Islam before critiquing or discarding it, otherwise we are attacking Islam unknowingly. 

Yet, here we have a Muslim writer attacking marriage as a “cultural” byproduct. Is this mere confusion and ignorance? Or is it a manifestation of the colonial project to undermine Islamic values and supplant them with the liberal emphasis on individual choice at all costs?

Going back to the topic of getting married, I strongly believe that for self-made, well-established, independent human beings, marriage is not a priority anymore. A lot of people want to focus more on their personal and professional development rather than spend their time and energy on a relationship that may or may not work out in the end.

The author fancies herself unique because she is by breaking off from the herd of people wanting to get married. Ironically, the global trend is people not wanting to get married, so she isn’t unique or special at all. Nonetheless, she argues that an individualistic lifestyle is incompatible with marriage… Well, of course an individualistic lifestyle isn’t going to sit well with marriage or any kind of meaningful relationship for that matter! Prioritizing yourself over others is not a recipe for successfully connecting with other human beings. The real question is: Is an individualistic lifestyle fulfilling? Will it lead to happiness and contentment?

The answer is a resounding “No!” Human beings aren’t individualistic by psychological and sociological necessity. Our need for love and belongingness as well as many of our physiological needs require deep and meaningful relationships in order to be fulfilled. Sexual needs for example. Unless you want to live a life of sexual frustration or meaningless, debased fornication, you have no choice but to get married. The love and mercy that Allah places in the hearts of legitimately married couples are the antithesis of this individualistic pursuit of personal hedonistic satisfaction.

Ultimately, this is exactly what individualism calls towards: The perpetual repression and misdirection of our authentic human desires, e.g., for marriage, for childbearing, for loving families, etc., and the implantation of artificial desires, e.g., for career, endless personal choice, individual satisfaction, etc. Islam, in stark contrast, recognizes authentic human needs and is, thus, perfectly in line with human nature for the simple reason that Islam was sent by the One who created human nature in the first place. Allah sent guidance for our own betterment and fulfillment, fulfillment that can never be attained in the cold, desolate dystopia of modernist individualism.

“And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” Quran: 4:28

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