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Old Friday, December 19, 2014
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Thumbs up Confronting fear (Islamic View)

WE live in an ocean of fear. Practically every citizen women, men and children experiences fear many times in life, while some live in constant fear.

What makes us afraid and how do we confront our fears? A person is usually afraid when his survival, objectives, ideals and interests are threatened. This makes him nervous as well as alert to face the threat.

Fear can strike at any time, at any place and in any manner. The Holy Quran, while describing the descent of Adam to earth, indicates that fear is perennial to human life. However, there is a divine promise for those who abide by holy guidance, that they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve (2:38).

There are a number of factors, real and imagined, that heighten our fears. These include loss of job and loved ones, disease, animosity, war, violence and natural calamities etc. However, our modern lifestyles have also added a number of factors that contribute to our fears and anxieties. For example, with news channels airing harrowing stories of violence and conflict, people's sense of fear and insecurity is heightened.

It is a fact that insecurity in our society is a major cause of fear. People feel insecure around the clock at their places of residence, employment and worship, on the roads and in bazaars etc. In other words, constant fear is robbing the joy of living.

The element of fear intensifies when society lives haphazardly, the rule of law loses its value and public servants fail to meet their responsibilities.

In the contemporary scenario, the element of fear is at its peak in Pakistan; our society is awash with guns while the climate of intimidation and obscurantism thrives. A morbid mindset prevails everywhere. Human life and respect carry little weight, and resultantly fear has become the order of the day.

Those responsible for providing security to common citizens have failed in their mission. Even the elites, who manage to hire the services of private security agencies, are not safe. In fact, the mushrooming numbers of private security agencies is reflective of the poor state of law-enforcement agencies.

In such a situation, what do religious teachings have to say? For one, there are certain universal principles which show us how to confront fear.

If one tries to dispel misunderstandings in society, it allows us to replace fear with hope. Besides, principles like simplicity and keeping a low profile, avoiding pomp and show and trying to create amity with all are important. But above all we must turn to our Creator to defeat fear, as He gives security and sanctuary to a believer if he or she has faith in Him.

Indeed, the government and institutions have a duty to provide a safe, secure and enabling environment to citizens. But there are also steps people can take on a personal level to help deal with fears and anxieties caused by insecurity.

People should try and connect with the Creator to generate a constant feeling of Allah's presence in their life. These feelings would have a major impact in creating inner peace.

We have a historic example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), who undertook a journey to Yathrib (Madina) for migration. The Makkans deputed the trackers to trace the Prophet (SAW) and when a tracker tried to trace his footprints, he came near the mouth of the cave Thaur, the place where the Messenger was temporarily staying along with his companion. Despite the tense situation, as mentioned in the Quran, said that, "...Don't grieve; Indeed Allah is with us" (9:40).
Allah, though invisible to the physical eye, is the ever-present reality of the universe. It is for us to realise His presence.

This realisation can lead to feelings of inner peace and security, and can strengthen one's character so that one can take on the many challenges modern life throws at man.

An ordinary citizen visits the bank to withdraw cash or returns home late at night or travels to some risky place indeed all such situations make one fearful. But having faith in Allah with a conscious feeling of His presence provides a person with the courage to confront all kinds of fears.

Among the beautiful names of Allah includes Al-Hafiz, one who provides protection and guarantees safety and security. Therefore, we must have faith in the fact that the Creator is watching over us.

A person who lives in constant fear may not be able to contribute to the uplift of society. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to be aware of God`s presence and rely on Him to protect us and dispel our fears.

By Amin Viliani: The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
"But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail." _Shakespeare, 'Macbeth')
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