Perhaps one of the greatest inventions of mankind is the invention of Gutenberg printing press. Not only has it preserved many of the classics and traditional wisdom that was on the verge of extinction, it has given people the tools to create and disseminate knowledge.
What used to take thousands of scribes to compile, the press could do it in an instant. It was in the hands of the intellectuals, academics, and publishers in the beginning until the technology became too big for even that. The era of web 3.0 came along where not only anyone could publish, people could interact with them instantly.
The Stranger by Albert Camus is one of the classic French novels that many categorize as a blatant defense of existentialism. Novel’s hero is an Algerian French. Islamic Spain was long ago in history and French morals were imposed on the new colonized Algeria. Along with that, it brought the indifference and apathy that is part of European social fiber.
The story begins with the news of the demise of hero’s mother in another province. Man doesn’t show reactions to the calamity as if it was just another cadaver wrapped in coffin put into the casket. He smokes and drinks coffee and sits in front of it the whole night denying the offer to see the face.
The story goes onto to explain his coming back to work and starting an illicit relationship with a former colleague to mistakenly killing someone and denying the appeal. Finally, he denies the cleric’s plea to convert to Christianity in utter contentment with his destiny, death sentence in this case. Meursalt, the hero is portrayed as hardened, cold character for whom the progression of life comes so natural that peer pressure or public reaction seem to be of comical and childish impulse.
For him, this comes as a huge surprise that people would find his personal life and reactions so immensely aggravating that they would make a point by letting him know. His consistent inability to understand how people around him live seems to be very relevant today when one compares it with the occidental societies and literature. Gloom and doom seem to be an acceptable way of life and when it does talk about happiness, it is always bacchanalia of sin and avarice.
This complacency or apathy by any standards of literary style or decency has no precedent in Islamic literature or even eastern heritage. Ironically this has made its way into Le Monde’s top 10 0books. Jean Paul Sartre’s last-minute explanation of the book made it stand out from the rest, perhaps in his self-glorifying attempt of finding an ally for existentialism. Book has since been translated into many languages.
Eulogizing the worst of the society as erudite scholars and intelligentsia is just one of the ways web 3.0 has brought havoc on moral values and religious injunctions. To the point where Sartre himself in his book Existentialism and Humanism had to talk about so-called intellectuals who could rant nonsense in the name of existentialism. Pandora box was wide open, too late to close and French society too corrupt to fix.
One by one they buttered all demented writers the likes of which we have never seen. Some of the most obnoxious include Foucault and Flaubert etc. It is through them vile movements like feminism, heterosexuality, pornography and pedophilia became the norm in a society already heading south. This smearing of lipstick over stinking dead pig has now brought these very people to their own destruction. Le Pen is going neck to neck with other moderate candidates and if she gets elected, time of King Louis isn’t far again. Muslims would be new Jews.
The ability to feel, acknowledge and think is what characterize a human soul. Having a purpose and goals in life make human journey different from animals whose routine lives don’t follow the vicissitudes we humans go through. Pseudo-scholars and phony clerics make the ends of the societal spectrum a suffocating sandwich to live in for people who seek the truth. Navigating these waters without a mentor is bound to fail. Luckily one of the noblest traits of our faith is hope. The quest for truth with sincerity always brings people to other people who have successfully navigated the same dark forests.
The gems aren’t too rare to find. Prophet SA’s hadith should be enough for all of us wayward, looking for solace and peace.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was reportedly asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter.”