by Samina Naseem
Interesting claim that han! Well, born in an orthodox Christian family, brought up in a very traditional system, going church regularly and o yes! Singing in choir and participating in Christmas and Easter programs as well. My parents were blessed Christians and wanted their children to be like them too. They struggled hard to be a role model for my siblings and me. I truly appreciate their efforts and acknowledge that they didn’t fail. All of us believe in the word of God and strive to live our lives accordingly. People belonging to various faiths who belief in oneness of God, have always been against idol worshipping and there are instances stated in the Holy Scriptures where God forbids us not to worship any idol. For instance, a major part of Christian faith is based on the Ten Commandments revealed to Hazrat Musa (Mosses) by the Almighty. The Bible clearly states, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Exodus; 20:4). And I strongly believe in this commandment. Still I consider myself to be an idol worshiper. How? You will know as you read this article.
What is an idol? The three main web definitions are: 1) a material effigy that is worshipped- the religious one that I defined in the above paragraph; 2) someone who is adored blindly and excessively; and 3) paragon an ideal instance; a perfect embodiment of a concept. I would try to exemplify the second and third definition by saying that “Romanticizing places and people, materialism and loving someone” well-fit in these definitions. How these all fit to be idols? Simple none of these respond back as you expect them to. Have you ever observed anyone worshipping an idol? They just keep on sharing their wishes with the idol with a hope that it is listening and it will respond, but it doesn’t because it is an idol.
Let’s take all these things one by one. Before I do that, I think the third definition of idol is suitable for both romanticism and materialism because these both are ideal instances which we desire to have.
First, romanticizing places and people; is it idol worshipping? Yes, it is indeed. I spend so much of my valuable time thinking about the places where I have been with someone, just making myself happy about that particular time and wishing time to have stopped or may repeat it. I wish, value and pray at times more than those places, people or particular situation really require; which tends to make me forget that romanticism promotes impractical ideals and attitudes. What do I get? Hurtful memories, which many times increase my anxiety rather than comforting me. But romanticism doesn’t help and never responds because it is an idol and idols don’t wish and value what I wish and value.
Materialism, hmmm ! a desire to possess wealth and material with little interest in ethical and spiritual matters. What does this idol give me? A status quo- people in my community respect me because I have a social status, expensive car to drive, a large palace cum bungalow to live or I may end up in having nothing but some or many unfulfilled desires. Whole of my life is spent in worshipping materialism but what do I receive? A false respect that may end if I lose every material thing that I possess or a struggling life running after worldly desires. Does worshipping materialism help? No, because it is an idol and it doesn’t possess worldly desires as I do.
The last but not the least I hope; the person I love. Of course he is a human. No doubts about that. This idol fits the second definition that defines an idol to be adored blindly and excessively. I adore him and show care for him. He also likes spending time with me. I sent dozens of emails daily to tell him that I miss him and I have been thinking of him. I call him, send him text messages, and do many other things to show that I really care. But I am worshipping an idol. He never feels what I feel and he never does and says things that make me realize that he cares too. Why doesn’t that person respond? Because he is an idol and idols don’t feel and show care I as do.
I would like to share a Buddhist’s notion told by someone, not to proselytize but to support my argument. He said and I quote, “We are often the agents of our greatest misery.” Now I agree when I realize all these idols I have been worshipping and adding up to my misery.
We all have these idols in our lives and there could be many more besides these three. The reason I thought of discussing them explicitly in this article because we all need to realize that idols don’t respond no matter how much we worship them; it is a never-ending crave. We usually don’t realize the love of God for us and start worshipping idols who don’t have anything to offer in real sense. Their worship makes us more anxious and makes us realize what we don’t have rather than what we have. We can never show our gratitude to people that we have in our lives and materials that we possess. We tend to love all these idols unquestioningly and uncritically; deeply and excessively. What should we do??
While writing this article, I continuously thought about the last paragraph and what I would be doing after realizing my misery and anxiety. I am mature enough to understand all this stuff. To be honest, deep in my heart I know that I might not run after worldly materials but I would go back to that place where I dined or walked and romanticize it and I will still love that person, even though he might not respond. Believe me God knows His creation called Human well. He is gracious enough to over look our minor desires but yes, excessiveness of everything is usually damaging. Romanticizing places and people or situations or loving someone or even having desires for worldly things not necessarily add to my misery. They only do when I pay them attention more than they really deserve. WHY to pay them attention or romanticize? Because I am an idol worshipper not an idol; I have emotions and I respond.
The writer teaches at Fatima Jinnah Women Univerity, Rawalpindi and is currently pursuing a doctorate at Michigan State University, USA