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In the Name of God بسم الله

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2 hours ago, notme said:

Can utopia exist in this life? 

Yes.

 

2 hours ago, notme said:

What would it look like? 

The government of Imam Mahdi.

 

2 hours ago, notme said:

secular views

Dystopia.

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56 minutes ago, Mohammad313Ali said:

Yes.

 

The government of Imam Mahdi.

 

Dystopia.

Please elaborate. This answer is pretty much a non-answer among Muslims. 

What would be different from now, in Imam Mahdi's government, that makes it utopian?

And can this be accomplished by regular fallible people? That's the part I really wanted to discuss. 

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39 minutes ago, notme said:

And can this be accomplished by regular fallible people?

Depends on the utopia, which at the same time depends on the thinker. In Islam there isn't an utopia defined, by the way. We have some narrations referring to the government of Imam al Mahdi, but evidently not enough to describe an utopia. And those narrations don't even pretend to describe an utopia, to be honest, but future events.

Utopias have varied in time, since Thomas Moore text. In that text, I remember there were prisoners, and there were princes and hierarchies. In today's lens, it's not an utopia at all (in the sense that we don't consider having kings and princes something "good" or socially just).

The evolution of the concept of utopias is by itself the evolution of our understanding of social justice, political structures and morality.

In that sense, do we believe people should be allowed to fail, to do wrong, to have second chances? Do we think that's just, socially good and morally right? Utopias guide us, and in that sense, this reflection pushed countries to ban death penalty in many countries (I in many cases quoted "Reflections on the guillotine", worth reading)

Regarding your question about how the world would look like, I think the answer would be pretty related to the main problems nowaday. In that sense, I love Science Fiction, because it tries to imagine future, and sometimes imagines utopias (usually using the representation of techonologically superior civilizations, with highly democratic structures and lack of hierarchies).

Nonetheless, an interesting thing we can also appreciate in science fiction is precisely the amount of dystopias. I believe that this is also a consequence of how difficult it is to imagine a better future for humanity. Our solutions to today's problems (and even our ability to acknowledge the existence and importance of these problems varies a lot). That's why it is significantly easier to imagine a dystopia, and in fact, it's most likely to take place instead of something similar to an utopia.

Problems derived from the fierce capitalist world we live in cannot find a solution within the capitalist model, and there is no way out of it. It will explode, in one way or another, and will bring some sort of global disaster (ecological, economical, scientifical or all of them at the same time).

I may be truly an idiot, but I genuinely believe that probably the best utopia is the one in which we, humans, don't exist.

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@Bakir thank you. I'm going to think on your words.

Recently I was reading a book about how humanity can survive global warming. In it, the author said that in order to achieve anything, before we can even have goals we must have a vision. Else we're constantly going to be trying to catch up. He said that in order for humanity to progress, we need a new way of seeing ourselves and our societies. 

And another thing I've been reading for the past year or two, The Expanse series. It is sci-fi set in the not terribly distant future, when humanity has spread out over the solar system to collect the resources from the other worlds. Throughout the series - and I'm not going to give any spoilers for in case there are other sci-fi readers here - we see humans who have better technology but are fundamentally the same as we always have been. The authors draw parallels between events in the stories and events in our histories and mythologies.

And that got me thinking, are we even capable of creating and maintaining a balanced, just, and equitable society? Is the striving for it the entire point of humanity? 

Edited by notme

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As salaamun aleikum,

Wow, what an interesting question!

I am mostly a realist. I look at what the reality of humans is currently, how everybody is different, at different levels of thinking and spiritual belief and in different levels of what they desire for themselves which is unfortunately sometimes at the expense of others, so I have to think that if we remain the same, then we don't stand a chance of developing a utopia.

The other thing is we don't really have the knowledge to do be truly 'just', at least I don't think so, because too many people are controlled by their ego and ego is a very selfish thing , which doesn't work well when it comes to other people and Humanity as a whole.

What we need in order to progress forward is for the entirety of humanity to take a major spiritual jump, and until that happens, im afraid we're just going to have chaos here.

Each of us is supposed to be getting ourselves right. If the world is falling apart around us, (and it is), as long as we're doing what we're supposed to be doing according to Allahs(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) rules for our lives, and then traching our children and bei g examples for others, then that's really all we can accomplish and it certainly isn't enough to create a Utopia. 

If we do just that,we WILL make things better around us, but I don't think the average human lifespan of 70 to 80 years is long enough to really move towards a lasting utopia. This would LITERALLY require every human from that moment forward to be on the same page about the goal for the long-term and in general and to be willing to call their own ego and do everything possible to forward this goal, and I just don't see that happening unfortunately.

Of course, we have a desire for Utopia which has been put there by Allah and which in sha Allah we will be granted after we die, but up until that point, really, all most of us are capable of doing is trying to keep ourselves and our immediate family in line and on siratal mustaqeem, and we all have a hard enough time doing that as it is, LOL!

Really great thought provoking question!

Thanks for asking, and I'm looking forward to people who have more outside-the-box thinking and a more positive attitude than I do myself because I know I am prone to pessimism.

W/s

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Guest Utopia

I believe that people need to take personal responsibility for their own success and happiness. 
 

Does that mean you won’t endure hardship and adversity? Of course not. But how normal your life is and wether or not you are successful in most areas have to do with you and the choices you make. 
 

I find all too often that people with defeatist attitudes will resort to “Allah didn’t will this [good] thing for me” or “this life is a test”—when they choose to not be proactive and take control of their own lives, like getting a college degree, make money, or have a good spouse or improve their living situation. They are sometimes not very driven or positive people and fault God for not letting something happen because they didn’t put in the effort. 
 

It’s like taking a difficult class and not putting in the work to study for the exam—well, it’d be no surprise that one might fail.
 

There are plenty of people who work hard, find a good spouse because they know what to look for and what they value in a marriage, have a beautiful home, and have generally good kids—all because they put in the effort. They buckled down and studied when they were supposed to, they got their MA or MS or PhD, married someone who checked all the boxes or close to it, and worked together to make a beautiful life. They saved-up money instead of splurging on immediate purchases, and used the extra disposable or saved-up money for vacations, creating businesses, or paying off their mortgage or other investments. Yet, others will get into debt or run into a myriad of other problems based on their poor choices then claim that God doesn’t want them to have a good life. 
 

Contrary to popular belief, you can have a good life—not perfect, but utopian enough—if only you work hard. People don’t always encourage hard work—many Islamic speakers will tell them, “oh settle for average because it’s Allah’s will,” or “don’t be picky choosing a spouse—so what if someone’s a loser, just get married” or “don’t concern yourself with worldly affairs—just focus on your religious religious duties.” These people have often never had to put in effort for anything. The result? A mediocre life. 

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11 minutes ago, Guest Utopia said:

It’s like taking a difficult class and not putting in the work to study for the exam—well, it’d be no surprise that one might fail.

I've observed that people who don't encounter enough hardship end up miserable, feeling like their life lacks purpose. 

On the other hand, too much hardship might lead a person to give up hope for a better future. 

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On 7/14/2020 at 8:09 PM, Bakir said:

The evolution of the concept of utopias is by itself the evolution of our understanding of social justice, political structures and morality.

In that sense, do we believe people should be allowed to fail, to do wrong, to have second chances? Do we think that's just, socially good and morally right? Utopias guide us, and in that sense, this reflection pushed countries to ban death penalty in many countries (I in many cases quoted "Reflections on the guillotine", worth reading)

I think we have to try, but necessarily can not fully achieve the perfectly balanced society. 

Star Trek is pretty close to my vision of utopia. The new series they've come out with recently are decidedly non- ideal societies, and this just reinforces my view that it must remain a goal which is never achieved. If we think we have it, we will lose it. 

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5 minutes ago, Muhammed Ali said:

And it's very different to the aesthetics and worldview that comes from this forum and from certain areas of the Muslim community. 

The aesthetics is not what I'd like to see, especially all the spandex clothing. If we all went around dressed like Vulcans, that would be pretty Islamic and comfortable. Toward the architecture, I'm neutral. 

But please elaborate on how the Star Trek worldview is different from Islamic worldview. 

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I disagree with this post and I think the thought process in it is wrong on many levels.

1 hour ago, Guest Utopia said:

I believe that people need to take personal responsibility for their own success and happiness. 
 

Does that mean you won’t endure hardship and adversity? Of course not. But how normal your life is and wether or not you are successful i

they got their MA or MS or PhD, married someone who checked all the boxes or close to it, and worked together to make a beautiful life. They saved-up money instead of splurging on immediate purchases, and used the extra disposable or saved-up money for vacations, creating businesses, or paying off their mortgage or other investments.

Firstly, I disagree with your definition of successful and beautiful life. It could be different for different people. Most of the people these days equate success to a STEM career,six figure salary ,a house in suburbs, marriage and kids, vacations. However, these are all worldly parameters. Most of the Prophets(عليه السلام),many of our scholars and certainly none of our Ahlulbayt(عليه السلام) lived successful lives if we go by this parameter. Most of them lived in very humble houses, had an extremely austere lifestyle with little to no savings, didn't go on vacations, had difficult spouses (to the point that a wife poisoned an Imam (عليه السلام)) had disobedient kids, were socially boycotted, imprisoned  and had to face hardships all their lives to put it simply. So did they not work hard enough ordid they make wrong choices?

Then man(عليه السلام) who said on his deathbed , ' by the Lord of Ka'aba I have succeeded' lived such a simple lifestyle that even the poorest of that time could afford better!  The lady who saw nothing but beauty had her whole family ruthlessly killed and beheaded in front of her. 

According to Islam a successful life isn't one where you have a big house with a swimming pool and two SUVs parked in the front. A successful day is one whee you have not done anything to displease your Lord and have struggled to gain closeness to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) Nothing wrong in having the house and cars but that brings me to the second point from your post. 

1 hour ago, Guest Utopia said:

you are successful in most areas have to do with you and the choices you make. 

Humans are often inclined to take all credit for their achievements in doing so they tend to forget God consciousness and thanking Allah. I have seen this attitude in many 'succesful' people. You bought a Range rover , Alhumdollilah but there is a possibility that the person who still drives an old Toyota might have worked harder in life than you. Maybe Allah hadn't destined as much rizq for them. 

2 hours ago, Guest Utopia said:

“Allah didn’t will this [good] thing for me” or “this life is a test”—

Thirdly, Life is a test. Even with the house and cars and vacations it is a test, rather in my opinion the test of ease is a bigger test than test of difficulty. 

I agree with you that the right thing is to be proactive about our life and work hard to improve it but 

a. Outcomes do not necessarily indicate effort. This dunya is much more complicated than that.

b. Good or bad outcomes in this world don't make any difference. Either way a person should remain humble and thankful to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). 

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Success as the Qur'an reveals is to come safely through on the Last Day.

Money is a "convenience."

Secularly, lf you have too much 'stuff' you spend all your time taking care of it. For my fellow Americans, did you ever watch people that had large yards? They spend all their time mowing and cleaning it.  And how much 'stuff' inside your home needs cleaning?

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1 hour ago, notme said:

But please elaborate on how the Star Trek worldview is different from Islamic worldview. 

Easy. Star Trek does not have a "world view", but an "inter-galactic view."

The lsIamic view as revealed, Sura lnfitar

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On 7/14/2020 at 8:24 PM, notme said:

Can utopia exist in this life? 

What would it look like? 

I'd like discussion of religious and secular views of what utopia would be. Opinions? 

There is a great speech by Imam 'Ali on this:

He says this life is trial (imtihan) in which the next life (akhirah) is earnt. He calls this life the station of action/work (dar al-amal) and the next life the station of rest (dar al-qararah). Utopia can exist in this life but it is short lived, we are all under trial and test to determine whether we are pure enough to pass into full time Utopia (Jannah). This life is like the leaves which grow and then fall off the tree turning into dust.

Quran 18:7-8

Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them [as to] which of them is best in deed., And verily! We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.).

I guess the closest thing to full time utopia is living in pure ignorance, as they say ignorance is bliss ;)

Edited by gharib570

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1 hour ago, gharib570 said:

There is a great speech by Imam 'Ali on this:

Thank you for the reminder. I'm going to go read it again now. :)

i agree with you that probably fallible humans can not live in a sustained utopia in this life. Do you think it is incumbent upon us to try to continually improve our communities, as well as our abilities and temperaments allow? 

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Of course it is

1 hour ago, notme said:

Thank you for the reminder. I'm going to go read it again now. :)

i agree with you that probably fallible humans can not live in a sustained utopia in this life. Do you think it is incumbent upon us to try to continually improve our communities, as well as our abilities and temperaments allow? 

Yes :)

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This topic is getting more interesting than I expected hahah!

@starlight made a very interesting point in which it's worth reflecting in. By definition, in an Utopia, everyone is happy. Even Thomas Moore Utopia was and is indeed an Utopia (though most of us wouldn't describe an Utopia like he did in his book) because everyone was happy, even prisoners.

In that sense, I believe there may be fallible people, there may even be punishment, and in even in that sense, it's not the craziest thing to imagine people receiving a punishment and still be happy, because they acknowledge their fault and find some sort of value in punishment.

Nonetheless, I'm very interested in questioning if there is room for Utopia within Islam. Indeed, Star mentioned that this dunya isn't made to live in it with luxury and commodities. And on that sense, we shouldn't imagine an Islamic Utopia as it could be imagined in the West (some sort of highly egalitarian, rich and entertaining society). However, in my honest opinion, that doesn't mean that it can't exist an Islamic Utopia. I would liketo imagine real Muslims living the worst tribulations as people who were genuinely happy regardless of their tribulations, in the sebse that they could find happiness in worship. I understand Islamic Utopia as a society that has factually reached that level of piety and closeness to Allah that their hearts are completely filled with happiness and love for Allah. I would like to imagine our Imams (عليه السلام) happy, regardless of their lives.

-----

In that sense, I also believe it's important to think in an Islamic Utopia, because utopias are guides for us, for the society we want to build. If there wasn't an Islamic Utopia to imagine, I wonder what sort of activism is left for us to do.

In the other sense, Islam is vitalist. We live in times in which if it wasn't because of beliefs we chose to have, it would be difficult not to be pessimistic, in the philosophical meaning of the word. That's why I formerly said:

On 7/15/2020 at 2:09 AM, Bakir said:

I may be truly an idiot, but I genuinely believe that probably the best utopia is the one in which we, humans, don't exist.

Because that's what pessimism would lead us to believe, and because there are barely solid beliefs nowaday to be vitalist (without being ignorant of the political, humanitarian, economical and environmental crimes we face on a daily basis).

The fact Islam encourages us to take action at all those levels (political, social, economical and environmental), describes a moral system, encourages us to build families and have children, it is difficult not to imagine that Islam is vitalist, and that there are goals that look for the happiness of the entire society, regardless of tribulations. I would like to believe that there is an Islamic Utopia, and that it is benefitial by itself to imagine how it should be.

In that sense, I have always admired Sci-fi, because for me it is a tangible example of the human effort to imagine a future and project some sort of hope towards it. The ability to imagine a future describes a generation. For a long time, for example, we barely had Sci-fi in the Arab world, and it had a lot to do with social pessimism and the fact that we have been tied to our past, instead of allowing us to imagine a future. That, fortunately, is changing.

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On 7/18/2020 at 6:30 PM, gharib570 said:

I guess the closest thing to full time utopia is living in pure ignorance, as they say ignorance is bliss ;)

Salam with ignorance  you can't  leave in Utopia because enjoying  & benefiting from Utopia needs full awareness  & knowledge   of everything  that after reappearance  the Imam Mahdi (aj) will give awareness  & knowledge to all humans to create a short term Utopia before judgment  day & reaching to paradise that is final & everlasting  Utopia that in other hand hell is final & everlasting of dystopia that ignorance  is like using drug just to see a glimpse  of illusion  of Utopia anyway  ignorance  just keeps you in comfort zone when you have no other option against  turmoils  of current  world.

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On 7/18/2020 at 6:30 PM, gharib570 said:

I guess the closest thing to full time utopia is living in pure ignorance, as they say ignorance is bliss ;)

Salam with ignorance  you can't  leave in Utopia because enjoying  & benefiting from Utopia needs full awareness  & knowledge   of everything  that after reappearance  the Imam Mahdi (aj) will give awareness  & knowledge to all humans to create a short term Utopia before judgment  day & reaching to paradise that is final & everlasting  Utopia that in other hand hell is final & everlasting of dystopia that ignorance  is like using drug just to see a glimpse  of illusion  of Utopia anyway  ignorance  just keeps you in comfort zone when you have no other option against  turmoils  of current  world.

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Perhaps there can be utopia for an individual who successfully alters themselves. Have no need for money and work, do not sin, live in a wood cabin, never have negative thoughts. Stuff like that. Our thoughts and feelings, our minds are after all the one thing that will determine if its a utopia or something else. But normally it can not exist. The time after establishment of the govt of Mahdi (عليه السلام) will be best ever on this planet btw.

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