In direction of Knowing Custom And Modernity| Countercurrents

Initial of all, I consider we need to not categorize custom and modernity as special or contradictory terms. We can’t connect with any tradition as only (or completely) a custom, devoid of modernity. For case in point, when Islam emerged as a new faith in the entire world, it turned down most (if not all) the preceding existing traditions and offered/evolved alone as a harbinger of present day traditions. Let me elaborate on this. Islam rejected slavery. It prohibited racial discrimination. It launched the concept of gender justice or equality. It mandated Muslim state or military to deal with Prisoners of War (POWs) with humanity – therefore laying the foundations of intercontinental humanitarian regulation. It produced alms offering (Zakaht) as just one of the five fundamentals of Islam. It did not permit concentration of prosperity. It talked about the rights of labourers. Prophet Muhammad said that the wages of labourers should really be paid before their perspiration dries. It was a innovative idea, a forerunner of Marxism. Therefore, it can be stated that the central principle of this new faith, i.e., Islam, was welfare of all human beings. Nicely-currently being of humanity was at the core of the new religion. A Muslim was obliged to assistance any one who is in distress – no make a difference regardless of whether he or she is a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian, a Parsee or a Buddhist. All these values and precepts were being revolutionary, present day, and remarkable for their moments. In fact, it is these immortal and infallible traditions which have created Islam related for all times and area. In the light of this comprehension, therefore, we must not compartmentalize the concepts of custom and modernity and deal with them as mutually exclusive. They are complementary to just about every other and at times can be addressed as two sides of the very same coin.

It ought to also be acknowledged that we are not able to categorize what is custom and what is modernity. Recently I was reading through a report on northeast Indian traditions. North east India has a substantial number of Christian communities. The youth of these communities are blindly borrowing or imitating Western thoughts/lifestyles, Western music, and so forth. They like to see Western movies and new music films. In the approach of reworking on their own as contemporary people, they are disregarding their personal abundant indigenous cultural traditions of music, dance and mannerisms and existence.

Sometimes the principle of modernity seems as a paradox. It is extremely hard to say no matter if a specific custom is modern-day or not. For case in point, some a long time back I frequented Channakeshava temple, a 12th century temple at Belur, near Hasan town in Karnataka, India, which was produced by renowned Hoysala ruler, Vishnuvardhan. The most extraordinary characteristic of this temple is the existence of 38 bracket figures of ‘Madanikas’.  Lovely, pensive, playful and amorous, just about every figure is full of feminine grace and allure.  Also, there are 365 pictures of ladies delicately carved out in stones. Every single girl has a distinct hair fashion. That signifies that every day of the 365 times of a calendar year there is a exclusive hairstyle. Is not this tradition fashionable or timeless? This must be recognized in the context of mushrooming attractiveness parlours specializing in hairstyles in the contemporary instances.

These times we at times mistakenly comprehend that adopting a contemporary tool or machine is modernity. For example, employing fax, mobile cellular phone, internet, sending mail by internet, observing television, or traveling by airplanes is deemed as indications of modernity. It is not stunning to see that some of the ulemas (spiritual scholars) in India are presently accepting the validity of sending SMS, email, or fax concept for divorcing one’s spouse! Lots of Indians residing in international nations around the world are sending divorce messages by way of email or SMS to their wives. 1 really should ponder no matter whether divorcing a spouse via teleconferencing or internet chatting is contemporary or regular. The thought or the provision of dissolution of marriage of incompatible couples is a modern-day plan, as two of the world’s key religions – Hinduism and Christianity – did not allow divorce until recently. What is modern is not the use of modern technological know-how for dissolving relationship but the idea of dissolution of marriage or building marriage as a agreement (indicating the agreement can be terminated at any time) released by Islam which is contemporary.

Several traditions have stood the check of time. They have proved to be timeless values – helpful for all occasions. For occasion, Indians have been greeting each and every other by declaring “Namaste” – by folding equally hands. This signifies that he/she wishes the perfectly-currently being of or peace upon the other. Folding of hands represents that he/she does not have a weapon. Equally, in the Western lifestyle people greet just about every other by shaking fingers. This also signifies that they do not have weapons in their palms. Muslims greet just about every other by declaring Assalamu alaikum or merely Salam, meaning peace be on the other. Jews have been greeting each and every other by uttering “Shaloom”. Soon after prayers, Muslims say “Amin” and the Christians “Amen”. If some tips, values, and traditions are universally acceptable and followed in our working day-to-working day daily life they are simultaneously traditions as nicely as modern-day methods. You cannot categorize them purely as traditional or modern procedures. These terms are interchangeable. However, in the title of continuing traditions we are unable to take ‘sati’ in contemporary times as a present day price. The apply of Sati was neither modern when it was very first practiced nor it can be viewed as so currently, due to the fact it is a felony act as you are denying the right to existence to a widow. It is not a worth. It is not beneficial. It is only a superstition that if a widow gets cremated together with her partner she is sent to heaven by God. The traditions which are scientific, advantageous to humanity can be ongoing or followed in contemporary situations. It is gratifying to note that even today Japanese do not make it possible for individuals to enter restaurants with sneakers or chappals. Typically Hindu religion and Buddhism does not allow for its followers to enter the kitchen area with footwear as they carry grime and microbes. This Japanese apply can be regarded as the two as a symbol of custom and modernity. Thus, it becomes crystal clear that any value, principle, custom which has an element of reality, welfare of mankind, based on scientific process or rationality, and not dependent on superstitions is a “tradition of modernity”.

Western nations and their individuals are struggling with many social and political crises. Western nations/peoples have been placing too a great deal emphasis on specific rights. They in no way pressure about the legal rights of “others” or to use the other phrase, “duties”. The oriental societies of Asia and Africa connect good value to the traditions of respecting the legal rights of many others, elders and small children. They lay good anxiety on the importance of obligations towards mothers and fathers, elders, women, society or even nation. 1 could possibly inquire a concern: how can the Point out agree to assume obligations towards folks who, for their section, take no obligation, no responsibility, in regard to the local community and the Point out? It need to be acknowledged that rights simply cannot be abstracted from responsibilities the two are correlated. In other text, human legal rights are not rights only. They are also duties and both equally are interdependent. In point, each and every human ideal has a corresponding responsibility with regard to the legal rights of some others. Furthermore, emphasis on unbridled individualism has led to most of the present-day troubles in Western societies. Rather of chatting of the legal rights of an particular person (which is summary) we ought to communicate of the rights of folks, as in accordance to R. Panikkar, a philosopher from Spain, “the specific is an isolated knot whilst a man or woman is the overall fabric all over the knot. … Absolutely, devoid of the knots the net would collapse but with no the internet, the knots would not even exist.” A human being lives in the spouse and children, society, team and group. His/her rights and duties change at various levels of their lives. It need to be noted that a single of the good reasons for the breakdown of marriages in Western cultures is disregard of duties in direction of the other wife or husband and supplying precedence to his or her rights more than the obligations to one’s daily life lover.

These times, lots of newspapers of India are reporting the fatalities of quite a few youths who died due to the fact they were sporting headphones and listening to music even whilst crossing streets or railway traces. They could not hear the horns of motor vehicles due to headphones and died because of to accidents. Putting on headphones and listening to songs from iPads or cell sets has become a indication of modernity or a fashion. Working with fashionable gizmos for communication is modernity. Now we are expected to deliver messages, letters via emails, faxes, or SMS. This is modernity. We should not hope to ship letters by way of pigeons as was carried out in medieval situations. This is absurd.

Consequently, to conclude the transient discourse on custom and modernity, we can say that any custom is contemporary which is valuable to humanity and is premised on rationality and scientific principles, welfare of men and women and modern society. To begin with Muslims were hesitant to use microphones for stating Azan. But now they have approved it as modern day to use it for calling for prayers. In Kerala there is a large hurry by Western patients to get treatment for their ailments by way of regular medication, i.e., Ayurveda. Muslims in India use Unani medicine, which was traditionally applied by Muslim rulers. Unani (Greek) medicines are based mostly on herbs. Greeks have forgotten that the Unani process of medication is their discovery.  Ayurvedic and Unani medicines are employed by men and women in India in contemporary moments, as they do not have adverse aspect results. Consequently, traditions and modernity can co-exist. They enhance every other. They should really not be witnessed as contesting each and every other. When we interrogate many traditions, they arise as timeless values ready to serve mankind.

Abdulrahim P. VIJAPUR is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at University of Science and Engineering, Meghalaya. He was Professor of Political Science (1998-2020) at Aligarh Muslim College. He was also Viewing Professor in Human Legal rights Scientific tests in Jawaharlal Nehru College. He has been a Browsing Professor to ICCR (Indian Council of Cultural Relations) Chair at the Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada (2013-14). He also taught for a semester at South Asian University for the duration of 2014. All through 2005-2007, worked as Professor, Ford Foundation Endowed Chair in Dalit Reports at Jamia Millia Islamia. For the duration of 1996-1999 he was Director, Centre for Federal Reports, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi.

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