Do people possess choice? What is choice? How do you define it? Is it having the capacity to decide between two different things? Or is it the availability of more than one different thing?
Free will is the ability to choose between different actions and beliefs.
But what motivates free will? What compels an individual to make a choice?
Interests which emanate from the human instincts compel the intellect to decide between different options- for the purpose of satisfying those interests (instincts).
Therefore, all decisions are based upon interests. Controlling someone’s interests will therefore control their decisions. Having a monopoly on the means of satisfaction, is having a monopoly on peoples decisions.
The sentence ‘’I had no choice’’ – does not mean the individual was denied alternatives, but rather, the alternatives available carried an ‘interest cost’ to themselves which they judged not as beneficial when compared with their primary interests.
When someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to give him your money, he did not physically compel your arms to go into your pockets and produce your wallet. Rather, he offered you a choice; one choice carrying an interest loss (losing your wallet) and the other, non-compliance, which carries another interest loss (death). An individual may believe that handing over their wallet contains an interest loss more significant their death, for example loss of honour and esteem. They may choose death over dishonour. Others may value their lives over their honour and money. usually it will depend the individual and circumstances, whether he makes one choice or the other.
Oppressive regimes do not take away choice; rather they compel people through threat of significant interest loss, should individuals not choose to comply. Some threats involve different interest losses than others.
These can range from denying luxuries and social interaction (prison), unpleasant physical experience (torture/beating) or just termination of one’s life (execution).
In the west, the conception of ‘freedom’ is merely an illusion, since humans possess free will in any given society. Rather, it should actually be said, that merely the structure of state control in the west is arranged differently then other types of government. This difference manifests itself in how western society uses interests as a means of control.
Although the western states prevent threats to some interests, like murder, rape and paedophilia, it does not prevent the causes which motivate people to choose extreme actions against their fellow humans. For example, by permitting a unorganised social system, and liberal approach to the portrayal of women, combined with alcoholic consumption, has led to a high rate of infidelity. In return, Infidelity has led to high rates of violent ‘crimes of passion’ between couples. The injustice felt by the betrayed individual may outweigh their concern against the consequences of state legal retribution when they take justice in their own hands.
The reason is, because humans have more interests than the western philosophy caters for or protects. The right to family, fidelity, intellect, adequate wealth and abode are neglected interests that are the interests of man that naturally arise.
For example, by unleashing interests in the need to acquire wealth, and leaving it unregulated, oppression is created as the wealthy (strong) attain (buy) and financially maintain (secure) these natural interests, at the expense of denying others.
The weak that cannot attain these interests, neither secure them or maintain them; then they are placated with the slogan that they are ‘free’ to choose to attain these interests if the choice were made available to them! Just see how much freedom you have, when you have no money.
The problem is that the reality is quite different, they may be free (in principle) to make a choice between alternatives, but they are not free if they are denied alternatives they cannot afford (like better health care for one!) but that which they need (as humans).
Western ‘liberty’ is merely a reactionary ideology against feudalism. Freedom to become wealthy (freedom of ownership) was a reaction against social barriers imposed on serfs.
Freedom of expression and belief and personal freedom was a reaction against church domination and control.
The American war of independence was against Britain because of Britain’s unfair (economic) interest control which was ‘against liberty’ – even though Britain was a renown libertarian state at that time! Despite that, the Americans soon adopted the same economic system that had led them to rebel against Britain in the first place.
Interests control decision
It is the absence of cost that determines whether a choice is free, not the absence of force. Any choice which carries a cost is not free – and most decisions are not free from a cost. In the West, there is no absence of leverage, consequence to one’s interests, and lack of accountability in actions. In fact, the permissive nature of Western society has caused oppression to manifest in new forms, other than merely the threat of government retaliation. Although the existence of government and its application in the West, still means that state control of Freedom exists, leaving the notion of free society a polite euphemism and best, and a dangerously misleading affectation at worst.
Islam does not protect the right to choose everything, but rather it protects the ‘fountain of choices’; the natural interests of man (human nature or ‘fitra’). Islam prevents people from choosing against the natural interests of themselves and their fellows – which is the purpose of man – to worship his lord via fulfilling his natural interests in the manner ordained by God, because it pleases God.
Islam allows and facilitates man to pursue his true interests- worship and pleasure of Allah (swt), not material benefit for it’s own sake.
‘Masalaha’ (i.e. interest) in Islam is that which benefits the individual in the hereafter (the true enlightened self-interest!). Something done for the sake of this world, will not benefit the individual in the next life and therefore is considered against (Islamic) ‘maslaha’ even though the action may bring benefit to the individual in this life.
Let us choose to make a choice to worship Allah (swt), establish Islam on earth and take Islam as the way of life that forms the best alternative of mankind, in this life and the next.
Let us not sup from the false gods of western ideology, but rather worship the One God who sent us the Prophet Muhammed (saw) to liberate mankind from subservience to people and their interests, by giving us guidance that enables true human self-realisation and fulfilment of our created purpose. That indeed is the true freedom.
“Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.” [Quran 7:157]