WE are living in the age of institutionalisation where all development activities such as education, health, economics, shelter and food distribution for a society are handled by the institutions concerned. These institutions are formed through a structured system because an individual cannot carry out these functions alone.
They provide an opportunity to a wider set of people to be consulted to reach decisions, and thereafter try to implement them to get the required purposes.
Islam supports the idea of joint efforts for good purpose, enjoining believers to cooperate in the matters of righteousness (Al-birr and Taqwa) and not to cooperate in the matters of sin and transgression (5:2).
Joint efforts under the umbrella of an institution makes it easy to achieve huge goals. It is the best way to address the challenges of life jointly rather than individuals trying to resolve problems all alone. It is also proved in history that human society makes progress through strong institutions. Therefore, every nation forms a number of institutions to serve their masses and the success of these institutions is the success of a nation.
Pakistan’s development rests on the strength of its institutions.
In the present era where an individual’s voice mostly remains unheard in the corridors of power, the voice of an institution becomes stronger; the institution’s voice forces powers to heed the people’s demands. Therefore, no power can dare to ignore them. However, an institution needs to be strong for this purpose.
This is a time when there are a number of issues under discussion in Pakistan, such as the role and responsibilities of institutions in nation-building. How do institutions — families, schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, markets and civil society institutions — function well for modern society?
It is certain that no institution makes progress nor supports the masses without having specialised knowledge of the area of its endeavour. Therefore, every institution should make special efforts to equip itself with special knowledge to make progress and become stronger to support the masses.
Every institution exists and functions according to its mandate. Just as the family is the basic unit of society and has a mandate to nurture its offspring and develop them into valuable citizenry to benefit society, an educational institution has the mandate to generate and transmit knowledge, skills and cultural values in a systematic manner while health institutions are responsible for the wellness of the people.
These institutions should be aware of their mandate and follow it in a true spirit. They should have the courage to do what the mandate requires them to do without hesitation. In Islam, every individual as well as institution is answerable to Allah. Since all that we see and do resonates in faith, no institution can function well if it ignores the ethics of faith.
An individual’s life is short, while an institution’s life is long. They are founded to exist over a long term though they change themselves according to the demands of the times. They can enhance their importance by performing their tasks befittingly. They need to be guided through collective wisdom continuously by seniors, or in other words, supported by the spirit of engagement, dialogue and consultation to spearhead the development of society.
The development of Pakistan rests on the strength of its institutions. If the institutions are strong, imbued with a sense of service and committed to carrying out their mandate, Pakistan’s position in the world as a nation would shine. It is therefore essential that we build and strengthen institutions that can lead us down the path of prosperity and development. Our past history of over 70 years has shown that one of Pakistan’s predicaments is weak institutions. We need to do something to address this.
The key aspect of an institution’s existence is to help people who are facing economic difficulties or health problems or are in a dispute with their families or communities. It is also critical for the institution to keep the ethics of our faith on top of their agenda — that they are answerable to Allah for all their activities. Allah is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. He is so near and close to our jugular vein that no moment of life can escape His watchful presence. He watches us all through our life. We get all our energies from Him and then have to account for our deeds.
In Islam, no human institution is perfect. Everyone has limitations in terms of time, resources and capacities. Therefore, expecting perfection from any institution would be unjust. However, under-performance in discharging functions is not allowed. The masses should monitor and support them in reaching their goals. They should also guide them when an institution transgresses from its path.
The writer is an educationist.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2021