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The Tragedy of the West
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

It was the middle of the sixteenth century when in the West an uprising against the sacred kingship of the Pope began. The commotion which ensued ripped apart the bulwark of the Pope's sovereignity. The Pope in his kingdom had considered himself to be the deputy of God, and had claimed that all his decrees were divinely sanctioned. Such was the might he commanded that, once, king Henry the fourth, for three days and three nights, bareheaded and barefooted implored and sought his forgiveness at the entrance of his fort in Italy, but all the king's wailings were turned down and the Pope did not even open the gates for him.

In 1517, a German Augustinian monk, Martin Luther attacked the unlimited authority of the Pope and severely criticized the falling standards of morality among the clergy and various monastic communities. The resultant upheaval was transformed into a tremendous movement called the Protestant Reformation as Zwingli, Erasmus and Calvin followed suit in other European countries. The masses leant all their support to the Reformists and the movement culminated in their victory. The Pope and his allies were humbled once and for all, and were finally confined to the Vatican.

With this victory the movement of Renaissance in the domains of knowledge and learning also reached its zenith in the West. During this era man made monumental progress in scientific thought. The world witnessed a profound period of inventions and discoveries. Man climbed the highest of summits and penetrated even beyond. His small step on the moon became a giant leap for mankind. His curiousity led him to explore the outer boundaries of space and his inquisitive nature led him to investigate the spectacular intricacies of the microscopic world. The whole macrocosm seemed to shudder from his assaults as he began to challenge the inexorable laws of nature.

The victory against the Pope and the movement of Renaissance, both were great landmarks achieved by man. Indeed the Pope's claim that man can be absolved from his sins by confessing in front of a religious authority was false and baseless. No pope or priest has any right to mediate between the Creator and His creation. Indeed the claim had to be refuted and whoever did so, did a great service to the cause of truth. The movement of Renaissance too was no less an endeavour if not more. Undoubtedly, true knowledge is the greatest asset of man, and certainly all efforts which lead to its advancement and progress are extremely commendable. But alas! In both these ventures man became a prey to extreme reactionism. He not only rejected the Pope's sovereignty but also went as far as rejecting the sovereignty of God. He totally forgot that on this earth he has been created by God, to whom he must submit in all affairs. More unfortunate was the fact that he had rejected a reality not on rational grounds but due to a prejudice and hatred blown out of proportion. He became a disgrace to the history he had just made. In this era of enlightenment outright ignorance was upheld in the West. Those in quest of the truth made all efforts to evade it when it actually came their way, something which must be regarded as the greatest tragedy of that period. Eversince four centuries have gone by, but the West has continued with this shameless attitude.

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