Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains

Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains

The following article is written by Maleeha Sattar, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Living freely and enjoying a healthy, peaceful lifestyle is man’s fundamental, natural right, which he strives for. In comparison, almost every man living today in the urbanized centres across the globe feels intuitively the lack of freedom in his life. Undoubtedly, it is due to creating an artificial environment from which equality, reasoning, and order have been excluded to the greatest extent and enslaving a man in social, political, economic, and cultural chains. Upon analyzing the factors behind man’s imprisonment, he has been bounded by the shackles of social hierarchies, which have become the roadblock on his way towards freedom. Along with it, various cultural norms and dubious laws have added fuel to the fire, derailing the pathway of man’s freedom. Marked with negative economic practices and inequalities, man’s freedom has become a far-fetched dream in the contemporary era. Further, political centralization also becomes the cornerstone of man’s enslavement, vitiating his freedom at large. Lastly, privacy concerns due to the misuse of technology have also played a similar role in man’s subjugation, proving an anathema to his freedom. However, multidimensional reforms at all levels concerning dissent in society could help people overthrow tyranny and live a free life properly. This essay throws light on the maxim of why man is in chains everywhere when he is born free and how a man can break the chains so that he can be free.       

“Man is free. He is free to choose between good and bad. He should be encouraged to do good and should be prevented from evil acts. It is the duty of society and the state to guide him. But mind it; humans are not herds of animals that are needed to be chained at night and to be guided during grazing in the morning.”

Imam Ghazali

Before jumping towards the maxim of why man is in chains when he is born free, it is of great importance to understand the meaning of the proverb, ‘Man is born free, but everywhere is in chains.’ Indeed, the proverb gives society the message nature created every man equal in terms of social, economic, political, legal, and all statuses with equal rights to enjoy his entire life. However, society has created barriers for men just to satisfy their id, ego, and above all, self-interest. As a result, man could not succeed in his life, which is also the major reason behind the turmoil of civilizations. Therefore, there is a dire need for man should exercise general will on all fronts for the betterment of society, evident from the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who said, “People could only experience true freedom if they lived in a civil society that ensured the rights and well-being of its citizen.”

Moving forward, numerous social, cultural, legal, economic, political, and technological reasons have considered that are responsible for this state of affairs, as the chains strangling the neck of free man have not grown automatically. Talking directly about the social reasons, there are widespread social hierarchies prevailing in society. Indeed, people are divided into classes on the basis of their belonging to various castes, creeds, and races. For instance, among all other practices, the existence of a caste system in almost all countries is evident, among whom three thousand castes and twenty-five thousand sub-castes are practised in India alone. Therefore, a freely born man has now become conscious about his social status to further improve his better living standards, making him chained at the social level.

Further, every society has its own cultural norms and practices, which are solely based on a few peoples’ practices and beliefs. In fact, these norms have subjugated the common man in the cultural chains, derailing his growth in society. For instance, the early marriages’ practice in various countries, like the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and many others, is a valid case in point. Parents willingly marry their girls at an early age so that they can reduce their responsibility burden. Due to this, girls, having less education and skills, become dependent on their male counterparts for everything and cannot be able to live freely in society. Hence, girls are born free, but they owing to the hands of cultural norms chained everywhere in society.

Adding more to it, different modern states have passed some draconian laws that have snatched man’s freedom at large in today’s world. For instance, the passage of Islamophobic laws like a ban on wearing hijab and the abrogation of Kashmir status-related laws shows the infringement of human basic rights. It clearly shows the signs of a clash of civilizations, as every civilization believes in the concept of the zero-sum game instead of collectivism, in which states just focus on absolute sovereignty and totally negate the fulfilment of human rights. Thus, man, due to the formulation of such kind of laws, is in legal chains, along with a severe humanitarian crisis at hand in the twenty-first century and lost his right to life too sadly.

“When laws regulate too excessively, life becomes unbearable!”

Emil Durkeim, in his book Suicide

Next to it, there is a high level of unequal distribution of resources in countries, which chained free people economically across the globe. It is because there is clear first and third-world division across the boards, and people of the third world are highly dependent on the first-world countries due to the presence of neo-imperialistic practices in the world. Besides it, some developing states have indulged in civil wars, too, along with the overindulgence of non-state actors in them. Therefore, the world has experienced a sharp rise in chronic hunger in 2023, affecting nearly 10pc of people globally, showing the inequality of resource distribution. It shows that man who has borne free has been suppressed badly today due to the economic shackles.

Moreover, the jingoistic rule of authoritarian regimes demolishing the democratic structure of the countries has conglomerated the common man in political chains. Indeed, a person cannot think politically and choose a representative for them with consensus in such regimes. Therefore, tyranny has become the fate of such regimes; for instance, the authoritative rule of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, infringing human rights, missing persons and revenge killings of opponents, gender-based discrimination at the political stage, etc., shows man in political chains. Thus, the one man-up-ship of the leaders in such regimes has deteriorated the good governance of them, leaving free people in the hot waters of fear and aggression.

Last but not least, the Surveillance and privacy concerns among the masses have heightened due to the misuse of technology, which has chained a free man. To illustrate the issue, the Cambridge Analytica Company’s case study is valid case in point. The company has manipulated over 50 million Facebook users’ data for their company’s purposes, which has put users in a dilemma of mistrust. This shows that a man cannot rely on social media platforms and can never share his personal details on them. If he does so, he will get trapped owing to the hands of such companies. Thus, freely born man is in chains due to the new inventions in technology in the globalized era.

However, chained men can be free in the twenty-first century if some pragmatic measures could be adopted by people on all fronts. First, it could be possible by promulgating social equality in society. To accomplish this, people should follow the Khudi and Millat concept of Allama Iqbal and overthrow the racial, caste-based, and other class-based discrimination among all tiers of the country. In this way, a collaborative and cooperative society would build where every man respects each other’s dignity. Second, societies should focus on cultural assimilation practices, which fosters pluralism among the masses. Indeed, people would broaden their perspectives in this manner and focus on the adoption of some new productive practices, making man free in cultural domains. Third, the countries should reform their legal scriptures focusing on the general will while formulating the laws and inculcating basic human rights in them. Thus, people would become free in this way by the promotion of social justice at length.   

  Besides it, the countries should focus on the equal distribution of resources among people, which would help fulfil the basic necessities of the masses. Indeed, to ensure this, the countries should formulate such policies that ensure equal distribution and alleviation of poverty among people, along with a focus on peace and prosperity.  Fourth, the regulation of democratic processes across the boards would prove fruitful for the liberation of man from the chains and the development of a stable society. Verily, it could be gained by the practice of the rule of law in the country and freedom of expression for all people. Fifth, reforming the technological sector that ensures creativity among the masses and secures their privacy would help the countries to grow in all domains with freedom; otherwise, people would be reluctant to use technology and always live in fear. Lastly, people across the globe should value and respect dissent by revamping the countries’ education system, which would foster critical thinking and reasoning among people. Thus, people would become free by accepting it with the promulgation of new ideas in society. It has also encouraged by Allah in Quran:

“There are signs for those who understand and do not you understand, or hearts of you are locked up?”


In a robust diagnosis, the chains in modern society have strangled the free man socially, culturally, economically, politically, and technically. Indeed, they have marred the progress and intellectual growth of a man on all fronts. Sadly, people have faced trust deficit, extremism, frustration, and many other dilemmas due to these chains. Whereas, the chains have also tamed the lifestyle of people in some ways, as it keeps the social order and dominates peoples’ boundaries and their capacities to react and behave in the environment, but the declivities have gained weight from the productivities in today’s world. Thus, the man has deprived of his freedom in the aggressive and fearful environment.

In the long run, the absence of general will in society and support for absolutism has created an unbalanced society, which has made a freely born man difficult in today’s globalized world. Without any doubt, they are the complex chains that have derailed the growth and stability of the countries and inhibited man’s growth in society, making it a regressive one instead of a progressive one. Thus, to grow collectively, society should have to accept the democratic norms, follow the principles of unity, and implement human rights, along with new ideas by overthrowing the old superstitious thinking. In the end, these steps would help man to enjoy his freedom by breaking the chains provoking slavery mentality.

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