Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (2)

Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (2)

The Islamic World View

The concept upon which the Prophet of Islam founded his religion is that all of existence has been created by the One God, and that every one of the parts of existence is directed by God towards the perfection and happiness peculiar to that part. Man also, who possesses eternal life, is directed towards the happiness and welfare peculiar to his nature; and this he gains by following the path shown to him by God.

The Holy Prophet addressed his message to natural man, that is, man endowed with human nature and God-given intelligence and will who is not tainted by superstition and blind belief. Such an individual with his God-given primordial nature has the innate capacity and ability to apprehend the above- described worldview.

With the slightest reminder, he naturally understands that the world in its vastness and grandeur and its perfect arrangement and order is the creation of a transcendent Creator whose infinite Being is the source of every beauty and perfection and who is above all ugliness and evil.

Such an individual understands that the creation of the world and its inhabitants was not without meaning and purpose; that the life of this world will be followed by another life, and that the good and bad actions of this world will not go unanswered for. And as a result he understands that there must be a way of life peculiarly suited to the needs of man which will enable him to live according to his own real nature. Islam's choice of natural and primordial man as the object of the religious message has several basic results:

1. The Principle of Equality

The Islamic teachings apply to all. There is no distinction between black and white, man and woman, noble and humble, rich and poor, king and beggar, strong and weak, eastern and western, learned and ignorant, old and young, or between those who are present and those who will come in the future, for all of these share human nature and that which it implies in common. Equality of this sort is limited to Islam; other ways, each in its own measure, have certain discriminatory principles.

For example, Hinduism distinguishes fundamentally between Brahmins and non- Brahmins and between man and woman; in Judaism a distinction is made between the children of Israel and the Gentiles, and in Christianity between man and woman. As for secular social systems, in these there is a distinction between subjects of a country and foreigners. It is only Islam which considers humanity as one and has uprooted completely the principle of distinction and discrimination. "O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct."(1)

"Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another."(2) That is, male or female, you are all of the same human status.

2. The Principle of Realism

In view of the fact that man is provided with the instinct of seeking reality and of discerning between the real and the unreal, the laws and injunctions laid down by Islam are based upon a correspondingly realistic view of things. This can be explained as follows: Although man in his natural activity is stimulated towards his vital goals by feelings and emotions, he in fact sets out after real goals, not illusion, and fantasy.

The newly born baby who cries in his hunger and reaches for his mother's breast in search of milk desires that which is milk in reality, not the illusion of milk; he cries from real hunger, not from fantasy and imagination. Every individual who strives in the way of achieving his own interests seeks his own real interests, not their mental concept. In the same manner when feelings and emotions present certain desires to man, and without being able to take into account his true best-interest stimulate him toward certain goals, it is the faculty of discrimination or reason which harnesses and modifies these emotions and shows to man that which is in reality the good and the evil and the rightness and the wrongness of his action.

It is reason, moreover, which forbids the sick person from eating harmful foods although he wishes to eat them; it is reason which prevents man from entering upon dangerous activities, hence depriving him of a large part of his freedom of action; it is reason which is man's single superiority over other animals, and his most important faculty for distinguishing the real from the illusory.

The laws and injunctions brought by the Prophet of Islam are based upon a realistic view of things, not upon the whims and fancies of men. That is to say that man must perform that action which is really and truly in his best interest even if it is against his fancy; and he must avoid that action which he feels like performing but which is not in conformity with his real interests. The case of the religious community is the same: it must accomplish what is truly in its best interest and what is in conformity with its felicity, even though this act may be contrary to its wishes; it must not perform that action which is the wish of the majority of its members but which is contrary to its true interest.

In the language of the Holy Quran that which is in conformity with reality or with man's true best interest is called "The Truth" (Al-Haqq). It is the single goal towards which man must direct his endeavor and after which he must strive. "After the Truth what is there saving error?"(3) “And if the Truth had followed their desires, verily the heavens and the earth and whosoever is therein had been corrupted".(4)

An almond nut which is placed in the ground under the necessary conditions will after a few days break its skin, and a green shoot will come forth from its kernel as well as a number of roots which are put forth in various directions; by way of the roots the shoot will take continuous nourishment from the ground and will constantly grow and develop until ultimately it becomes a fully grown almond tree with trunk, branches, leaves blossoms and fruit.

The sperm of an animal placed in the womb of the female of the species under particular circumstances will assume the form and shape peculiar to itself and by means of the activity peculiar to its species will day by day become larger and more complete until it reaches the limit of its perfection.

Continue in the next article: ( Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (3) )

NOTES:

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1. (The Holy Quran: XLIX, 13)

2. (The Holy Quran: III, 195)

3. (The Holy Quran: X, 33)

4. (The Holy Quran: XXIII, 71)