Self-Purification, the Main Goal of Divine Messengers (4)

Self-Purification, the Main Goal of Divine Messengers (4)

3. Human Virtues

A human being possesses two types of selves: the human self and the animal self, but the value of a human being is related to his human-self and has nothing to do with his animal self. The animal-self may be regarded some sort of parasitic existence, or like an uninvited guest, and in reality is the unconscious-self. Although, a human being is an animal and is obligated to fulfill his animalistic requirements, but he has not been created to live in this world like an animal, instead he has been created with the aims and objectives of utilizing and commissioning his animal existence for perfecting his human existence.

A human being have some genuine requirements incorporated within his inner existence for the sake of his animal as well as human existence. Since he is an animal, he requires food, water, clothing and shelter in order to motivate him for making serious endeavors for their search, feelings of thirst and hunger have been incorporated within his existence.Similarly, for the sake of continuation of human race, sexual desires and love for female partner have been incorporated within his nature.

Since men like to live and in order to sustain, his life he has no other choice except to take care of means of living required for his animal existence. When he sees food he feels hungry and desires to eat and therefore, he tells himself: I must arrange food for my own consumption and whatever obstacles are encountered in this path I must try to remove them.Of course, these feelings are not bad because for sustenance of life one must work, eat and drink. In Islam not only this has not been forbidden, on the contrary it has been recommended and encouraged. But parallel to that it must be clearly understood that the animal life is a preliminary and not the desired goal. Or in other words, the animal life is not the main guest rather someone accompanying him.

Therefore, if someone assigns authenticity to animal existence, strives and endeavors seriously day and night to fulfill his animal lower desires and passions; considers the aims of life simply eating, drinking, sleeping, and reproducing -has indeed fallen into intense darkness of deviation and wilderness. Because, he has removed the human wisdom and Heavenly spirit from the position of power and have confined them into a forgotten place.

Such an individual does not deserve to be called as a human being rather he is an animal with a human face. He possesses wisdom but by his perverted deeds has become so isolated that he can no longer recognize and follow the superior human virtues and characteristics. In spite of having eyes he is unable to see the realities; in spite of possessing ears he cannot hear the facts.The Holy Qur’an considers such an individual as an animal and even worse and more deviated than the animals because animal lacks wisdom and does not understand, while the above mentioned person in spite of having wisdom does not understand. The Holy Qur’an describes such individuals, as follows:

فَإِن لَّمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يَتَّبِعُونَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِّنَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ.

“And if they answer thee not, then know that what they follow is their lusts. And who goes farther astray than he who followeth his lust without guidance from God? Lo! God guideth not wondering folk.(1)


وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ  لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا  أُولَئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ  أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ.

“Already have we urged unto Hell many of the Jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle -nay but they are worse! These are the neglectful.” (2)

The Holy Qur’an further defines these creatures as follows:

“Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god, and God sendeth him astray purposely and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a covering ? Than who will lead him after God (hath condemned him)? Will you not then heed ?(3)

How unfortunate and losers are those who have sacrificed their heavenly-self, prosperity, and human perfection for the sake of passions and desires of their animal existence? They have exchanged their human self with their animalistic pleasures. (4)

The Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) said:

“Whoever becomes involved into world's allurements, thus giving up his gains from his immortal life in the Next World -has indeed been cheated.”(5)

He also said:

قال على عليه السلام: اكرم نفسك من كل دنية وان ساقتك الى الرغئب, فانك لن تعتاض بما تبذل من نفسك عوضا ولاتكن عبد غيرك وقد جعلك الله حرا وما خير خيرلا ينال الا بشر ويسر لاينال الا بعصر.

“Restrain yourself  from indulgence into lower shameful deeds no matter how attractive or appealing they might appear because, in this exchange or trade you do not receive the genuine value of your self Do not allow yourself to be slave of other because, God has created you as free. The goodness which cannot be obtained except through the evil is not goodness. Also a thing acquired except with serious efforts would not be easy to retained.” (6)

And said:

قال امير المؤمنين عليه السلام: لبيس المتجران ترى الدنيا لنفسك ثمنا ومما لك عند الله عوضا.

“What a bad trade it is that one exchanges his self for this world instead of trading it with whatever is available with God-Almighty (in the Next- World).”(7)

But, a human being cannot be summarized only into animal-self, because he also possesses a human self, and on account of this merit he is an abstract and Celestial Jewel, descended from the Heavenly Kingdom, cherishing values other then animalistic desires.

If a human being ponders deeply into his Inner existence and really recognized himself; he will discover that he has arrived from the kingdom of power, wonder, knowledge, blessing, benevolence, illumination, goodness, justice, and in one sentence from the kingdom of absolute perfection, and is originated and belonged to it.

It is here that a human being discovers another prospective and looks beyond the limit boundaries of created world -towards the supreme source of absolute perfection and feels attracted towards his higher values. Hence being committed for aspiration of those cherished values, accordingly he changes the movement of his self from the animalistic course towards the exalted path of perfection -which ultimately leads him towards the highest spiritual station of God's Nearness.

When this internal revolution within him occurs the importance of higher and moral ethical values becomes explicit. Therefore, if a human being desires values such as knowledge, favor, welfare, sacrifice, justice, benevolence, defense of deprived and destitute, truth, goodness, and honesty- it is because, he considers him belonging to the World of Absolute Perfection and regards such virtues worthy of his exalted human position.

It is because, of these feelings that he admires them to the extent, that he is ready to sacrifice his animal self and its desires for the sake of those cherished higher virtues. Good morals, etiquette, and ethics are defined as a series of spiritual and meaningful perfection, whose proportion for his own spiritual perfection need, is clearly understood by the human celestial soul. The soul admits to himself: “I must do these things.”

The ethical musts are derived from the degree of perfection and nobleness within the self and are utilized for achieving exaltation of essence and spiritual perfection. When he says: “I must offer sacrifice on this righteous path.” Because, he understands that sacrifice is useful for achieving the perfection and exaltation of essence, and therefore, desires to do that. As for as the path and means of spiritual perfection are concerned they are the same for all human beings. Similarly, all of them have been created identical as for as their sense for recognition of values and anti values is concerned.

If a human being ponders deep into his own perfection seeker pure nature, away from the whims and passions of self, he might discover the moral and ethical virtues as well as the moral vices. All human beings of all times were created such by God-Almighty. And if some, of them become deprived of this sacred sense of identification, it was because their whims, passions, and intense animalistic desires, silenced the light of their wisdom, leaving them like a sole rider in the fields of self-struggle. The Holy Qur’an about the recognition of virtues and vices by the pure human nature as follows:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا.

“And a soul and Him who perfected it and inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and what is right for it. He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow.” (8)

The Prophets came with the intention of awakening human nature and to charge their unconscious-self into conscious-self; they came to help, support, and guide human beings in recognizing and paying attention to higher moral values, and utilizing them for attaining God's-Nearness; they came to remind human beings about their exalted human position and need for safe guarding and motivating the superior human virtues; they came to emphasize the important point that:

You are not animals instead are humans and possess the potential of being superior than the angels. World affairs and animalistic manifestations are far below before your exalted celestial dignity and therefore, you should not sell yourself for them. Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.) was asked:

قيل لعلي بن الحسين عليه السلام: من اعطهم الناس خطرا؟ قال: من لم يرى الدنيا خطرا لنفسه.

“Who is the most exalted and most noble person?” “The one who does not regard the world worthy of greatness of his self.” Replied the Imam.(9)

If man really identifies his true human personality and if his human self indeed gets upper hand, then good morals and ethics become alive and dominate over the moral vices and rascality’s. And when it occurs, a man is no longer permitted to ignore human values and follow vices for example, Ignoring truth and speaking lies, disregarding honesty and practicing treachery, not care about the honor of self and indulging into sinful deeds; and ignoring favor and practicing human persecution etc.

The Commander of Faithful Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) said:

قال على عليه السلام: من كرمت عليه نفسه هانت عليه شهواته.

“Whoever consider his self honorable will regard selfish passions low and mean.”(10)

The prophets continuously strived for awakening the upright human nature so that. they could learn about their jewel of existence and could discover their dependence and link with God-Almighty; thus spending everything in their possession for attaining the position of nearness and pleasure of the Lord of the worlds to the extent that their eating, drinking. Sleeping, seeing, speaking, working, living, and dying become sacred and ethical. Truly, when men become God's servant and do not cherish for any other goal except his pleasure everything become ethics, worship and virtue.

The Holy Qur’an said:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Say: Lo! My worship and my sacrifice, and my living, and my dying are for God, the Lord of the worlds.” (11)

Therefore, because of the above mentioned reasons, recognition of self in Islam has been assigned a special importance. The Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) has said:

قال على عليه السلام: معرفة النفس انفع المعارف.

“Self-consciousness is one of the most profitable assets of a person.”(12)

And said:

قال على عليه السلام: من عرف نفسه جل امره.

“Whoever succeeds in self -his affairs will be improved.” (13)

What is meant with self-recognition is not the particulars of one's identify card rather it means –man’s realization of his true position within the created world; an understanding that he is not simply an earthly animal rather is a reflection of heavenly illumination from the Celestial Kingdom; is the Trustee and Vicegerent of God-Almighty upon earth. A celestial being who has been created conscious, empowered and free, is capable of upward ascent towards the absolute perfection, and his special creation has been assigned the responsibility of nourishment and perfection of the self.

It is because of this realization that man feels a sense of greatness and perfection; discovers the sacredness and virtues within his inner existence and morals and ethics become valuable and meaningful for him. In that case he get relieved from the feelings of hopelessness, depressions, vainness, nonsense, aimless repetitions, and instead life becomes sacred, precious beautiful, and objective.

Continue in the next article: ( Self-Purification, the Main Goal of Divine Messengers (5) )



1. (The Holy Quran: 28: 50)

2. (The Holy Quran: 7: 179)

3. (The Holy Quran: 45: 23)

4. The Commander of the faithful Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) has said: This world is not a place of permanent settlement, it is passage, a road on which you are passing. There are two kinds of people here; those who have sold their souls for eternal damnation, the other type are those who have purchased their souls and freed them from damnation.” -Nahjul-Balagha, S.M. A Jafri p-543 [Tr].

5. Ghirar al-Hukm, vol. 1, p-88.

6. Nahjul-Balagha, Sabhi Saleh, vol. 31, p-401.

7. Nahjul-Balagha, sermon 32.

8. (The Holy Quran: 91: 7-9)

9. Tohf al-Aqul, p-285.

10. Nahjul al-Balagha, saying 449.

11. (The Holy Quran: 6: 162)

12. Ghirar al-Hukm, p-768.

13. Ghirar al-Hukm, p-628.