ISLAM’S GIFTS TO THE WORLD
Islam stands for harmony and perfectibility with an unmatched depth and breadth of scope that comprises all aspects of spirit and life. It knows all the roads that lead to blessing and happiness. It has the cure for human ills, individual and social, and makes them as plain as the wit of man can devise or comprehend. It sets out to develop all sides of each person: and therefore perforce includes every reality which impacts human existence. It has not given way, in its doctrine of man, to modern errors or corrupt institutions. It does not set man in God’s place. To do so is to leave man with only himself to rely on in all his pride and egotism: or else to reduce him to the slavery of being a beast of burden for his fellows, powerless, will-less, helpless before nature’s and matter’s tyrannies. This is precisely what modern heresies do with man. But Islam vindicates man’s unique nature vis-a-vis all other living creatures, affirming that he is a special creation with a lofty calling all his own.
Islam holds that a man’s personality does not cease to exist with death, but is continuous and eternal. “Worldly” and “other-worldly” are an indivisible unity. Body and soul can therefore not be dissolved into disparate elements. Islam, on these grounds, presents both worlds in shining terms. It both trains a man for eternity and also finds the guiding principles for its public institutions on earth in the sublime destiny inherent in man’s creation.
Eternity dictates universal principles, unchanging and unchangeable. These Islam proclaims as tenets, convictions, commandments, statutes, in its school of contentment, in its thrust for progress. It offers man the perfection of freedom for thought, for concern, and for exegesis of the divine law on matters of social necessity. It reverts to first principles which provide the sure and unshifting basis of rock-bottom truth in all the chances and changes of this mortal life.
Islam holds that man has certain characteristics which are his link with the material world and certain others which connect him with realities that are non-material and which motivate desires and aims of a more sublime nature. Body, mind and spirit each has its proper propensities. Each must be duly weighed, so that what one of these indivisible elements desires does not conflict with the desire of another. Islam takes all the elements and facets of human nature into account and caters for the compound essence of man’s combined material and spiritual propensities. It draws him upward towards the highest without cutting his roots in the material. It demands absolute purity and chastity without denying the flesh and its needs. Its current flows from pole to pole over a network of live wires – convictions and regulations which preserve the integrity of all the innate human instincts while rejecting the Freudian doctrine of total freedom which treats man as nothing but animal.
Islam is not a mere set of ideas in the world of metaphysical speculation : nor did it come into being simply to order man’s social living. It is a way of life so comprehensively meaningful that it shapes education, society and culture to heights none other ever aimed at. It forms a supreme court of appeal and rallying-point for East and West alike, and offers them an ideology which can answer their divisive materialisms. It can replace their inequities and contradictions with a more universal, more perfect and more powerful idea.
Islam does not concede priority of any kind to material affluence or to hedonistic comfort as basic for happiness. It finds its principles in an analysis of man’s true nature. With these principles it constructs a plan for individual , social and international living, framed by fixed and all embracing moral standards, aimed at a goal for humanity far loftier than the modern world’ s limited materialist aims.
Islam does not imprison man in the narrow confines of the material and the financial. It sets him in a spacious and expansive air. There morality, principle and the spirit reign. Its statutes are those which spring from the nature of man himself. They encourage mutual help and team-work. They pursue values outside the straitened boundaries imposed on individual and on community by the petty pusillanimous pedestrian patterns of materialist purposes. Instead it yokes man’s strength and striving to the change, advance, progress and perfecting inherent in his creation.
Islamic training sets out to refine and enhance human qualities and to harness them to right and reasonable objectives which direct and dictate every forward step to the desired end. It focuses a man’s motives, which arise from his natural desires and basic needs, in such a concentrated and streamlined beam that each talent is called in to exercise its function in due succession and order. Impetuous uncoordinated impulses are thus controlled so that no single instinct overrule commonsense nor momentary urge replace reason. Instead man is made master of his fate and captain of his soul. Excess is obviated and every person is accorded his or her legitimate share in the common triumph of all. In this employment every need of body, mind and soul is met and satisfied.
Whenever in history individuals have united in harmonious pursuit of such aims, persons and communities have found themselves. “What is right” has ruled thoughts, conduct and character; human living has been orderly and secure. Reason dictates this training, and calls to a religion with convictions superstition-free, canons practical, statutes feasible and excellencies virtuous. The God-given human intelligence intuitively and logically perceives their truth.
No man is asked to perform a task above that which he is able. But his powers are put at full stretch. Every possibility within him is expressed to the full. And each is, at doomsday, judged; then the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is.