Though man, by divine inspiration or natural instinct finds out the roots of good and bad and through natural guidance, differentiates between the desirable and the undesirable, it does not mean that people can understand all the problems facing them in the field of morality by themselves without a teacher. That they can easily distinguish virtues from vices and answer all the questions in this regard. This is so because the knowledge of morals is so difficult and complex that despite deep studies by great philosophers throughout the centuries, some parts of the problem have remained unsolved even today and they have not become as clear as they should be and scholars are not able to give a definite reply to some questions pertaining to morals. Therefore, we should try to grasp their realities and subtleties from the Holy Quran and words of the infallibles
We must understand that in the school of thought of the Holy Prophets (s.a.w.s.), man is a being having two dimensions, that is to say, human nature has both a positive and a negative dimension. Man can travel upward as well as downward. In his temperament, he has inclination both toward good and bad. Man possesses both an intelligence and heart. Intelligence guides him to the good and the graceful and he also has a lustful heart, which drives him toward the bad and the lowly.
Human heart possesses both a constructive power and a destructive one. The Holy Quran points to both of them in various verses and says. Nay! I swear by the Day of Resurrection. Nay! I swear by the self-accusing soul. Regarding the second it says: Most surely man’s self is wont to command him to do evil, except such as my Lord has had mercy on,
Man, naturally has an inclination toward God due to the positive dimension. The Quran says in the same background. In the right state – the nature made by Allah in which He has made men.
He has power to travel toward good and become a lofty being. He has the capacity to lift himself up to the state of Nafse Mutmainnah (Restful soul) How beautiful is the Word of Allah: O soul that art at rest! Return to your Lord, well pleased with Him, well pleasing Him. So enter among My servants. And enter into My garden.
In the negative dimension, too, the human nature has been recognised as stingy, greedy, quarrelsome, hasty and thankless. Hence we find these subjects in the Holy Quran:
And man is niggardly.
Surely man is created of a hasty temperament.
And man is most of all given to contention.
And man is ever hasty.
Most surely man is ungrateful to his Lord.
The negative dimension of man’s self is such that he can drag himself down unto the lowest of the low. The Holy Quran says: Then we render him the lowest of the low except those who believe and do good.
These verses tell us clearly that man can become lower than all the lowly creatures. Thus from the viewpoint of Quran and Divine schools of thought, there is, in the nature of man, a fathomless expanse of difference. On the one hand it develops so much that it reaches the Aalaa illiyyeen The Highest places in the Hereafter as, the Holy Quran says about the noble Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.):
Then he drew near, then he bowed, so he was at the measure of two bows or closer still.
On the other side, it is possible that he drops down so low that he reaches the Asfalus Saafileen (lowest of the low.)
Now that we have read some of the Quranic verses describing graceful morals and their importance as well as the ayats which mention how much low a man becomes by immorality, we should know that, for training and guidance of man, it is necessary for us to take maximum benefit from the teachers of morality who themselves have been the epitomes of moral virtues and who had kept themselves far away from vices so that, we too, slowly, become graceful. If we do not do so and if we leave ourselves free, then surely we may reach the place mentioned by the Holy Quran regarding such licentious people, They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors.
So, from this aspect, we must know that the importance of morality is so great that the perfection of human destiny lies in the gracefulness of his morals.
Before we discuss morality, we must understand that from the viewpoint of Islam, man has a very high status. The Lord Almighty says about his creation, So blessed be Allah, the best of the creator.
Also regarding the creation of Adam, He tells the angels, I am going to place in the earth a Khalif … Surely I know what you do not know He also says, And surely We have honoured the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created.
It is obvious that man by his painstaking efforts reaches such a status that his eyes, ear and heart become divine; and then whatever he desires, happens.
In some narrations we read: A man who performs deeds honestly for forty days, the Lord Almighty fills up his heart with wisdom. So also: Knowledge is the light with which God fills the heart of whomever He wills.
Now, in order to be able to gain the status of humanity and to seek this high station, it is necessary to, first, understand our selves and then only we would know our Lord, because, One who knows himself, known his Lord.
We should know that reaching this stage is not possible except under the shade of submission to the Divine laws and by removing all despicable vices from ourselves and by adorning ourselves with precious virtues like knowledge, truthfulness, Piety , moral heroism, humility, sincerity and Takhliyah and Tahliyah (consuming and expelling).
In this book, we describe some qualities which either raise man to perfection or drag him down to abyss, from the viewpoint of the Holy Quran and the Hadith so that, with the blessings of the Holy Quran and the words of the Holy Prophet and his pure progeny, both the author and the readers may be blessed with light. Then, after contemplation, examination and analysis we shall come to a conclusion that man reaches perfection only in the shade of morals and ethics and understands the aim of creation.
I hope that this book having 32 lessons of ethics shall prove effective for cleansing and purifying and will help us and the readers in our journey toward the Lord and human perfection.
From the book by
Ghulam Reza Sultani