Man’s earthly life

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What does it mean that Man moves between the highest of the high and the lowest of the low?

Ibn Sina, called Avicenna in the West, summarizes man’s earthly life in his poem on the human soul as follows:

It descended upon thee from out of the regions above,

That exalted, ineffable, glorious, heavenly Dove.

‘Twas concealed from the eyes of all those who its nature would ken,

Yet it wears not a veil, and is ever apparent to men.

Unwilling it sought thee and joined thee, and yet, though it grieve,

It is like to be still more unwilling thy body to leave.

It resisted and struggled, and would not be tamed in haste,

Yet it joined thee, and slowly grew used to this desolate waste,

Till, forgotten at length, as I ween, were haunts and its troth

In the heavenly gardens and groves, which to leave it was loath.

Until, when it entered the D of its downward Descent,

And to earth, to the C of its center, unwillingly went,

The eye (I) of infirmity smote it, and lo, it was hurled

Mid the sign-posts and ruined abodes of this desolate world

It weeps, when it thinks of home and the peace it possessed,

With tears welling forth from its eyes without pausing or rest,

And with plaintive mourning it broodeth like one bereft

O’er such trace of home as the fourfold winds have left.

Thick nets detain it, and strong is the cage whereby

It is held from seeking the lofty and spacious sky.

Until, when the hour of its homeward flight draws near,

And ‘tis time for it to return to its ampler sphere,

It carols with joy, for the veil is raised, and it spies

Such things as cannot be witnessed by waking eyes.

On a lofty height doth it warble its songs of praise

(For even the lowliest being doth knowledge raise).

And so it returneth, aware of all hidden things

In the universe, while no stain to its garment clings.

Now why from its perch on high was it cast like this

To the lowest Nadir’s gloomy and drear abyss?

Was it God who cast it forth for some purpose wise,

Concealed from the keenest seeker’s inquiring eyes?

Then is its descent a discipline wise but stern,

That the things that it hath not heard it thus may learn.

So ‘tis she whom Fate doth plunder, while her star

Setteth at length in a place from its rising far,

Like a gleam of lightning which over the meadows shone,

And, as though it ne’er had been, in a moment is gone.

(Translated by E. G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia, quoted by S. H. Nasr in Science and Civilization in Islam, London 1987, pp. 398–9))

The Creator’s being One means or requires His being absolutely independent. God made man as the exhibition of the manifestations of all His Names and Attributes, and His being independent is manifested in man as the desire of freedom. Therefore, in the worldly life, which the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, described as a few minutes’ halt in the shade of a tree during a long journey, and Ibn Sina likened to a flash of lightning on the grass, man’s primary concern is freedom.

We have witnessed that many atheist communists—who regard life as only this-worldly and ascribe all human motivation to economic factors—have sacrificed their lives for the sake of an illusory communist society. It has always seemed to me unreasonable that one who does not accept meta-economic values and does not believe in an eternal life, sacrifices his life which must be his only aim, for the ‘economic relations’ which are the means of living that life. So, there must be some other motives behind such a person’s sacrificing his life. Man can manage without ‘bread’, but he cannot manage without freedom, nor can he easily give up his inborn nobility as a human being. Since he is noble in creation, he pursues guidance, but sometimes the ‘stone’ of misguidance falls on his head. In consequence of his ego, man can become trapped in a vicious circle, his inborn dignity and freedom, his nobler aspirations to justice and equality, being exploited by certain centers of power or leaders of communist movements.

What is the ontological nature of man?

The universe, an integral, composite entity all of whose parts are interrelated, interlinked with one another, may be likened to a tree. Particularly in Oriental traditions, it has been so likened and some Muslim sages such as Muhy al-Din ibn al-’Arabi have even written books on it under the title of ‘The Tree of Creation’.

As everybody knows, a tree is grown from its seed or stone. The whole future life of the tree, the program of its life, is pre-recorded, compacted in the seed. The laws, such as the law of germination and the law of growth, which the Creator has established for the seed to germinate in propitious land and climate and grow into a tree, have the same meaning for the tree as his spirit has for a man. With the sowing of the seed in earth, the life of the tree proceeds through certain stages to yield its fruit and, having begun in a seed, ultimately ends in another seed which is almost identical with the original one and includes the whole past life of that tree.

Consider this: In order for a book to come into being, it must first exist in meaning in the mind of its author. If that author does not put that meaning in his mind into words on a page, it does not mean that the book does not really exist. By putting the meaning in his mind into words on a page, the author ‘materializes’ that meaning so that it takes a form visible to others. What we intend to conclude from this is that the origin, the real existence, of something is not its material, visible form. Rather, it is the meaning, which is invisible and whose existence is not material and does not need matter to subsist, which constitutes the essence of existence or creation. Thus, the real existence of the universe, which we have preferred to call the tree of creation, is in its primordial form in the Knowledge of God as a meaning. It is by the action of the Divine Power on the primordial forms of things in the Knowledge of God in accordance with the measures of the Divine Destiny, that things come into existence in different worlds, one surrounding the other like concentric circles. Like things reflected in different forms and dimensions in different mirrors facing each other, all things or beings have different forms of existence in those worlds according to the particular conditions of each. Muslim sages call some of those worlds ‘the high empyrean world’, where God Almighty manifests His Names almost without veil and therefore things exist in almost pure forms, ‘the world of unconditioned existence’, ‘the world of symbols or immaterial forms’, ‘the visible, material world’, ‘the intermediate world between this and and the next’, and ‘the other or eternal world’. In the material world, things or beings exist in a hierarchy formed by elements, plants, animals, certain unseen creatures like jinn, and human beings.

Any work points to the one who does it. A book shows its writer. similarly, all creatures which come into existence by the manifestations of the Divine Names—they exist because there is One Who eternally exists and makes them exist; they have relative powers of seeing and hearing because there is One Who absolutely sees and hears and makes them see and hear; they have relative powers of acting and speaking because there is One Who never rests, nor sleeps, nor dozes, and Who has the absolute power of speech; they may have certain knowledge because there is One Who is the All-Knowing and enables them to learn; they have relative power to do some things because there is One Who is the All-Powerful and gives them power—function as signs to demonstrate the Almighty Creator or signposts to lead to Him and make Him known. So, this naturally requires that there should be one equipped with certain faculties like intellect, consciousness and heart, who will recognize God and serve as a most comprehensive mirror to reflect Him. There are other creatures like angels who have a certain knowledge of God, but since they are devoid of free will, they cannot be such comprehensive mirrors as to reflect God with all His Names and Attributes. Also, they are not so perfect as to be able to acquire perfect knowledge of things and use them as steps to reach God. For this reason, the Divine Wisdom in the creation of the universe required that a being that would manifest all of the Divine Names and Attributes, primarily including Knowledge and Will, should appear in the realm of existence as the furthest and most perfect fruit of the tree of creation. This being is man.

The existential reality is almost the same in the whole of the universe as macro-cosmos, in man as normocosmos and in an atom as microcosmos. Whatever God has included in the universe, He has compacted it in man’s nature. So, being a specimen of creation, as Muslim sages tend to describe him, man, with his pure spiritual aspect, corresponds to angels, with his memory and power of conception, to the Supreme Guarded Tablet where all things and events are pre-recorded and preserved both before and after they appear in the universe, with his bodily composition, to the main elements in nature, with his evil-commanding self, to devils, and with his power, lusts and certain negative feelings and qualities requiring to be disciplined (like vindictiveness, cunning, deception, greed, rapaciousness, etc.) to certain animals each of which is distinguished with one of these qualities.

Thus, man mainly has two aspects: one angelic, pure and spiritual; the other, turned to elements, plants and animals, as he is the ‘child of the world’. He has been equipped with lusts to maintain his worldly life—lusts for the opposite sex, offspring, money, earning, and the comforts of life—with wrath or the power of anger to protect himself and his values; and with intellect. Besides, he is, by nature, fallible, forgetful, neglectful, fond of disputing, obstinate, selfish, and jealous, etc. Since man is distinguished from other conscious beings like angels by his being endowed with free will, these powers, faculties and negative-seeming feelings of his have not been restricted in creation. However, in order to attain happiness as a social being, both in his individual and social life, in the world and in the Hereafter, and climb the steps of elevation to higher and higher ranks of humanity, he should either restrict them according to certain precepts or channel them into virtues. For example, obstinacy can be channeled into steadfastness in right and truth, and jealousy into a feeling of competition in doing good things. Humanity lies in man’s struggling against the negative aspects of his nature and restricting them or channeling them into virtues, and in his acquiring distinction with his good qualities, thus becoming a good, worshipping servant of God and useful member of society. The Last Prophet of God, upon him be peace and blessings, said: I have been sent to perfect the standards and beauties of good morals.

Why does man fall to the lowest of the low?

Many writers and thinkers in the West assert that Christianity (of course, in its corrupted form, not its original form as preached by the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace) stood against natural knowledge and learning. By condemning man’s desire to learn as a veil separating him from knowledge and love of God, by assigning the ‘heavenly’ value and quality of the earth to churches and monasteries, by denying man free will before God’s absolute Will, and by the doctrines of original sin and atonement, it caused man to stand aloof from learning, separated him from nature, prevented him from acquiring authentic belief based on investigation, and regarded him as fallen and sinful by birth. Additionally, after its acceptance as the formal religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine and finally being almost identical with the Roman type of government after the agreement of the Pope and Emperor Charles the Great, Christianity came to be seen as a religion approving injustices for the sake of the continuance of a worldly, unjust power disguised as a sacred, theocratic one.

The Renaissance movements in the West developed against the world-view of Christianity and its views of man, life, things and art. Likewise, the Reformation movements aimed to reform the Catholic Church. While Catholicism regarded man as a desperate, wretched one sinful by birth, Protestanism did not grant to him any will-power to reform himself. Rather, it held that man is sinful by birth and, whatever he does, he cannot be saved through his actions. Instead, whoever God pre-ordained to be saved, only he can be saved, and what demonstrates that one was pre-ordained to be saved is that he works unceasingly. Thus, man was confined within the vicious circle of working, earning and consuming or working to consume and consuming to work.

It may be said that in the West following the Renaissance, Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ has been steadily becoming more and more of a reality and less a satirical fantasy. In this world, human beings are produced, classified and conditioned in tubes according to the functions they will serve in society as Alfa, Beta, Gama, Delta and Epsilon types. The old world where traditional values and feelings such as fatherhood, motherhood, kinship, love, sacrifice, altruism and chastity were still prevalent has been replaced by this new one. Having freed man from religion, morality, thought, art, production sufficient for a moderate life, and sharing and mutual helping, the new world has reduced the individual and community to the functions of consumption, entertainment and stability. But the proper dignity of man is to carry the trust laid upon him which comprises the human ego and the risks and promises of freedom—a burden so heavy that man’s reason, free will and power are scarcely able to bear it.

As Alexis Carrel puts it (Man This Unknown, Turkish translation by R. Özdek, Istanbul 1983), in the modern world as established by engineers under the guidance of scientists, man lives in metropolises where he has set up factories, opened offices, founded schools and invented various kinds of devices for amusement. The house where he lives and the office where he works are no longer dark and dingy. The devices of heating and lighting keep the temperature at the desired level and all kinds of measures have been taken against changes in weather. He is no longer oppressed by either freezing storms or suffocating heat. He no longer has the trouble of using his feet while going to work or returning home. Distances have diminished and, due to the gigantic advances in transportation and communication, the world has become like a big village. Wide highways, comfortable houses, air-conditioning devices, washing machines, fridges, electrical and electronic appliances of all kinds, modern baths, luxurious cars, computers and tele-communicative devices incite modern man to sing songs of victory—the victory won against the traditional values and nature!

Man has done all this and he can achieve many other things. But he has not been able to solve the mysteries of his ego, to know the meaning of being human, and he has not been able to perceive that he is a part of the natural environment to which he is related with ubreakable ties. As Mefisto says in Goethe’s Faust, when he attempts to know any living being, what he does first is to drive away its spirit.

In order to meet ever-increasing needs, natural sciences—which Muhammad Iqbal described as a flock of vultures, crowding round the flesh of nature and after each picking a part of it, flying off—have developed greatly but man has not fully grasped that he is as unable as ever to make even a blade of grass, a gnat’s wing, a single living cell. Sometimes he has felt himself to be like a stone cast down aimlessly on the desert of the world, seen the world as devoid of intellect, the heavens as devoid of feelings, and the whole of existence as meaningless, and regarded sacrifice as having the same meaning as suicide. He has supposed that he would be able to overcome the threats and worries of life by coexisting with his fellowmen and cooperating with them but his selfishness and materialism have not allowed him to do so with sincerity. He has submitted his ego, which he has deified before God in rejection of Him, worldly enjoyments, his freedom, to his endless desires and the manipulations of a cheating minority who try to continue their dominion by ‘finger-counting’—that is, attempting to find the truth in quantity and therefore the dominion of quantity over the truth and quality—a dominion which they have established over the majority by making use of certain possibilities such as coming to the world earlier, cunning, deception and the power of wealth. He has also submitted his honour and dignity to consumption, luxuries and cynicism.

This is natural for a being who has broken with God and his primordial nature. Such people are described in the Qur’an as more astray than domestic animals, that is, they are more unable than domestic animals to find the true path they should follow and therefore need to be guided. It is not a coincidence that man is described in the West as an animal: a responsible animal, a symbolizing animal, a rebellious animal, a social animal, a hypocritical animal, an imagining animal, and so on.

In the delusion of thinking to discover himself by rejecting servanthood to God (as Erich Fromm explains), to be himself and attain his true freedom, man has not been able to escape the realities and requirements of his inborn disposition and be freed from the need and emotions of worship. As Erich Fromm also points out (Escape from Freedom, Turkish translation by A. Yörükan, Istanbul 1982; Psychoanalysis and Religion, Turkish translation by A. Arıtan, Istanbul 1981), modern man has numerous fetishes, he has more deities or idols than the primitive man. Causality, ‘nature’, means to attain something, desires, ambitions, power-seeking and lusts are modern man’s deities. Fetishism, totemism, ritualism, self-dedication to a party or state and idolizing certain men are some aspects of his modern religion. The Prophets of revealed religions have been replaced in his religion by politicians, ‘stars’ of football and music, stage and cinema, and those who set fashions. Although modern man supposes that he himself determines his way (of life and thinking), he is little more than a robot programmed by the mass-media and an oppressing minority which own them. Banks, cinemas, universities, night clubs, stadiums and factories are the temples of modern man’s religion.

There are walls between men today; man is a wolf to man. The relations between men are no longer human, they are of the kind that each sees the other as a tool to use or an enemy to remove from the earth or a rival to defeat. Market laws direct the relations between men. In the capitalist’s view, man is only a machine, a means of production, an object to exploit. Modern man sells himself like selling merchandise. The manual worker sells his labor, the businessman, the doctor, the official, their skills. The answers given to the questions ‘What is your occupation?’, ‘How much do you earn?’, determine one’s social standing and value. One’s respect for oneself consists in what others think of one. Not being liked by anyone at all means being non-existent.

The traditional man who lived together with his family, brothers and near relatives has been replaced by modern man who, as Erich Fromm states, in order to overcome his weakness and helplessness, seeks refuge in trade unions or the power of monopolist capital or the shade of weapons or other such things. Multinational companies continually gnaw away at humanity just so as to earn more and more, and man lost in supermarkets is seen in the crowds of metropolises as less than even the simplest things, reduced to nothingness among skyscrapers. The sounds coming from TV, radio, cassette-player, do not allow him to speak, and advertisements addressing his desires and passions both stimulate consumption and determine his taste and choice.

Neither contemporary arts, nor modern socio-political systems, nor philosophies such as existentialism and structuralism, nor class consciousness, nor superiorrace theories, nor new-world-order theses and fantasies, nor man’s tendency toward destruction, can satisfy modern man who plays the role of a Faust who studied not theology but modern sciences. In such an atmosphere as this, neither Satan-worshipping dealt with in bestsellers, nor false beliefs and practices such as necromancy, ‘transcendental’ meditation and reincarnation, sorcery and fortune-telling and so-called mystical movements, nor false occult sciences with which innumerable Europeans and Americans are preoccupied, can replace the true religion and give to modern man who, by losing his true human identity, freedom and personality, has fallen to the lowest of the low, the possibility of ascending to the heaven of true humanity.

How can man be perfected or rise to the highest of the high?

As mentioned above, a book exists first of all in its author’s mind as meaning. To have this immaterially existing book known by others, the author must put it into words, shaped into sentences, organized into paragraphs, chapters, and so on. Subsequently, comes the stage of physically producing the book, giving it material form as sequences of letters on sequentially arranged pages, bound together as a book.

As this simple example shows, the existence of something has different stages or degrees. The stages through which a book passes might be called ‘worlds’: the ‘world’ of knowledge or meaning, the ‘world’ of arranging and organizing, the ‘world’ of matter or material forms. In the same way, the universe has different kinds of existence in different ‘worlds’. In Oriental philosophy generally and in Islamic philosophy particularly, these worlds are usually referred to as the high empyrean heaven, the world of unconditioned existence, the world of the spirits, the world of the immaterial forms or symbols, the visible or material world and the eternal world. And there are still other worlds between these.

Creation passes through these worlds and in the material world takes on a completely new different form. In this world, the one in which we presently live, meaning or knowledge needs matter to come into material existence in order to be seen or known. Since the earth is a place where all of the Creator’s Names are manifested and His Works exhibited, it has a very important place in existence and, despite its small size, it is mentioned in the Qur’an together with the heavens. Earthly existence is commonly divided into three or four ‘kingdoms’: the kingdom of elements, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and the human kingdom. These ‘kingdoms’ are obviously interconnected: man’s body is made up of elements and has some features in common with vegetable and animal forms.

With regard to the worldly aspect of his being, as ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph, said, man is the child of the earth or world.

The materialistic point of view restricts man’s existence to his physical aspect only and regards all the metaphysical aspects of his existence as derivative from his physical aspect. However, it is plainly seen that man is so complex a being with such comprehensive faculties, desires and feelings, that it is impossible to attribute the metaphysical dimension of his existence to deaf, blind, ignorant, unconscious and inert matter. In imagination he can traverse in a few seconds the whole realm of material existence and go beyond it. His feelings and desires are not restricted to the physical world; they extend beyond it. He loves and hates, pities and cherishes enmity and vengeance, is pleased and dissatisfied, rejoices and is grieved, etc.

These and other similar feelings which encompass the whole of existence all have different and lasting effects on man. The pains coming from past misfortunes and the anxieties he feels about his future never leave him. His needs are infinite, so are his desires and ambitions. So, it is impossible that this basic dimension of man’s existence which distinguishes him from all other creatures and which gives each individual human being a particular character, potential, countenance and temperament, originates in matter. It comes from the worlds far beyond the material world. God Almighty ‘breathes’ it into man, thus making him a mainly metaphysical being in the physical world.

Thus, man has two dimensions in his being, one the worldly dimension composed of his physical structure, and vegetable and animal aspects, the other, the heavenly, metaphysical dimension comprising his inner faculties such as intellect, memory, imagination and ‘heart’, etc. and his metaphysical needs and desires, morality, spiritual questing and lofty ideals. This complexity in the essential being and character of man is the origin of certain general consequences, among which are:

• Man has a special relation with his environment, his relatives, other human beings, animals and the whole of nature. Just as the whole life-history and features of a tree end or are included in its fruit, so too man, as the fruit of the tree of creation, contains in his being all the principal aspects or features of existence. This essential feature of his being must be considered in man’s relations with his natural environment; the neglect of it in modem times is the basic reason for modern environmental problems.

• Since man is endowed with free will and great potentialities which can be continually expanded through learning and practice, the Creator did not restrict his drives or faculties. For example, the Creator put no limits upon man’s powers of anger, lust and reason. The power of anger is the origin of his instincts of defense: the power of lust is the source of his animal appetites, among them the urge to have relations with the opposite sex; the power of reason is the center of his activities of intelligence and intellect. We may note also that man carries in his being the main characteristics of every animal. For example, he can be as rapacious as a wolf, and as cunning and deceiving as a fox. ‘Decked out for mankind is the passionate love of desires for the opposite sex and offspring, for hoarded treasures of gold and silver, for branded horses, cattle and plantations, for all kinds of worldly things.’ (Qur’an, 3.14)

If man lets his powers drive him and obeys their demands, and if he does not discipline his animal characteristics, then these powers and characteristics can become the source of innumerable vices. If undisciplined, his power of anger can cause great crimes such as murder, all kinds of injustices and violations of others’ rights; the power of lust can lead man to consume whatever he finds, to earn in any way he finds convenient, to commit many crimes such as theft, usurpation, to have illicit sexual relations and seek to hide the consequences with abortion and infanticide. The power of reason, if it is not used according to certain standards, can be a means for such deceitful practices as demagogy, lying and sophistry. This power which has enabled man to realize admirable scientific and technological successes and developments in recent centuries, has also brought to mankind many disasters unparalleled in human history such as continual wars, machines for killing and destruction on an unbelievable scale, and increasing environmental pollution. In short, because of his unrestricted powers, man, if undisciplined, can be an agent of destruction and make life and the world into a dungeon for himself.

Man is a social being, compelled to live together with his fellow-beings. Harmonious social life requires justice and mutual helping which is only possible by man’s conformity to certain rules or standards of conduct. Necessarily, these rules restrict his powers. Since man’s essential needs and character have remained stable since his appearance on the earth, these rules and standards must be universal and stable and applicable to all men in all times and places. It is highly questionable whether man can know what and of what character these rules and standards must be. It is a plain fact that it is almost impossible for even two men to agree on all points. If the task of establishing the rules and standards were given to one individual or to one family or to one class or to one nation or to those with enough power to put them into effect and force others to obey, the consequence must inevitably be injustice and inequality among people. Therefore, a universal or transcendent intellect is necessary. Such an intellect can only be derived from God, as manifested in religion revealed by the Creator of all existence, Who knows all things, internally and externally, from the largest to the smallest, and all their interconnections from before to after time. However, since it is impossible for every human being individually to receive Divine Revelation, God Almighty chose some persons among human beings (the Prophets and Messengers, upon them be peace) and charged them to convey His religion to people. After the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, no one and no institution has the right to be an intermediary between God and human beings in receiving and conveying His religion. Only those who are well-versed in religious sciences can offer authoritative guidance for others concerning the problems people may encounter. By obeying God-established rules or standards, a man can restrict his powers in a way that results in his finding happiness and in justice and equity among people.

Man’s powers, desires and faculties are given to him so that he should channel them into virtues. For example, he is not expected to annihilate his lust, but to satisfy it in lawful ways and use it as a means of reproduction. Thus, the happiness of man lies in his restricting his power of lust within the lawful bounds of decency and chastity, without indulgence in debauchery and dissipation.

Similarly, his power of anger is given to man so that he may use it in defense of his sacred values—religion, intellect, life and property, nation—against attacks. That is, he must not use it unlawfully to exploit and oppress, or injure and kill, others. He must restrict it within the bounds of valor and chivalry and exercise it for the promotion of a sacred value. Again, the virtuous direction in the exercise of reason is understanding, wisdom and truthfulness. Reason must not be used to deceive others for selfish advantage.

Man also has certain feelings which are intrinsic to his nature, such as jealousy, hatred, enmity, hypocrisy and ostentation. If such feelings are not trained and directed to virtue, they consume man. For example, jealousy must be channeled into emulation free of rancor, which inspires man to imitate those who excel him in goodness and good deeds. Hatred and enmity should be directed primarily against his own carnal self and the bad aspects of his character. As for hypocrisy and ostentation, he must try to be rid of them. If that is impossible for him, he should at least try to make show of only the better sides of his character and compete with others in virtuous deeds, rather than virtuous words or gestures.

What is the ‘highest’ aim in creation?

There is another point to emphasize concerning the happiness or perfectibility of man: Man is not a being composed of only body and intellect. He has also a spirit which requires satisfaction, without which he can never find true happiness. Spiritual satisfaction is possible only through belief in God Almighty and aspiration to ‘reach’ Him and gain eternal happiness in the other world. The physical world, man’s carnal self, time and place are the thick walls of his worldly dungeon. Confined within the walls of this dungeon, man can by no means find happiness or lead a happy life. He can escape or be freed from this dungeon by means of belief and regular worship, and by refraining from all kinds of sins.

The highest aim of creation and its most sublime result is belief in God. The most exalted rank of humanity is the knowledge of God. The most radiant happiness and sweetest bounty for mankind is the love of God issuing from the knowledge of God. The purest joy for the human spirit and the purest delight for man’s heart is the spiritual ecstasy contained within the love of God. Indeed, all true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties and unclouded pleasures are undoubtedly contained within the knowledge and love of God. The one who knows and loves God is either potentially or actually able to receive endless happiness, favors, enlightenment and understanding. While the one who does not truly know and love Him is afflicted spiritually and materially by endless misery, pain and fear. Indeed, even if a man, powerless and miserable, and unprotected amid other purposeless human beings in a world filled with wretchedness, were made the ruler of the whole world, what will this really be worth for him?

Everyone can understand how miserable and bewildered a condition man endures, if he does not recognize his Owner, discover his Master. If, however, he discovers his Owner and recognizes his Master, then he will seek refuge in His Mercy and rely on His Power, and that desolate world will become, for him, a place of rest and felicity, and a place of exchange for the Here-after.

Being a servant of God, being a servant of ego

In sum, man’s real happiness lies in his being a servant to God. This servant-hood never reduces man. By contrast, a man who rebels against God relying on himself or the power of science and technology may be a Pharaoh-like tyrant, but he is one who abases himself so far as to worship before the meanest thing to serve his interest. That man may also be stubborn and unyielding but so wretched as to accept endless degradation for the sake of a single pleasure; unbending but so mean as to kiss the feet of devilish people for the sake of some base advantage. That man may, again, be conceited and domineering, but since he can find no point of support in his heart, he reduces himself to an impotent, vainglorious tyrant. He may also be a self-centered egoist, who strives to gratify his material, carnal desires and pursues his personal interests after certain national or racial interests.

As for a sincere servant of God, he is a worshipping servant, but one who does not degrade himself to bow in adoration or humiliation even before the greatest of the created. He is a dignified servant who does not regard as the goal of worship a thing of even the greatest benefit like Paradise. Also, he is modest, mild and gentle, but he does not lower himself voluntarily before anybody other than his Creator beyond what He has permitted. He may also be weak and in want, and be aware of his weakness and neediness. Yet he is independent of others, owing to the spiritual wealth which his Munificent Owner has provided for him, and he is powerful as he relies on the infinite Power of his Master. He acts and strives purely for God’s sake, for God’s good pleasure, and to be equipped with virtues.

To be a good, virtuous servant of God Almighty and thereby find true happiness, a man must oppose his carnal self and fight against it so as to always use his will in the correct way. Life, which is the arena of this fighting or holy struggle, find its true meaning through this struggle, evolves and is perfected. The pleasure of this struggle lies in itself. It is like climbing an upward path. Walking on leveled surfaces does not give man any pleasure, but when one who continuously climbs hills or walks an uphill road reaches the summit and wipes the sweat from his forehead, he experiences the great pleasure of achievement. But for winter, spring would not be so beautiful. So, man’s true happiness and the real pleasure of life lie in his struggle against the temptations of his carnal self and Satan and becoming victorious against both. This is how a man can rise along the path of perfectibility toward the heavens, toward endless and eternal happiness and pleasures, toward being truly human and recovering his primordial or original state as the best pattern of creation and eternal inhabitant of Paradise.

 

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