Seal of the Prophets and His Message
Lessons on Islamic Doctrine
Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari
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Translated by: Hamid Algar
Acquaintance with the School of the ProphetsIn the world where our existence unfolds, we have never heard of or seen an organization or administration that is left to its own devices without a supervisor being responsible for it. Human reason and intelligence cannot accept that social institutions be without a leader or ruler, and no thinker will approve of an organizational formula that lacks a responsible leader.
Given that reason and logic emphasize the necessity of a responsible leader for even the smallest social unit, how can humanity as a whole attain the basic goals to which it aspires or acquire the lofty values of which it is worthy, without a leader and chief? Now the Creator, within the system of creation, has not withheld anything that may be needed for any being to advance and attain a fitting degree of perfection; He has placed the necessary means and tools at the disposal of all things, and given to each part of every animate being and plant exactly what it needs.
How then can it be believed that in the system of legislating for the human being He should overlook the sending of Prophets who play such a sensitive and multifaceted role in the evolution of the human being, or that He should remain indifferent to this fundamental pillar? Furthermore, can any intelligent person accept that the vast scheme of being, with all the wonder-inducing manifestations of life, should be based on aimlessness and purposelessness? Is it possible to attribute such an irrational act to the sublime Creator? The question of reward and punishment, in a precise and calculated form, is involved here.
It is an indubitable scientific principle that purposiveness is the concomitant of all life, thought and will. It is not possible that a wise being should consciously undertake an action in which no goal or purpose resides. Apart from the fact that the human being instinctively regards an aimless act as incompatible with wisdom and intelligence, he can clearly perceive that all the atoms in the world of being are ruled by order and calculation. So just as the orderliness of life springs from the knowledge and wisdom of the Creator, the same may be said of the purposiveness of the whole scheme of being, including the existence of the human being.
Is God indifferent to the fate of humans? Has He abandoned them to their own devices, so they may shed each other's blood, commit any crime they like, and transform the world into a fiery hell? A God Who holds back nothing in order for every creature to attain its perfection cannot possibly be indifferent to the human being's attaining the degree of perfection suitable to him. On the contrary, just as He guides the human being to material perfection by means of his instincts, He guides him to his true perfection both by means of the innate guidance of his nature and by means of legislative guidance, for innate guidance needs help when confronting the instincts.
The Quran says: "We will give help to both groups, those who worship the world and those who seek the hereafter, so that none should remain deprived of the favor and generosity of their Lord."(17:18) If the human being were left alone in the world with his own hopes, everyone would judge on the basis of his own temperament and taste. He would do whatever he found pleasing and conformable to his inclinations. Every individual would follow his own path in order to secure his interests, and the result would be a clash of desires and interests, leading to the severance of individual and social relations and unending corruption and anarchy.
The French scholar, Emile Dermenghem, writes in his book The Life of Muhammad: The Prophets are just as necessary for the world as the beneficial and wondrous forces of nature, such as the sun, rainfall, winter storms, which shake and cleave open dry and infertile land, covering them with freshness and verdure. The grandeur and legitimacy of such events can be deduced from their results: inward capacities that have received strength and confidence, hearts that have been given tranquility, wills that have been strengthened, tumults that have been quietened, moral diseases that have been cured, and finally, the supplications that have mounted up to heaven.[l]
It can be deduced from the Quran that one of the missions of the Prophets is ending differences among human beings and purifying them. The Quran says: Human beings were one community. God sent Messengers to give glad tidings to the good and a warning to the bad. He sent the Book in truth so they might judge justly in their disputes." (2:213) "He it is Who sent a great Messenger among the unlettered Arabs, one from among them, who might recite to them the verses of God's revelation, purify them from the filth of ignorance and evil characteristics, and teach them the Law contained in His Book, whereas previously they had been in the abyss of ignorance and misguidance." (62:2) "O Lord, make our offspring worthy of Your raising Messengers from among them who will recite Your verses to human beings, who will teach them the knowledge of the Book and wisdom, and cleanse and purify their souls from all ignorance and ugliness." (2:128) The Prophets came in order to convey to human beings Divine knowledge, free of all forms of illusion and error.
They came to proclaim to the human being a series of truths which a person would never have attained unaided, such as matters lying beyond the natural realm like death, the intermediate realm, and resurrection. In Divine schools of thought, the mode of thought that underlies both belief and action, the knowledge of the material and spiritual dimensions of human existence, lies within the bounds of the human being's capacity to perceive. For the human being approaches true happiness, and his growth and ascent become possible, only when his constant and fundamental needs are recognized, preserved and satisfied in a balanced fashion.
One of the most fundamental missions of the Prophets, is, then, to bring the excesses of that which causes the human being trouble and torment in his rebellious spirit, under control and reduce them to order, so as to pacify its rebellious tendencies. Thus we see that in the school of the Prophets, pleasures are not negated nor is their value and essentiality denied. The supreme ideal of the Prophets, who are the source of virtue and the gushing springs of human ethics, is to cure and nurture the human spirit in such a way that it reaches a higher truth and ascends toward ethical values.
Through the realistic and perceptive training the human being receives from the Prophets, he advances on a path that leads to infinity and he distances himself from alienation. It is natural that those who establish such a program of action should have been chosen at the threshold of heavenly power, the power of One Who is aware of all the mysteries of the human being's creation and the needs of his soul. The selection that takes place with respect to the Prophets is based on the ascertainment of an individual's being as a complete model of the powers and faculties of the human being.
In order to ascend existentially, to cure their souls and to attain the heavenly rank of fruition, human beings must enter the sphere of the teachings of the Prophets; it is only then that their humanity can be fully realized. The valuable element that the human being represents in this world has not been abandoned or left to its own devices, nor has God wished to entrust the destiny of the human being to capricious oppressors who sinking their poisonous claws into the spirit and mind of the human being begin their exploitation of humanity by exploiting its mind. For then mankind would be held back from true advancement and be impelled in the direction of false and valueless aims.
Since intellectual and creedal criteria have always played a determining role and constitute an extremely effective factor in the shaping of life, the Prophets have always commenced their mission in precisely this area. Because the intellectual criteria of society are generally tainted by the ignorance of Divine guidance, they have abolished those criteria and presented new, positive and fruitful criteria to replace them. The Prophets are, then, the true revolutionaries of history.
Shining forth in the darkness, they have come forth to struggle against the sources of corrupt belief and misguidance, and to guide the most sacred and beautiful manifestation of the human spirit to its true and proper course. They rescue the human being from shameful forms of worship that are not worthy of his lofty station, and hold him back from all forms of erroneous thought and deviance that arise in his search for God and inflict harm on him. They conduct him from the confines of ignorance to the region of light and perception, because all the paths of true happiness and salvation lead to the assertion of God's oneness.
At the same time, the Prophets guarantee the freedom of the human being in accepting belief; he is free to exercise his will by accepting either unbelief or belief. The Quran says: "O Prophet, say: the religion of truth is that which has come unto you from your Lord. So let whoever wishes believe, and whoever wishes, be an unbeliever." (18:29) The Quran explicitly rejects the imposition of belief by saying: "There is no coercion or compulsion in the acceptance of religion." (2:256) If we examine deeply the content of the teachings to the Prophets, which determine the method to be followed by all true movements of reform and liberation, we will see that their sole aim was guiding human beings to felicity.
Because God looks upon His servants with favor, He chooses as Prophets the most perfect of human beings, who first enter the arena of human thought and belief, creating there a vast outpouring of energy, and then enter the sphere of action and ethics, in order to draw human beings's attention away from the natural realm to that which lies beyond nature. Thereby they liberate the human being from the scandalous and demeaning multiplicity of gods and from infatuation with the world and material phenomena. They cleanse their minds and their hearts and attach them to a source of hope and mercy that bestows tranquility on their souls.
Once the human being recognizes the origin of his creation and believes in the unseen forces of the world that lies beyond the natural realm, he learns a program of advancement toward perfection from the guides on the path to truth, the chosen ones of the Divine threshold. For it is they who demonstrate to human society its origin and the goal of perfection toward which it must strive.
The human being, then, begins his efforts to reach God, for it is this that is the lofty goal of all being, and he addresses his Lord as follows: "We have heard Your command and obey it, O Lord; we seek your forgiveness and know that our movement is toward You." (2:285) The Commander of the Faithful, Ali, upon whom be peace, says: "God sent the Prophets to remove the veils covering the human being's innate nature and to bring forth the treasures of thought hidden within him." He also says in the first Sermon of the Nahj al-Balaghah: "God Almighty raised Prophets from among the sons of Adam and took from them a covenant that they would propagate His message.
This was after most human beings had perverted the Divine covenant, becoming ignorant of God, the supreme truth, and assigning likenesses to Him, and after Satan had turned them away from the course of innate nature and disposition, preventing them from worshipping God. "It was then that the Creator sent them a succession of Prophets, to remind them of the bounties that they had forgotten and to demand of them that they fulfill their primordial covenant with God, and to make manifest the hidden treasures and resplendent signs that the hand of Divine power and destiny had placed within them. " The school of thought established by the Prophets contains a specific view of the world and society which sets human thought on a distinctive course.
Without doubt, the human being's interpretation of the world and the realities of life is a factor which determines a broad area of his efforts and activities. The first lesson taught by heavenly religions and their most fundamental pillar consists of the Divine unity. At the beginning of their missions, the Prophets raised the cry of Divine unity, seeking thereby to liberate human thought from the bondage of illusion and humiliating subjection to false and mendacious divinities.
Within a short period, they conveyed their Divine message to all classes of society in their age - human beings and women, the old and the young, the rulers and the powerful. They strove to sever the bonds of servitude and to rend the veils of ignorance that were obscuring the mind and intellect of the human being. Through monotheism, they sought to advance society and cleanse the spirit of all peoples from the contamination of everything other than God.
Unlike the philosophers, the Messengers of God did not content themselves with training human beings' minds. Their efforts to convey the message of God's unity also penetrated human beings' hearts, and after cleansing their intellects, they filled the dwelling of the heart with that true love which is a necessary consequence of the human being's spiritual ascent. It is this veritable love which impels human beings towards dynamic and passionate motion, and makes of them vibrant and creative personalities. Passionate love for the infinite source of existence is like the motor for human life; if it be taken away from the human being, he becomes a lifeless and motionless form.
The principle of Divine unity distinguishes the structure of the society in which it prevails from all other societies, with respect to both its internal and its external relationships; it creates a profound structural change in whatever society accepts it, to such a degree that in its ability to reform both the individual and society, no other movement in human history can be compared with it. In addition to the fact that it clarifies the relationship of the human being with the source of being, through restricting all worship to the Creator of the world Who is the absolute ruler and owner of all things, it also determines economic, political and legal relationships among human beings.
The word "mission" (ba'that) is used in Islamic texts to designate the function of the Prophets, a word that contains the sense of an outpouring of energy, swiftness in action, and unrelenting effort. No better or more precise word could be found to designate the profound and fundamental movement that is that of the Prophets. The unity of sovereignty derives from the oneness of the Creator, because the sole authority for the fashioning of laws and the issuing of commands is His unique essence. It is the exclusive right of the Creator of being to command and prohibit, and for this reason the doctrine of Divine unity necessarily implies that none other than God has the right to exercise sovereign power or promulgate laws.
A full understanding of Divine unity goes beyond the recognition that the world has only one Creator; we must also recognize that it has only one sovereign and only one legislator, and that precisely this concept brings to an end the tyranny of oppressive and arbitrary rulers. Whoever claims to possess sovereignty and the powers that flow from it has, in reality, claimed divinity, for one of the indications of polytheism is for the human being to imagine that he possesses sovereignty and an unconditional right to legislate.
This contradicts the Divine unity and the fundamental beliefs of religion. It is a basic mission and concern of heavenly religions that they propagate the true meaning of the Divine unity in order to deliver the masses of humanity and save them, by their belief in the oneness of God, from slavery to unjust and arbitrary rule. If it were not for the remarkable profundity and comprehensiveness exhibited by the contents of religion, and if it were not for the purposive movement of the Prophets, and their summons to awareness and perception, the conditions of human societies would never have changed.
Today there would be no trace of humanity left, and we would have no path to convey us to the station of true love. In the course of human history, it is only religion with its comprehensiveness and all-inclusive scope that has been able to come to the aid of human beings, to lead the masses by the hand, and play the most crucial of roles in guiding them toward ascent and advancement. No dimension of human existence has remained untouched by the positive effect of the Prophets, and their influence even on the formation and growth of human knowledge has been very extensive.
If we examine the history of the missions of the Prophets and the swift, remarkable and unparalleled growth of their movements, we will see that more than anyone else, they have served as sources of profound intellectual change and transformation in society. It is they who have breathed into the form of humanity the spirit of brotherhood, love and philanthropy, and who have taught human beings the culture of justice, peace and unity.
God has attributed to Himself the reconciliation of hearts and the establishment of solidarity that occurred as a result of Islam and the efforts of the Noble Prophet: "He is the God Who has reinforced you with His own aid and the assistance of the believers, and joined their hearts together. Were you to spend all the riches in the world thus to unite and reconcile them, you would be unable to do so. Rather, it is God Who has joined their hearts together for He is empowered over all things and all-knowing of the mysteries and benefits contained in all things." (8:66) The Prophet David was able to establish the most just of all conceivable judicial and political structures on the basis of the Divine message he had received.
The Quran says: "O David, We have bestowed rule on earth upon you, so rule justly among human beings. Never follow your own inclinations, for this will lead you away from God's path. Those who stray from God's path will be chastised with a great punishment, for they have forgotten the day of reckoning." (38:26) The celebrated historian, Will Durant, says: "Religion bestows a profound and masterly power and capacity on both society and the state. The rites and practices of religion give tranquility to the spirit, link the generations together, and bind individuals to each other, thus strengthening the fabric of society."
If such a Divine movement had not taken place in human history, mankind would have been eternally entangled in the swamp of misguidance and humiliation and could never have entered the realm of virtue and perfection. Even those individuals who deny the Prophets have benefited in some way from the blessed legacy of those human beings of God, from the great cultural achievements they brought about which wrought transformations and fashioned history. Furthermore, there is a profound and absolute link between the movement of the Prophets and knowledge in the absolute sense.
Those periods in which historical movements were led by human beings of God were among the most brilliant epochs of human history with respect to scientific advancement. The authentic teachings of Divine schools of thought, together with the foundations and principles they expounded, laid both a theoretical and a practical groundwork for appropriate social relations that permit the sciences to advance. Numerous are those philosophers and scientists throughout the world whose profound insights have been inspired in them by the Prophets, those guides to Divine unity.
To whom belongs the right to legislate?
Consider the thinking element within the human being and the relatively high degree of intellectual power it has gradually come to attain since the beginning of the human being's existence on earth. Examine, too, his capacities and his incapacities, and the problems and hardships with which he is faced. Despite all his faculties and properties, has he ever been able, or is he now able, to advance on a straight path of perfection merely by relying on his own mind?
Can he preserve himself from all deviation and decline, or put an end to the disorders that plague his existence? Can he plant the sapling of virtue and piety in the soil of his own being, alone and without drawing on the guidance of the teachers whom heaven has sent? Can he, unaided, bring to fruition the talents and capacities that are latent within him? If until now he has been unable to do any of these things, to implement any of these ideals, it is certain that he will be unable to do so in the future either.
Although some of his capacities may increase in the future, we must also accept that the difficulties and problems with which he is faced will also increase and grow more complex, just as his present problems are greater than those that confronted him in the past. Apart from this, the scope of the intellect's ability to perceive and to judge is a limited area which is illuminated only by the light of knowledge and learning. What lies beyond reason is enveloped in veils of obscurity and darkness and lies beyond the grasp of our minds.
By contrast, a considerable part of the teachings of God's Messengers relates precisely to the realities of which we are ignorant and unaware; it consists of the exposition of truths that are not contained within the sphere of our external perception. In order to become acquainted as much as possible with the origin of all beings, with the duties of the human being and other realities, we need a teacher and a guide sent by God, who will guide us toward perfection and the aim of creation with teachings that are both clear and comprehensive.
This is possible only by means of revelation and the teachings of Prophets who have a direct relationship with the source of creation and the lamp of whose intellects has been kindled from the eternal flame of His infinite knowledge. Another portion of the Prophets' teachings relates to the reform of our state and the correction of the errors into which we have fallen.
Whenever the sphere of what is knowable to us is penetrated by mistake or error, it is possible to correct the error and make up for the deficiency in our knowledge by referring to the guidance of the Prophets. We will thus be able to travel on a path that we could never traverse without the aid of those guides. Thus we come to understand the significance and value of the mission of the Prophets and the services rendered by them in guiding the human beings and elevating them to the pinnacle of triumph and perfection.
We know that the human being attains and develops his knowledge gradually. If science wishes to display to the human being the principles of his development, it must first be acquainted with all of his powers, capacities, and inner mysteries, and discern all of his various needs. In the opinion of all contemporary thinkers who count as authorities in the areas of education, sociology and politics, any plan or ideology that fails to take into account the basic nature of the human being is bound to be fruitless and valueless.
The establishment of laws is dependent not only on a complete knowledge of all the dimensions of human existence but also on a knowledge of the other beings with which the human being has dealings. It also requires a knowledge of society and its complex relationships. Furthermore, the legislator must be completely removed from distorting and misguiding factors such as ambition, selfishness, personal inclination and desire, which militate against the acquisition of perfect knowledge.
It is factors and obstacles such as these which cause the human beings to differ in their assessment of good and evil and the definition and implementation of justice. Is it possible to cure a sick person without diagnosing his illness? Establishing laws for the human being without understanding his essence and permitting it to remain covered in a host of unknowns, is exactly like trying to cure a patient whose illness is unknown.
For this reason, and because no school of thought has yet succeeded in defining the human being, any plan in the area of legislation is bound to end in failure and defeat. Despite all the efforts that have been made to discover the secrets contained in the existence of the human being (who is only one small entity among the countless and varied beings found in the scheme of the universe), and despite all the researches carried out by scientific associations having at their disposal precise and complex instruments?despite all this, who can doubt that there are numerous unconquered peaks in the spiritual being and inner world of the human being that we have not even glimpsed?
It is possible that a person may know many scientific and technical facts but be completely ignorant of one topic?namely, the limits and nature of his own being. The knowledge he has acquired is next to zero when compared to this ignorance. Ignorance of the limited nature of one's ability to perceive and understand gives rise to many other forms of ignorance; it causes the human being to turn his back on many truths and avert his gaze from many realities. If all obscure points concerning the corporeal aspect of the human being had been clarified, the scientific researches carried out throughout the world by millions of scientists would still be in vain.
A French scholar says: "However much we try, we cannot render these mechanisms comprehensible to our minds. All we know is that the regularity of the parts of our body is greater and more precise than that of a thousand great machines operated by the most highly specialized engineers.
"If you do not regard our opinion as a kind of belittlement or insult, all doctors and specialists who exert themselves in their field are convinced that the knowledge we have acquired until now is paltry and insignificant when compared to what we need to know in the future. The truth is that the human being is a complex, obscure and indivisible whole that cannot easily be known. We still lack the methods that would enable us to know him in all of his different parts and, as a whole, as well as in his relations with his environment.
Numerous techniques and precise sciences would be needed for such an undertaking, and each science would be able to study only one part of the complex system that is the human being, yielding only a partial result. We advance on this path only so far as technological progress permits us, and the totality of the abstract concepts we acquire does not furnish us a perception of the reality of the human being, for there are numerous significant and valuable points that remain unclarified.
Anatomy, physiology, chemistry, education, history, economics, together with all their branches, cannot reach the ground of the human being's essence."4 With respect to the astonishing activities of his soul, human being is without doubt a deep and limitless ocean, and our worldly knowledge concerning him is inevitably slight and insignificant. Who can claim to have discovered all the capacities and minutiae contained within this mysterious being, or to be aware of all his capacities and the degrees of perfection that are open to him?
Thus we conclude that we have but a drop of insignificant knowledge, shot through with doubt and hesitation, compared to an ocean of ignorance and unknowing. Science today is then confronted with the problem of the limitation of human powers, on the one hand, and the expanse and infiniteness of the world and of the human being, on the other; this problem has induced both bewilderrnent and humility in science. In fact, science itself has aided us in understanding that the knowledge of the human being can illumine only a small and insignificant part of this expansive world.
Now let us see whether science and intellect alone can assume the mission of impelling the human being to perfection. A world that cannot provide a precise knowledge of being, that does not know what the human being is, from the point of view of either body or soul, that is ignorant of the mysterious social relationships that arise from his spiritual and bodily properties?does such a world have the capacity to lay down laws for the human being that will reflect intelligence and wisdom, and be formed in accordance with the knowledge of the human being's true needs in their various dimensions? Laws that will ensure his true happiness, answer the totality of his needs, and enable him to walk on the path that benefits him?
As long as we do not know what we wish to make, and for what purpose and for whose sake, how can we even speak of laying down a plan and a program? Those schools of thought which claim to be able to make the human being's capacities blossom do so without first knowing what the human being is. How can they succeed in turning him into a being that would deserve all those efforts? The human being's basic problem today is not simply the acquisition of power but rather which of the various roads laid out before him he should travel. Many scientific topics and principles were accepted unanimously by thinkers of the past, but with the passage of time and the advancement of knowledge it has become apparent that their views were erroneous and invalid.
If we look at the history of legislation among the nations of the world, we will see that many laws which were the product of careful reflection and lengthy study on the part of outstanding experts and were drawn up with recourse to considerable scientific and intellectual resources, were proved mistaken and inadequate by the passage of time and by the emergence of more accurate research. That the social utility of which was yesterday regarded as proven is seen today as palpably inappropriate and even harmful. The place of such laws is then taken by a new set of laws which will, in turn, be amended and revised in accordance with the advancement of science and thought.
Naturally this does not mean that all the regulations and ordinances that originate in the human mind are useless and incorrect. The point is that because of such errors and their lack of inerrancy, man-made legal systems are incapable of providing for the different needs of the human beings and of leading society. It is entirely true that some scholars have expressed valuable views on the subject of legislation, but their ideas and works have been influenced, directly and indirectly, by the teachings of the Prophets. We can clearly see that deficiency and inadequacy are the hallmark of all those systems in the world that derive from manmade laws. Moral and material inadequacy, forms of corruption that kill the personality of the human being and drag him down to decline - all these are caused by regulations and laws that derive from human thought.
The insufficiency and fallibility of human laws is sufficient proof of this. Even if they acquire knowledge of the principles of human development, science and human thought are unable to assume alone the responsibility for the human being's ascent. Such a mission presupposes freedom from arbitrary and capricious desire and from the desire for advantage, for these are factors which prevent the human being from realizing his knowledge of self. The human being's love of the self and his devotion to its interests, as well as to whatever stands in relationship to him, is so profound that on a broad scale, whether consciously or unconsciously, he looks at all things from the point of view of his own interests; self-love deprives him of true realism.
When taken to the extreme, the pursuit of self-interest becomes a powerful and destructive factor that does away with the human being's honor. A condition appears in the human being such that every instant he is planning the violation of ethical norms and transgression against the rights of others, in order to draw to himself all conceivable benefits and gains. There is thus no guarantee that the human being can analyze affairs with true impartiality and establish just laws. Are those who have studied the human being and then - whether individually or collectively - established legal system, really aware of the problem and its solution? Have they avoided the trap of egoism, and are their thoughts and reflections immune from self-interest, discrimination and error?
Are they truly aware of the problems of groups and classes other than their own, scattered across the world, and the solutions those problems call for? Are they fully protected from the arbitrary whims and desires, the threats and the tricks, of the wielders of power and influence, of biased and evil-hearted the human beings? Given all of these questions, it is possible to hope that such founders of legal systems will prove to be ideal, positive and desirable elements? Finally, is it confidently possible to ensure the happiness of the human being by following and submitting to such dubious systems?
Now all these systems are supposed to bring order and equilibrium to the capacities and abilities of the human being, to his perception and choice; they are situated on a higher level than he is. How, then, can it be logically correct that the human being, the intended object of this process, should also be its subject? The human being, the object of the process, wishes to establish a system that will bring order and equilibrium, but ought not he himself be situated within four impenetrable walls that cannot be reached by the factors of deviance and error? If this is necessary, how is to be achieved?
Do the vision, perception and other faculties of the human being extend far enough to permit him to assume a position for which he is not qualified, to establish laws and regulations that take into account the different dimensions of the human being and bring order into all the affairs of the individual and of society, and solve both present difficulties and future problems? Objective realities without doubt lead us to conclude that the human being is incapable of truly knowing his own individual world or the world of being, and that, at the same time, he faces obscure, complex and vital problems that call for solution.
It is here that the inability of science and thought to fulfill such a mission becomes fully apparent. Even if the ray of science were able one day to illumine all the corners of human existence and to solve all those mysteries that were thought incapable of solution, it would still be unable to guarantee human happiness, given the fact that the human being is by nature condemned to live beneath the sway of self-interest and personal inclination Another problem that arises with respect to human legislation concerns the difference in levels of education and cultural circumstances prevailing among individuals that belong to different ranks of society.
Judgments, interpretations and assessments of existing realities, as well as of national concepts and customs and many other matters, will differ according to the educational, cultural and social situation in which an individual has grown up. Even the viewpoint of a single class in society is not uniform; the ways in which members of that class elaborate concepts and interpret certain words and terms may be completely different from each other.
Think of all the different interpretations of words such as peace, justice and equality, and of how the interpretation made by every individual or group corresponds to his breadth of vision or thought, as well as to personal or collective viewpoints. Normal people understand these truths in a clear and humane sense, but the rulers and leaders of society look on these terms and the matters connected with them in quite a different way.
Without doubt, the influence on the human beings of their environment is an important factor contributing to the deficiency and inadequacy of man-made laws. Legal scholars and legislators, subject to the influence of the ideas and beliefs prevailing in their societies, accept as irrefutable truth whatever they absorb from their environment. When they draw up laws, their minds are drawn, consciously or unconsciously, to the beliefs and ideas they have acquired or inherited.
The specific cultural atmosphere of society robs them of a realistic spirit and does not permit them to perceive realities as they truly are. Further, the views and opinions of the human being change according to different situations and conditions; as a result of the transformations, events and advances that occur in his life, his views and positions will change. Once a the human being is installed in the seat of power, his ideas and manner of judgment will no longer be the same as when he was an ordinary individual without any power. According to circumstances, he will look at things in two quite different ways.
Once a the human being's position changes, his views may be so thoroughly transformed that they no longer bear any resemblance to those he held in the past or have any connection with them; it is as if everything has taken on a new meaning for him. This is an obvious reality; everyone has seen in his own lifetime examples of these changes in direction as individuals rise and fall in the course of their lives. In addition, when drawing up laws, legislators generally take into account the desires and wishes of the majority, not the truth, even though those desires and wishes may not be beneficial and even be harmful for the individual and for society.
Addressing himself to the inadequacies of these various schools of thought that turn out to be opposed to the advancement and welfare of mankind, Rousseau makes the following realistic remarks: "In order to discover the best possible laws that should truly benefit all nations, a universal intelligence is needed that should be aware of all human passions but not experience them itself; that should have no connection with nature but know it intimately; and whose happiness is not in any way dependent on us but is willing to help us in attaining our happiness."
Another thinker says: "All of the different systems of government that have been fashioned by the thoughts and ideas of theoreticians are mere castles in the sky. Both the human being who was the good of the French Revolution and the human being who, according to the vision of Marx and Lenin, is to build the society of the future, are unreal. Let us not forget that the laws governing the relations of the human beings with each other have not yet been discovered. Both physiology and economics are imperfect sciences, or even pseudo-sciences. It thus appears that the environment we have created around ourselves with the aid of science is not worthy of us, because it has been created in a haphazard way, without adequate knowledge of the human being's nature or attention to his nature."
Legislation can belong, then, only to God, Whose knowledge embraces all directions and dimensions. He knows the human being and his relations with the world and other beings; He is aware of the changes and developments that occur in the human being and the world; He has infinite knowledge of the conditions to which the human being is subject and the limits of his perfection; and His essence is exalted above all the factors that hold the human being back and inflict harm on him. The Quran says: "The one Who created, does He not know?" (67:14)
A Rich and Fruitful School of Thought
The first condition for attaining the true goals of life, the lofty rank of happiness, and, not least, a comprehensive and authentic system of governance, is to appreciate, in a precise and scientific way, the necessity for a message and a Messenger. This recognition will enable us to conquer new horizons and journey toward undiscovered and virgin territories of human thought.
The human being has extensive resources at his disposal and he may enter a network of guidance, both within his own being and within the world where he lives, through the laws that God has laid down for him. That guidance is protected against all deviation and error, and its bearer is preserved, through the inerrancy bestowed on him by the Creator, from all sin, error, and forgetfulness in the receipt, promulgation and implementation of revelation.
Therefore, for those who draw their inspiration from sound thought, no doubt will remain that a system based on such guidance is able to secure the true interests, moral and material, of mankind. The efforts of the Prophets in their summons to the human beings are directed to giving shape to God's rule over mankind, this being the most just form of rule conceivable. In such a system, the domination of the human being over the human being and his imprisonment in the grasp of demonic oppressors will be fully negated. The intrinsic value and force of the words of the Prophet derive from the fact that he is the bearer of God's message.
The knowledge of the true human being and of human reality forms the basis of the worldview and the planning of all Divine schools of thought. A school of thought that is based on the very creation of the human being, that is aware of all the dimensions of his existence, and that supervises with infinite knowledge all of his natural properties, is well able, in the course of its planning and elaboration of laws, to take into account all the fundamental and authentic concerns of the human being.
Setting itself against all ego worship, all desire for fame, all search for mastery over the powers of nature, the movement of the Prophets derives its substance from the Divine will; it is God Who is the source of their actions. If the Prophets come into conflict with the human beings, it is fundamentally because of the limited ideas of the human beings; the Prophets attempt to bring to an end the narrow and limited vision of the human beings and to introduce them to a more productive mode of thought.
The distinctive feature of the system of governance established by the Prophets is the realization of justice in the true and comprehensive sense of the word. By virtue of the principles underlying the movement of the Prophets, the most just social relations come into existence in a way that edifies the human being's inner being. The equality of the human beings on a basis of brotherhood is translated into reality.
It is therefore impossible to ensure social justice in the true meaning except by way of God's message. At the same time, the schools of thought established by the Prophets give positive answer to the human being's profoundly felt need for freedom, and thereby break all the inner chains that fetter the human being's capacities, energies and will, and transform his vitality into stagnation. Parallel to this inner liberation of the human being, the Prophets also endow his outer life with freedom, setting him free from servitude to the tyrants of his age.
Under such conditions, there is no longer any question of laying down laws that are inadequate and erroneous, nor of rulers coercively enforcing their arbitrary will. For then, the legislator is God, God Who has created the world and all its inhabitants and knows in a precise and perfect fashion how to meet all the needs of the human beings in their various dimensions. Similarly, there is no question of ignorance or imperfect knowledge or of the slightest degree of oppression and injustice; selfishness and self-interest do not exist.
These are realities that deserve our deepest attention, and we must recognize the objective effect of all those ordinances which God has promulgated for the sake of social life and the resurrection of the human being. The Quran says: "Who can rule better than God?" (5:55) "God it is Who determines our social relations and rules over our deeds and conduct; He is the best of all rulers." (7:87) "Do they desire the rule of ignorance, whereas there is no ruler better than God?" (5:50) One of the distinguishing characteristics of the school of thought founded by the Prophets is that according to their teachings, the interests of society also benefit the interests of the individual, because the life of the human being never terminates, his interests being ensured by a long line that continued after his death.
Wherever the laws of heaven make their appearance and a prophetic mission, appearing as a Divine phenomenon, takes on the responsibility of responding to the intellectual, spiritual and material needs of the human being, as well as reforming both the individual and society - wherever this occurs, nothing will be reflected but reality. With respect to God, the question of environmental conditions and susceptibility to the concepts prevailing in society and culture does not even arise; there is also no question of the effect of change giving thought a new direction.
The factors that cause the human being to lose faith in his ability to attain the truth and perceive his true interests are thus totally negated. In the Divine school of thought, it is faith, the symbol of the human being's intellectual ascent, which functions as a powerful support for ensuring the implementation of the law. This is another advantage of systems of governance based on religion, as well as being a gushing spring from which the reality of existence flows forth.
In societies that are founded by Prophets, the human being is commonly entrusted with the supervision of his own person; he relies on his own findings, acquisitions and efforts. At the same time that the human being is thus free, he feels an intense sense of responsibility toward God. He measures every act he wishes to undertake and every position he wishes to take up against the criteria of religion, and then personally assumes the responsibility for that act and position.
He knows that to act on the basis of duty will bring numerous fruitful results, and that if he turns his back on his duties, he must be ready to face harmful effects and to endure evil consequences. A sense of duty vis-a-vis the Divine laws that embrace all dimensions of human life causes the human being to submit to the will of God with all of his being. The training of the human being in the school of the Prophets takes place in such a way that gradually his passionate inclinations gradually yield to truly human and Divine desires, permitting him ultimately to rise to the glorious station of servitude to God and being His representative on earth, this being the true nature of the fully evolved the human being.
By contrast, in legal systems of human origin, where there is no question of religious belief in a legislator, law lacks moral underpinning and the ability to influence the human beings profoundly and comprehensively. Everyone is constantly thinking how he might best shake off the constraints of the law, with the result that the implementation of the law faces all kinds of difficulty. Various coercive forces must be broadly deployed in order to ensure it. If the law contradicts the desires of the people, the task of its implementation becomes particularly complex and difficult. When such a law is enforced, it will be met with a storm of anger, dislike and repulsion, and it is only pressure that can then impose it.
No Guarantee for the Implementation of Human Law
It is, of course, possible to find people in society who believe in and adhere to laws and regulations of human origin, but it must be affirmed that such individuals are extremely rare and form the exception. They certainly do not represent the average member of society and cannot be regarded as a principal support of the social order.
The practical effectiveness of a conscience that is not guaranteed by religious faith or principle is, moreover, very slight when compared to effectiveness of religious beliefs. It must, therefore, be accepted that this advantage deriving from the teachings of the Prophets is restricted to the heavenly religions. If the spirit of people is nurtured with faith in God and religious belief serves as a support for legal principles, law takes on a universal aspect, and its implementation is guaranteed to a degree superior to the ability of human laws to influence the human beings.
Since belief has its roots in the activity of the existential mechanism of the human being and since it plays a basic role in the structure of human personality, profoundly altering the conditions of the soul, the human being comes to believe in and adhere to the laws of religion not only with his brain but with the entirely of his being. The certainty that religion shines like a light in the depths of the human being's being, illumining it and warming it at the same time.
The impetus that religion can create in the human being cannot be found in any non-religious school of thought. Experience has shown that other schools of thought are unsuccessful in this respect, because it is religion alone that relies on the heart, and the more firmly rooted faith becomes in the heart, the more it will serve as a source of dynamic activity. The human being witnesses today the elaboration and ratification of laws on the part of societies that officially recognize all the human beings, irrespective of racial, national, religious or geographical differences, as possessing certain rights and values.
Nonetheless, although scientific advances have created today more suitable conditions for the acceptance of reality, the attitude of different groups to the laws that represent their own accomplishment is entirely negative and denies those laws any influence or value. What people accept in theory they do not observe in fact. Whenever the law concerns them directly and their interests and desires are threatened, they will not hesitate to cross the boundaries of the law, to perform inhuman acts, and to engage in trickery and sabotage. It is obvious that the attitude of others towards laws of this nature will also not be one of positive acceptance.
This disregard for the value of the human being, this violation of law and the expansion of political struggle and conflict, the unhealthy economic rivalries of powerful states with most countries in the world, the tempestuous waves of social crisis and moral corruption - all this shows clearly how shaky and unfirm is the position of man-made laws, how slight are their influence and standing from the point of view of implementation, and how limited is the sphere of their rule.
A brief look at the manner in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been observed and implemented suffices to show that the only effect this declaration has had consists of the celebration of festivals, and the delivery of empty, meaningless lectures. If we follow, step by step, the development of religious ideas among the masses of humanity, will this not cause us to conclude that non-religious principles, which do not derive from exalted concepts, are weak and inadequate?
Will it not bring us to believe firmly in the veracity and truthfulness of religious systems which are nurtured with the power and majesty of the Lord of all creation and the influence of whose culture and ideology on the entire cultural life of the human being becomes more fully known every day through the researches of thinkers? We must look at results, at the fruits that different schools of thought have borne in human society. Is not the reason for the failure of human laws in ensuring the human being's progress and happiness not to be sought in their having remained ignorant of the true nature of the human being and their neglect of his real needs and creative abilities?
All of this serves to elucidate a single truth: that belief in the school of thought of the Prophets is a guarantor for the life of society, a support for all healthy relationships among the human beings, and a protector for the oppressed masses, and it has always bestowed the gift of freedom and brotherhood on mankind.
Whatever society, group or system does not set its face on this path and does not respond affirmatively to the liberating summons of God's Messengers to a more elevated life, will never experience true prosperity and salvation. The school of thought of the Prophets has provided penal laws for those persons who may exceptionally transgress against God's law.
These laws weigh the offense carefully and specify a punishment corresponding to the degree of seriousness of the crime and take into consideration the situation of the criminal.