Light versus Darkness
By: Dr. Hatem Abu Shahba
Muhammad was a simple and kindhearted man who was so gentle, well-mannered, truthful, and trustworthy. His self and heart were like a white page that is free of evil, sins, animosities, arrogance, selfishness, hatred, and the rest of the self and heart sicknesses which contaminate the hearts of most people and give it different shades of black colors that hurt those affected and all others in the society and humanity.
Such a kind and soft heart and such a gentle and humble purified self is always attracted to its creator and tries to get to know Him. It tries to come closer to Him and be devoted to Him. This phenomenon is usually observed in our human life all throughout the years. A more kind and pure heart and a more "white" and truthful self will typically be more attracted and inclined towards his creator. So the proportion here is direct.
Man is created from two parts that are mixed and intermingled with each other, but they are totally different from each other and never dissolve with each other. They are like a mixture of oil and water or a mixture of sand and cement. The first part which man is created from is a "light, spiritual and divine" part that is represented by God's blow of life (nafkhatullah) as He (SWT) said in the holy verse, “So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down making obeisance to him [15:29].”
So the blow of life (nafkha) here is that light, spiritual, and divine part in man, without which he is not a human being. Rather, he is only a body made of clay and dust that is just like the other lifeless bodies. This part of man is what elevates him to higher horizons and raises him over the rest of the earthly lifeless creatures. It is the reason why man has compassion, love, affection, sincerity, truthfulness, purity, kindness, humbleness, wisdom, contemplation, feelings, morals, and good manners.
Since that part of man is the blow of life (nafkha), spirit, and light from Allah (SWT), it is the reason behind every good thing in man, and it is behind every virtue and nobility in him. It is the energy, strength and capability that motivate him, without which man is without energy, capability, might or strength and so, he would be dead.
That part of man supplies him life, viability, or let us say, this part is the life itself since it is derived from Allah (SWT) who is the Permanent and Alive one, the origin of life and its Creator and Provider and He (SWT) is the Eternal Living one. The more this component grows and flourishes in man, the more purified his self becomes and his heart softens, and his conscious becomes clear, and there is increase in his affection, kindness, emotions, and wisdom, and the more well-behaved he his.
In summary, we can say that his humanity is raised above all other creatures. Being that this component of man is divine and luminary, it is a tie that connects him with his God and creator. So, if this spiritual component in man grew, it is logical that this person will naturally be attracted to his creator under the effect of this tie. So, man's tendency to exhibit a kind heart, good manners, clear conscious whose luminary and divine part has grown and developed towards his Lord and creator and the source of his light, is then natural, logical, expected, and understood!
As for the second component from which man has been created, it is made from the earthly, materialistic, and dusty clay. It is the part which Allah (SWT) refers to in the Qur’an, "So when I have made him complete [15:29].”
And also the verse saying, “Surely I am going to create a man from clay [38:71].”
This part was created first before the blow of life as the holy verse depicts, "There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning [76:1].”
One of the interpretations of this verse is that it refers to that period of time which came after the creation of man from dust and clay, and before the blow of life from Allah (SWT). During that period of time, man, represented in Prophet Adam (AS) was just a dead and lifeless body and was nothing compared to the world of the living. This earthly and dusty materialistic component in man is the tie which connects man all the time with earth and everything on it.
So, it always pulls him down to earth and the life of this world and its elements and everything created from it. This component of man is the one responsible and the reason behind his lower desires, (eating, drinking, shelter, clothing, mating, entertainment, etc) and the love of money since money is the tool by which you fulfill all these lower desires. Hence, this earthly part in man is also indirectly responsible for the conflict, struggles, and fights resulting from the love of man to wealth and his lower desires.
This conflict and struggle is the basis and source of all evil, sins, defects, and bad deeds which taint humanity. Mankind needs these evil sins and misbehavior to improve its ability to fight. These evils and negative aspects of man are like the canines, claws, and muscles of beasts. Without them, man cannot struggle, fight, or win this earthly competition.
This earthly component in man is also the cause of his connection with earth and his love for gaining more of its bounties and fruits. It is the reason behind his interest in discovering, inventing, flourishing, and escalating in it. This part is also the reason behind man paying attention to himself and his love and admiration to himself.
This state of mind naturally leads to the acquisition of attributes like arrogance, selfishness, self interest, vanity, pride, and that in itself is a reason behind the struggles and conflicts. This part is also behind the concern of man with his appearance, beauty, health, longevity, and entertainment in every way and all means.
This materialistic component in man is the one which remains after his death. It returns back to Earth to dissolve in it, for it is the source of that component. So this part of man is the tie between himself and Earth and its elements. Therefore, the more this component grows in a human being and flourishes, the more his love for lowers desires increases in all its forms! Likewise, the more his love for wealth increases as well as his struggle for money and power.
Consequently, his claws and canines represented by evil and sins will increase. And his selfishness, arrogance, and pride will also increase. His concern about his health and longevity will increase. This of course will cause him to be pulled more and more towards the earth.
In summary, this earthly and dusty component in man is the dark side within him and it is the entrance for the devil. The more the darkened part of man becomes strong and well-developed, the more his divine, spiritual and lightened part will diminish and decrease, and the more he will be distant from his Lord, God, and creator.
Thus, he comes out from light of guidance and goes to the darkness of ignorance. The tendency of such person to fulfill his lower desires, selfishness, and consequently, his evils and illnesses of his heart, and corruption of his self, and consequently, his distance from knowing his Creator, is logical, expected, and understood.
And the opposite is also true. The creation of man from these two contradicting parts is the reason behind the conflict inside him and is the reason behind his worry and misery as depicted in the Qur’anic verse, “Certainly We have created man to be in distress [90:4].”
Every person is created by Allah (SWT) with both parts in equal amounts out of His Justice and Grace. Hence, no person has a blow of life more than another and no person is created with more clay than another. Everyone is equal and that phenomenon is clearly observed in the innocent child who has the same amount of the two parts; the earthly dark component and the divine, enlightened component, regardless of the appearance, color, gender, or type of parents of this child. All of the children in this world are similar in this aspect and that is clearly observed in front of our eyes without a doubt.
Here, the following important question is posed: Why and how can the earthly and dark component of man grow and dominate him? And why and how can the enlightened, spiritual divine component in man can grow and dominate him? What are the factors which control that?
Animals too are created from two components. One part is earthly, materialistic, and made from clay, and the other part is spiritual, without which the animal would be dead. So what is the difference between humans and animals?
The difference is in one thing only but it is substantial. The difference is that Allah (SWT) the Creator, Glory be to Him, gifted man with a mind and made that mind serve as a judge which can rule and give a verdict between the two components. Allah (SWT) then gave this intellect the executive power represented in the free human will.
So the mind thinks, judges, rules, chooses, and carries out. This mind is in essence a complete government with its three branches; the legislative, judicial, and executive. This ability to use the mind has not been given to animals; rather, Allah (SWT) created animals a simple brain which can perform simple life functions to enable them to survive. But this brain can not judge, rule, or choose between the two components. Since man was gifted with the intellect, he became responsible in front of Allah (SWT), and has the freedom of choice, and will therefore be held accountable.
The mind is the one who chooses for the human being and it determines which side he will take. Will he lean towards the luminary, spiritual and divine side of the self, or to the earthly, dusty, and dark side within him? Man also owns the will to carry out and execute that decision afterwards.
So if a human being chooses with his mind and thinking to follow the earthly dark side in him, that part of him will grow, increase, and will dominate him. It will misguide that person to darkness away from his Creator and Lord. The opposite will take place if the mind chose to follow the luminary divine side of him. This side will also grow and dominate him such that his heart becomes purified, his behavior improves, and his spirit elevates. By that, man will come out of the earthly darkness and live in peace with himself and his surroundings. He will immediately, naturally, and logically become closer towards his Lord, as the butterfly is attracted towards the source of light. So, the human being is the one who makes the choice because he has a mind, and therefore, he is responsible of his choices.
However, there are two other factors which control the life of man and it cannot be ignored. The first factor is that Allah (SWT) by His compassion helps man and his mind to make the right choice and make the matter very clear to him. Allah (SWT) sent to him the prophets, messengers and divine guides to explain, instruct, enlighten his way, teach him, and educate him.
The second factor is invisible and it is guaranteed by Allah (SWT). It is a very important factor and that is the guidance and misguidance inspired by Allah (SWT). So whoever chooses with his mind and free will to follow his dusty earthly dark side once, twice, and thrice, then Allah (SWT) will misguide him more and more, and will facilitate that path for him and beautify it for him, since he chose it by his own free will in the first place.
This will keep on happening except if this man wakes up and recognizes his mistake and poor choice he made, and if decided by his own will to refrain from treading that path and instead, repent and return to the source of light within himself.
As for he who chooses by his own mind and free will the luminary part of himself and chooses to develop and grow the divine, spiritual part within himself, then Allah (SWT) will bless that in him and guide him more and more, and facilitate this path for him and make him pleased with his choices.
Allah (SWT) will double his steps for him unless the human chooses by his own will to turn back on his heels and return to his earthly and darkened side. In such case, Allah (SWT) will abandon him and if he goes deeper in that way, Allah (SWT) will misguide him more and more, and so on and so forth. This idea is stated very clearly in Surat Maryam, “Say: As for him who remains in error, the Beneficent Allah will surely prolong his length of days [19:75].”
Furthermore, the events of man's life is also controlled by Allah (SWT). So if man chooses his earthliness, darkness, and materialism, Allah (SWT) will make the events of his life and the personalities he meets pull him more towards his choice and allow him to dive deeper in misguidance and darkness. But if he chooses his enlightened, spiritualism, divine side by his own free will, Allah (SWT) will make the procession of his life, its events and personalities take him more towards the way of his God and lead him out of darkness towards the light of guidance
Except if Allah (SWT) wants to test and examine his faith through certain events and characters or bounties to test his persistence in choosing the path of his Lord and assess his determination to go through that way. If he passes the test, Allah (SWT) will reward him by elevating him to higher levels and will bless his steps in that way even more.
As a result, the luminary and divine part in him will grow and manifest itself. So, darkness leads to more darkness, and light leads to more enlightenment. As the verse in Surat Hud indicates, “And whoever seeks the life of this world and its glitter, Allah (SWT) will increase in his wealth and sustenance and he will not have a share in the Hereafter, and Allah (SWT) will increase him in his deeds such that he sees it as good [11:15].”
Allah (SWT) has said in Surat Al Kahf, “Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve [18:29].”
He (SWT) also says in Surat Al A’raaf, “Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the one who follows the right way; whomsoever He causes to err, these are indeed the losers [7:178].”
So the choice comes first from man and his intellect. Guidance or misguidance from Allah (SWT) then follows that choice and is based on it. Hence, it will affect the procession of man's life after that. Here, some people may ask: Why did Allah (SWT) create man from these two components: the spiritual, divine, luminary part and the earthly dusty, darkened side, and make the mind act as the judge between them so long as He (SWT) desires man to become spiritual, pure, and enlightened? Why didn't He (SWT) create him from one part only?
After all, the wisdom and will of Allah (SWT) is above everything and before everything. As Allah (SWT) says in Surat Al Anbiya’, "He cannot be questioned concerning what He does but they will be questioned [21:23].”
It is impossible to encompass the wisdom of Allah (SWT). However, there is no harm in using our minds and sound judgment. When Allah (SWT) created man, He (SWT) did want to create an angel. The angel is a creature created from soley the divine, spiritual, and enlightened part.
If Allah (SWT) created man in that fashion, then man would be an angel. But by His absolute ability, He (SWT) willed to combine both parts together in one integrated mixture…the live spirit and the dead body together. Light and darkness together, good and evil together in the same pot! The elevated lordship and the low earthliness together…in one place and in one creature with the mind present along with them acting as the judge. Just like joining two wrestlers or boxers together inside one ring and along with them a referee to rule and make decisions and determine the winner. But what is the wisdom behind that?
We say and Allah (SWT) is most knowledgeable, that gathering opposites together in the same place definitely shows the contrast and the distinction between them. So if you want something to be known and identified, then bring its opposite along with it so that the distinction takes place.
For example, light can not be identified and distinguished except if darkness exists. The living can not be known and identified except if the dead exists. A positive charge can not be known and identified except if negative energy is present. North cannot be identified except if we know where the south is. The salty can not be recognized without knowing what the sweet tastes like. Good can not be shown and identified except if evil has been known and identified.
This is what we call "contrast" or "resolution". Through the process contrast and resolution, it is possible to identify things and draw a picture. Without that, the picture is vague and unclear and cannot be recognized at all. That's why we see that in the life around us, everything Allah (SWT) provided its opposite so that one is distinguished over the other. That is from the necessities of life and the requirement of learning…white and black, tall and short, big and small, fat and thin, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, and so on and so forth.
So if Allah (SWT) desires the light to be known and identified and if He (SWT) wants the right and the good to be established, and if He (SWT) wishes that life and spirit to be recognized, then He (SWT) must then gather them with their opposites in the same place and in the same creature! Thus, the creation of man was for the purpose of achieving this goal and wisdom.
So, who will be the one to recognize, identify, and judge? It is the intellectual mind! Thus, Allah (SWT) bestowed it to man so that he may recognize with it, identify, rule, and achieve the great goal and wisdom of the creation. That is, the recognition and identification of the light, the good, the correct, life, spirit and the absolute might of Allah (SWT) through all that, since He (SWT) has created and originated everything from nothing.
This will then lead to the recognition (ma’refat) of Allah (SWT) and expression of His praise with complete surrender while confessing His power, perfection, beauty, kingship, and hence, submitting to Him through worshipping and prostration. All that leads man to love and obey his Creator. Through knowledge, admittance, surrender, submission, love and obedience, the utmost goal and wisdom behind man's creation can then be accomplished!
Gathering opposites together in the same creature and in the same place is a very difficult task and may almost seem impossible in our world as it requires great power. Combining opposites in man with the presence of a judge between them is in itself a proof and indication to the capability of Allah (SWT) and a manifestation to His Greatness and Power!
Allah (SWT) desires for the light to overcome darkness and change it to light. He (SWT) wishes for the good and virtue to defeat the evil and bad and change them to good and virtue too. He (SWT) wants the soul to transform the dusty and dead clay into life, viability, and livelihood. He (SWT) desires for elevation and highness to pull up the dust and lowliness and raise it along with it.
He (SWT) desires for spiritualism and lordship to overcome and defeat materialism, animalism, and lower desires and change them to a more clean and purified form. Allah (SWT) wants man with his two parts, but after his darkness changed into light, and his inferiority changed into highness and superiority, and after transforming his lifeless dusty clay into a purified and elevated life. He (SWT) wants man with his two parts, but after purifying his lower desires, and turning his evil into good.