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Self-Purification, the Central Goal of Divine Messengers

Self-Purification, the Central Goal of Divine Messengers Islam has attached special importance for moral ethics, and because of these consideration the Holy Quran contains relatively more verses regarding ethics as compared verses related to obligation. Inside the books of narrations, one may finds thousands of narrations regarding ethics as compared to narrations dealing with other topics; if this number is not regarded greater in quantity, certainly it is not smaller either. Therefore, in Islam, ethics constitutes the basics and should not be treated simply as secondary religious obligations or something related to the beautification and decoration of religious persons. If religion has defined do’s and don’ts for obligations, it has defined the same for ethics.

The greatest aim of Divine Messengers was to emphasize the importance of
refinement, purification, and training of human selves. God-Almighty said in the
Holy Quran:

“God did confer a great favor on the believers when he sent among them an
apostle from among themselves rehearsing unto them the signs of God, sanctifying
them and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while before that, they had
been in manifest error.”

The Holy Quran (13:164)

Therefore, it is obvious that the subject of human education and training was of
such vital importance that God-Almighty sent Divine Messengers especially for
this purpose thus, conferring a great favor ul1on the believers. The individual
as well as collective personality, prosperity or cruelty (of this world and
Hereafter) of a human being depends upon how much efforts he had already made or
is still making for self-building. It is from this consideration that
self-building is regarded something of such vital importance because it
determines ones eventual destiny.

The Divine Messengers came to teach human beings regarding the path of
self-building, nourishment, and perfection of self, as well as to accompany them
as their guide and helper in this vital and determinant task.

They came for cleansing and sanctifying human selves from their indecent moral
characteristics and animal instincts, and bestowing upon them superior spiritual
virtues. The prophets lectured human beings about the self-building program,
acted as helper and knowledgeable guides in identifying the ugliness in their
moral conducts, and showed them the ways and means for self-control against
their selfish whims and passions. By timely issuance of warning and intimidating
they succeeded in sanctifying the human selves from the moral obscenities and
indecencies. They came for plantation of sapling of higher moral virtues within
human souls, nurtured and protected it for its eventual blooming, and in doing
so acted as guides, friends, and helpers of the people by encouraging and
pursuing them towards the desired sublime’ objectives. The Holy Prophet (S) has
said:

"I emphasize the importance of good morals for you because God-Almighty has sent
me especially for this purpose.”

-Bihar al-Anwar vol. 69, p. 375.

He further said:

"I was appointed for the Prophethood so that I may accomplish the important task
of moral perfection within human souls.”

-al-Mustadarak, vol. 2, p. 282.

Imam al-Sadiq [1] (A) said:

"God-Almighty appointed prophets with good morals; therefore, whoever discovers
these virtues within himself should be thankful to God for this bounty, whoever
lacks these virtues must pray, cry, and shed tears 1before God Almighty asking
for such blessing."

-al Mustadarak, vol. 2, p. 283.

The commander of faithful Imam Ali [2] (A) said:

"Supposedly, if neither there was any desire for Paradise nor there was any fear
of Hell, and also there would have not been any belief about the reward and
punishment in the Next World; even then it would have been be fitting to strive
for moral perfection, because, good morals are the path towards prosperity and
victory."

-al-Mustadarak, vol. 2, p. 283.

Imam Baqir [3] said:

"The most perfect believers from the point of view of faith are the ones who
excel in moral conduct.”

-al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 99.

The Holy Prophet (S) said:

“There is nothing better than good moral conduct which could be written on the
"Letter of Deeds" on the Day of Resurrection."

-al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 99.

And said

“My Ummah will enter into Paradise mostly on the basis of piety and excellence
in moral conduct."

-al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. l00.

and the following narration:

"A man approached the Holy Prophet (S) and asked: ‘What is religion?’ The Holy
Prophet (S) replied: ‘Good moral conduct.’ The man asked the same questions from
the Holy Prophet (S) alternatively by appearing from right, left, and behind the
Messenger. Finally the Holy Prophet (S) took a deep look at him and said: ‘Why
don’t you understand?’ Religion is defined as never to get angry."

-Mohajateh al-Baiza, vol. 5, p. 89.

Islam has attached special importance for moral ethics, and because of these
consideration the Holy Quran contains relatively more verses regarding ethics as
compared verses related to obligation. Inside the books of narrations, one may
finds thousands of narrations regarding ethics as compared to narrations dealing
with other topics; if this number is not regarded greater in quantity, certainly
it is not smaller either. The rewards and promises mentioned for good moral
deeds are certainly not lesser than the rewards prescribed for other actions,
and likewise the warnings and punishments described for indecent moral actions
are certainly not less than the punishments for other actions.

Therefore, in Islam, ethics constitutes the basics and should not be treated
simply as secondary religious obligations or something related to the
beautification and decoration of religious persons. If religion has defined do’s
and don’ts for obligations, it has defined the same for ethics. If
encouragement, persuasion, rewards, punishment, and warnings have been utilized
for obligations, the same approach has been applied for ethics as well as.
Therefore, there exists no difference between ethics and obligations as for as
religious recommendations are concerned, and in order to achieve perfection and
prosperity one cannot remain ignorant of ethical matters.

The moral obligations cannot be ignored by taking the excuse of treating them
simply as moral obligations, likewise forbidden moral acts should not be
performed either. If performance of daily-prayers is compulsory and their
non-performance is prohibited and brings Divine-Punishment, equally important is
the fulfillment of a promise and its breach is prohibited and brings
Divine-Wrath. The real religious and prosperous is some one who is committed to
his religious obligation as well as is honest in fulfillment of his moral
commitments. On the contrary ethics play an important role for achieving
prosperity and spiritual perfection that will be explained in the book later on.

Self-awareness and Self-building.

Although a human being is not more than a single reality, but is the possessor
of different dimensions within his single existence –the existence which starts
from the insignificant dusty material lacking any sort of sense and feelings and
ultimately terminates into a precious celestial jewel.

God-Almighty said in the Holy Quran:

"Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man
from clay, then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; then he
fashioned him and breathed into him of his spirit; and appointed for you hearing
and sights and hearts; small thanks give ye"

-The Holy Quran (32: 7-9)

A human being is the possessor of various facts and parameters within his
existence. From one aspect he is the possessor of physical body and a name,
while from another aspect he is possessor of animal instincts as well as.
Eventually overall, he is a human being possessing superior human virtues which
are not found in other animals.

Therefore, human being is a single reality, a reality that possesses various
dimensions and facts within his single existence. When it is said: My weight and
my face, it is indicative of his body and name; when it is said: My food and my
health, it is also related to his body; when it is said: movement, anger, and
sexual passion, it indicates his animal self; and lastly when it is said; my
wisdom, my thinking and my thoughts, it indicates to his superior human virtues.
Therefore, a human being possesses different kinds of selves namely; self
related to his physical body, self related to his animal instincts, and the
human-self, but the most valuable and precious self is his -human-self. What had
made human beings, "Vicegerent of God" upon earth and has distinguished them
over other creatures is nothing but the single heavenly "Spirit" blown into his
existence by the God-Almighty, called Human Soul. The wise God has explained the
creation of human beings in the Holy Quran as follows:

"Verily we created man from a product of wet earth; then placed him as a drop
(of seed) in a safe lodging; then fashioned we the drop a clot, then fashioned
we the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh,. and then produced
it as another creation. So blessed the God, the Best of Creators.”

-The Holy Quran (23:12-14)

It is about the creation of human being that God-Almighty has said:

"So blessed the God -the Best of Creators.”

-The Holy Quran (23:14)

It was because of this Heavenly Spirit that human being reaches to an exalted
position that God-Almighty orders the angels as follows:

"So when I have made him and have breathed unto him of My Spirit, do ye fall
down prostrating yourself unto him."

-The Holy Quran (15: 29)

If, human beings were bestowed distinction over other creatures and God-Almighty
said about them as follows:

“Verily, we have honored the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the
sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them
above many of those whom we created with a marked preferment."

-The Holy Quran (17: 70)

Therefore, if a human being should strive for self-building he must build his
human-self and not his animal or physical-self. The aims of prophets had been to
strengthen the human beings in their endeavors for perfecting their human
selves. The Prophets said to the human-beings:

Don’t forget that your self is your human-self; in case you sacrificed your
human-self for the sake of whims and passions of your animal-self; you will
inflict upon yourself a terrible loss.

The God-Almighty has said in the Holy Quran:

“Say: the losers will be those who loose themselves and their house folk on the
Day of Resurrection. Ah, that will be the manifest loss."

-The Holy Quran (39:15)

Those who never think about any thing except their animal existence have indeed
lost their human personality and are not striving for their recovery either. The
Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali (A) has said:

"It is indeed strange to see someone so desperately looking for lost personal
things, while making absolutely no efforts to find his lost (human) self."

-Gharar al-Hukm p.  495.

There can not be more severe and painful loss than some one’s loosing his human
personality and real self; for such a person nothing is left except animalism.

Human-soul and Animal-self

The verses of The Holy Quran and narrations about human-self could be divided
into two categories. Some of the verses define human-self as a precious valuable
jewel possessing Heavenly excellence, descended from Heaven, which is the source
of all superior characteristics and human virtues. These verses recommend that
human beings must strive for achieving self-refinement and self-perfection
through training, and must be careful for its protection, never to loose such a
precious Heavenly gift. For example God-Almighty in Holy Quran defines this
precious jewel as follows:

"They will ask the (of Muhammad) concerning the spirit. Say: The spirit is by
command of my Lord, and knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little."

-The Holy Quran (17:85)

In the above verse the spirit has been defined as an existence belonging to the
celestial world that is superior than the material world. The Commander of the
Faithful Imam Ali (A) about the self said:

“Self is like a precious jewel, whoever strives for his protection, he will help
him attaining exalted positions, and whoever acted negligently in his protection
he shall pull him towards humiliation."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 226.

And said:

"Whoever knows the worth of his self will never allow himself to be indulging
into passing worldly amusements and shameful deeds.”

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 669.

And said:

"Whoever discovers the nobility of self shall guard him against lowness of
passions and false desires."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 710.

And said:

"Whoever possesses the nobility of self will have more compassion."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 638.

Also said:

"Whoever possesses the nobility of self will become free from Wants."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 669.

From the above quoted verses and narrations whose examples are frequent, it can
be derived that human self is a valuable and precious jewel which should be
carefully guarded protected and nourished.

The second category of verses and narrations defines the self as something
wicked and dangerous enemy responsible for all sort of evils, against whom we
are supposed to wage a great struggle (Jihad-e-Akbar) till it becomes completely
submissive, otherwise it will inflict terrible misfortune and cruelty upon the
defeated person.

Following are some examples:

"But as far him who feared to stand before his lord and restrained his soul from
lust, Lo ! The garden will be his home."

-The Holy Quran (79:40-41)

The Holy Quran quotes from Prophet Joseph (A):

"I don’t exculpate myself Lo! the (human) soul enjoineth unto evil, save that
whereon my Lord hath mercy. Lo! My Lord is Forgiving, Merciful."

-The Holy Quran (12: 53)

The Holy Prophet (S) said:

"Your’s greatest enemy is your self, which is located between your two sides."

-Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, p. 64.

Imam ‘Ali (A) said:

"Self commands you continuously to indulge into evil deeds, therefore, whoever
trusted his self -he will deceit him, whoever believed his self -he will destroy
him; and whoever is satisfied with his self –he will lead him to face worst kind
of disasters.”

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 226.

He further said:

“Trusting the self provides the most dependable opportunities for devil’s
entrance”

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 54.

Imam al-Sajjad [4] (A) said:

“Oh God! I do complain to you against the self –which continuously commands; to
indulge into sinful acts and deviations,. Stands up against Your wrath and
punishment; and pulls me towards the path of absolute destruction."

-Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 94, p. 143.

From the above quoted verses and narrations whose examples are frequent, it can
be derived that human self constitutes an evil existence which is the source of
all sort of sins and therefore, should be made submissive through efforts and
waging greater struggle (Jihad-e-Akbar). Here it is quite possible that some may
consider that these two categories of verses and narrations are incompatible and
contradict each other; or one might imagine that a human being possesses two
selves, namely: human- self which is the source of all goodness and blessing,
and the other one animal-self which is the source of all evil and sinfulness.

Both of the above mentioned interpretations are incorrect because firstly there
exists no conflict between the above mentioned verses and narrations of two
categories; secondly, the sciences had already proved that a human being is not
more than a single reality possessing a single self and it is not such that his
animalism and humanism are separate from each other.

But human self comprises of two stages and two dimensions of his single
existence. At lower the stage, self is an animal possessing all animalistic
characteristic, while at higher stage, the self is a human possessing
Divine-spirit -descended from the Celestial Heavenly Kingdom. When it is said:
Self is noble, precious, source of all virtues and blessings; one must endeavor
for his nourishment and perfection -here the higher stage of self has been
indicated.

But when it is said: Self is your greatest enemy; don’t trust him because he
will lead you to eventual destruction, control and make him submissive through
greater struggle -here his animal and lower stage have been pointed out. If it
is said: Nourish and strengthen your self here the human dimension of the self
is meant. When it is said: Wage greater struggle for his total submission, here
the animal dimension of the self is meant.

There exists a continuous confrontation between these two selves or two stages
of human existence. The animal self continuously strives to dominate by keeping
human being amused with whims, passions and lower animal desires, thus, closing
the path of advancement perfection, exaltation and movement towards God-Almighty
and making a human being captive of his animal self. While on the contrary his
human self or the higher stage of his existence continuously strives for
attaining the higher sublime spiritual stations of human perfection leading
towards God’s Countenance, and in order to accomplish his cherished goal, tries
to control, and forces the animal-self for his absolute submission. This
internal struggle, within the human existence continues until one of the
combatant becomes victorious defeating his opponent.

If the human or celestial-self gets upper hand -the human values become alive,
thus, leading human being towards the road of spiritual excellence and
perfection ultimately achieving the highest position of God’s Countenance. But,
on the contrary if the animal-self becomes victorious -he turns off the light of
wisdom, thus, throwing the human being into the deepest valley of darkness
confusion and deviation. It was because of this internal confrontation within
human existence that Divine Prophets came to help guide and support the human
beings in their holy struggle which ultimately determines their destiny.

Human Virtues

A human being possesses two types of selves: the human self and the animal self,
but the value of a human being is related to his human-self and has nothing to
do with his animal self. The animal-self may be regarded some sort of parasitic
existence, or like an uninvited guest, and in reality is the unconscious-self.
Although, a human being is an animal and is obligated to fulfill his animalistic
requirements, but he has not been created to live in this world like an animal,
instead he has been created with the aims and objectives of utilizing and
commissioning his animal existence for perfecting his human existence.

A human being have some genuine requirements incorporated within his inner
existence for the sake of his animal as well as human existence. Since he is an
animal, he requires food, water, clothing and shelter in order to motivate him
for making serious endeavors for their search, feelings of thirst and hunger
have been incorporated within his existence.

Similarly, for the sake of continuation of human race, sexual desires and love
for female partner have been incorporated within his nature.

Since men like to live and in order to sustain his life he has no other choice
except to take care of means of living required for his animal existence. When
he sees food he feels hungry and desires to eat and therefore, he tells himself:
I must arrange food for my own consumption and whatever obstacles are
encountered in this path I must try to remove them. Of course, these feelings
are not bad because for sustenance of life one must work, eat and drink. In
Islam not only this has not been forbidden, on the contrary it has been
recommended and encouraged. But parallel to that it must be clearly understood
that the animal life is a preliminary and not the desired goal. Or in other
words, the animal life is not the main guest rather some one accompanying him.

Therefore, if some one assigns authenticity to animal existence, strives and
endeavors seriously day and night to fulfill his animal lower desires and
passions; considers the aims of life simply eating, drinking, sleeping, and
reproducing -has indeed fallen into intense darkness of deviation and wanderness.
Because, he has removed the human wisdom and Heavenly spirit from the position
of power and have confined them into a forgotten place. Such an individual does
not deserve to be called as a human being -rather he is an animal with a human
face. He possesses wisdom but by his perverted deeds has become so isolated that
he can no longer recognize and follow the superior human virtues and
characteristics. In spite of having eyes he is unable to see the realities; in
spite of possessing ears he cannot hear the facts. The Holy Quran considers such
an individual as an animal and even worse and more deviated than the animals
because animal lacks wisdom and does not understand, while the above mentioned
person in spite of having wisdom does not understand.

The Holy Quran describes such individuals, as follows:

“And if they answer thee not, then know that what they follow is their lusts.
And who goes farther astray than he who followeth his lust without guidance from
God? Lo! God guideth not wondering folk.”

-The Holy Quran (28:50)

And further said:

“Already have we urged unto Hell many of the Jinn and humankind, having hearts
wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and
having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle -nay but they are
worse! These are the neglectful."

-The Holy Quran (7: 179)

The Holy Quran further defines these creatures as follows:

"Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god, and God sendeth him astray
purposely and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a
covering ? Than who will lead him after God (hath condemned him) ? Will you not
then heed ?"

-The Holy Quran (45: 23)

How unfortunate and losers are those who have sacrificed their heavenly-self,
prosperity, and human perfection for the sake of passions and desires of their
animal existence? They have exchanged their human self with their animalistic
pleasures. [5]

The Commander of the Faithful Imam’ Ali (A) said:

"Whoever becomes involved into world’s allurements, thus giving up his gains
from his immortal life in the Next World -has indeed been cheated."

-Gharar al-Hukm, vol. 1, p. 88.

He also said:

"Restrain your self from indulgence into lower shameful deeds no matter how
attractive or appealing they might appear because, in this exchange or trade you
do not receive the genuine value of your self Do not allow yourself to be slave
of other because, God has created you as free. The goodness which cannot be
obtained except through the evil is not goodness. Also a thing acquired except
with serious efforts would not be easy to retained.”

-Nahjul-Balagha, Sabhi Saleh, vol. 31, p. 401.

And said:

"What a bad trade it is that one exchanges his self for this world instead of
trading it with whatever is available with God-Almighty (in the Next- World).”

-Nahjul-Balagha, sermon 32.

But, a human being cannot be summarized only into animal self, because he also
possesses a human self, and on account of this merit he is an abstract and
Celestial Jewel, descended from the Heavenly Kingdom, cherishing values other
then animalistic desires. If a human being ponders deeply into his Inner
existence and really recognized himself; he will discover that he has arrived
from the kingdom of power, wonder, knowledge, blessing, benevolence,
illumination, goodness, justice, and in one sentence from the kingdom of
absolute perfection, and is originated and belonged to it.

It is here that a human being discovers another prospective and looks beyond the
limit boundaries of created world -towards the supreme source of absolute
perfection and feels attracted towards his higher values. Hence being committed
for aspiration of those cherished values, accordingly he changes the movement of
his self from the animalistic course towards the exalted path of perfection
-which ultimately leads him towards the highest spiritual station of God’s
Nearness.

When this internal revolution within him occurs the importance of higher and
moral ethical values becomes explicit. Therefore, if a human being desires
values such as knowledge, favor, welfare, sacrifice, justice, benevolence,
defense of deprived and destitute, truth, goodness, and honesty- it is because,
he considers him belonging to the World of Absolute Perfection and regards such
virtues worthy of his exalted human position. It is because, of these feelings
that he admires them to the extent, that he is ready to sacrifice his animal
self and its desires for the sake of those cherished higher virtues.

Good morals, etiquette, and ethics are defined as a series of spiritual and
meaningful perfection, whose proportion for his own spiritual perfection need,
is clearly understood by the human celestial soul. The soul admits to himself:
"I must do these things.”

The ethical musts are derived from the degree of perfection and nobleness within
the self and are utilized for achieving exaltation of essence and spiritual
perfection. When he says: "I must offer sacrifice on this righteous path."
Because, he understands that sacrifice is useful for achieving the perfection
and exaltation of essence, and therefore, desires to do that. As for as the path
and means of spiritual perfection are concerned they are the same for all human
beings. Similarly, all of them have been created identical as for as their sense
for recognition of values and anti values is concerned.

If a human being ponders deep into his own perfection seeker pure nature, away
from the whims and passions of self, he might discover the moral and ethical
virtues as well as the moral vices. All human beings of all times were created
such by the God-Almighty. And if some, of them become deprived of this sacred
sense of identification, it was because their whims, passions, and intense
animalistic desires, silenced the light of their wisdom, leaving them like a
sole rider in the fields of self-struggle.

The Holy Quran about the recognition of virtues and vices by the pure human
nature as follows:

“And a soul and Him who perfected it and inspired it (with conscience of) what
is wrong for it and what is right for it. He is indeed successful who causeth it
to grow.”

-The Holy Quran (91:7-9)

The Prophets came with the intention of awakening human nature and to charge
their unconscious-self into conscious-self; they came to help, support, and
guide human beings in recognizing and paying attention to higher moral values,
and utilizing them for attaining God’s-Nearness; they came to remind human
beings about their exalted human position and need for safe guarding and
motivating the superior human virtues; they came to emphasize the important
point that: You are not animals instead are humans and possess the potential of
being superior than the angels. World affairs and animalistic manifestations are
far below before your exalted celestial dignity and therefore, you should not
sell yourself for them.

Imam al-Sajjad (A) was asked:

“Who is the most exalted and most noble person?”

“The one who does not regard the world worthy of greatness of his self.” Replied
the Imam.

-Tohf al-Aqul, p. 285.

If man really identifies his true human personality and if his human self indeed
gets upperhand, then good morals and ethics become alive and dominate over the
moral vices and rascalities. And when it occurs, a man is no longer permitted to
ignore human values and follow vices for example, Ignoring truth and speaking
lies, disregarding honesty and practicing treachery, not care about the honor of
self and indulging into sinful deeds; and ignoring favor and practicing human
persecution etc.

The Commander of Faithful Imam Ali (A) said:

"Whoever consider his self honorable will regard selfish passions low and mean."

-Nahjul al-Balagha, saying 449.

The prophets continuously strived for awakening the upright human nature so
that. they could learn about their jewel of existence and could discover their
dependence and link with God-Almighty; thus spending everything in their
possession for attaining the position of nearness and pleasure of the Lord of
the worlds to the extent that their eating, drinking. Sleeping, seeing,
speaking, working, living, and dying become sacred and ethical. Truly, when men
become God’s servant and do not cherish for any other goal except his pleasure
everything become ethics, worship and virtue.

The Holy Quran said:

"Say: Lo! My worship and my sacrifice, and my living, and my dying are for God,
the Lord of the worlds."

-The Holy Quran (6:162)

Therefore, because of the above mentioned reasons, recognition of self in Islam
has been assigned a special importance. The Commander of the Faithful Imam’ Ali
(A) has said:

"Self-consciousness is one of the most profitable assets of a person."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 768.

And said:

"Whoever succeeds in self -his affairs will be improved."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 628.

What is meant with self recognition is not the particulars of one’s identify
card rather it means –man’s realization of his true position within the created
world; an understanding that he is not simply an earthly animal rather is a
reflection of heavenly illumination from the Celestial Kingdom; is the Trustee
and Vicegerent of God-Almighty upon earth. A celestial being who has been
created conscious, empowered and free, is capable of upward ascent towards the
absolute perfection, and his special creation has been assigned the
responsibility of nourishment and perfection of the self. It is because of this
realization that man feels a sense of greatness and perfection; discovers the
sacredness and virtues within his inner existence and morals and ethics become
valuable and meaningful for him. In that case he get relieved from the feelings
of hopelessness, depressions, vainness, nonsense, aimless repetitions, and
instead life becomes sacred, precious beautiful, and objective.

Esoteric Life

Man in this world has an outwardly life related to his body. He eats, drinks,
sleeps, moves, and walks but at the same time also possesses a spiritual life in
his inner essence. While he lives in this world, at the same time within his
inner essence either journeys towards prosperity, perfection and enlightenment,
or moves towards adversity, cruelty and intense darkness; either journeys on the
righteous path of humanity and ascends towards God, or deviates from the
righteous path heading towards darkest valleys where he wanders in darkness
becoming eventually lower than animals; either marches up on the steps of
perfection towards enlightenment, joy, perfection, and God’s Countenance or
falls into intense darkness for eternal punishment.

Although, majority of people are ignorant of this reality but it does exist.

God-Almighty said in Holy Quran:

"They know only some appearance of the life of the World, and are needless of
the Hereafter."

-The Holy Quran (30: 7)

But being knowledgeable or ignorant does not change the reality on the Day of
Resurrection when the dark curtain of materialism are rolled up from the human
eyes thus, enabling him to witness the reality and his own state of affairs.

The God-Almighty said in Holy Quran:

"(And unto the evil-doer it is said): Thou wast in needlessness of this. Now we
have removed from thee thy covering and piercing is thy sight this day."

-The Holy Quran (50:22)

Therefore, from the above quoted verses it may be inferred that affairs related
to the Next World all along did exist within human inner essence right here in
this world, but unfortunately man was ignorant to realize it. However, since in
the Next World all the materialistic curtains of ignorance shall be removed from
his sight, he will be forced to see these realities clearly over there. We may
therefore, conclude from the above mentioned verses and traditions that the
human-self earns things while living in this world, and these earning shall
remain with him eventually determining his ultimate destiny in his eternal
abode. Following are some examples:

God-Almighty said in The Holy Quran

"Every soul is a pledge for its own deeds."

-The Holy Quran (74:38)

And said:

"Then every soul will be paid. in full what it hath earned; and they will not be
wronged."

-The Holy Quran (3:161)

And said:

"God will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths.
But He will take you to task for that which your hearts have garnered. God is
forgiving, clement."

-The Holy Quran (2:225)

And said:

"God tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it hath
earned, and against it (only that which it hath deserved.”

–The Holy Quran (2:286)

And said:

"On the Day when every soul will find itself confronted With all that it hath
done of good and all that it hath done of evil (every soul) will long there
might be a mighty space of distance between it and that evil."

-The Holy Quran (3:30)

And said:

"Whoso doth right, it is for his soul. and whoso doth wrong, it is against it.
And afterward unto your Lord ye will be brought back.

-The Holy Quran (45:15)

And said:

"And whoso doth good an atom’s weight will see it then, and whoso doth evil an
atom’s weight will see it then.”

-The Holy Quran (99:7-8)

And said:

"And that man hath only that for which he maketh effort and that his effort will
be seen.”

-The Holy Quran (53: 39-40)

And said:

"And whatever of Good ye send before (you) for your souls, ye will find it with
God."

-The Holy Quran (2:110)

And said:

“The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man). Save him who bringeth unto
God a whole heart.”

-The Holy Quran (26: 88-89)

The Holy Prophet (S) said .to one of his companions:

“Oh Qais! You will have no other choice except to live with a companion in your
grave. He is alive and you will be buried with him. If he is good and honorable,
will make you honorable, and if he is low and mean, you will become low and mean
as well. After that on that on the Day of Resurrection you will be associated
with him and will be reprimanded. Therefore, be careful and try to select a
righteous companion for yourself; because if he is righteous -you will develop
affection for him. If he is corrupt be assured that all the fear and punishment
inflicted upon you will be through his existence. That companion is nothing but
your actions and deeds in this life."

-Jameh al-Sadat, vol. 1, p. 17.

A human being in this same world is continuously occupied in nourishing his self
as well as accumulating the provisions of his life in the Next World. Through
his belief and thoughts, habits and virtues, love and liking, interests and
desires and by means of actions which affects his self -he gradually nourishes,
trains, and builds himself. His ultimate outcome is all related to the above
mentioned factors, learning and righteous belief, ethics and good morals, love
and association with God-Almighty, obedience and seeking God’s Pleasure, and
performance of righteous deeds in accordance with Divine Commands etc. are
things which are responsible for the ascension of human Celestial Soul towards
the stages of perfection, ultimately achieving the highest spiritual station of
God’s Nearness. A human by means of faith and performance of righteous deeds in
this very world discovers a new life and purity which would be manifested in the
Next World.

God-Almighty said in the Holy Quran:

"Whosoever doth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We
shall quicker good life."

-The Holy Quran (16: 97)

Man in this world in addition of utilizing material blessings for his bodily
pleasures could also utilize spiritual blessings for the growth, training and
perfection of his soul and innerself, thus, building his Next World’s life in
such a manner that the desired result would be manifested in the Hereafter.

Imam al- Sadiq (A) said:

God-Almighty says to his servants:

"Oh my righteous servants! Utilize My worship’s blessing in this world so that
you could be benefited with them in the Next World as well."

-Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, p. 253.

The Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali (A) said:

"Continuation of invocation (dhikr) is the nourishment of human souls.”

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 764.

He also said:

"Don’t forget invocation (dhikr) of God-Almighty because, it is the illumination
of Hearts."

-Gharar al-Hukm, p. 479.

"Paradise and its blessings or hell and its punishments for a human being are
decided in this same world through his beliefs, morals and deeds, even though he
might be ignorant of them; but in the next world when the materialistic curtains
are rolled up, this reality will be manifested.

Imam al-Sajjad (A) in a narration speaks as follows:

"Be aware! That whoever bears enmity with the prophets and saints; accepts
religion other than God’s religion; disregards Divine Obligations by following
his own whims and passions; is indeed engulfed with eternal flames which
consumes human bodies -the bodies who have given up their spirituality through
domination of cruelty over their inner existence. Alas! They are like dead
bodies who do not feel the heat of the fire. Had they been alive they would have
felt the pain and torture of burning their bodies. Therefore, oh people of
insight! Learn a lesson and be thankful to the Lord of the worlds who has
bestowed upon you the blessing of His Guidance.”

-Qurrateh al-Ayoon, Faiz, p. 466.

The God-Almighty said in the Holy Quran:

"Lo Those who devour the wealth of orphans wrongfully, they do but swallow fire
into their bellies and they will be exposed to burning flame."

-The Holy Quran (4:10)

A human being in this world either accumulates enlightenment and insight or
cruelty and darkness for the Next World. If he remained blind and without
enlightenment in this world tomorrow he will be raised up in the Next World with
the same condition.

The Holy Quran said:

"Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further from the
road."

-The Holy Quran (17:72)

The most eminent scholar Allameh Tabatabai (R.A.) had stated the following
interesting story:

"Once upon a time there used to live a pious ascetic and saintly personality
known as Sheikh Abud in Najaf Ashraf. He was a committed way farer upon the road
of gnosticism, continuously worshipping and reciting invocation (dhikr).
Sometimes he would visit the grave yard located in the Wadi-us-Salam, spending
long hours walking, sitting, pondering, and looking carefully at the old and new
graves. One day, while returning from such routine visits he was encountered by
a group of curious people, who after offering salutations asked him: ‘Sheikh
Abud! What is new of Wadi-us-Salam?’ ‘There is nothing new’. Replied Sheikh Abud.

"But the group insisted to hear some news from the Wadi-us-salam. Then the
Sheikh Abud said:

“I encountered the most strange thing over there; in spite of careful looking
through the new and old graves, I could not discover any traces of snakes,
scorpions, and the food stuff consumed by them. I therefore, asked one of the
grave: in narrations it has been described that the human beings inside the
graves are tortured by the snakes, scorpions, and other noxious creatures, but I
do not see these creatures within these graves.”

"The grave replied to me: ‘Yes! It is true that snakes and scorpions do not
exist among us, instead, you are the one who bring them with you from the world
for your own fortune.”

The internal and spiritual life of a human being is an actual and real life; a
human being in his essence travels a real path which either leads him towards
prosperity and perfection or terminates into cruelty and total annihilation. For
continuation of this action he receives help and strength from his beliefs,
morals and deeds.

God-Almighty in The Holy Quran said:

“Whoso desireth power (should knows that) all power belongth to God. Unto Him
good words ascend, and the pious deeds doth He exalt.”

-The Holy Quran (35:10)

The ultimate status of human self is the outcome of his efforts and endeavors
which depends upon his beliefs, morals, characteristics, liking, and deeds; the
final result of which, whether good or bad, will be declared in the Next World.

What to Be?

The scientific higher learning had confirmed that the human sprit consists of a
physical occurrence and a spiritual eternal dimension. That is, the Celestial
Spirit is the same earlier physical form, which after passing gradually through
various stages of perfection has now reached to the level of human soul meaning
potential human being. This movement towards perfection never stops rather
continues till the end of human life. At the beginning he is a celestial
abstract superior than the matter, but at the same time he is not a full or
complete abstract because, for his existence, he is related to a physical body.

The soul consists of two dimensional existence: The material dimension which is
related to body and performs material acts, and because of this consideration
the stages of movements towards perfection have been attached to it; the other
dimension is an abstract superior than the matter capable of performing
non-material acts. One side of his existence is physical and animal while the
other side is human and celestial. While he is not more than a single existence,
possesses animal passions and desires and accordingly performs animalistic acts,
but at the same times also possesses human desires and virtues and performs
human obligations.

It was because of this wonderful creation that God-Almighty in Holy Quran said:

"So blessed be God -the best of creators”

-The Holy Quran (23:14)

This wonderful creation at the very beginning is not complete, rather nourishes
himself gradually towards his ultimate perfection. Beliefs, thoughts, virtues,
and desires derived, from his actions and deeds build his real identity, thus
gradually completing his perfection. Virtues and characteristics are not the
sort of things which could be added to his existence from outside accidentally
rather they are the real builders of his existence’s identity from within.

Here it is interesting to note that beliefs, thoughts, and characteristics not
only exert influence upon human existence but, also are effective in his
deciding what to be come? That is, righteous beliefs and thinking together with
good morals and virtues as a result of righteous actions gradually ascend a
human being towards the path of perfection ultimately his becoming a perfect
human being and thus, attaining God’s Nearness.

Similarly ignorance, false ideologies, immoral deeds, and hard heartedness as a
result of evil deeds pull human soul towards weakness and isolation, and after
gradually leading him towards various animalistic stages eventually throws him
inside the deep valleys of intense darkness. Because of his firmness, influence
of animalistic characteristics and accumulation of ignorances and cruelties he
turns into an animal form in his esoteric essence.

Yes, his essence indeed turns into an animal thus, acquiring an animalistic
personality. He no longer remains a human being but is an animal or even worst
than an animal because, he is an animal who has acquired his animalism after
passing through the superior stage of humanism. Although, outwardly he lives a
human life but, in essence has turned into an animal without being aware of this
internal change. The animalism of animals is not due to their special faces or
features, rather it is because of their animalistic selves and absolute
obedience to their animalistic instincts and desires without any limitations and
considerations.

A wolf is regarded as a wolf not because of his apparent wolfy face but, it is
because of his brutal nature and his absolute obedience to this instinct without
any limitations that he is regarded as a wolf. Therefore, if some one is
completely subdued by animal brutality in a manner that his senses of seeing and
thinking become out of order, then such a person in essence turns into a real
wolf- a wolf far brutal as compared to common wild wolfs. Because, now his
faculties of wisdom and thinking are being employed and are at the service of
his brutal animalistic characteristics.

It is because of this reason that there are situations, where human being are
charged with brutal crimes for which the wild wolf could not be charged. Are
such human being not wolves? Yes! They are indeed true wolves, even though they
do not understand and the others regard them as humans. But, on the Day of
Resurrection, when the curtains shall be rolled up, their inner essence will be
exposed. Obviously Paradise is not a place for wolves, because they can not
become companions for saints and righteous servants of God. Such a wolf who has
been demoted to lower animal status from the superior human status, deserves to
be confined, punished, and tortured inside the dark and horrible environment of
Hell.

Therefore, a human being in this world is an undetermined existence who builds
himself his future personality. Either he becomes human thus, surpassing in
excellence even with the most intimate God’s angels, or descends whereby his
inner essence turns into an animal. This is something whose authencity have been
proved by higher scientific learning as well as confirmed and certified by
Divine Prophets. Also, the Holy Prophet (S) and the Infallible Imams (A) of his
Holy Progeny (Ahlul Bayt) have informed about that.

Holy Prophet (S) had said:

“On the Day of Resurrection the people will reappear in faces that the faces of
monkeys and pigs are far better than theirs.”

-Qurrath al-Ayoon, p. 479.

The Commander of the Faithful Imam’ Ali (A) about the corrupt scholar, has said:

"Although, his outward appearance is like a human being but his heart is like an
animal heart. He does not recognize the path of guidance so that he could follow
it, and does not know the path of deviation so that he could avoid it. Such a
person is indeed a dead one living among the alive.”

-Nahjul Balagha, sermon 87.

Imam al-Sadiq (A) had said:

"The arrogant people on the day of Resurrection will be transformed into tiny
ants to be trampled by the people till accounts of all the people are settled."

-Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 7, p. 201.

The God-Almighty in The Holy Quran said:

"And when the wild beasts are herded together."

-The Holy Quran (81:5)

Some of the commentators of The Holy Quran have interpreted the phrase "wild
animals" in the above verse for human beings who will reappear with animal faces
on the Day of Resurrection, because, unlike human beings the animals are not
required to be judged for their deeds, hence their appearance does not make any
sense.

God-Almighty in Holy Quran said:

"A day when the trumpet is blown and ye come in multitudes.”

-The Holy Quran (78:18)

According to some of the commentators the above verse has been interpreted that
on the Day of Judgment, human beings will be separated from each other and will
appear in different groups in accordance with their esoteric faces. There is an
interesting narration from the Holy prophet (S) regarding the interpretation of
the above verse:

Ma’z bin Jabal said: "I asked the Holy Prophet (S) about the interpretation of
the above verse. He replied: ‘Oh! Ma’z you had asked about a very important
subject while shedding tears from his eyes the Holy Prophet (S) said: My ummah
will reappear in ten different groups on the Day of Judgment as follows:

"Some of them will reappear as monkeys while some of them will look like pigs;
some of them will reappear while walking up side down,. some will reappear as
blind and wandering,. some of them will reappear as deaf and dumb understanding
absolutely nothing; some will reappear with chewing their tongues while blood
and pus will be coming out of their mouths making the people around them
uncomfortable; some of them will reappear with their hands and feet cut off;
some will reappear as being hanged upon branches of fire; and while some of them
will reappear with dress of molten lead pressed to their bodies.’

"Then he explained these ten categories as follows:

“Those who will reappear as monkeys are the tale bearers or spies;, those who
will reappear as pigs are the ones who accepted bribes and had illegal income
those who will be walking up side down are the ones who practiced usury, those
who are blind are the judges and officers who oppressed the people, those who
are dumb and deaf are the ones who were egotistic and ambitious; those who will
reappear with their hands and feet cut off are the ones who pained and troubled
their neighbors; those who are hanged upon the branches of fire were the people
who indulged in slandering and backbiting against the masses for the pleasure of
kings and rulers; those whose odors is worst than dead bodies are the ones who
indulged themselves in worldly desires and passions without paying Divine Share
from their wealth, and those who are dressed with molten lead dress are the
arrogant ones who took pride in themselves."

-Tafsir Majma al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 423, Ruh al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 299 and
Nur al-Thaqalain, vol. 5, p. 493

In the light of above, the ethical and moral matters cannot be treated as minor
and insignificant rather are the most important crucial and determinant matters
which build the esoteric and spiritual life of a human being and even influence
his "what to become"? Thus, moral education not only teaches how to live, but
also deals with "what to become" for human beings.

Notes

[1] Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (A): The sixth Imam, Ja’far, known as al-Sadiq
(A) was born in Medina on Monday, 17th Rabi-ul-awwal 83 A.H. The son of the
fifth Imam, he lived in an increasingly favorable climate and was able to teach
openly in Median. Large numbers of scholars gathered around him to learn,
including such famous Sunni figures as Abu Hanifa, the founder of the one of the
four Sunni schools of Law. Towards the end of Imam Ja’far’s life severe
restrictions were placed upon his activities, as a result of growing Shi’ite
unrest. More traditions are recorded from him than from all the other Imams
together. He is so important for Twelve-Imam Shi’ite law that it is named the
Jafri School after him. He is buried in the Baqi cemetery in Medina.

Ja’far’s fame for religious learning was great, greater than that of his father
or of any other Twelver Imam except for ‘Ali bin Abu Talib (A) himself. perhaps
the earliest historical reference presenting Ja’far as one of the most respected
and highly esteemed personalities of his epoch, and as having profound knowledge
and learning, is Ya’qubi’s statement that it was customary for scholars who
related anything from him to say: "The Learned One informed us".

Even the famous jurist of Medina, the Imam Malik b. Anas, is reported to have
said, when quoting Ja’far’s traditions: "The Thiqa (truthful) Ja’far b. Muhammad
himself told me that. …" Similar compliments for Ja’far are attributed to the
Imam Abu Hanifa, who is also reported to have been his pupil. Al-Sadiq’s (A)
knowledge was great in religion and culture, he was fully informed in
philosophy, he attained great piety in the world, and he abstained entirely from
lusts. He lived in Medina long enough to greatly profit the sect that followed
him, and to give his friends the advantage of the hidden sciences. He died at
the age of 65, in Medina on Monday, 25th Shawwal 148 H.; poisoned by al-Mansur
ad-Dawaniqi, the Abbasid Caliph.

[2] "The Commander of the Faithful’ Ali ibn Abu Talib (A): Was the first
perfect exemplar of the teachings of the Most Noble Messenger (S) ‘Ali was
raised by him from early childhood and followed him like a shadow until the very
end of the latter’s life. He was like a moth before the prophetic flame; the
final moment when he was separated from the Most Noble Messenger (S) was when he
embraced his corpse and laid it to rest. ‘Ali (A) was the first person after the
Most Noble Messenger (S) to approach spiritual realities in the manner of
philosophical reflection, that is, by free exercise of reason. He used many
technical terms and laid out and organized the rules of Arabic grammar in order
to protect The Holy Quran from copyist’s errors. The exact scholarship,
spiritual culture, and consideration of ethical, social, political, and even
mathematical problems shown in’ Ali’s (A) discourses, letters, and other
documents that have reached us are astonishing.

The wealth of these documents makes ‘ Ali (A) the best known individual among
Muslims to have a full realization of the sublime goals of The Holy Quran and
the critical and practical concepts of Islam as they should be realized. They
testify to the soundness of the Prophetic saying, ‘I am the city of knowledge
and Ali is its gate’. Furthermore, he combined this knowledge with action. In
short, ‘ Ali’s outstanding character is beyond description, and his virtues are
innumerable. Never in history has someone’s character drawn the attention of the
world’s scholars and thinkers to such an extent.

-R. Compbell, Allameh Sayyed Mohammad Hosayn Tabatabai, Islamic teachings pp.
123-127.

[3] The Fifth Imam, Muhammad, known as al-Baqir (57/675-114/732) The son
of the fourth Imam, he was present at Karbala at a young age. Because of
changing political and religious conditions, among them the general revulsion
following the events at Karbala, many people came to Medina to learn the
religious and spiritual sciences from him. He trained numerous well-known men of
religion, and mainly for this reason is the first Imam after’ Ali from whom
large numbers of traditions are recorded. He buried in the Baqi’ cemetery in
Medina.

[4] Imam al-Sajjad (A): The son of Imam al-Husayn by the daughter of
Yazdigird the last Sassanid king of Iran was born in Medina on Saturday, 15th
Jamadi al-Ola 36 A.H. He participated in Imam al Husayn’s uprising and
accompanied his father to Karbala being a tragic witness to the tragic event.
After his father’s martyrdom he was made captive and taken from Karbala to Kufa
and from Kufa to Damascus. His speeches and protests on necessary occasions made
manifest the worthiness and glory of Ahlal Bayt (A), the cruel injustice
suffered by his father, and the enormities perpetuated by the Yazid’s Ummayad
regime.

Imam al-Shafi considered Imam’ Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) as the most supreme jurist
of all the people of Medina. His book. Al-Shaifah Al-Sajjadiyyah” represents and
stands out as a profound social work of the time and a reflection of a supreme
endeavor to meet the exigencies of spiritual ordeals facing the society at the
time of Imam. He died at the age of 58 in Medina; poisoned by al-Walid ibn Abdul
Malik ibn Marwan on 25th Muharram 95 A.H., and is buried in Jannatu’l Baqi
Cemetery in Medina [Tr].

[5] The Commander of the faithful Imam’ Ali (A) has said:

"This world is not a place of permanent settlement, it is passage, a road on
which you are passing. There are two kinds of people here; those who have sold
their souls for eternal damnation, the other type are those who have purchased
their souls and freed them from damnation." -Nahjul-Balagha, S.M. A Jafri p. 543
[Tr].

Selected Chapter from; Self-Building
written by Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini

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