History and Human Evolution (Part 2)

Some people are doubtful about the fact as to whether man has a future at all.
They are uncertain because man is threatened with self-destruction. Such an
uncertainty is evident among the enlightened and learned men of the West.
Another group go a step further, and in addition to uncertainty, they are
extremely pessimistic about humanity’s future and openly cynical about human
nature. They believe that man’s nature consists of animality, lust, selfishness, egoism,
deceit, cunning, falsehood, tyranny and such things, and since times immemorial
when man began his life and social existence, this familiar scene of life has
been always as full of evil and mischief, both in the days of barbarism and in
the age of civilization.



Link to Part 1

Our former discussion was about the meaning of the historical or social
evolution of man in the past. We-examined the question whether the processes
which man and his society have undergone may be called evolution or at least
progress, or whether there is a third alternative explanation that in some
aspects of social life considerable progress has been made, while in other
aspects there has been no progress or evolution.

Or we may, at least, say that if there has been progress it has been very slow
and out of harmony with the rate of progress in technical matters and evolution
of social structure. The dimension in which man has not been able to make
proportionate advance is the human dimension of social life. If we liken man’s
social life to an individual human being, technical progress and social
development may be thought of as the body of society, while the human aspect of
social life is the ethos of the individual. We may conclude, therefore, that
humanity has physically overgrown, while its spirit and human ethos have made
very little headway. The divergence between various views concerning the future
is rooted in this matter.

Man’s Future from Different Viewpoints

Some people are doubtful about the fact as to whether man has a future at all.
They are uncertain because man is threatened with self-destruction. Such an
uncertainty is evident among the enlightened and learned men of the West.
Another group go a step further, and in addition to uncertainty, they are
extremely pessimistic about humanity’s future and openly cynical about human
nature.

They believe that man’s nature consists of animality, lust, selfishness, egoism,
deceit, cunning, falsehood, tyranny and such things, and since times immemorial
when man began his life and social existence, this familiar scene of life has
been always as full of evil and mischief, both in the days of barbarism and in
the age of civilization. They believe that civilization and culture have not
changed the nature of man, and nothing has been able to transform the wicked
nature of this creature called man. The difference between the savage of
primitive times and the civilized man of today is nothing with regard to goals
and objectives.

The only difference lies in the method of work, and outward form and style. The
primitive man, because of his primitiveness and lack of civilization and
culture, committed his crimes more openly and unaffectedly, whereas the
civilized man equipped with modern culture, commits the same crimes under the
deceptive cover of high-sounding and stylish phrases and euphemisms. But both
are essentially alike. What the wild man did, is not different in nature from
what the civilized man does; the difference lies only in the outer form and
appearance of their acts.

What is the conclusion? They say: pessimism and despair. What is the solution?
They say: suicide, collective suicide. Fortunately, there are few among us who
think in this fashion. If there had been no such ideas at all amongst us, I
would not have mentioned it. But the thinking exists, and it may more or less
exist mainly among students, and I mention it because I have noticed such
thinking in some of the books which I have come across.

What is amazing in what they say is that man, after having reached cultural
maturity, should commit suicide. Why? Because, they explain, when we find that
human nature is beyond remedy, every person has the right to kill himself, and
encourage others to commit suicide too. This is the logic of the type of writers
such as Sadegh Hedayat.

Such a kind of thinking is prevalent in various forms in Europe, and statistics
show that in spite of all the welfare that exists in the civilized world, the
number of suicides is increasing daily. By comparing the figures published in
our newspapers we see this steady increase between the years 1955 and 1975. The
Hippie movement was a social phenomenon, which was a reaction that took the form
of dislike of civilization. It meant that civilization has failed to do anything
for man, and that it has failed to change his nature.

Do not compare this Western hippyism with our own hippyism, which is only a
superficial imitation. But those who had originated this way of thinking in the
West, had in fact a philosophy for it: the philosophy of disgust for
civilization, and despair on account of its inability to do something to solve
human problems. And this difficulty, too, is considered insoluble, a knot that
by no means can be disentangled.

You may have read the reports coming from the UNESCO and elsewhere, as well as
the articles written by our own experts, about the urge for taking refuge in
narcotics. This trend in Western countries is the result of despair and cynicism
about the future of mankind. When man reaches the stage where he finds no
remedy, when he thinks that reform and revolution have, both, failed to change
man, when regimes and systems of government and economic and non economic
solutions have only changed their form without changing the content, then some
people say: let us drop this matter once for all. And this is one type of view
and theory.

The View of Scientism

Before this, there existed another view or theory which finds no support in the
developed countries today, although there are still some who follow it in the
developing countries. This view began with Bacon and those like him who said
that the remedy for all human pains is science: when you build a school, you
destroy a prison. By securing science and freedom, all sufferings will come to
an end. Why does man suffer? On account of ignorance, weakness and helplessness
before nature, sickness, poverty, worry and anxiety, oppression of man by man,
need and greed. They offered science as the remedy for all these pains

There may be some truth in this view. Science remedies ignorance, and weakness,
helplessness and abjectness in front of nature, and the pain of poverty-in so
far as it is related to nature. But not all human suffering comes within bounds
of his relation with nature. What about the suffering produced by the relation
of man with man, namely, greed, tyranny and oppression, which are derived from
man’s own nature, his feeling of loneliness, fear and anxiety? Science has not
been able to remedy these.

Therefore, this view that science can remedy all human pains has been abandoned
in those countries. But in the countries which follow on the trails of the West,
there are still individuals who think that science can really remedy all pains
and sufferings.

Do not misunderstand me; my intention is not to negate science: for, as I said
before, half of human pains find no remedy except through science. But man has
other pains which constitute his ‘human’ suffering, the suffering which relates
to his human dimension. Here science provides no help, and the scientists, when
they reach this point, declare that science is neutral and indifferent; it is a
means and it does not prescribe any goal for mankind.

Science does not elevate human objectives, and does not provide a direction.
Rather, it must be said that man uses science as an aid in the direction which
he selects in life. Today we observe that most of the human suffering is caused
by human beings, by those who are well-informed, and not by the ignorant. In the
problem of colonialism in the world of today and since the last few centuries,
were it the ignorant who exploited and plundered the resources of others, the
ignorant and the learned alike? Or were it the learned and well-informed men who
exploited both the ignorant and others?

Therefore, this supposition that science and education are the remedy for all
pains and suffering of humanity is unacceptable. What I mean by ‘science’ or
‘education’ is that which makes man aware of the world; and awareness or
understanding is something which is necessary, and nothing else can take its
place. Again, do not misunderstand me: understanding is not enough to remedy all
the pains of humanity.

The Viewpoint of Marxism

There is a third viewpoint here which says that the problem lies somewhere else,
and that we should not be cynical of man’s nature and despair on its account.
The answer as to why the past has been disappointing, is that you have not been
able to discover the roots of human suffering. These roots lie not only in
ignorance, helplessness and such things, but in the type of ideology ruling over
mankind. There is another problem for man which is independent of science,
education and technology, and that is the problem of the ideology prevalent in
society. To enable man, with all his human weaknesses, to start his struggle to
change his situation, his ideology must be changed.

According to this view, since man left behind his early communistic system and
since the institution of private property came into existence, and since
ideologies have been based on private property and class distinctions, and
social systems have been based on class division, and the exploitation of human
beings by other human beings has been given legality and legitimacy, all these
defects and shortcomings, these bloodsheds, wars, conflicts, massacres and
cruelties have occurred. But if the ideology ruling over man is changed, then
all these defects will be removed; for then, mankind takes the form of a united
entity, and all will be like brothers.

There will remain no trace of tyranny, fear, worry and anxiety. Then human
society will advance in its human dimensions on a par with the technical and
material evolution; the spiritual development of society will then be parallel
with its physical growth. This is the view of Marxism.

Marxism considers the root of all human suffering to lie in the ideology of
class distinctions and private property; therefore, a society which has attained
its ultimate form is a classless society, free of any contradictions.

There are many objections against this theory. One of them is: if an ideology is
merely a system of thought or a philosophy, does it possess the power to change
man’s nature? Why, then, science couldn’t change the nature of man? If all the
elements of an ideology consist only of understanding without possessing the
element of faith or belief, how can it influence human nature?

Is the ruling ideology derived from the nature of human beings in power? Or is
it ideology that shapes the nature of the rulers? If you believe in the priority
of objectivity over subjectivity, can you say that the dominant classes oppress
others because they possess that ideology? Do they possess this tyrannical
ideology because their nature is tyrannical? This means that their self-seeking
nature requires it in so far as it is human nature to pursue selfish interests
to the greatest extent possible.

Then, according to this view, the quality of seeking profit has created this
tyrannical ideology, and not that the ideology has produced that nature in man.
Ideology is a tool in man’s hand, and not vice versa. It is sheer idealism to
say that man is a tool in the hands of his own thought and the ideology created
by himself. If that is true, when the ideology is changed while human beings
remain unchanged, has man then reached a dead end to the effect that the
greatest exploitation of man by man and the extreme suppression of man by man
should be perpetuated by those in the name of a classless ideology?

The heart of the matter is that, no matter what form the social system may have
taken in the past, man has remained unchanged and used that system as his own
tool. How can we guarantee that it would not be repeated again? Do people have
freedom in the countries where such an ideology is followed?

There may be equality, but not in happiness; it is an equality in misfortune.
There are classes there, but not economic classes. Out of a population of two
hundred millions, ten millions control everything in the name of the communist
party. Why do they not allow the other 190 millions to share the same privileges
provided by the communist ideology? Because, if they do so, then there would be
an end to those privileges.

The severest repression and gravest misfortunes and miseries have been inflicted
in the name of a classless ideology. A new class has emerged without bearing the
name of a class. This is because when an idea or philosophy is related to the
mind and based on an abstract understanding of mankind, such an understanding by
itself cannot influence his nature.

Understanding clarifies the way for man to distinguish his interests better and
to be more farsighted. But it does not offer him any higher goals. If I lack a
higher goal intrinsically, in my nature, how can I find it? Do the Marxists not
say that thought does not have any fundamental reality for man? If thought has
no fundamental reality, clearly it cannot control human behaviour.

The View of Existentialism

There is another philosophy called existentialism, whose outlook of the world
and man is the same as the materialist world-view. The existentialists have a
plan and a theory which tries to solve the deficiency of Marxism, namely, the
question of human values.

Since in Marxism the questions of humanity and human values and ideas such as
peace and justice and ethical norms are considered worthless, idealistic
chimeras, existentialists clung to the question of human values in order to
provide man with a source of inclination, not just a source of thought but
something which would be attractive enough to draw man towards itself, something
which would provide exalted goals besides material ends. That is why they
emphasize human values and what is called man’s ‘humanity’.

One may ask: you who say that the world is a mass of matter and physical action
and reaction, and that totality of being is confined to matter, then what are
these ‘human values’ in a universe of matter? Where do they come from?

Let us now talk of man. According to this view, man has no reality except his
body. Matter constitutes his entire being. What may be related to this material
composition is profit, which is something real. If I am totally a material
entity, and nothing but matter exists in me, then in my relation with the
external world, too, nothing but matter can interfere, and I must seek something
which has material objectivity.

For me, food, clothes, sexual relations and housing are objective matters. What,
then, are the human values and the value of self-sacrifice which man senses
within his being? They answer that they do not exist; however, man by his will
can create values. Values do not have an objective existence; there is no such
thing as ‘value’ in the external world that man can attain, they say.

Then, this question crops up: what is the destination of this mass of matter? It
can only move from one point in space to another; reaching a destination which
lacks a material or physical existence is meaningless. They say that values have
no objective reality, but we give them ‘value’ by creating them.

This is one of the most comical and stupid remarks ever made. They should be
asked: what do you mean by your claim that you ‘create’ values, and ‘give’ value
to an act, to friendship, to generosity, to sacrifice, and to service (which
according to you have no value in their own nature, since value has no meaning
in the world of matter.)?

Do you then mean that you can really give value to an objective existence? It is
like saying to this steel microphone: "O microphone, I will give you the value
of gold." Does it become gold with my saying so? Iron is iron. Or if I say: "O
piece of wood, I grant you the quality of silver." If I keep on saying so to the
end of time, it will not become silver. Wood is wood. Its reality cannot be
changed, and man is unable to change it.

Therefore, granting value by creating it in the sense of giving objective
reality has no meaning. What has meaning is giving an arbitrary, suppositional
reality. What does this mean? It means, supposing something to be what it is
not. Such arbitrary and conventional notions are useful only as means. FoE
example, a non-Iranian visits our country, and we can grant him Iranian
citizenship and an Iranian identity card, on the basis of which he becomes an
Iranian national and can benefit from all the privileges and rights which an
Iranian enjoys.

The value of this conventional act is a means to something which may have an
objective significance. This is like saying that a man or woman may want his or
her spouse to be handsome. If the spouse happens to be ugly, and if the other
says," I grant you the hypothetical credit of being handsome," and then begins
admiring the spouse for his or her hand someness, it is meaningless. This is the
cult of idolatry, creating idols and then worshipping them. The Quran says: "O
man, how can you make a goal out of something that you have yourself created,
and make an idol of something that you have yourself hewed?"

The
goal must possess a reality beyond imagination and assumption. One cannot assume
something for himself as a goal, and then think it to be real. The value of an
assumed thing is only within the limit of its being a means and a tool.
Therefore, it is an illusion to say that man creates his own values. It is here
that Islam asserts the existence of its absolutely coherent ideology.

The View of Islam

Islam to begin with, does not regard the past with total pessimism. Secondly, it
is not so cynical of human nature. It says: This testimony that man of today
gives against human nature, to the effect that it is based on wickedness and
mischief, is similar to the ignorant verdict that the angels gave about man
before he was created, and God rejected it.

See how the Quran relates the secret truths of events that preceded man’s
creation:

And when your Lord declared to the angels: ‘I will make a deputy on the earth
‘… (2:30)

In these words God declared His decision to create a being upon the earth who
would be God’s deputy and viceroy on this planet. The angels, for some reason or
another, seemed to be aware of only the animal side of man, and no more. So they
said to God, as the man of the nineteenth or twentieth century would say: "Do
You wish to make a being Your deputy whose very nature is mischief and
bloodshed?

Create a being, who like us, shall be free of bestial desires, and one which is
wholly spiritual. How did God answer them? He said to them:

Certainly, I know what you do not know. (2:30)

God says to the angels, "You paid attention only to one aspect of man: his
natural and animal side, and are unaware of his spiritual and Divine aspect. I
have placed something in his nature which makes him intrinsically free of any
ideology. I have planted in him an inclination for exaltation. I have granted
him an ideology, one of whose pillars is this natural and rational inclination.

I have planted in his nature the seeds of love of truth, love of justice, and
love of freedom. His essence is not totally selfishness, animality and class
interests, or tyranny. He is a creature made of both light and darkness and this
combination of qualities has lifted him above every other creature, above you
who are angels and others besides you."

Can an ideology, which reduces all problem to that of classes and class
interests, provide guidance for mankind? Can an ideology, which is totally
rational or exclusively philosophical, heedless of any spiritual inclinations
and unaware of the reality of man, serve as a guide for man? or teach and
develop exalted values in mn? Or, can the other view which makes the absurd
claim that man is essentially devoid of a nature, and is merely an earthly and
material being, and that he ‘creates’ or hallucinates values for himself, help
man to know himself?

O man, know yourself!

O man, teach yourself properly!

O man, train yourself!

O man, know your goal!

O man, recognize the path of your evolution!

It is an insult to the station of humanity to consider all man’s efforts in the
past to be motivated by the selfish interests of individuals, groups or nations.
As man has two natures, an exalted one and a base one, within him, this internal
conflict has raged within every individual human being. Those who have been able
to subdue their lower urges to the higher powers, thus attaining a sublime
balance, stand in the ranks of the supporters of truth and justice.

Those who have failed in this combat, have formed the group of means, bestial
and degenerate beings. As the Quran says, the most magnificent struggle of man
has been the combined between the supporters of Truth and the followers of
falsehood. Who are these two groups? Supporters of Truth are those who have been
liberated from the captivity of external nature and of other human beings and
from the clutches of their own inner beast. They are those who have attained
belief, faith and ideal, and rely on them. They are different from those human
beings who seek material gains and are mean and corrupt.

The Quran speaks of the first clash and contradiction in the human world, which
may either be interpreted historically or taken as an allegory:

And relate to them truly the story of the two sons of Adam [Abel and
Cain]-when they offered an offering, and it was accepted of one of them, and not
accepted of the other. ‘I will surely slay thee, ‘said one. ‘God accepts only of
the God-fearing,’ said the other. ‘Yet if thou stretches out thy hand against
me, to slay me, I will not stretch out my hand against thee, to slay thee; I
fear God, the Lord of all beings. I desire that thou shouldest be laden with my
sin and thy sin, and so become an inhabitant of the Fire; that is the recompense
of the evildoers.’ Then his self prompted him to slay his brother, and he slew
him, and became one of the losers. (5:27-30)

Islam takes the story of Abel and Cain to discuss the conflict between two human
beings, one of whom has attained his ideal and belief and seeks truth and
justice, and is free from materialistic inclinations; the other is a low
animalistic being. The man with an ideal and Faith is one whose speech is Divine
and chaste, and his deeds are wholly based on piety. He tells his corrupt
brother:

‘If you wish to kill me, I am not the one to kill.’ Thus killing is not a part
of his human nature, for, he fears the Creator. But the other is fettered by his
own carnal desires.The story of Abel and Cain is one of the most magnificent
stories in the Quran, which describes the Quranic view of a man who has attained
belief and the ideal and is freed from the bondages of nature, society and self.
How steadfast he is in the way of his faith! While the other is inclined towards
something which is quite the opposite of it.

This story should not be mistaken for a parable of the class conflict, which is
a Marxist idea. While the Quran speaks of the oppressed on the one hand and
oppressors on the other (mala’ and mutrafun), it always tries to show that the
progressive wars in history are those which are waged between men who have
realized belief and faith and the profit seekers-a point which I have explained
more fully in my book The Rise and Revolution of Mahdi (A).

As there are two opposing processes within man, in human society, too, there are
two types of human beings: those who are exalted and progressive, and those who
are base and bestial. Rumi, the poet, says:

The two streams of water, saltish and sweat,

Shall run through human nature until the doomsday.

In this school of thought, which believes in the love of truth and love of
justice as ingrained in the human nature, in this school which trusts in man and
in human values, and which unlike Marxism does not negate them or consider them
mere idealisms, these things are regarded as an inherent inclination towards the
existence of discoverable truths, and not something conventional or imaginary
created by man himself.

The Quran says: O man, know yourself, and your own reality; these values exist
within yourself as they exist in the great world, and you are a microcosmic
model of the entire macrocosm:

Mould yourselves in accordance with Divine norms.

These are Divine qualities, the reflection of which exists in the inner depths
of his being, and he must discover it.

Accordingly, what is the future of man? Should we repeat the words of angels and
say that man has a wicked nature, and wrap our hearts in despair for his future?
Should we follow such suicidal ways as that of hippyism and take refuge in
narcotics and such stuff? Or should we expect a miracle from an ideology, the
only quality of which is belief in class divisions, and overlook thousands of
its shortcomings?

Shall we embrace a creed which says that motion is caused by contradictions, and
without contradiction there is no motion, which means that when a society
attains a stage in which there is no contradiction, it means a society without
an ideal, without motion, a dead and stagnant society? Is the ultimate goal of
man and his evolution to reach a position of standstill? Doesn’t human evolution
imply something far above the questions of contradiction and conflict?

Moreover, after man resolves those conflicts and contradictions and negates
class controversies, he reaches a position when he must remove his own defects
and this is only a beginning, the beginning of his vertical ascent which has no
limit; for, in this system there is infinite room for ascension and edification
even for the Prophet (S), though it is something that lies beyond our
imagination, even though it is a reality for the Prophet (S). This is why the
ideal human society is in fact a society of men who have realized their ideal
and attained faith and belief. It is the victory of effort, endeavour, piety and
justice. Victory is one side of this coin of human existence, whose other side,
as the Quran says, is the victory of God’s Party over the party of Satan.

Man has been created to be an intelligent, aware, free and responsible being.
From the first day that man has attained the station of humanity-regardless of
whenever that might have occurred-he has been the deputy and vicegerent of God.
There has been no time since the instant of creation of man when the earth was
ever without the existence of a vicegerent, the hujjat (testimony) of Allah,
that is, a being endowed with freedom and responsibility.

As long as mankind as such a Creator who has decreed for it a goal and purpose-a
purpose which implies his knowledge of himself and ultimate conquest of evil and
mastery over his own mind-the battle between good and evil, and between truth
and falsehood, will continue. It will continue to the point-as predicted by our
great religious figures-when it will ultimately result in a universal
government, which is also interpreted as the universal rule of Imam Mahdi
(A)-may God expedite his appearence.

On this basis, the evolution of man in his human dimensions has, by no means,
reached a dead end from the point of view of Islamic Ideology. Islam, here,
emerges as an ideology that relies on the spiritual aspect of human nature and
which reclines heavily on recognition of this aspect of human nature. It
stresses the need to make man aware of and to motivate him to develop and
nourish this aspect of his being.

Islam seeks to achieve a balance between the two aspects: the higher and the
lower, inherent in the human nature. The recommended acts of worship, rituals,
the enjoined abstinence from sins, the forbidding from lies, treachery, slander
and oppression, all and all, besides their social value, are basically designed
for cultivation of the human aspect of man and revival of his humanity.

Therefore, if we really desire to take a step the direction of this evolution,
there is no alternative to rising above all the materialistic criteria and
notions about human nature; that is, we must consider man as a being whose faith
transcends the notions of class differences and classless society. Only then
human struggle can acquire an essentially ideological character based on faith
and belief.

But where is the beginning point of this struggle? The answer is: from inside
oneself. This is what the Prophets have taught; and you will not find any
example in other teachings which can equal in magnificence of meaning with what
the Prophets of God have taught.

The Holy Prophet (S) sent an army to fight external enemies. The victorious
warriors returned and the Prophet went forth to welcome them. Now look at the
Prophet’s sense of timing and occasion At a moment when he is expected to
congratulate them and welcome them with a cry of ‘Bravo!’, the Prophet (S)
instead says to them:

"Praise on you who have taken part in the minor jihad, and who have yet to
wage the major jihad ! Surprised, his Companions declare: "O Messenger of Allah,
we don’t have any battle ahead bigger than the one we have just been fighting?"

The Prophet answers: the greater battle is the jihad against the self. This
jihad is the struggle of becoming a human being. This is the viewpoint offered
by Islam for understanding of man and his struggle against his own carnal self.

The Quran says in this regard:

He who purifies the soul indeed attains deliverance, and one who corrupts it
certainly fails. (91:9-10)

Issues such as these cannot be encompassed by other teachings which neither
possess the requisite capacity to uphold them nor the room for such dicta and
ideals.

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