Gradual Progress of Man
We have seen so far in this paper how the Universe was created through to the creation of man. We have then explained that whilst the human being is physical, there is also an invisible part of him which is the soul. The soul has a strong connection with God, but we cannot see it, just as a mother has a strong connection with her child, but it cannot be physically seen, but if you take a mother away from her child or vice versa, then there is unrest in the heart. Likewise, when the soul is cut off from its Creator, there is also unrest in the heart. The inner peace is related to the development of the soul with its Maker. I do not want to go too deep in this course, it will require further reading to fully understand these concepts, but briefly I wish to try and explain how man can gradually progress in this life.
Allah, with His Grace and Mercy has provided the means for our physical development in this physical world. In the beautiful system that He has created, we see perfect harmony all around us, everything helping one another, co-existing with one another, i.e. as we mentioned early the ‘water cycle’ gives life to the land and enables trees and plants to grow, which in turn gives out oxygen and provides food for the animals etc. Everything needs something else for its survival. Likewise, Allah has provided for our spiritual growth as this is our real purpose for existing; to worship God and thus develop ourselves spiritually. The main purpose for God sending mankind His perfect Book is to enable mankind to develop his natural state. As we have mentioned already, the soul is connected to the body, therefore as we reform ourselves and develop ourselves morally, so we are also developing our soul. As the saying goes ‘healthy mind, healthy body’. The Holy Qur’an has instructed us about all walks of life i.e. eating, clothing, sleeping, marrying etc. All these things help us to reform our natural condition and lift us gradually upwards, until we have attained a high spiritual state. In our basic natural condition we do things without reason i.e. eating, drinking, sleeping etc. just as all the animals behave; we too follow our natural instincts and inclinations. The Holy Qur’an teaches us how to regulate these natural instincts into good moral qualities, so that we question why we do things and try to do things in a proper, decent manner. The Holy Qur’an teaches us that we should do things to win Allah’s pleasure. We should submit totally to God and strive to purify ourselves. This means that we should kill our ego, and instead of doing things for our own pleasure, we should instead do things seeking Allah’s pleasure. If we can achieve that then we will be constantly aware that Allah is around us, watching what we do, what we say and what we think. The Islamic teachings inform us that all our actions are judged not by the action itself, but by the intention behind the action. Therefore, if we do something purely for the sake of Allah, then we will get the reward for that action from Allah, both in this life and the next. But if, on the other hand, we do something for our own sake, then Allah’s natural law of ‘cause and effect’ comes into play and we will get the result of that action in this life.
Through constantly trying to win Allah’s pleasure and becoming devoted to winning the love and pleasure of God, we raise ourselves to a high level of devotion and our soul will be glowing an inner light. We will find real inner peace and contentment, as we have distanced ourselves from material things and instead submitted ourselves fully to Allah, seeking not the pleasures of the flesh, but instead seeking the pleasure of Allah’s nearness. In this way, man will have achieved salvation, enlightenment, and peace and will have become one with himself and with nature, as he has become one with God! That is his choice, whether to reform himself and submit to his Maker or ignore God’s teachings and live by his own way. By following God’s way, the soul will develop along with the body and will become healthy; by following his own way, his soul will be neglected and in an unhealthy state, far removed from God!