The Islamic View of the Human Being
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on July 4, 1997)
I had spoken in the last Friday speech about the Fundamentals of Islamic tarbiah (upbringing), its definition and importance.
I had mentioned that the Islamic tarbiah (upbringing) is a process that depends first on forming a certain mentality for man. Shaping his thoughts, his views towards himself, this universe, and this life. Also his role in and his relationship with this world. He should understand in what way he can benefit from and what he can deal with in this universe and this life. He should know the purpose of this temporary life that he lives, and the goal that must be the one which he makes all his efforts to achieve which is pleasing Allah (S.W.T.) the creator.
Also I had mentioned that the Islamic tarbiah (upbringing) is built on the intellectual, worship, and legislative foundations.
Today I will start talking about the intellectual foundation of Islamic Tarbiah, (upbringing), which includes three main points.
- The Islamic view of the human being.
- The Islamic view of the universe.
- The Islamic view of this worldly life.
Today I will talk about the first one, the Islamic view of the human being.
The way man views himself is one of the strongest influences in his Tarbiyah (upbringing). For this reason, Islam emphasized the importance of having man know himself very well; a knowledge that is based on the divine source from the creator, The Most High, The One who knows who He created and He is The kind and The aware.
Ever since man existed on this earth, he has been trying to know himself and in all cases in which he does not follow the divine revelations, he gets misguided and confused between two extremes; sometimes he thinks that he is the greatest in this universe and so he gets filled with selfishness, oppressiveness and arrogance that would drive him to disbelieve in Allah and to be oppressive and corruptive. The Qur’an has recorded for us
a model of such people in the people of "Ad." The Qur’an tells us by the tongue of these people in surat Fussilat, (Verse 15), what can be translated as, "And they said who is stronger than us ?!". Also, by the tongue of Pharaoh when he spoke to his people and said in surat Al-Qasas, (Verse 38), what also can be translated as, "I have not known of a god other than me."
In the other extreme, man thought that he was the most belittled, the weakest, and the most worthless being in this universe, so he bows his head with submission before a tree, a stone, an animal, or before the sun, the moon, the stars or a fire and other beings that he thinks and believes that they possess some kind of power and ability to harm him or benefit him. The Qur’an, again, has recorded for us many examples of such people throughout the history of humanity.
Because of this confusion that man has about himself, Islam gave a very precise, and clear perspective about man. Islam clarified to man his reality, his origin and the different stages of creation that he goes through. Also, Islam clarified to man his good attributes and his receptiveness to good and evil, and his purpose in this life and the relationships between him and the rest of creatures around him.
The reality of man, The origin of his creation and the stages of his creation:
Islam has clarified that the reality of man emanates from two origins: The far origin, that is his first creation from mud when Allah (S.W.T.) made him and breathed into him life, and the close origin, that is his creation in the womb of his mother. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat As-Sajdah, (Verses 7-9), about the origin of man, what can be translated as, "He is the one who excelled in everything He created, and He started creating man from clay and then made man’s progeny from a worthless fluid, then He made him and breathed into him from his soul, and made for you the hearing, the visions, and the hearts, and little thanks you gives."
Now, we see how the Qur’an turns the attention of man to the worthlessness of that fluid from which he was created in his mother’s womb, "from worthless fluid." It paints this picture to man to eradicate his oppressive potential and remove his arrogance and make him humble in his life. Then, Allah (S.W.T.) clarified to him His divine care inside the darkness of the womb when he was a minute lump Nutfah (sperm). Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Mu’minoon, (Verse 12-14), about the origin of man, what can be translated as, "And indeed We created man out of an extract of clay (water and earth), therefore We made him a small lump (Nutfah), Sperm in a secure place, then turned the (Nutfah), Sperm into a leach, then turned the leach into (Mudghah), lump, then turned the (Mudghah), lump, into bones, then covered the bones with flesh and then We made another creation out of him, Most elated is Allah, the best of all creators." Allah (S.W.T.) painted this picture for man to move his emotions to thank Allah for His care, His gratitude, His creativeness, and to submit to Allah (S.W.T.).
Man is an honored creature:
Islam clarified for man that he does not deserve worthlessness and humiliation, so that he becomes equal to other creatures like the animals and others. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Isra’, (Verse 70), what can be translated as, "We have honored the children of Adam and carried them on earth and in the sea and provided to them the good sustenance. And we made them better than many of what we created." Then Allah (S.W.T) clarified that He (S.W.T.) made the whole universe in the service of man. He says in surat Lu-Qman, (Verse 20), what can be translated as, "Do you not see that Allah made available for you what is in the skies and on earth and flooded you with many blessings known and unknown."
All this is to incite man to control what is around him from other creatures, without having to humiliate himself to anything and without fear. This way, pride and honor are built within man, and his feeling of being grateful to Allah (S.W.T.), The great is created.
Man has the faculty of being able to distinguish and choose between good and evil:
From the privileges that Allah (S.W.T.) gifted man with is that He made him able to distinguish between good and evil, so Allah (S.W.T.) inspired the human soul its corruption and its righteousness. Allah (S.W.T.) made man possess the ability to choose freely between these two ways, and clarified to him that his goal in this life is to raise himself well and elevate himself toward virtue. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Ash-Shams, (Verse 7-10), what can be translated as, "And by Nafs, (soul), and Him Who perfected him in proportion; Then He inspired him corruption and its righteousness; Indeed he succeed who chooses to purify his ownself; and indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself."
Man has the potential to learn and acquire knowledge:
From the privileges that Allah (S.W.T.) gifted man with, is the ability of man to learn and acquire knowledge, and providing him with the tools of knowledge. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Alaq, (Verse 3-5), what can be translated as, "Read and your Lord is The most generous, The one who taught with the pen, He taught man what he did not know." In another verse, Allah (S.W.T) says in surat An-Nahal, (Verse 78), what can be translated as, "And made for you the hearing and the visions and the hearts so that you may be thankful." Allah (S.W.T) scorned those who do not benefit from all these privileges. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Araf, (Verse 179), what can be translated as, "They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; those are like animals and even worse, those are the absent-minded or the heedless."
Man is responsible and accountable and he will get the results of his deeds:
As a result of what Allah (S.W.T.) blessed man with and distinguished him from the rest of His creation. He entrusted man with the establishment of His deen on earth that is done by implementing His divine laws and purifying submission to Him alone. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Baqarah, (Verse 30), what can be translated as, "And your Lord says to the angels that I am creating a Khalifah on earth." Then Allah (S.W.T.) taught Adam all the names to show the angels how privileged man is in the sight of Allah, then Allah (S.W.T.) commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam out of respect. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Az-Zalzalah, (Verses 7-8), what can be translated as, "And whosoever does an atom worth of weight as good, he will see that, and whosoever does an atom worth of weight evil, he will see it." Also Allah (S.W.T.) made man responsible for everything he was gifted with. He has to use properly what he has been blessed with; the many blessings which are countless. Allah (S.W.T.) also says in surat Al-Isra’, (Verse 36), what can be translated as, "And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge, Verily! The hearing, the vision and the heart; and each of those man will be questioned about them (by Allah)." The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said in an authentic hadith reported by Imam At-Tirmithi, "The servant of Allah will be asked about four things on the Day of Judgment: about his life and what he did with it? And about his knowledge and what he did with it? And about his money where he got it from and where he spent it? And about his body how he used it."