Chapter 12 THE RUBUB1YYAH ORDER Islam: A challenge to Religion by G A Parwez

(QUR’ANIC ECONOMICS)

  1. The Order of Rububiyyah – Its Nature and Purpose

In the animal world, evolution proceeds through the operation of natural causes. It aims at the perfection of the species and the eventual production of a better one. The individual does not count; the race is all-important. There is no hesitation to expend individual for the good of the species. This is the animal stage. At the human level, however, the focus of interest shifts from the race to the individual. There is the emergence of individuality, and, with it, the evolutionary process enters a new phase – a strikingly different one. Natural forces which had so far directed the course of evolution now recede into the background and rational beings consciously  and actively participate in the evolutionary process. There is a corresponding change in the goal of evolution which is now not the production of a species well adjusted to its environment, but the development of a free and autonomous self capable of directing its ascent to higher levels of life. Nature leads the animal in the right direction. Man has to discover the right path and follow it with his own resources. He relies mainly on reason. He soon finds out, however, that in voyaging across the uncharted seas of existence, he cannot depend solely on the fitful flickering light of reason. In desperation, he turns to God for help which is granted him in the form of a summons to join the Order of the Rububiyyah. This order would, naturally, make sense for those who have the earnest desire and ambition to follow the right path. Those who join the order are assured of speedy and smooth progress towards the goal of self-fulfilment. This is what Jannah stands for in the terminology of the Qur’an. Man will march towards the goal in the company of like-minded persons.

The Qur’an sets forth a sustaining practical programme for this inviting enterprise. The programme is essentially social and intended for the group the members of which are not competing but wholeheartedly co-operating with one another. The Qur’an calls upon man to join such a co-operative group organised on the basis of justice and for the purpose of achieving a lofty ideal. Only as a member of this group, can man carry out the programme of the Rububiyyah and thereby work out his destiny. Individual man possesses immense potentialities, but these can be actualised only in a favourable social milieu and through co-operation with congenial companions. Membership of a group held together by mutual sympathy and understanding, and inspired by a high ideal is the guarantee of self-development. The Rububiyyah Order provides such a group and summons man to join it by giving up all narrow personal ends and dedicating himself to the common goal. In such a group, man can realise himself by serving others and gladly availing himself of their help. Human personality shrinks and contracts through preoccupation with its own interests. It expands and blossoms by subordinating its interests to the broader interests of mankind. The practical programme of the Rububiyyah Order can be implemented only by a group and by the individual as a member of the group. Fulfilment of personality is possible only in a group, for an isolated man has no opportunity for self-sacrifice and for serving others. The sweep for his activities is too short to influence self-development. Membership of a group is only conducive to this, but not all groups provide this opportunity. Only that one offers the right environment which places no curb on the independence of its members, nor menaces in any way their freedom of thought and action. This individual privilege is secured, to start with, by throwing the membership open to a voluntary act. The individual makes a contract with the group, taking upon himself defined obligations in return for defined rights. The result of this social contract is the state, generally known to the Muslims as Khilaafat. Khilaafat or state is the political and executive organ of the Ummah, the framework for the Order of Rububiyyah. The Ummah, through the agency of the Khilaafat, launches the Divine programme and provides every member with propitious opportunity for self-expression and self-development. Man, according to the Qur’an, is expected to enter into a contract with God. He is invited to place his life and his possessions at His disposal in return for Jannah – the state of perfect self-fulfilment. In the words of the Qur’an:

Lo! God hath bought from the believers their lives and their  wealth for Jannah (9:111),

Like any mundane contract, this covenant comprises:

  1. The buyer – God.
  2. The seller – The Believer.
  3. The goods sold – The life and possessions of the believer.
  4. The price – Jannah.

Of these, the goods is a concrete tangible and identifiable commodity and the seller is a living being. The other two, God and Jannah, are abstract and intangible. How can a bargain be struck with the buyer and the price missing, or, at best, remaining in imagination. ”Selling one’s life to Allah” is an empty phrase, a deluding mirage. The contract would be meaningful only when it is realised that God and Jannah are as real – nay more real – than man and life. This can be done only by bringing God and Jannah into intimate and vital relationship with living human experience. This is exactly what the Qur’an does.

  2. Jannah

Misled by the figurative language in which Jannah is described in the Qur’an, many people have localised it in space and have conceived of it as a glorified earthly garden. Others, dissatisfied with this shabby view, have sedulously searched for the hidden meaning of the relevant verses. It seems to us that both are guilty of not paying attention to certain delicate hints in the Qur’an which provide the clue for the correct interpretation. We will first briefly state the view to which we are led by a close study of the verses and then we will cite the corroboratory evidence provided by the Qur’an itself. We have seen that the Qur’an envisages the human self as a developing entity. When the self has successfully completed the journey of life, death opens the door to the prospect of fresh and more glorious possibilities. Joy at the accomplishment of a worthy task is blended with elation at the prospect of fresh opportunities. Having realised a certain quantum of potentialities during its earthly career, the self becomes aware of what is still left to be actualized. This state of mind, a blend of joy and zest for action, is Jannah rightly conceived. The term bliss or beatitude may appropriately be applied to this frame of mind. However, man can have, at best, a very imperfect idea of this state of existence. It is radically different from the experience of this life, and it cannot be described in words since they can connote only the latter. It is imperative, however, to have some notion of the bliss that awaits a developed self of a man when he dies. This can be done only through symbols. The higher plane of existence cannot be described, but it can be symbolised. That is why the Qur’an has recourse to metaphorical language in regard to Jannah:

A similitude of the Jannah which is promised unto those who keep their duty  to Allah: underneath it streams flow; its fruit is everlasting and its shade (13:35; 47:15).

“Similitude” is the key word in the above verse. It is significant and highly suggestive. We are clearly warned against insisting on the literal meaning of the words in which the pleasures and comforts of Jannah are described. We must heed the admonition that they are merely metaphors which hint at but do not convey an exact idea of the state of consciousness which is termed Jannah. In fact, Jannah cannot be described: it can only be symbolised. The higher plane of existence can neither be visualised nor imagined by the denizens of the lower plane. The Qur’an is explicit on this point, as the following verse shows:

No one knows what joy of the eye is reserved for them as a reward for what they do (32:17).

Another verse of the Qur’an guides us to the true conception of Jannah. We are told that Jannah is not to be regarded as a strictly circumscribed region but as coterminous with existence, provided existence is in unison with the Divine:

The Jannah is as wide as are the heavens and the earth (3:132; 57:21).

Being a state of mind, Jannah is not unapproachable and inaccessible to men on earth. The good man, living in harmony with the Will of God (i.e., His Laws), has foretaste of Jannah. The Qur’an speaks of life lived in accordance with its teaching as ”heavenly.” We catch glimpses of Jannah in this life and this fact makes Jannah real to us. Jannah is tied to our present experience and, therefore, it is not a mere figment of imagination.

The question is often asked: Why in the Qur’an Jannah is depicted in sensuous terms? It is not difficult to answer it if we bear in mind two important facts. In the first place, a state of existence so dissimilar to our present one can only be suggested with the help of objects and experiences familiar to us. Of these, only those are selected which bear some, even though very slight, resemblance to the accompaniments of the higher plane. Terms borrowed from our present experience are employed to suggest, but only to suggest, the other plane.

The second consideration, to be borne in mind, is that the Qur’an (though meant for the whole of mankind) was initially addressed to a people who were conditioned by historical and geographical factors to value certain things and comforts very highly. The Arabs had little liking for abstract thinking and metaphysical speculation, Perceptible objects alone were real to them. They had no tendency to deify abstract ideas. They paid heed only to that which appealed to their senses. Secondly, they lived in a barren country. All around them was the wide expanse of the arid desert – life was hard, comforts very few. Above all things, they valued cool springs, green shady trees laden with fruit, running streams and milk and honey. By means of these familiar and concrete objects, the Qur’an strives to evoke a sense of the richness of existence at the higher plane. While making use of sensuous terms, the Qur’an never misses an opportunity of putting people on their guard by hinting that the words are not to be taken in the literal sense. It tells them that they will not only get the garden they want but also something much more desirable. When the heathen asked the Rasool to call upon God to send down a garden for him, the Qur’an replied, “Blessed is He, Who, if He will, will assign thee better than all that – gardens underneath which streams flow – and assign thee palaces” (25:8-10).

Moreover, the Arabs were a poor people and were surrounded by rich nations. They naturally cast envious glances at the wealth and luxury of their more fortunate neighbours. The Qur’an assured them that if they were good, they would get all these things and even more. It is obvious that the Qur’an is humouring crude simple men so that they may be induced to turn to the right path. They were impervious to any other kind of appeal. Incidentally, we also note that the Qur’an sees no harm in the enjoyment of the good things of this world. It does not encourage men to despise the good things, nor does it approve of asceticism and self-abnegation:

And Allah has promised such of you as believe and act according to His programme that He will surely give them power in the land even as He gave power to those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their Deen, which He has approved for them and will surely change for them their fear into security (24:55),

The above verse raises the question of the rise and fall of nations. A nation suddenly rises to a position of power and glory and then, after a short or long period, falls into decay and is supplanted by another more vigorous nation. Here too we see the working of an unalterable law, the law of survival of nations. This is basically a moral law. As long as a nation, by its achievements in the fields of knowledge and action, helps forward the progress of humanity, it continues to flourish and prosper. The moment its activities impede the development of mankind, it is doomed to decay and extinction. We see this law operative throughout human history. The lives of all nations are governed by this law. The fate of nations depends on moral value and not on the possession of brute force. Note what the Qur’an says about this:

We (thus) caused you to inherit their land and their houses and their wealth, and land ye have not yet trodden (33:27).

That nation inherits the earth which has, of its own accord, joined the Order of Rububiyyah and has implemented its programme by fostering and developing the absolute values and creating the proper atmosphere for the development of free selves. Such a nation, on entering upon its inheritance, exclaims, in the words of the Qur’an:

Thanks to God Who has fulfilled His promise to us and has made us to inherit the land ….. We may dwell in Jannah wherever we please. So bounteous is the reward of those who work (39:74).

This verse reveals the true nature of Jannah and stresses the continuity between this life and the Hereafter. It is clear that Jannah is a state of existence and although the good enter on it only after death, they can, when their life is attuned to the Divine Will, enjoy a foretaste of it even in this life. The fact that it can be anticipated in this life shows that it is not to be regarded as a locality. The characteristic of this plane of existence is that the basic needs of the physical self are provided for, so that the real self is free to develop and seek fulfilment. The following verse, addressed to Adam refers to this point:

It is (vouchsafed) unto thee that thou shalt not hunger therein, (in Jannah), nor shalt thou be naked; and thou shalt not thirst therein nor be exposed to the sun’s heat (20:118-119).

Above all things, the body needs food, clothes and shelter. When these are provided the mind can pursue higher goals. However, it is not only these things that will be provided but also others which, though not necessary, yet add to the charm of life and, therefore, are desired:

They shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their garments therein shall be silk (22:23). Dishes of gold and bowls shall be carried round to them (43:71). Also fruits in abundance (43:73). Upon them shall be robes of fine green silk and of brocade (76:21). And flesh of fowls that they desire (56:21).

No doubt, the language is metaphorical but precisely because it is metaphorical it serves a dual purpose. With reference to this life, the words used above denote concrete material objects which are desirable and were passionately desired by the Arabs. With reference to the Hereafter, the same words symbolise the joys of a higher level of existence. It should be noted that the Arabs, by following the teaching of the Qur’an, actually acquired an abundance of all the objects promised in this life, as well as in the next. They are exhorted to enjoy the good things in this world while feeling grateful to God. Enjoyment of life is not an obstacle to the attainment of the higher purpose before man, if he is not immersed in pleasure and his self remains free and detached. The early Muslims fulfilled this condition and their selves remained free in the midst of the wealth that conquest brought to them. Within a few years, the Arabs found themselves in possession of jewelled bangles, utensils of gold and silver, silken robes, cushioned divans, cups of exquisite beauty, the fertile fields and fruit gardens of Syria, Iraq and Egypt, rivers and hillsides covered with forest. No wonder if they felt that paradise had come down to earth: but the joys of this life only whetted their desire for the ineffable joy of the Jannah that awaited them. In the midst of these luxuries they enjoyed that peace of mind which no emperor or conqueror had experienced. It was because the enjoyment of all these good things did not deflect them from the path of self-development and because the interests of the real self continued to be of paramount importance to them, that wealth made them not proud and arrogant but humble and grateful to God:

And they shall say: Thanks to Allah Who hath put grief away from us (3:34).

They had a foretaste of the peace that reigns in Jannah:

Therein shall they hear no vain talk, but only peace (19:62).

Feelings of ill-will and rancour cannot enter a mind wherein love and peace hold sway:

And we will remove whatever rancour may be in their breasts. Face to face (they rest) on couches raised (15:47).

They taste the joy of disinterested companionship and are members of a society which pursues the good and the beautiful with a single-minded devotion. The earthly career is but the prelude to the real development of the self of man. The joy of self-fulfilment is symbolised by a heavenly beverage:

Verily, the righteous shall drink of a cup mixed with (the water of) Kafoor, a fountain whereof the servants of God shall drink and make it gush forth abundantly (76:5-6).

A member of such a society makes steady progress in self-realisation. If he fails to keep pace with his comrades, the responsibility lies on his own shoulders. The Qur’an says:

This is a warning to men. To him of you who desires to advance or lag behind. Every self lies in pledge for its own deeds (74:36-38).

The path of those who move forward, is illumined by the “light of their forehead” moving along with them. They are thankful for the light and desire more of it. “Our Rabb! make perfect for us our light” (66:8). They continue to climb higher and higher in the scale of being. Their progress is hampered by nothing, as the Qur’an states clearly:

For those who keep their duty to their Rabb, for them are higher apartments over which are (other) high apartments built, streams running beneath them (39:20).

This is the Jannah which the Order of Rububiyyah assures to those who “sell their life and  what they possess for the cause of Allah.”

Jannah, therefore, is not a mere abstract idea. The believers feel it to be real and eminently desirable. They can form an idea of it on the basis of the foretaste of it during this life. It is thus interlocked with living experience.

  2. Allah

We have seen that the covenant described in an earlier section, is between God and man. Man surrenders to God his life and possessions, and God in return awards Jannah to him. How could this exchange take place? Where to contact God? How can life and possessions be handed over to Him? On the question of contact with God, the answer is simple. God is in fact in communication with us when we recite and understand what He has revealed in the Qur’an. That is how we come into contact with Him.

As regards the question of delivering the goods, a satisfactory answer can be given only in the context of the Order of Rububiyyah. This order is designed to help man to develop all his potentialities and build up such a wholesome and integrated personality that it can withstand the shock of death and survive physical dissolution. Man can achieve this end not in seclusion but in a society of like-minded persons and through mutual help and cooperation. Such a society is the embodiment of the Order of Rububiyyah. It is organised on a contractual basis and its membership is open to all who care to enter it and associate themselves with its aims and ideals. Only a bold ideal nursed with conviction gives meaning to life. In the absence of an ideal, human life becomes impoverished, humdrum, desultory and meaningless. The more lofty the ideal, the more excelsior is the life. So, when man shares the high ideal of his society, and the society is animated by the spirit of the Order of Rububiyyah, his personality is enriched and its progress stimulated. In this accelerated development, he recognises such an advantage that he is motivated to keep up the Order – the vehicle of his progress – at any cost, even, if need be, at the cost of his life and all that he possesses. It is then that the bargain is struck and covenant fully implemented. Muhammad (PBUH), the bearer of the last Revelation, was the head of the society embodying the Order of Rububiyyah. The men who put their lives and possessions at his disposal were really selling these to God, in the terms of the Qur’an:

Surely those who swear allegiance to you do but swear allegiance to Allah; the hand of Allah is above their hands (48:10).

It is the society which gives concrete expression to the Order of Rububiyyah, and the head of that society is, so to say, the “representative” of God in the sense that he takes upon himself the stupendous task of discharging the responsibilities which belonged to God in respect of His creation, for example, providing them with means of subsistence and of enforcing His Laws in the land. They are thus authorised to make such a contract with others. The reason is not difficult to discern: the leader of such a society can only be one who has surrendered himself to God and has identified his will completely with the Divine Will. Obviously, the verse which commands men to “spend in the name of Allah” and “lend unto Allah” can only mean that the “price of Jannah” is to be paid to the central authority of the Rububiyyah society. The society will naturally utilise the resources placed at its disposal for the enhancement and enrichment of human life and personality.

The Order of Rububiyyah initiates a new process of evolution – moral evolution. No man who values the possibilities opened out to him can remain indifferent to this process of evolution. He will be only too willing to sacrifice all he possesses for the sake of the perfection he can attain. Those who join the Rububiyyah Order and dedicate themselves to the pursuit of self-realisation regard no price too high for its attainment. They desire only the good, whether in this life or in the Hereafter. Rightly do they pray:

Our Rabb! give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter (2:201).

  4. The Problem of Subsistence

The real self may eventually become capable of subsisting by itself, but during its earthly career it is more or less completely dependent on the body. Bodily needs, therefore, have a prior claim on man. The body can survive only if the satisfaction of its basic needs is not delayed too long. Hunger is the most powerful of these biological drives. A hungry man has no eyes for anything but that which promises to appease his hunger. Only when he has a plentiful supply of food, does man turn his mind to higher interests such as art, science and religion. Before engaging in the pursuit of the good, man demands an assurance that he and his children will not starve for want of food. The Qur’an gives this assurance:

We will provide for you and your children (6:152).

The Order of Rububiyyah, therefore, holds itself responsible for providing its members with the means of sustenance. The serving of man’s physical needs, though not an end in itself, is the grim reality to be faced. Once this requirement is met, the mind is free to indulge in higher pursuits. The ideal of self-realisation can appeal only to him whose mind is not assailed with pangs of hunger. Man, therefore, desires economic security first of all. But man does not want only to live; he wants to live well. As soon as the problems of physical survival are off his mind, he turns to matters that enrich and uplift life. This takes him from the individual to the collective survival. He tries to visualise the kind of social order that ought to be, and the enduring values which can perpetuate it. That is why before covering the higher issues, the Qur’anic society regards it as its first obligation to ensure for all its members the means of supporting life. Only when this responsibility has reasonably been discharged, the society summons its members to embark on the enterprise of self-development. However, the Rububiyyah society cannot exist in isolation. It cannot confine Rububiyyah to its own members. Such a narrow outlook would impede their progress. Its outlook has to embrace the whole of mankind. It has to interest itself in man, wherever he may be and whatever allegiances he may hold. It believes that each man is unique and has his own contribution to make. It has, therefore, to cater for a congenial atmosphere for all mankind so that no talent is lost. It has to pursue the goal of economic security for all men. It devotes itself to the enrichment and development of life and it will not be true to itself if it cares only for its own members. Its programme must reflect the Divine Attribute of the “Rabb of all mankind” (114:1).

And there is no Dadbbah (moving thing) on earth but its provision is with Allah (11:6).

The word “Daabbah” (in the verse quoted above and meaning “a moving thing”) is applied to both man and animal. The Order of Rububiyyah holds itself responsible for providing for the needs of all living beings because it is the chief agency for the establishment of deen, or, in other words, “kingdom of heaven” on earth for the development and expansion of life and beautification of the universe in which we live.

This brings us to a question round which heated controversy has raged for more than a century. If society makes ample provision for the needs of its members, will not they be left with no incentive to work ? Will not they become both lazy and selfish? They will become lazy because they can live in comfort without having to do a stroke of work. They will become selfish too, because being content to enjoy the comforts provided for them, they will hardly give a thought to those who are less fortunate than themselves. The members of such a society will, therefore, be up physically but down morally. Those who defend the Capitalistic system argue that a Communistic society cannot but deprive man of the chief incentive to work. Man finds work irksome and, left to himself, he would rather play than work, He works because he wants more comforts and luxuries, or more wealth and power. In an egalitarian society in which the individual gets only what he needs, whether he works or not, production will necessarily fall and less and less will be available for distribution. Despite equitable distribution of wealth such a society will collapse sooner or later. In a Capitalistic society, on the other hand, there is full scope for private enterprise and individual initiative. Everyone works because he knows that he will enjoy the fruits of his labour. National wealth increases and the people are hardworking and prosperous. This is, generally, what the protagonists of Capitalistic system say.

Capitalism, however, fails to look at the other side of the picture. While making the rich richer, it has often driven the poor to the verge of starvation. The “prophets” of this system declared this in unequivocal words. Defoe* argued, in his pamphlet entitled Giving Alms no Charity and Employing the Poor A Grievance to the Nation, that:

If the poor were relieved they would remain idle, or alternatively that, if they set to work in public institutions, the private manufacturer was equally deprived of his source of labour, the conclusion – expressed in modern terms – being that they should be thrown on the labour market and allowed to starve if they failed to find a place there.(1)

Mandeville pointed the conclusion in his Fable of the Bees that:

The poor have nothing to stir them up to be serviceable but their wants, which it is prudence to relieve but folly to cure. To make society happy it is necessary that great numbers should be wretched as well as poor.(2)

In more clear terms, Joseph Townsend declared in his Dissertation on the Poor Laws that:

Hunger will tame the fiercest animals, it will teach decency and civility, obedience and subjugation, to the most perverse. In general, it is only hunger which can spur and goad them (the poor) on to labour.(3)

This philosophy has brought unspeakable suffering and misery to the masses. It provides moral sanction for the ruthless exploitation of the subjugated and weaker nations. In desperation, the workers and the weaker people rose in revolt. The struggle took a heavy toll of life and is still going on. A system in which the weak and the simple go to the wall while the unscrupulous have their own way, cannot be expected to encourage the development of free and good men.

The Communists seek to overthrow the Capitalist state and, in its place, they want to set up a totalitarian order. The remedy is worse than the disease. No doubt, in a Communist society every man is assured of employment and his basic needs are provided for: but he can hardly be said to be a free man in a free society. He has been reduced to the status of a mere cog in a gigantic machine. He is the member, or rather a part, of a highly regimented society. In action and thought he must conform to the standard set up by party leadership. He is not permitted to think, choose and judge for himself. In the Rububiyyah society man sells his life to God. In the Communist state he sells his mind to the state. He perceives, remembers, imagines, thinks and believes only what the state wants him to do. He sells his individuality – his self-to the state. He is no longer an end in himself; he is merely the means to the objectives of the state. In short, he is reduced to a status lower than that of a serf or a slave; to the status of a mindless machine. How can the development of a free self be possible in such a society? In the Qur’anic society man is a volunteer; in the Communist state, a tool. This is but the natural corollary of the philosophy of life on which the Communistic order is based.

In the West, during the last decade the idea of a welfare state has appealed to many thinking men. The welfare state, like the Qur’anic society, is intended to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. Such a state, however, still remains as an ideal, attainable perhaps but not as yet realised. Even if it is set up, will its members have sufficient incentive to work when they already have all they need? The Qur’anic society, like the ideal welfare state, seeks to place man above care and want, but unlike the welfare state, it does not weaken but rather stimulates the incentive to work. It inculcates in man that the only ideal worthy of him is the full development of all his latent powers and that he can realise this ideal only through the disinterested service of mankind. He has to give and not to take. He must work, not for himself but for others. He is fired with the ambition to work hard for the enrichment of the life of all men, because it is only in this way that he can realise himself. This urge is so great that economic security does not impair the incentive to work.(4) It is true that bread is the staff of life, but it is equally true that man does not live by bread alone. Both his physical needs and his higher aspirations must be satisfied if he is to enjoy real happiness. Prof. Hawtrey’s pregnant remark deserves careful consideration:

What differentiates economic systems from one another is the character of the motives they invoke to induce people to work.(4)

The fact is that materialistic concept of life cannot, provide the motive to work hard for the benefit of others. It is here that both the Capitalistic and the Communistic systems fail to achieve the desired end. Christian states in the West, no doubt, profess to believe in God, but since they are all secular, they are, for practical purposes, as “God-less” as any Communist State. Materialistic concept of life cannot raise man above animal level at which there is no incentive for sacrificing one’s own interest for the welfare of others: animals have no values and hence are incapable of conceiving the idea of altruism. The Communistic philosophy of life cannot therefore, provide a foundation firm enough to bear the load of the huge structure of Communistic social order. This is possible only in the Rububiyyah Order based on Qur’anic concept of life, according to which the ideal is the development of the human self, and the self develops in proportion to what one does and gives for the benefit of others. This is one of the Permanent Values. Communist economic system blended with Qur’anic Permanent Values is the only solution of the world problems today. This, in a nutshell, is the Qur’anic Social Order. “Bolshevism plus God,” wrote Iqbal to Sir Francis Younghusband,” is almost identical with Islam.”(5)

  5. The Mystical Way

This is not the place to enter into a discussion of the aims and ideals of Mysticism. We will, however, content ourselves with pointing out the difference between the ways of life advocated by Islam and Mysticism. The mystic, believing that his soul has been polluted by contact with matter, pursues the goal of purifying it and delivering it from the evil grip of matter. He believes that he can accomplish this task by withdrawing from the world, living in seclusion and practising self-mortification and self-abnegation. This view is based on the duality of matter and spirit, a view alien to Islam. Even, apart from this, Islam disapproves of both the goal and the methods by which it is to be attained. For Islam, the goal of man is self-development and it is to be achieved not by shunning the world but by making full use of the opportunities it affords. Islam supports the view that man can enrich his life through the enrichment of all life. Man is exhorted to produce goods not for himself alone, but for the benefit of all men. The Qur’an declares that the man who believes he is developing his self in seclusion, is only deceiving himself:

Have you not seen those who think that their personality is developing. Nay, it is only through the Laws given by Allah that personality can develop (4:49).

The same idea is elaborated in the following verse:

Ascribe not “growth of personality” to yourselves. God is best aware of one who abides by His Laws (53:32).

Again the Qur’an asserts:

Only his personality develops who gives his wealth to others (92:18).

According to the teachings of Islam, only that man succeeds in developing his self who first deserves what he gets, and what he gets, he gives freely to others. It is not an act of charity but a duty laid on free rational beings.

Monasticism too is alien to Islam. The cloistered life hinders the growth of the self. It is by co-operating with others for the good of all mankind that man makes progress in self-development. The Qur’an says:

But monasticism, they (the Christians) instituted it themselves, only as seeking the good will of God; yet they could not observe it with its due observance (as it is not possible to do so) (57:27).

The best way to realise oneself is through membership of the Order of Rububiyyah, which is a society dedicated to the pursuit of the absolute values and to the service of all mankind.

References

  1. Quoted by E. H. Carr, in The New Society, pp. 41-42.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p. 60.
  5. Letter published in the daily Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore, 30th July, 1931.

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