How can man develop himself?

The Details of the Question

According to Islam, how can man develop himself 
• mentally 
• emotionally and 
• psychologically?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

All living beings come into the world equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for them.  

Man comes with no knowledge but with an ability to learn all kinds of knowledge and skills. Due to the secret of testing, man tends to do both good and bad deeds through his own will.

He can go down to the lowest of the low by doing bad deeds and can ascend to the highest of the high by doing good deeds. What is essential for man in the world life is to develop mentally, spiritually and psychologically and to try to be a perfect human being. This can be done only by the mind and revelation. Allah gave man a mind and heart to do it and sent a prophet and religion to develop them.

The mind cannot give anything to man and humanity on its own without revelation. The mind is like an eye. The eye cannot function in darkness; similarly, the mind does not see the truth without the light of revelation. Therefore, if man wants to develop mentally and spiritually, he should try to understand the Quran.

Besides, the Quran always invites man to think. It addresses his mind and heart. It leads man to think about himself, the universe, the previous nations and events.

In this context, man should do the following in order to develop himself mentally and psychologically:

1. He should try to read and understand the Quran. As he reads the Quran, his horizon and foresight will expand. Allah states the following regarding the issue in the Quran: “These are clear evidences to men and a Guidance and Mercy to those of assured Faith.” (al-Jasiya 45/20)

2. He should read the universe called the great man, examine the movements and events in the universe, open doors from them leading man to oneness, take lessons from what happens in the world, knowing that they do not happen by chance and that they include many wisdoms, notice that qualified belief lies in details and see new horizons every day.

3. Man, who is a small universe, should read himself: He should think and find answers to questions like the following: “Who am I? Why I was created? What will happen to me? What does my creator want from me? How should I use the spiritual devices given to me like the mind, heart, five senses and many others? What is the price of them? Only then will life be meaningful. This will enable man to develop and become mature. The Quran states the following regarding the issue: “In your own selves are signs: Will ye not then see?” (adh-Dhariyat, 21)

4. He should benefit from the scholars and sessions of knowledge that represent Ahl as-Sunnah belief. In this regard, Imam Rabbani attracts attention to the fact that all of the following three qualities should exist in the people to be benefited from and to trust in:

1. Such a person should be intelligent and clever. 2. He should have knowledge. 3. He should base all of his words and deeds on the consent of Allah. Only from such a person can people benefit. 

Some of the advice and suggestions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) related to increasing and developing personal motivation are as follows:

1. Not to go to extremes related to anything: 

“The best deed is the moderate one.” (Bayhaqi, 3/273)

It is a general criterion in everything, in love, hatred, speaking, eating, drinking, worshipping…

2. To be optimistic

It is a principle of a believer to seek a good reason and something good in everything. It is a scientific fact that optimism gains man many benefits in terms of health and psychology. The Messenger of Allah said, “Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (Allah); thus, there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows patience, there is a good for him in it” (Muslim, Zuhd, 64)

3. To do things nicely, soundly and truly

One of the reasons for being happy in life is doing anything a person does nicely, soundly and truly. The Quran states the following regarding the issue: " Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions." (an-Nahl, 16/97)

Allah says righteous deeds, that is, good deeds. It includes both deeds of worship and any other deeds.  

4. To serve people

One of the reasons that attach people to life and make them enjoy life is to be useful to other people and to serve them. This fact is definitely known by experience. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following: ”The best people among you are the ones that benefit people the most.” (Bukhari Maghazi 35)

5. To smile and to utter nice words

Smiling and nice words are among the most important deeds that motivate both the addressee and the person himself. The Messenger of Allah, who was a model for his ummah with his smiling face and nice words, said, Smiling at your religious fellow is regarded as sadaqah.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 36), “Uttering nice words is regarded as sadaqah.” (Bukhari, Jihad 72)

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