What is the state of man and what are his properties according to Islam?

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What is the state of man and what are his properties according to Islam?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Man

Man (a human being) is the most valuable being in the universe for Islam. Man is a being written by the pen of power of Allah and he is enough to astound every thinking man. Man is a being with a heart that can make the divine melody, which cannot be encompassed by the universe, live in his belief and love. On the one hand, man is responsible for the orders of the Sublime Creator with the love that exuberates in his spirit; on the other hand, he is free to use his intellect and power of will. 

Man is superior to angels potentially since he is a being with intellect and will. Man’s superiority to angels is in terms of his ability to know and the power to name things. That is, what makes man superior to angels is not his worshipping. If superiority were based on worshipping, angels would be superior. For, their worshipping was more than that of Hz. Adam. 

Man is a being that has individual responsibility in the face of the divine order

"Every man's fate We have fastened on his own neck"1,

and that has collective responsibility in the face of the following warning:

"Thus have We made of you an ummah justly balanced That ye might be witnesses over the nations."2

Man… Man is a will of movement reaching Allah from a tiny organ.

Hz. Ali expressed it in a very nice way: 

"You have the trouble but you ignore it,
You do not seem to notice but you also have the cure.
You think you are a small being,
In fact, ‘the biggest realm’ is wrapped in you."

Ibrahim Hakkı summarizes this expression of Hz. Ali’s in a nice way:  

"You fit into the world with your body but do not think you are flesh,
Come into the heart, you are the soul of the world."

Man…The most honorable creature… If he does not feel the weight of the thing entrusted to him, he will be a candidate for the most disgraceful one. Here is the message of the Quran:

"We have indeed created man in the best of moulds. Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low…"3

It means if man is defeated by his irresponsible and spoiled attitude, he will be condemned to be expulsed from the "lofty rank".

The Quran does not evaluate man based on his color, race and region but based on the good deeds in his heart and his ethics, which reflects them. Therefore, the Quran sometimes addresses him as"O those who believe and do righteous deeds" and sometimes as "O people!"

The Quran is man-centered. It does not deal with man in a certain chapter. It describes man based on his various abilities in all chapters. Even when the Quran mentions the incidents in the universe, it does not act based on the intention of expressing a physical or astronomical fact. Even in such cases, its real aim is to deal with Allah-man relationship.

According to the Quran, all humans are from soil and were created from ‘a single soul’. Acting upon the narrations regarding the issue and in order to emphasize that the yeast of human beings is the same, Islamic scholars say, while creating man, Allah summoned soil from all regions, white, black, yellow, red... He created man by kneading soil of all colors. Thus, He united the differences of race, color and region in ‘the identity of man’.  

Allah states the following regarding the issue:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."4

Religion (Islam)

Religion means to accept that Allah is the only dominant power on the universe and on us, and to connect to him with spiritual ties. Belief means man’s getting rid of his pride, soul, and delusion of his power.

Religion wantsman to protect his soul, generation, wealth, religion and mind in order to reach his aim in the journey to the truth without stumbling.

To protect thesoul, generation and wealth means to protect life. Respect to life is one of the most important principles of Islamic ethics. However, life does not mean to slide on an empty surface. It does not mean to play with the world for one’s pleasure. Life means to start many nice things. It means to know, to hope, to love, to admire and to produce values for the benefit of humanity.

Protection of religion is a symbol of man’s belonging to his creator. It is the seal that registers affiliation to the Absolute power. A person who loses the feeling of religion is like something without brand, which is not known where it belongs. In this sense, the Quran’s call to man can be summarized as follows: 

"Embrace the truth and surrender your essence to the religion; turn your face to Allah. Look at Allah’s creation by drawing lessons. Pay attention to the fact that there is no alternative to Allah’s creation. Do not distort this fact. For, when this talent is lost, you cannot repair it with any skills."

Soul, Spirit and Man

The Quran wants man to know his Creator and soul, and to become worthy of his Creator by purifying his soul from evil deeds. To this end, it expects man to answer the questions that can be summarized as "Where did I come from? Why did I come? Where will I go?", which can reveal the metaphysical dimension of his purpose of creation. It teaches us the three façades of our life so that we can answer those questions without any mistakes:

Belief, Islam, Goodness

Belief means to accept the divine will. Islam means surrendering to the divine will. Ihsan (goodness) means to realize belief and Islam to transform them from a theoretical cause and formal application into a spiritual digestion. Goodness means to move belief and worshipping to the area of love, without forgetting even for a moment that man is under the surveillance of Allah.

Goodness means to be purified from all kinds of greed. For, greed is the chains put around his legs. It is not possible to reach Allah with them. When Hz. Musa was getting ready to meet Allah, he received the following divine address:  

"Verily I am thy Lord! Therefore (in My presence) put off thy shoes: thou art in the sacred valley Tuwa."5

Man’s walking toward Allah will be possible by taking off his shoes and by being freed from his greed, hatred, accusations, desires of the soul and his tendencies toward everything except Allah.

The soul wants temporary pleasures and desires whereas the spirit wants to meet Allah Almighty. One of them will be realized as a result of man’s will:

"We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)."6

Mawlana likens the oppositeness of the desires of the soul to the intellect and the spirit to Majnun dealing with the camel.

"Once Majnun saw a camel. He got on the camel, held its halter tight and said to it, ‘Please make me reach Layla, who is ahead.’ The camel said, ‘If you have Layla ahead, I have my baby behind. If Majnun had not held its halter tight, the camel would have taken him backward, away from Layla. He begged the camel but it was in vain. Finally, he got off the camel and said, ‘I see now. We are both in love. You are in love with your baby and I am in love with Layla. You proceed in your way and I will proceed in my way.’"

Mawlana also says, "O my son! If you want to see the picture of your soul, read the description of Hell with seven gates." There, Mawlana reminds the verse ‘One Day We will ask Hell "art thou filled to the full?" It will say, "Are there any more (to come)?", emphasizing that the desires of the soul are never satisfied like Hell. 

Man and Belief

Intellect (mind) is the addressee of the divine address and is the source of human virtues. As Hz. Ali says, intellect that is deprived of understanding the religion is not regarded as intellect. A religion that moves away from the attitude of intellect is not regarded as religion.  

It is expressed in various narrations that Hz. Ali’s brother, Hz. Jafar, received praise from Jibril due to his nobility and the values in his character before and after Islam. It is also stated in these narrations that the Messenger of Allah called Jafar and asked him the reason why he received praise from Jibril, which was something rare. The answer of Jafar to the Messenger of Allah makes us understand the importance of intellect in understanding the good deeds and bad deeds:      

"O Messenger of Allah! I have never consumed alcohol because I thought it would suspend the intellect, which is my greatest value. It weakens the power of my mind. However, I am in dire need to maintain and enhance it in order to protect my human values.

"O Messenger of Allah! I have never worshipped any idols because I knew they had no power to bestow blessings or to inflict any harm. I have never committed fornication because I do not want it to be done with the members of my family. I have never lied because I considered it to the biggest ugliness."

Intellect has sound criteria. It does not get mistaken as much as feelings do; it can make man who loses himself to come round. Intellect can save people from the clutches of the desires of the soul and the slavery of imaginary fears. Intellect teaches man to show respect to rights. He understand what deeds are virtuous and what deeds are not good.

However, it is not possible to defend that intellect alone is enough worshipping Allah. Intellect alone made man who lived based on his feelings wear ‘the crown of humanity’; the Quran describes this state as ‘ahsani taqwim (the best of molds)’.

Intellect needs to unite with the feeling of belief in the heart. For, man can attain the brightness of the sun of reality only this way. Then, man will be lucky enough to see things with their real faces. The meaning of the following prayer of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is probably this: "O Allah! Show us the reality of things."

Man, who defends that he can think with his intellect only, will have templates of thought in his mind. He will evaluate good and bad deeds based on one criterion and will look around him through one viewpoint; he will react to everything that does not comply with this viewpoint. He will want everything to be in compliance with the criterion determined by his soul and desires. For, intellect that is deprived of heart is no longer intellect but desires. A person who acts based on his desires will be a bigot who has lost his tolerance.   

The Quran gives the following warning:

"If the Truth had been in accord with their desires, truly the heavens and the earth, and all beings therein would have been in confusion and corruption."7

To see everything with their real faces is based on observing things through the thought of Allah. For, ‘Allah is the light of both the skies and the earth.’

And Love

The sun of love is born out of the marriage of intellect with belief. Belief, Islam and goodness become meaningful in the brightness of love. In fact, the function of the intellect takes its owner to the boundary of love. Intellect cannot go further. When the sun of love is born, the torch of the intellect is replaced by the mount of love; it says, ‘Walk; the area belongs to you.’ Thus, intellect celebrates its victory of making man meet his Lord. Thus, ‘the ascension of believers’ takes place. Thus, those who have been enslaved by love in the realm of virtues attain full freedom. Thus, the lovers try to express their happiness by uttering the following poem: 

"I walk in blazes
Love painted me with blood
I am neither sane nor insane
Come and see what love did to me."

"To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the Garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle."8

Having been inspired by the verse above, Fuzuli stated the following as if he was joking.

"If you put my trouble
On the head of a camel
The unbeliever would come out of Hell
and become very happy."

Fuzuli says, “The trouble of love that I carry is so heavy that if I place it on the back of a camel, love will melt the camel and transform it into a thread that can pass through the eye of a needle. At that time, the doors of the sky will be opened for the unbeliever and his wish to exit Hell will be accepted. He will start to dance with the joy of being a person of Paradise by being saved from being a person of Hell.”  

Love is divine enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of attaining Allah. Joys are temporary but love is permanent. The soul does not want to demand love. For, love is the friend of anguish. A lover is an anguished person. However, it is necessary to say that the appearance of the lover might be fire but his inner side is Paradise and beauty.

The body of a person whose heart is full of love of Allah takes pleasure from worshipping. The effort originating from love transforms the troubles in the way of worshipping into enthusiasm:

"If the remorse of the Friend finds fire appropriate for His lovers,
I will be greedy if I look at the fountain of Kawthar."

If man makes efforts in the way of gaining this love and surrendering, he will not be interested in masiwa (things other than God). He will regard the grief and joy coming from Him as something very nice.

Ibrahim Khawas regards even Hz. Khidr as masiwa.

"While I was walking, I came across Khidr. He said, ‘Let us be friends.’ I said, ‘No!’ He asked why. I said, ‘If I rely on you because you are Khidr, I may have something missing in my connection with Allah.’"

Then, it can be said that man’s relationship with the religion should not be based on the bigotry of formal rules. If it becomes so, love, which is the core of our religious life, will be lost. The religion becomes a heap of dead rules. The relationship of the religion with man’s spiritual structure and his sincerity should not be cut off. 

To sum up, the spirit of the religion is to make love live. Religion is the power that elevates conscience to the presence of eternity. It is the wind that blows the ability to move to our will. The deed of religion is the deed of love. For, the name of the state in the presence of eternity is love.

Some examples showing the love, respect and tolerance of the Prophet (pbuh)

Islam is a system of ethics as a form of the outwards reflection of a deep experience based on belief, goodness and love. What covers the most place in this system is respect to man. As we have tried to explain above,man is a will of movement reaching Allah from a tiny organ. Therefore, everything in Islam is for man. The fact that man is declared to be the vicegerent in the absolute sense without any discrimination in the Quran shows this.

In the last part of this writing, we will report some examples showing thelove, respect and tolerance of the Prophet (pbuh):

Anas narrates:

‘We were in the mosque with the Messenger of Allah, listening to his fascinating talk. A Bedouin came; he listened to the Messenger of Allah for a while. Then, he probably felt the need to urinate; he went to a corner of the mosque and started to urinate. The congregation walked up to him. The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Do not put a halt to his urinating; instead, leave him.’ Then, he called the man and said to him, ‘This is a mosque. We perform prayers here and read the Quran. We worship Allah. What you did is not done here.’

The Messenger of Allah ordered some people from the congregation to clean that place with a bucket of water.

The Messenger of Allah was getting ready to lead the janazah prayer of a person. Hz Umar said, ‘No. Do not lead the janazah prayer of this man.’ Then, he started to give examples of his bad deeds. The Prophet (pbuh) turned toward the congregation and asked, ‘Is there not anybody who saw any good deeds of this man?’ Somebody said, ‘I saw. The army had returned from a war and stopped for a rest. The commander asked some volunteers to guard. This man volunteered first. He kept guard until the morning.’ Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led his janazah prayer and accompanied him to the graveyard. Then, he called Hz. Umar and said, ‘O Umar! We do not have the right to evaluate people based on their bad deeds instead of their good deeds.’

The Farewell Sermon of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is full of the universal principles of respect to man:

"O people! Do not forget that all of you are from Adam. And Adam is from the ground. Arab has no merit over non-Arab, a white person over a black person, and a black person over a white person. Superiority is based on taqwa (trying to be a mature man by avoiding bad deeds and oppression). When Allah evaluates you, He does not look at your physical structure or your wealth. He looks at the values of belief and deeds in your hearts."

There was a young Jew who listened to the Prophet’s talks. He did not join his talks for a while. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about him, they said, ‘He is ill.’ Thereupon, he went to his home to visit him with some Companions.  He was in his deathbed. When he saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), he became happy and tried to sit up in order to show his respect. The Messenger of Allah asked him about his health and tried to cheer him up. He wanted the young man to die as a believer; so, he advised the boy to utter kalima ash-shahadah. The boy was receptive to this invitation but was hesitant because of his father. His father was affected from this attitude the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), which was based on respect to man, and said to his son, "My son! We know the owner of the offer. Has he ever offered anything bad? You are free.” Thereupon the boy uttered kalima ash-shahadah and died after that. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘This act of the boy destroyed the burden of unbelief behind him.’

Once, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stood up when he saw a dead body being carried. The people with him said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! It is a Jewish woman.’ Thus, they implied that they found the attitude of the Messenger of Allah strange.The Prophet reacted to them and said, ‘Is she not a human being?’

Conclusion

Islam can be possible through humanness in familial and social life, man’s determination of realizing himself, ensuring a system suitable for clean nature, preventing people’s alienation from what is in their nature, and through values like love, respect and tolerance that can be regarded as the manifestations of divine love. Therefore, our religious life needs to be alive. To ignore this feeling, which is hidden in our nature and to seek other alternatives in order to fill this gap will only force the limits of humanness. In that case, the way to solve the disagreements in life will continue to be violence, enmity, hatred and brute force. Man was created to attain bliss in this world and the hereafter but unfortunately, man’s attaining bliss in this world and the hereafter will be only a wish written in books. 

Footnotes:

1. al-Isra, 17/13
2. al-Baqara, 2/143
3. at-Tin, 95/4-5
4. al-Hujurat, 49/13
5. Taha, 20/12
6. al-Insan, 76/3
7. al-Mu’minun, 73/21
8. al-A’raf, 7/40.

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