MAQĀLĀT-I-NAJAFI ..... No.5: On Humanity and Morals
Shaykh Muhammad Hassan Najafi
In the Name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful
Everyone knows that insāniyat (humanity) is derived from uns (intimacy). Intimacy is a kind of relationship and connexion that is born out of the consequences of love among mankind; it is thus the result of the interactions of social life.
The men of wisdom consider humanity to be a kind of inherent and natural virtue on which the very inner nature of Man has been moulded. The Creator of nature has made this quality of humanity the best and most perfect means and medium of bringing about intimacy and connexion in the society of mankind.
Hence, this natural cause, humanity, does not bear any special relation to any particular nation or to a given race of people; on the contrary it is the common characteristic of all mankind, who have inherent in them this natural element of human nature.
The fact is that as a consequence of the lack of knowledge and as a result of ignorance, or, due to bad habits and as a result of disagreeable and unsuitable intercourse, or, as the result of inappropriate and unsuitable upbringing or wrong training, this natural essence and this giver of life to society - that is, the quality of humanity - is either lost altogether or becomes weak in society.
Thus, everywhere and always, this inherent essence of Man is found infused in human nature - its being and subsistence is through God and its not-being and abeyance is through Man.
Philosophers have said: "When man comes to know the inmost nature, only then he knows God." Man is truly gratifies and enjoys the sweetness of the fruits of his being human only when, having traced back his own beginning and ultimate end, he comes to be cognizant of his Creator and knows that He is always jealously watchful over him.
He who is aware of the jealous watchfulness of the merciful God is not content only with outward prayer but, first of all cleanses his inner self from all ugliness. Such a one helps the helpless and shuns double-dealing. Abstaining from evil ideas, he recognises the various ranks of God's creatures. He honours the great. He gives proper attention to the education of the young.
He who knows that God is ever watchful over him, controls his tongue from uttering and his eye from seeing evil - purity and steadfastness, fidelity and truth, become his business. He respects religious law and does not intentionally go against it or against his given word. He considers service of the nation and of society as the service of his own wife and children. He knows God to be antecedent and prior to him and therefore his refuge and shelter. He knows time to be his life itself and so does not waste it.
Such a one does not keep himself away from prayer and the praise of God - he keeps his future in view and does not put off the work of today till tomorrow. He does not shrink from the performance of his duties. He does not misuse what he owns, nor is he niggardly at the time of need for expenditure in rightful ways. He appreciates the love of friends. He knows his today to be distinct from his yesterday and daily endevours to better his own condition and that of society.
A philosopher says: "It is not so difficult to reach the grade of knowledge, but to reach the stage of humanity needs much exertion."
Another man of wisdom says: "To trace the truth of humanity is easy enough as a consequence of the gnosis of God."
Since the gnosis of God is the best means to reach the stage of humanity, we shall now see, briefly but comprehensively, what is the meaning of gnosis.
THE GNOSIS OF GOD AND HIS COMPREHENSIVE ATTRIBUTES
Instinctively and intuitively every human being desires to know himself, and the acquirement of the knowledge of himself he knows to be on of his natural obligations. Similarly, the man of intuition, who knows his own nature and desires, considers it to be obligatory on him to know his Artificer and Creator.
Hence the men of wisdom, the world over, have said that the gnosis of the Creator is man's first duty, intellectually and legally. He who is ignorant of the gnosis of his own Creator is not a man of conscience - such a one is not to be relied upon; he is devoid of truth. He has lost the inner part of his own nature.
On the other hand, he who has attained the gnosis of his own Creator, and has found his own inner self, such a one takes advantage of benefits of both the worlds and passes the allotted period of his life in comfort and with understanding.
The gnosis of the Essence of God is impossible for created beings. Whatever man can conceive is the creation of his own lower soul. Therefore the best means of acquiring the gnosis of God and of understanding the nature of His Essence is through comprehension of His sacred attributes and their consequences. Though His attributes are in fact illimitable, a few are given below to help illuminate thought.
God's unique Essence is free from every fault and every will. He is the embodiment of the attributes of Perfection, Majesty, and Beauty - kamal, jalal, and jamal. He is Knowing and Mighty; Seeing, Living, and Hearing. He is Independent and He is the master of His will and intention. His attributes are the very essence of His Being - His attributes do not differ from his Essence.
His sacred Being is all Goodness. In His actions and doings and sayings and ordinances there is no cruelty or oppression or iniquity. There is no beginning for Him nor any end. He has no sharer or partner or match or like. He is the Creator of all beings: not-being and being are both in His hands.
He is Omnipresent and Omniscient: He knows all the hidden and manifest things and beings. He knows the desires of all His creatures: He hears their cries and their voices. He is not influenced by what anyone sys. He clearly understands the requests of the people who ask boons of Him. He is not grieved at the insistent supplication of any creature: He knows without ambiguity the questions of all questioners.
He is not unheedful of anyone. He sees and knows the particular deeds of His creatures: He finds out their vices and virtues.
The whole and part of all possibilities and all possible existences are in His hands. He organises the various forms of the universe through motion and rest, seperation and collection. (These four are the akwan-i-arba' - no created thing or being is free from one or the other of these conditions.)
Subsistence and annihilation, life and death, health and disease, honour and dishonour, poverty and wealth, height and depth, and so on, are all organised by Him. Thus, He is not unmindful of any thing or any being.
He is free from forgetfulness. He is the Lord of the Universe and the Master of the Day of Recompense. He is the Punisher of the cruel, the Giver of justice to the oppressed, and the Hearer of the anguished cries of the helpless. He is the uplifter of the fallen, the Giver of sustenance to the hungry and the Provider of the needs of the needy.
He is such that to Him distance and proximity, night and day, rise and fall, the hidden and the manifest, the strong and the weak, the young and the old, all are as one. He is such that for Him there is no movement or rest, sleep or drowsiness, or lethargy. Haste and quickness, unconsciousness and error, and contrary states, are not for Him.
His Essence is unique. There is no time or space for Him: time and space are his creations. He is the Creator of nature and of physical properties.. He has no essence and accident, matter, form, substance, shape, or appearance. He is not power nor is He spirit. He is not light nor heat. He is neither ether nor gas nor nature nor world nor heaven.
His Essence cannot be seen by the eye; nor can it be conceived by the "heart". Thought and imagination cannot reach Him. He is with al things yet He is separate from all things. The truth of His Being is concealed from all possibilities. It is impossible to reach His quintessence. He is not related to or connected with anyone: He is great because of His own Essence. He is necessary because of His own Being.
He is Compassionate, Kind, Merciful, because of His own inherent attributes. He is Unique through the very truth of His Being. He does not beget, nor is He begotten.
His generosity and grace are universal.
His ordinances are just.
His wisdom is without end.
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