The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • bookcover

  • The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • The Koranic Conception of Man

    The Holy Koran represents man as a free and responsible being, gifted with the faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong. Then according to the Koran, man is capable of obeying the law of God. He needs nobody to atone for his sins, but himself; for the Lord is merciful and will forgive him his sins. The Holy Book of Islam mentions no original sin, which we inherit at our birth. It does not represent man as coming into the world with a load of sin on his back. On the contrary, it represents him as an unconscious Moslem at the moment of creation. The Prophet of Islam says: “Every child is born with a Moslem heart”, and it is the external influences that makes it what it becomes afterwards in life. If bad influences happen to be at work, the child generally surrenders to such influences, unless God Himself undertakes to nurture the little soul. When the child grows into manhood, he may used the God gifted faculty of discrimination and may become what he chooses in life. Indeed, God gives him many a chance in life, that he may recover himself from sin and iniquity. He may make or mar his fortune even in the spiritual sense. If in him, Faith asserts its power, if true repentance places him in the right attitude towards God, if the spirit of God impels him to do virtuous deeds, if he feels the hand of God working in the smallest concerns of his life, and, above all, if he accepts death with a smiling countenance, and loses himself to save himself, why this is sufficient atonement in the sight of the Lord, whose pre- eminent attribute is Mercy.

     

    To understand the Koranic conception of man, a reference to the following verses is necessary: “Of goodliest fabric We created man, then brought him down to be the lowest of the low; save who believe and do things that are right, for theirs shall be a reward that faileth not”. These verses indicate that man, at the moment of his creation, is perfectly sinless. It is afterwards, that sin tries to assert itself and bring him down to the level of the brutes. But he has also the divine in him, - the power to offer if he so wills, a stubborn resistance; and by the help of this power, he may “grow up to a saint”. Although his own force is feeble, there is the Spirit of God which will cooperate with him in this work of self–regeneration only if he shows genuine desire to turn to God, to believe and to do things that are right. The Holy Koran is very clear on this point. It does not ask to believe in the doctrine of original sin; and so atonement, in a Christian sense, has no place in the Islamic Scripture. What God wants of us, is this that we for our part, should make the utmost endeavour to secure His pleasure and grace while He for His part, undertakes to direct us into His ways. “And whoso maketh his utmost endeavour towards Us, We will surely direct him into Our ways,” says the Koran. This utmost endeavour on our part, to reach God, involves the idea of personal atonement and sacrifice which the Moslem is required to offer. We find the same thought clearly expressed elsewhere in the Word of God. “They who set their face with resignation God–ward, and do what is right, their reward is with their Lord; nor fear shall come on them, neither shall they be grieved.” Turning his face towards God, gradually proceeding towards Him, till he realizes himself in Him-herein lies the salvation of man, according to the Koran. The Moslem is taught the high truth, that “the good drives away the evil in man”, and so he requires not anyone to take the burden of his sin and to undergo punishment as his ‘substitute’. He develops his faculties, and tries his very best, to make use of them in doing good deeds and working out the will of his Maker; and hopes that his little will be accepted as much by the Most Merciful Lord.

     

    Everywhere, in the Holy Koran, man is represented as the crown and glory of creation. He is the central figure of this beautiful universe. In Adam, he is God’s vicegerent on earth. Out of love, God hath created man. And he hath created for him the heavens and the earth, and sendeth down water from the heaven, and so bringeth forth the fruits for his food and to him He hath subjected the ships, so that by His command they pass through the sea; and to him He hath subjected the sun and the moon in their constant courses; and to him He hath subjected the day and the night; of everything which he may ask Him, giveth He to him; and if he would reckon up the favours of God, he can never count them.

     

    “And the cattle. For you He created them; from them ye have warm garments, and they are useful in many ways; and of them ye eat; and they obey you well when ye fetch them home and when ye drive them forth to pasture: and they carry your burdens to lands which ye could not else reach, but with travail of soul: truly, your Lord is full of Goodness, and Merciful: And He hath given you horses, mules and asses, that ye may ride them, and for your pleasure: And things, of which ye have no knowledge, hath He created. Of God it is, to point out the way. Some (of you) turn aside from it; but had He pleased, He had guided you all aright.” [1]

    According to the Koran, God hath endowed us with the power of self–government which is an almost incredible trust. By this power, God not only trusts our destinies to ourselves, but He actually trusts, or seems to trust, the whole final outcome of His creative work to our treatment of it. This earth, at least, is put into our hands, to make what we will of it and ourselves, its inhabitants. It is stored with all possible helps to us, in natural forces and materials; we are given intelligence, to find them out and to use them for the enrichment and beautifying of our lives; we are given the understanding of a Rule of Right in our conduct towards each other, that will keep us in perfect harmony and happiness together, for the common good; we are given a complete code of regulations, to guide us as to what is right and what is wrong; we are drawn towards well–doing, in accord with the Rule of Right, by a feeling created in us, which will not let us forget it or violate it, without willful intent; but (and here lies the grandeur of the part, man performs in creation) we are trusted with the freedom, to do with all this what we will. The out come, good or evil, is what we and our fellows of the human race, past and future, are helping, or have helped, or will help to make it. The glory of triumph or the shame of failure, in the creation of mankind, is to belong to the race itself.

     

    ([1]) Koran, XVL, 5-9.

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