By: Sadia Dehlvi
Apr 23, 2011
Humanity is part of the cosmos, writes Sadia Dehlvi
An Islamic tradition attributed to Prophet Jesus states, “The world is a bridge; so pass over it to the next world, but do not try to build on it.” The word duniya or world, has a negative connotation in Islam. The real meaning of this Arabic word is to reach out for something you can never grasp.
It indicates the illusionary nature of the world. Humanity is part of aalam or cosmos, and an aalim, or intellectual is one with knowledge of the true nature of God’s universe.
Despite the negative connotation, Muslims are prohibited from decrying this world. The Prophet said, “Do not curse the world for God created it and it is a means of reaching Him.” Acquiring wealth or position to help the needy, or desiring provisions for the purpose of attaining the best in the Hereafter do not fall in the sphere of duniya alone.
The idea that people are prone to ghaflah or heedlessness, ignoring the fact that they will be held accountable for their actions on the day of judgement, is a central theme of the Quran. Alluding to a heart shorn of spirituality and one that lacks the ‘inner eye’, it describes the heedless as, “those with hearts, but do not understand with them, those with eyes but cannot see, those with ears but cannot hear”. These are people who do not recognise the signs of God in the universe and are deluded by this world, forgetting its transitory nature. Reminding us that there are no exit strategies with God, Prophet Muhammad said, “Take yourself to account before you are taken into account.”
Polishing the heart with remembrance of God, being in a state of awareness and self-reflection is the way to actualisation of the real Self. To lose touch with God is to lose touch with one’s own reality.
Born Without Sin
Islam claims that human beings are not innately corrupt. They are not born with the ‘the original sin’ but are in a state of fitrah, an inclination towards faith with an intuitive awareness of divine purpose. As children grow older, their innate nature gets polluted with the debris of duniya, distorting their natural disposition. Physically, we may be different, but each one of us has within us a blueprint of divine laws, which, left untarnished, allows us to recognise the Reality of the One God.
According to Islam, Adam and Eve did not sin, but fell into a state of forgetfulness. They turned to Allah in repentance. Allah forgave them, appointing Adam a prophet and His vice-regent on earth. Adam and Eve then became watchful of their actions ensuring they followed God’s commands. There is no blemish passed on to their progeny. The Quran clearly states: “No soul bears the burden of another soul”.
Pride And Arrogance
If we live up to the expectation of our father Adam, and mother Eve, we would have nothing to fear. There is a fundamental difference between the responses of Adam and Satan. Satan recognised God, but pride and arrogance led him astray. After eating the forbidden wheat, Adam and Eve realised their folly and asked Allah for forgiveness. Hence, the human state of heedlessness is one thing, and satanic refusal to admit and repent for wrong action quite another. Adam’s entry into the earth is a sign that God’s mercy takes precedence over His wrath, and that His guidance triumphs over Satan’s bid to misguide us.
Heedlessness negates tawhid, the One Reality from where we all originated. Our physical existence is just a shadow which we have to transcend in order to discover the permanent and timeless. The fitrah needs to be cultivated so that the purity of the soul is maintained. If human beings truly follow their hearts, they can never go wrong for the spiritual heart, centred in the physical one, echoes the Divine.
Source: Times of India