Individual and Society

The Quran tells us that man was created so that he might worship God. In the words of the Quran, “I created the Jinn and mankind only so that they might worship Me.” (51:56). In this verse, the worship of God means the realisation of God. Discovery of the realisation of God is, without doubt, the highest destination of anyone’s intellectual progress. The noblest is he who can attain this level of realisation. There are three kinds of such realisation. The experience of realisation of the first and second kinds has become a reality in history. So far as the realisation of the third kind is concerned, the prospect of it becoming a reality has become achievable only in the 20th century for the first time in history. The prophets achieved the experience of the first kind of discovery. This experience happened at the level of what is seen (ruyat). It is described in the Quran in this verse: “We showed Abraham our Kingdom of the heavens and the earth so that he might have certainty of faith.” (6:75). The words regarding the Prophet of Islam are similar. “And certainly he saw him descend a second time.” (53:13). This kind of realisation is attainable at the level of the seen. This realisation is reserved solely for the prophets. The second level of realisation is at the discovery of one’s helplessness. Man discovers his total helplessness as compared to the all-powerfulness of Almighty God. In this way, he achieves the realisation of God. It has been aptly described in these words attributed to the fourth caliph Ali: “I discovered my Lord by the shattering of my ambitions.” The third kind of realisation is at the voluntary or optional level. A man possessing total power discovers the Majesty of God and voluntarily surrenders himself before Him. This is no doubt the most challenging thing to do. When the philosophers and the theologians engaged in such discussions as ‘when God is almighty then man’s position is only of total helplessness,’ they concluded that the concept of man having power is only imaginary.

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