Why Do We Lack Character

Why Do We Lack Character?

  by G. A. Parwez
 
This booklet was originally written in Urdu by Allama Parwez and then translatedinto English by him in the 1960’s.
The importance of the subject necessitated for itsre-print.
 Bazm Tolu-e-Islam London, UK 
is instrumental in bringing out the presentedition.
Widespread Impression.
 “Our people have no character” is acknowledged universally, at home and abroad,in business and government circles, and in every sphere of administrative activity. Lack of character produces social imbalance and leads ultimately to national decline anddisintegration. The malady has been eating up the vitals of our social life too fast towithstand an unexpected shock.
Meaning of Character.
 The outward signs of a weak character are commonly believed to be bribery,corruption and exploitation but they do not bring out the true significance of the word. Itbelongs to the realm of ethics, which defines character in terms not easily intelligible tothe common man. Here are a few definitions given by Western writers on ethics.“Morality is character. Character is that which is engraved. Character is reallyinwardness. Immorality as energy is also character, but to be neither moral nor immoral ismerely ambiguous”.
(Soren Kierkegarard in “The Present Age”, page 15).
 “Character is the manifestation of Truth, and Truth is the conformation of Appearance to Reality”.
(Professor Whitehead in “Adventures of Ideas”, page 309).
 “Character is adopting ‘Good’ and good is the movement in the direction of home, ‘evil’ is the aimless whirl of human potentialities without which nothingcan be achieved and by which, if they take no direction but remain trapped inthemselves, everything goes away”.
(Martin Bubar in “Between Man and Man”, page 78).
 “Character is the possession of power over oneself; it is the victory over slavery tooneself”.
(Berdyaev in “Slavery and Freedom”, page 47).
 “Each person should in his acts, and behind them in his thoughts and hisemotions, exercise that control which is necessary in order to assure not onlyharmony in his own personality but also social harmony”.
(Alexander Loveday in “The Only Way”).
 “Character in the most general sense is a man’s attitude towards his humansurroundings which is expressed in his actions”. (Kerschensteiner’s essay on “TheConcept and Education of Character” quoted by
(Martin Bubar in “Between Man and Man”, page 108).
 Let us attempt a definition on a layman’s level.
An Illustrative Proverb.
 The proverb says “Sacrifice wealth to save life and sacrifice life to save honour”.The first half of the proverb is clear. Wealth and life have their respective values and if only one of them can be saved then wealth should be sacrificed to save life. One whosacrifices wealth for life or
vice versa
is, however, neither credited with character norcondemned. A miser once fell ill and his son called in an eminent doctor, not for helpingthe patient, but for saving his face against the charge of indifference towards his ailingfather. The doctor examined the patient, diagnosed the disease and wrote out aprescription. As the son was leaving for buying the medicines, the father told him to doso only after first ascertaining from the undertaker the cost of his funeral, that is, heshould adopt the less costly course. The advice will excite laughter, not because itexhibits lack of character but on account of its absurdity. Preservation of self is an urgewhich every living being follows instinctively. How hard does a tiny little ant struggleagainst obstacles endangering its life! Man is no exception. If he sacrifices wealth for life,he follows a natural instinct and not any moral value. Doing the opposite would bedevoid of sense. Harming oneself is lunacy.The second half of the proverb suggests that life and honour have both a value butthat if there is a tie between them and only one can be saved, then it is honour whichshould be preferred. He who sacrifices life for safeguarding honour is universallyapplauded as a man of character; he who sacrifices honour to save life is unreservedlycondemned.
Character Defined.

 Preservation of life is an animal instinct; not so is the preservation of honour. Theconcept of honour is unknown to the animal world. In fact it forms the line of demarcation between the Animal and the Man. Honour is a specific human value.Preservation of human values elevates the level of life, from the animal to the human.

Character may, therefore, be defined as
who so preserves human values against animal 
Character may, therefore, be defined as
who so preserves human values against animal instincts is a man of character.
Assessment of Human Values.
 Human values might have different meanings. Take the word honour. “God hassaved my honour,” means that I have not been disgraced before my friends. “She gaveher life to save her honour”—here honour signifies chastity. But the meaning of chastityitself might differ from people to people. In the East if some one casts an evil glance at aveiled lady, her father or brother would not hesitate to shoot him. In the West, however, if a girl flirts publicly, her father or brother, instead of having any qualms, would feel proudof her as a popular society girl! Again one society might attach the greatest importance toa particular value which in the estimation of another society might not be a value at all.We respect and honour our parents, but there have been tribes with whom eating them upconstituted a sacred duty. The Puritans saw nothing wrong in stealing Negro children andshooting the Irishmen. The Jews thought it bad, even criminal, to levy interest amongthemselves but permitted it in the case of non-Jews. In an island of the Pacific there is atribe with whom dishonesty is the best moral conduct and among whom the cleverestcheat is held in the highest esteem. Thugs felt proud of killing poor wayfarers.Nationalism is recognized the world over as a political and social creed and one whohelps the well being of his nation by exploiting the other nations, is regarded a patriotworthy of being immortalized in metal and marble.In the words of Rumelin.“Self regard is its (State’s) appointed duty; the maintenance and development of its own power and well-being is the supreme principle of all politics. The State can onlyhave regard to the interest of any other State so far as this can be identified with its owninterest. The maintenance of the State justified every sacrifice and is superior to everymoral rule”
(Quoted by Robert H. Murray in his,“The Individual and the State”, page 216)
 
Universal Standard of Character.
 Since human values vary with different societies should character meanharmonizing oneself to the values which a society might stress for the time being? Indays gone by Spartans viewed theft a virtue and held the smartest thief in the high-testesteem; today theft is a crime and a thief a criminal. With us conception of a virgin is adisgrace for the family, in the West sexual intercourse between a willing couple is neitheran evil nor a criminal offense: even homosexuality between willing parties is condonedthere. Is there then no universal standard of character?

Quranic Concept of Character

People inhabiting different countries might follow different ways of life but,according to the Holy Quran, human values are the same anywhere and unchangeabletoo. It is not given, however, to human intellect to determine such values. Humanintellect is essentially individualistic in character. It can seek preservation of theparticular self to which it belongs individually or collectively, but not that of the otherselves. For the well-being and preservation of mankind as a whole, however, what isneeded is not an individualistic intellect, which cannot see beyond its nose, but acomprehensive and all pervading intellect, namely God and Revelation. It is Revelationalone which gives abiding universal values. The revealed values are preserved in theHoly Quran, the code of life for mankind in all climes and ages. Quranic values arePermanent Values of life and provide a universal standard of character or, to use Quranicterminology,
Taqwa.
 Rational thought fully endorses Quranic concept of character. The famous writerHastings Rashdall says:“That there is one absolute standard of values, which is the same for all rationalbeings, is just what Morality means.”
(The Theory of Good and Evil, Vol. II, page 286)
 On page 211 of the book he agrees that these values cannot be devised by humanintellect but have been revealed to man and says:“Certainly it (moral law) is to be found, wholly and completely, in no individualhuman consciousness. Men actually think differently about moral questions, andthere is no empirical reason for supposing that they will ever do otherwise”.
Human Level of Life.
 Permanent values pertain to human as distinct from animal level of life. TheQuranic term for the animal level of life is
“Hayat-ud-dunya” 
,
or a level of life in whichman’s vision is restricted to immediate gains. (The word
dunya
means nearer).Satisfaction of physical urges is accompanied by pleasure which the Holy Quran wouldnot discard. Great discretion has to be exercised, however, when there is a tie between aphysical urge promising pleasure and a human value. One who sacrifices the latter for theformer is not a man of character; if he does the opposite, his behaviour would beacclaimed as laudable character.

A Quranic Illustration

The Holy Quran expects witnesses to be men of character. Says it“O believers, be you securers of justice. If you are summoned as a witness, be awitness for God regardless of your relationship with the parties, whether yourevidence culminates yourself or goes against your parents and kinsmen and
whether the party affected is rich or poor. God’s Law is the best protector for therich and the poor. God stands closest to either and claims that you be true to Himin preference to every one else. Let not caprice, personal gain, demands of relationship or regard for riches swerve you from the path of justice. Also intendering evidence, neither twist your statement nor avoid any, rememberingalways that God is aware of the things you do”, (4/135).Evidence might often involve an acute struggle between material gains and justice. Victory of the former is a sign of “low” character. The Holy Quran calls it“following
 hawa” 
and the word
“hawa” 
,
in its basic meaning, has the idea of carrying towards a low level. Victory of the latter (Justice) is evidence of truecharacter. Struggle between material gains and human values appears at all cross-roads in life and the test of character is the choice one makes.

Why should Material Gains be sacrificed for Human Values?

This is an important question. Riches, a life of comfort, a good name, high officeand status, the charm of authority are all full of attraction. Should one give them up forthe sake of preserving human values? Self-interest is ingrained in man. He cannot beweaned from it. He would not sacrifice self-interest unless and until he is convinced thatin doing so he stands to gain more. He will preserve human values only if there is areasonable prospect of greater gain

Example of Hungry Man

Think of a person who has had no food for several days, and, due to hunger, isunable to sit up. If a dish full of steaming
 pulao1*
is brought, won’t he sit up, advanceimpatiently towards the dish, pick up a morsel and carry it towards his mouth? While inthe process if he hears some one say that although the dish is a dainty, arsenic instead of salt has been added to it by mistake, would he put the morsel into his mouth or would hethrow it back into the dish and bang the dish on the ground? He would undoubtedly dothe latter since eating the stuff means certain death. He would prefer pangs of hungerrather than risk life. Now suppose the report said that the dish, instead of having arsenic,has been prepared from ill-gotten money. How will the hungry person react to themodified report? Ten to one he would snatch the dish and begin swallowing the contents.There will be available to him a thousand excuses against the plea of ill-gotten money,because he sees the gain in eating the dish, but none in rejecting it. Were he convincedthat the dish was as deadly as the one with arsenic, he would most certainly throw itaway. The truth is that in case of a tie between a physical urge or a material gain and ahuman value if a person is convinced that he stands to gain more by safeguarding thevalue he will without doubt sacrifice the physical urge. How is the conviction to come?The question is a challenge to ethics, “religion” and rationalism.

“Religious” View.

A group amongst the believers in human values is the “religious” or the Godfearing group. (Islam is a social order and not a “religion” and hence it is excluded from this group). The group views human values as so many divine injunctions. Theirobservance pleases God and their violation incurs His wrath leading the recalcitrant intoHades after death. Man should therefore fear God’s displeasure and chastisement andnever disobey His commandments. The “religious” view might be acceptable to theprimitive mind but it cannot satisfy the advanced twentieth century mind. One canthreaten a child into obedience, but not a grown up person. He may obey under duress,but his inner self will revolt all the time and watch for an opportunity to break away.Moreover, there is no nobility of character in actions performed under duress.“Religious” view, therefore provides neither an explanation for safeguarding humanvalues nor a guiding force for human actions.

View of Western Thinkers

Many Western thinkers can be cited, but for brevity’s sake one or two quotationsshould suffice. According to Kant, who enjoys a unique position amongst Westernthinkers, the whole edifice of ethics is founded on Man’s goodwill. Says he“It is impossible to conceive anything in the world, or even out of it, which can betaken as good without limitation, save only a
“good will.”
 
(Quoted by H.J. Patton in his“The Categorical Imperative”, page 34).
 Kant defines “good will” as “a will which acts for the sake of duty.” (Ibid, page45). That is, doing duty for the sake of duty is “good will” provided it is free from gainfulexpectation. Good action, however good it may be, ceases to be good the moment it isassociated with expectation of return or reward. The return for a good action is theprinciple which prompts it. Kant divides principles into two categories. Those whichprompt a person to action for gaining some purpose (material maxims) and those whichurge him to action without any purpose
(a priori
maxims). These latter,
a priori
maxims,give rise in man to a sense of duty. An a
 priori
maxim is, in Kant’s words, “categoricalimperative”. Says he“The categorical imperative would be that which represented an action asnecessary of itself without reference to another end, i.e. as objectively necessary.”
(Critique of Practical Reason, page 31).
 The position of Kant stated simply is that human values are duties which manshould perform for the sake of duty and not for achieving some purpose. They are duties
a priori
needing neither any argument for their proof nor any expectation for return orreward.

Urge for Human Action

Kant’s theory might be viewed an achievement in the realm of thought, but thereis nothing in it which could sparkle man’s urge to sacrifice material gains and pleasuresin favour of human values. The sacrifice needs a powerful stimulus, too strong fordemands of self-interest. As a rational and conscious being he will attempt nothing whichdoes not assure self-interest. Neither the high sounding theories of philosophers nor theforceful sermons of the mystics have succeeded in persuading man to forego self-interestfor the preservation of human values. Their success, if any, has been restricted to a fewdevotees only. Their expositions lack the capacity of becoming universal life-principles.

Material Concept of Life

According to the Holy Quran there are two concepts of life. One concept is thatman is only an animal of a some-what improved order, who lives subject to physical lawsand when under their operation his bodily machine stops, he dies and with death comeshis final end. This concept views man as an embodiment of physical urges at the animallevel to the complete exclusion of human values. Man is a social being and sincecollective living leads to clashes of interest, society frames laws and regulations to keepthe clashes at the minimum. One who observes the social laws is a peaceful citizen; theirviolation leads to punishment by courts or brings on social stigma. Under this concept of life–(i)
 
Society needs no permanent principles or values but frames laws andregulations at will and modifies, annuls or adds to them as expedient;(ii)
 
The urge for respecting social laws arises from fear of legal punishmentor social stigma;(iii)
 
The need for respecting the laws disappears the moment one can manageto escape the grip of law or to avoid social stigma; and(iv)
 
The sole criterion of character is that a person does not place self-interestover national interest. Anti-national activities are not only a penal crimebut a social stigma also. But if the legal machinery of a court weakens andself-interest becomes the order of the day, as is common in all poor thirdworld countries including Pakistan, there is no check which would stopunrestricted grabbing nor is there any inner urge which could awaken asense of character in the people.This concept, the material concept, of life has made this earth of ours a veritablehell. Countries alive to national interest have become a terror for the other nations; thosewho have ceased to be mindful of national interest, are a curse for themselves and anobject of hate for the rest of the world. There is in this concept no room for character asdefined above. It is self-interest only which the concept breeds in individuals as well asgroups. Placing of national over personal interest is practical wisdom and not character.

Quranic Concept of Life

The other concept of life, according to the Holy Quran, is that man is not his
body
 only, but that he has also a Self or Personality or to use Quranic terminology, DivineEnergy, whose development is the real purpose of life. Development of Personalityrequires the frame-work of body and, therefore, along with the development of Personality, the development of body is also necessary. Development of body is,however, only a means for the development of Personality and not an end in itself

Man Wishes to Live on

A desire lurking in the deepest recesses of man’s heart is to live on and never die.Self-preservation is man’s instinct and his intellect helps provide all the means requiredfor the purpose. Self-preservation is the basic theme of the story of Adam narratedallegorically in the Holy Quran.
 Iblis
 
took note of this human feeling, advanced towardsAdam and offered affectionately a suggestion that would secure him immortality coupledwith power which knows no waning. The offer touched Adam’s tender most feelings andhe beseeched
 Iblis
impatiently to tell him the secret. Said
 Iblis
“you can live after deaththrough progeny which will perpetuate your name generation after generation.” Theeffect was magical, intense and abiding. There is no limit to the anxiety of an issuelessindividual advancing in age for having a son. Bemoaning and bewailing he can neverreconcile himself to dying sonless because then his abode would become dark, his namewould be forgotten, his lineage would come to a dead end and his family would cease tobe for all time to come. But
 Iblis’s
suggestion, said God to man, was a deception and adelusion born of the material concept of life. A father has a separate and independentexistence from the son. If the son lives on it cannot make the father immortal. The way toachieve immortality lies elsewhere, namely through adequate development of Personality. A developed Personality is unaffected by physical death; it continues to liveafter death and live forever. That is the way to achieve immortality, the deepest and thestrongest yearning of man. God told man further that in the present state of his existencedevelopment of Personality is possible through his body and that therefore protection of body and satisfaction of bodily urges is an unavoidable necessity. Consider an egg, thehidden life germ in which can, with due care and attention become a chicken provided theeggshell remains firm and is adequately protected. The shell is, however, a means fordeveloping the inner potential chicken and not an end in itself. Similarly man’s body is ameans for developing his Personality, not an end in itself. God also said to man that asthere are laws for the development of his body, so there are laws for the development of his Personality. The latter laws cannot be discovered but have been revealed and arepreserved in the
Holy Quran
. They are Human or Permanent Values of life and in theirapplication they are as universal as the physical laws governing man’s body.

Difference Between the Two Concepts:-

Life lived under the Quranic concept differs vastly from life lived under the materialisticconcept. According to the materialistic concept man’s physical life and bodily urges arean end in themselves and are not subject to any higher law. But according to the Quranicconcept.

(i)
 
Man’s body and its physical urges are not an end in themselves but are ameans for the achievement of a higher purpose, namely integration of hisPersonality.(ii)
 
It is very necessary that bodily urges shall be satisfied. In our examplethe hungry man threw away the poisoned dish because the stuff which wasa means for saving life had turned into a source of destruction. But whenthere is a conflict between a physical urge and a permanent value, theformer must be sacrificed for the latter with the full cognizance andconsent of intellect, the vigilant and uncompromising guardian of self-interest.(iii)
 
A believer in the Quranic concept of life takes care of permanent values,not in obedience to some body’s order nor as a matter of duty, but aftermaking a deliberate and calculated choice. The satisfaction of the physicalurge offers him physical pleasure or temporary gain, and regard for thepermanent value promises him honourable and abiding life. He decidessolely on the basis of reason that he should give up the lesser gain for thesake of a bigger gain. Allama Iqbal1** draws a distinction between twophases of intellect. When it cares only for the satisfaction of physicalurges intellect is
 Aql-e-Khud Been
(self-seeing intellect) and when it caresfor the satisfaction of urges both of body and Personality, intellect is
aql-e-jahan
 
been
(all seeing intellect). The Holy Quran calls gains of body
 Hayat-ud-dunya
(nearer or present gains), gains of Personality
 Aakherat 
 (gains of the future) and Momeneen (believers)
olul albab,
that is thosepossessing intellect of a superior order.(iv)
 

Care of permanent values under the Quranic concept, is a rational affair.Intellect works for self-interest and when it is face to face with two gains,it chooses the bigger gain. Human intellect at the animal level is low butrises higher and higher as it attains

 Momin’s
level of life. A
 Momin
isintellectually always a superior being.(v)
 
Anything done at the instance of 
 
“self-seeing” intellect would, ascommonly under-stood, be an act of wisdom. But what is done inpursuance of “all-seeing” intellect would be wisdom,
cum
character. “Al-seeing” intellect of a
 Momin
never conflicts with his faith.

Basis of Character

Character and human dignity are closely connected with a firm belief in thefollowing:–(a)
 
that man is not merely his body, but has also a Personality whoseintegration is life’s real purpose;(b)
 
that as there are laws for the development of Body, so there are laws forthe integration of Personality, called permanent values; 
(c)
 
that permanent values cannot be discovered by human intellect but havebeen revealed by God; and(d)
 
that every action leaves an indelible impression on the doer’s Personality.In regard to permanent values of life Hastings Rashdall, who has been quotedbefore, holds in his book “The Theory of Good and Evil”, pages 200-220, that for a belief in permanent values the following pre-requisites are essential:–(1)
 
That the universe has been created with a purpose, the purpose beingprovision of means for helping human self achieve its destiny.(2)
 
That human self is a permanent reality; that the reality is spiritual in sofar as it has a permanent life of its own not identical with the changes of the material organism with which it is (in whatever way) connected; andthat the acts of the man really proceed from and express the nature orcharacter of the self.(3)
 
That man’s present actions affect his future, i.e. his tomorrow would beidentical with what he does today or, in other words, there is continuity inlife. One who sees nothing beyond present life, will be after present gainsand will attach no importance to permanent values, because theirimportance, as means for forming character, can be realized only whenone believes life to be permanent and continuous. If he believes thatcharacter comes to an end with the last breath of life, why should he worryabout formation of character.(4)
 
That there must be belief in God because “an absolute Moral Law ormoral ideal cannot exist in material things, it can exist only in a Mindfrom which all Reality is derived”.According to the Holy Quran Faith
(Eaman)
and Character areinseparable; the Holy Book never misses to precede
“amelu as salehat”
(do good deeds) with
“al lazeena amanu”
(those who have faith).

Choice Between Gains

(c)
 
that permanent values cannot be discovered by human intellect but havebeen revealed by God; and(d)
 
that every action leaves an indelible impression on the doer’s Personality.In regard to permanent values of life Hastings Rashdall, who has been quotedbefore, holds in his book “The Theory of Good and Evil”, pages 200-220, that for a belief in permanent values the following pre-requisites are essential:–(1)
 
That the universe has been created with a purpose, the purpose beingprovision of means for helping human self achieve its destiny.(2)
 
That human self is a permanent reality; that the reality is spiritual in sofar as it has a permanent life of its own not identical with the changes of the material organism with which it is (in whatever way) connected; andthat the acts of the man really proceed from and express the nature orcharacter of the self.(3)
 
That man’s present actions affect his future, i.e. his tomorrow would beidentical with what he does today or, in other words, there is continuity inlife. One who sees nothing beyond present life, will be after present gainsand will attach no importance to permanent values, because theirimportance, as means for forming character, can be realized only whenone believes life to be permanent and continuous. If he believes thatcharacter comes to an end with the last breath of life, why should he worryabout formation of character.(4)
 
That there must be belief in God because “an absolute Moral Law ormoral ideal cannot exist in material things, it can exist only in a Mindfrom which all Reality is derived”.According to the Holy Quran Faith
(Eaman)
and Character areinseparable; the Holy Book never misses to precede
“amelu as salehat”
(do good deeds) with
“al lazeena amanu”
(those who have faith).
Choice Between Gains.

 No one will be prepared to do anything which does not do him any good. Take theexample of two persons working in a Government office. They are there in self-interest,working for a pay. If a business-man comes along asking for some concession against therules in return for a handsome bribe, the official to whom human Personality is a non-entity, will accept the amount provided he is assured of non-apprehension by the police,because the bribe brings him monetary gain. The other official, however, who has faith inhuman Personality will not accept the bribe, because he values more the gain in beinghonest. He realizes that acceptance of bribe will bring him physical gain but will harm hisPersonality and that rejection of bribe will mean a physical loss but a gain for hisPersonality. He will balance the gains and, since Personality is in any case more valuable,he will welcome Personality’s gain and reject what will satisfy only a physical urge. Inmaking the decision he does nothing against self-interest. He only goes in for a greatergain. His choice is not in obedience to any order nor in fulfillment of any duty but 

because it brings him substantial benefit. The choice avoids harm to Personality in thesame manner in which harm to life made the hungry man reject the poisoned dish. Thebasis of the Quranic Law of Retribution is that every action is linked inextricably withwhatever impression it produces and leaves behind on Personality. Faith in Personalityprompts man continuously to do healthy deeds and exhibit nobility of character. A
“momin”
works for the good it brings and measures his reward not according to physicalor material standards but according to the standard applicable to Personality. The verse“I ask you not for any return; I get my return from God” (10/72),conveys the same meaning. There is no action but has a return, the assessment of returnvarying according to the measure adopted. Working in consonance with permanentvalues does not deprive one of physical gains. In a social order constituted on the basis of permanent values an individual has physical gains along with the means of developmentof Personality
vide
the verse“our Nourisher give to us in the present good and good in the future” (2/210).

Law of Development

One of the laws governing development of Personality is that developmentproceeds in proportion to what one makes available from his earnings for thedevelopment of others. One who believes in human Personality works his best for earninga living, utilizes as much of it as would furnish basic needs of life and makes the restavailable for the development of fellow beings. Judged by physical standards the processbrings nothing but loss. If one knows that what is left after meeting his needs would passto others, why should he work for the surplus. He should normally work for procuring hisneeds only and then relax. The reasoning is logical and a satisfactory answer to theargument is not easy to produce. Russia faced the self-made problem and in the absenceof an adequate answer had no alternative to hanging an iron curtain along its borders.Quranic concept, however, provides an answer and by doing so establishes the superiorityof the Quranic Social Order over the other social orders evolved by man. Theestablishment of the Quranic Social Order is the work of a group of “Mom-e-neen”, thatis people who are rationally convinced:(i)
 
That the purpose of life is the development of human Personality, and(ii)
 
That the development of Personality comes about through working hardand making available for others what is, out of such earnings, surplus toneeds.

Why Do Momins Do So

It is rather difficult to appreciate the keenness with which
momins
work for thepurpose. Consider a mother suckling her baby. She must produce the maximum amountof milk for the baby’s proper nourishment. The food she takes is intended primarily forher own nourishment. But she would never wish that it should all be assimilated for her
body’s growth and no portion converted into the baby’s milk. In fact if the milk showssigns of drying up, she would at once consult her doctor and do everything to restore thesupply. She is anxious for the baby’s care and nourishment. Identical is the mentalattitude of those who believe that by providing nourishment for others they helpintegration of their own Personality. They work to the maximum of their capacity, utilizeonly as much of their earnings as would provide them basic needs, and make the restavailable for others’ nourishment. At times they would go even further and prefer othersover themselves even though poverty be their portion (59/9). A loving and caring motherwould rather remain hungry herself but must feed her children. She would gladlyinconvenience her own sleep so that the child might sleep comfortably. In doing so shehas not the slightest expectation of any return or reward. In the same way
 Momins
tellthose helped“we desire no recompense from you, no thankfulness” (76/9).But there is a difference. Whatever the mother does for the child is done under thestress of a natural instinct common to all animals, but what a
 Momin
does is the outcomeof thoughtful deliberation and free will. The distinction is vital and forms the foundationof the Quranic Social Order. It is a sure guarantee for the sustained elevation of character.

The Quranic Way

 

body’s growth and no portion converted into the baby’s milk. In fact if the milk showssigns of drying up, she would at once consult her doctor and do everything to restore thesupply. She is anxious for the baby’s care and nourishment. Identical is the mentalattitude of those who believe that by providing nourishment for others they helpintegration of their own Personality. They work to the maximum of their capacity, utilizeonly as much of their earnings as would provide them basic needs, and make the restavailable for others’ nourishment. At times they would go even further and prefer othersover themselves even though poverty be their portion (59/9). A loving and caring motherwould rather remain hungry herself but must feed her children. She would gladlyinconvenience her own sleep so that the child might sleep comfortably. In doing so shehas not the slightest expectation of any return or reward. In the same way
 Momins
tellthose helped“we desire no recompense from you, no thankfulness” (76/9).But there is a difference. Whatever the mother does for the child is done under thestress of a natural instinct common to all animals, but what a
 Momin
does is the outcomeof thoughtful deliberation and free will. The distinction is vital and forms the foundationof the Quranic Social Order. It is a sure guarantee for the sustained elevation of character.
The Quranic Way.
 The Holy Quran, on the one hand, makes the State responsible to see that everycitizen is provided with the basic needs of life and the means for the development of latent capabilities. Weaknesses of character arising directly from want and poverty arethus eliminated. On the other hand, the Holy Book creates in every citizen, on the basis of reason, the conviction that his Personality will get integrated in proportion to what hemakes available out of his earnings, after meeting his own needs, for the nourishment of others. There is no regimentation but conviction is brought home rationally by impartingeducation and training from early childhood. Quranic Social Order is made up in fact of persons with whom the conviction is an article of faith. The conviction eradicates all evilsconnected with hoarding and inflation since in the Quranic Social Order surplus wealth isnot allowed to remain with the individual nor the urge of self-interest is permitted totarnish human character. Communism also claims that it will not allow surplus wealth toremain with individuals and will thereby put an end to the evils of capitalism. But thecommunistic social order and the Quranic Social Order are entirely different.

Basic Weakness of Communism

Communism has for its basis the materialistic concept of life and, therefore, canprovide no urge for a worker to work the hardest and to part with willingly what may be,out of his earnings, surplus to needs. The absence of the urge constitutes a basicweakness foreboding its failure as a social order. It can subsist only with the help of external force and an order based on force cannot obviously last long, as the world hasalready witnessed the disintegration of Socialist Russia and Collapse of Communism inall Eastern European Countries. A social order will endure and advance only if it has the 

willing co-operation of the people, and such co-operation is impossible except with theQuranic concept of life. As already explained, the materialistic concept of life on whichCommunism is based, pertains to the animal level of life in which there is no room for theidea of character, because it can think of nothing higher than physical gain. The most thematerialistic concept can do is to arouse the feeling of Nationalism and lead people fromindividual to collective effort for national good. But according to the Western concept of democracy Nationalism thrives on mutual hatred among nations. Every nation fears thatif it becomes weak more powerful nations will swallow it up. Therefore Nationalism is atbest the product of the urge of self-preservation and has nothing to do with human values
vis a vis
physical urges. Nationalism makes self-preservation a collective instead of anindividual affair. This does not mean decrying Nationalism, that is the urge for protectingone’s country. Self-preservation is a must and unless a country is fully protected that‘must’ will become impossible. What the foregoing is intended to convey is that work forself-preservation, whether individual or collective, does not signify positive character butreveals sound practical wisdom. Similarly indifference to self-preservation is un-wisdomand not a negation of character. A man sailing in a boat if he begins boring a hole in itsbottom, will be called a lunatic and not one lacking character. Similarly if a citizen worksfor the country’s disintegration he will be termed a lunatic. If the national urge makeshim sacrifice personal gain for national good he would be credited with sound sense likethe man in the boat who uses his valuable handkerchief for stuffing the hole in its bottom.Character comes in where one having faith in permanent values hazards a plunge to savea drowning person. There might be instances of people taking a plunge who haveabsolutely no idea of permanent values, but their psychological analysis is likely to showthat either they were aware unconsciously of the relevant permanent value or they did itwith some ulterior motive. Display of true character takes place where one is confrontedwith two values and he sacrifices deliberately and consciously the lower for the highervalue. Faith in Quranic permanent values does it; Communism and all other isms arehelpless in the matter.

Momin’s Patriotism

Believers in Quranic values sacrifice self interest for country’s sake not becausethe sacrifice would safeguard their personal interest, but because they wish their countryto become a model for the world for enforcing permanent values. Their preference for apermanent value over personal gain is a sign of their elevated character.The difference between the patriotism of a believer in materialistic concept of lifeand of a
 Momin
is clear. For the former his country is an end in itself because “who diesif England lives”, but for the latter his country is not an end in itself but only a means forenforcing permanent values.
 Momin’s
patriotism protects undoubtedly his personalinterest as well as of his family, but this is by way of by-product. In Quranic Social Orderthere is integration of human Personality along with development of body. The entireactivity of a
 Momin,
whether for the development of body or Personality, merges into adproduces a balanced amalgan of character.

Resume:-

(1)
 
In a conflict between two values concerning man’s physical life if thelesser value is sacrificed for the greater value, it is an act of wisdom.(2)
 
In a conflict between a value concerning physical or animal level of lifeand a value concerning human level of life, if the latter is given preferenceover the former, character is demonstrated.(3)
 
Display of character presupposes faith in human values and humanPersonality. Character is wisdom too because it sacrifices lesser value forthe bigger value.
 Momeneen
according to the Holy Quran, are
“olulalbab”
or master of intellect and wisdom. They are the true intellectualsalthough unbelievers in human Personality call them lunatics.(4)
 
Intellect by itself cannot discover human values; they are revealed. Faithin Revelation and belief in human values go hand in hand. Faith andhealthy deeds are, according to the Holy Quran, inseparable.(5)
 
Off-and-on one comes across people who have no faith in revelation buthonour human values and are prepared to make the biggest sacrifice fortheir sake. An analysis of their mind will show one of two things.
 Either 
 they were brought up in an environment where human values wererespected and stressed traditionally and were reposed carefully in theirsub-conscious mind
or 
their sacrifice was prompted by some motive likereputation, popularity, or the like. Sacrifice in their case is not amanifestation of character; character seeks strength of Personality and notsatisfaction of physical urges.(6)
 
Development of human Personality proceeds from faith in the Quranicvalues and through safeguarding them in practical life. They have to behonoured
en masse.
Ignoring some and respecting others would notachieve full development.(7)
 
Development of human Personality is possible, not in seclusion, but in asociety called Islamic State, whose edifice rises on a faith in Quranicpermanent values. The duty of Islamic State consists in safeguarding of human values and popularising them throughout mankind. Quranic SocialOrder guarantees every citizen means for development of Personality andall that is pleasant and dignified in the world.

Mysticism and Character

 

(1)
 
In a conflict between two values concerning man’s physical life if thelesser value is sacrificed for the greater value, it is an act of wisdom.(2)
 
In a conflict between a value concerning physical or animal level of lifeand a value concerning human level of life, if the latter is given preferenceover the former, character is demonstrated.(3)
 
Display of character presupposes faith in human values and humanPersonality. Character is wisdom too because it sacrifices lesser value forthe bigger value.
 Momeneen
according to the Holy Quran, are
“olulalbab”
or master of intellect and wisdom. They are the true intellectualsalthough unbelievers in human Personality call them lunatics.(4)
 
Intellect by itself cannot discover human values; they are revealed. Faithin Revelation and belief in human values go hand in hand. Faith andhealthy deeds are, according to the Holy Quran, inseparable.(5)
 
Off-and-on one comes across people who have no faith in revelation buthonour human values and are prepared to make the biggest sacrifice fortheir sake. An analysis of their mind will show one of two things.
 Either 
 they were brought up in an environment where human values wererespected and stressed traditionally and were reposed carefully in theirsub-conscious mind
or 
their sacrifice was prompted by some motive likereputation, popularity, or the like. Sacrifice in their case is not amanifestation of character; character seeks strength of Personality and notsatisfaction of physical urges.(6)
 
Development of human Personality proceeds from faith in the Quranicvalues and through safeguarding them in practical life. They have to behonoured
en masse.
Ignoring some and respecting others would notachieve full development.(7)
 
Development of human Personality is possible, not in seclusion, but in asociety called Islamic State, whose edifice rises on a faith in Quranicpermanent values. The duty of Islamic State consists in safeguarding of human values and popularising them throughout mankind. Quranic SocialOrder guarantees every citizen means for development of Personality andall that is pleasant and dignified in the world.
Mysticism and Character.
 Finally a word about the impact of mysticism on character.
 Mysticism
claimspurification of self or spiritual advancement through various practices performed inseclusion. There is in mysticism no incentive for man to work for a social order or aState. The subject has been discussed at great length in my book 
“Saleem ke NamKhatoot”
 
(Vol: III). Briefly stated the essential features of mysticism are:–(1)
 
It is misleading to say that
 Mysticism

aims at the development andintegration of human Personality. In fact it holds human Personality orSelf to be the root cause of all misery which can be shed only by 

effacement of human Self. Mysticism believes that human Self is a part of Divine Self which on detachment therefrom has got stuck in the morass of matter, that the purpose of life is to pull out human Self from matter’smarsh and rejoin it to its Principal and that the object is achievablethrough discarding society, relations and desires.
 Mysticism
aims atannihilation and not integration of Self.(2)
 
In mysticism society, state, social organization, are matters for theworldly and an essential pre-requisite for self-purification is that they mustall be discarded. Man’s salvation or salvage of soul from matter’s mud isan individual affair and can be achieved through meditation and exercisesof a strenuous nature.(3)
 
 Mysticism
credits negative virtues, namely humility, modesty, weakness,etc. These virtues are appropriate to a
negative
life which works forannihilation of Self. In consequence mysticism has been described as “analien growth in the land of Islam”, because, contrary to mysticism Islamadvocates a
 positive
life and expects man to master nature, establish justice, and attain his destiny by integrating human Personality. And it isthe many shining facets of a developed Personality which go to make upcharacter.

Why Do We Lack Character?

In the light of the foregoing the straight answer to this question is that we lack character because we do not distinguish the human level of life from the animal level;because we do not appreciate the Divine Energy in us, that is, our Personality, thedeciding, determining and dynamic agent in Man; and because we do not care forPermanent values in life as taught by the Holy Quran. The answer also helps to show theway to develop character, namely, that we should, in all seriousness, take up theeducation of our people, particularly in Quranic fundamentals, and life’s permanentValues. Dissemination of Quranic teachings should be at the top of our educationalprogramme.
 Lughat-ul-Quran
 
brought out in four volumes by Tolu-e-Islam Trust(Regd.) Lahore, which explains with the help of authentic Lexicons, the meaning of Quranic words, idioms, phrases, special terms and new concepts, should prove helpful inan intelligent study of the Holy Book, Al-Quran.
G.A. Parwez
* A delicious rice dish cooked with meat ** Dr. Sir, Mohammad Iqbal, Poet, Philosopher of Pakistan (1877-1938)

BIBLIOGRAPHY 

 
1. Soren Kierkegarard The Present Age
 
2. Bubar Martin Between Man and Man
3. Berdyeau Bubar Slavery and Freedom
 
4. Whitehead. A.N. Adventures of Ideas
 
5. Loveday Alexander The Only Way
 
6. Murray. Robert.H The Individual and the State
 
7. Rashdall – Hastings The Theory of Good and Evil
 
8. Panton.H.J The Categorical Imperative Critique of Practical Reason Both byKant (1724 – 1804)
 
9. Iqbal Dr. Sir Mohammad Israr-e-Khudi (1915)
 
10. Parwez, Allama G.A
1- Saleem-Kay-Naam (Khatoot) 3 volumes
 
2- Mafhoom-ul-Quran (3 volumes)
 
3- Lughaat-ul-Quran (lexicon) 4 volumes

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