Goal Of Life

Goal Of Life0%

Goal Of Life Author:
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
Category: Ideological Concepts

  • Start
  • Previous
  • 13 /
  • Next
  • End
  • Download HTML
  • Download Word
  • Download PDF
  • visits: 3414 / Download: 1755
Size Size Size
Goal Of Life

Goal Of Life

Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Alhassanain (p) Network for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Goal of Life

This text contains five lectures that revolve around God, as the ultimate Goal of Life, discussing about topics such as the goal of creation, individual and social ethics, human perfection and Islamic monotheism.

Author(s): Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari

Publisher(s): Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation



Table of Contents

Editor’s Note 4

Translator's Preface 6

Introduction by First Publisher 7

Chapter 1: The Goal of Creation 8

Notes 12

Chapter 2: The Basis of Individual and Social Ethics 13

Chapter 3: Faith, Schools of Thought and World Vision 19

Note 21

Chapter 4: Islamic Faith and Human Perfection 22

Chapter 5: Summing up Islamic Monotheism 26

Part Four: The Philosophy Refuting Nationalism 30

Note 32

Editor’s Note

These five lectures revolve around God, as the ultimate Goal of Life. The first lecture is introductory in content and the last one serves the purpose of summary and conclusion. The Introduction by the first publisher has been retained to emphasize the usefulness of these lectures. It poses a crucial question: “Are all the pains and sufferings, which have made life so bitter for mankind today, not due to the lack of human recognition of the goal of life?”

Lecture one deals with the above question in the context of the prophetic missions. It points out, Creation has a goal which is one of achieving perfection - on the part of the created, as envisaged by the Creator. Prophetic missions are acknowledged as enhancing this process. In the light of the divine revelations, individuals are called upon to realize their potential-and achieve the goal of their respective life, which, in its perfectibility before eventual return to the Creator, is identical with that of all creations .

Lecture two points out that a school of philosophical thought needs spiritual ideals, too, so that both individuals and their societies have objectives to strive for. It emphasizes their inborn spiritual or conscientious responsibility to the Creator. (“If there were no God, everything would be permissible.”). Its accomplishment is visualized on the basis of mutuality of human concern as part of the oneness of mankind.

Lecture three explains that faith is crucial to any school of thought or social ideology, in that it promotes love, affection and similar other virtues among people. In this context, it elaborates on the implications of monotheism in Islam, specially in lending a universal perspective that extends beyond dialectical materialism and humanism.

Lecture four examines Islamic Faith as a motive force for attaining human perfection. Having faith because it carries with it some beneficial effects is not considered a blessing in itself, since it requires to be constantly perfected. In fact, deriving benefits is not, or ought not to be, the aim.

In the words of Ibn Sina it is like “ working for a wage so that, without that wage, there would be no willingness to work”. The relevant Islamic logic concerning prayers is well summed up by Hadrat Ali (a) when he said: “O' God. I do not worship you for fear of your Fire, nor for cupidity in desiring heaven; I worship you because you are worthy of it”.

Lecture five evaluates various schools of thought concerning human perfection, including the views of Socrates, Plato, Gnostics and intellect- oriented divine philosophers. It concludes that God is not comparable to a father or anyone or anything else of the paternal kind. He is what He is and other things, too, are attributable to Him. As Sa'di's Boostan puts it: “The way of intellect is a maze; but, for the wise, there is nothing but God .” Knowledge, wisdom, sense of justice, truth, beauty, liberty and loving others are all inculcated and enhanced for His sake even as His blessings. These deserve grateful acknowledgment not merely in formal worship, but through constant awareness and rectitude of action and behavior.

M. K. Ali

Mehr, 1361 A.H (Solar)

October, 1982

Translator's Preface

The martyred scholar, Murtadha Mutahhari was born in 1918 in the village of Fariman of Mashad in Khorassan. He studied for 16 years at the Divinity College of Qum in the branches of literature, philosophy, jurisprudence and some other Islamic subjects, Then, for several years, he acted as professor of theology and philosophy in the same college and at Tehran University.

Then he turned his attention to research which resulted in the publication of many books on religious, philosophical and social topics.

He was an erudite and versatile scholar, as is proved by his numerous lectures, pamphlets and books, a total of 35 published works, the most well-known of which are “Islamic World Vision”, “Man in the Qur'an”, “Islamic Revolution”, “Man and Faith”, “Divine Justice”, “Society and History”, “Revelation and Prophethood”. He was assassinated in the year 1980 in Tehran.

This book contains the five following lectures:

1. The Goal of Creation

2. The Basis of Individual and Social Ethics

3. Faith, schools of Thought and World Vision

4. Islamic Faith and Human Perfection

5. Summing up Islamic Monotheism

These lectures are closely connected in this way that they offer various ideas offered by various schools and particularly Islam concerning the goal of life and human perfection.

In this book the letters (S) and (a) stand respectively after the name of Muhammad and other prophets and Imams, as abbreviation for the following two phrases: “Greetings upon him and his household” for the Prophet, and “Peace be on him” for each Imam.

I wish to express my thanks to Mr. M. Khurshid Ali, editor of the Be'that Foundation for his co- operation in reading the manuscript and making helpful suggestions.


Introduction by First Publisher

This book is a collection of five lectures delivered in 1972 on “Goal of Life”, as part of a series called “World in Islamic Perspective.”

In those years the matter of compiling a book entitled “Islamic World Perspective” and presenting it to the younger generation had attracted the attention of religiously enlightened people. This topic and its main outline was discussed in a small group consisting of not more than ten members.

It was Mutahhari's custom to propound an interesting topic many times in big and small sessions and subject it to criticism and analysis before it was presented to the public. Then, he would begin writing it in his charming style. His “Introduction to the Islamic World Perspective” was eventually written in the summer of 1978 in an abridged form under seven sections and gradually published in a series. (This collection is taken from a tape which is unfortunately not available.)

What encourages us to publish these lectures are the refined and original ideas of Mutahhari, which have their source in Islam. Secondly, we had in mind the recommendation of the Present Imam to enable the young generation to benefit more from the works of this martyred scholar which provide guidance to the Islamic society of modern Iran. We have, therefore, considered it our duty to offer the original text without any alteration, except a few phrases, to those readers interested in the works of Murtadha Mutahhari, We hope that they will find it acceptable.

In these lectures, our scholar discusses the “Goal of Life” from the viewpoints of the Qur'an and various human schools of thought, and opens up the intellectual horizon in every direction to allow the human mind to assimilate freely. For if the goal of life is to be defined as the Qur'an requires it and to be heeded, it will be to gain a warmth and enlightened way of life, which will produce men and communities different from those of today, and this is what mankind is longing for.

Are all the pains and sufferings, which have made life so bitter for mankind today, not due to the lack of human recognition of the goal of life?

Life is not bitter and unpleasant in itself. It is deviation from the right path that imposes all these pains and sufferings on mankind.

Today the young generation of our society is more than ever in need of an important discourse on life, such as presented here to avail its sublime spiritual revolution, to illuminate the dark paths of modernistic materialism through a precise knowledge of the goal of life.

Chapter 1: The Goal of Creation

One of the fundamental problems to investigate is the goal of life. Man always asks questions like what he lives for and what his objective in life should be. From the viewpoint of Islam, one would as well ask: “What is the objective and purpose of prophetic missions?”

The objective of the prophetic missions is not dissimilar to individual goals of men (peoples), for whom the prophets have been appointed; for, the prophets are sent to guide men towards certain goals. Going one step further, we could ask: “What is the goal of creation, of man as well as other creatures? “

This point requires an exact analysis. It may pertain to 'the goal of the Creator in Creation, the manifestation of His Will and Purpose. We cannot t assume a goal for God, and believe that He wishes to attain something by His acts. Such a supposition implies a shortcoming in the doer of an action, which may be true of creatures with a potential power, but not of the Creator; since it would mean that He intends to move towards perfection and secure something which He does not have.

But sometimes by the goal of creation is meant the goal of the created action, not of the Creator. This would involve the movement of the created towards perfection, not the perfection of the Creator Himself. In this sense, if we think that the nature of creation has always been movement towards perfection, then there is a motive in creation.

This is actually the case, that is, each thing that is created has an independent stage of perfection ahead of it to be attained; and so for everything there exist stages of deficiency or perfection until the maximum limit is reached. The question of the 'motive in the creation of man' is basically one that refers to the 'nature of man'. It pertains to whatever talents are inherent in him, and whatever individual perfections are possible for him. Once perfections are accomplished by one, we may say he was created for them,

There is apparently no need to elaborate on the purpose and goal of the creation of man as a separate topic. It will be sufficient to see what kind of a creature man is, and what abilities are inherent in him. In other words as our discussion concerns the Islamic aspect of the matter, and not a philosophical one, we must see how Islam regards man and his abilities .

Naturally the mission of the prophets, too, is believed unanimously to facilitate man's perfection and to aid him to remove the deficiencies which neither he, as an individual, nor his society is able to remove. It is only with the aid of their divine revelations that he can advance towards enhancing perfection .

Accordingly, every individual must see what he can be after identifying his potentialities, so as to bring them to fruition. That is the goal of our life.

So far, the subject is treated in general, Now we must go into detail: Whether the Qur'an has discussed the goal of man, and whether it gives the reason for his creations as well as the mission of Prophets .

Very often we say that man is created for seeking happiness and God neither wants nor gets any benefit from man's Creation. Actually man is destined to choose his way freely, His guidance is a matter of duty and belief, not instinctive and compulsory. So, as he is free, he might as well choose the right way.1

But what is happiness according to the Qur'an? It is often said that the purpose of man's creation and prophetic missions is to make man strong in knowledge and resolution, so that he may learn more and more, and secure the power to do what he desires .

Thus the purpose of creating a seed is to realize its potential to become a mature plant. Likewise, a lamb ' s herbivorous development into sheep manifests a purpose of creation (useful to man. Ed.). Man's potentiality is much superior, he is meant to be knowledgeable and able. The more he knows, the more he can use his knowledge and the nearer he will be to his human goal and purpose.

Sometimes it is said that the goal of human life is happiness in the sense that during the time one is alive, he should live comfortably and happily enjoy the blessings of Creation and nature, suffer less pain from either natural causes or from fellow- creatures. This is considered happiness. This means, then, getting maximum pleasure and minimum pain .

It is also said that the prophets too are sent to make it possible for man to secure maximum pleasure and have minimum pain. If the prophets have introduced the subject of the next world, it is meant as a continuation of this life. In other words, as a way has been shown for human happiness and as following it requires the granting of a reward, and opposition to it involves punishment, this reward and punishment are presented on the models of this world, so that the laws of this world would not be futile. Moreover, as the prophets were in no position as executives in this world to grant rewards or deal punishment, another world had to be offered where the good would be rewarded, and the wicked punished.

But we come across none of these statements in the Qur'an, where the purpose of creating jinns and human beings is given as 'worship'.2 This may seem to us too difficult to understand. Of what use is worship for God? It does not benefit Him. Of what use is it to man? But this point has been explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an as the purpose of Creation. Contrary to the view that the next life is subsidiary to this one, the Qur'an says that “If there were no Resurrection, Creation would be futile.” And again it says:

“Do you suppose that we have created you in vain?”(The Qur'an, 23:115)

It is suggestive of something wisely done.

Is it assumed that creation is meaningless, and man does not return to God? In the verses of the Qur'an the question of Resurrection occurs repeatedly with the matter of the rightfulness of creation. Its reasoning is based on the implication that this world has a God, and He does nothing in vain, and all is rightful and not in play, and there is a return to Him who accounts for the whole universe.

We never come across this idea in the Qur'an that man is created in order to know more and act more to attain his goal. He is created to worship, and the worship of God is in itself a goal. If there is no question of knowing God which is the preface to worship, then man has failed in his advance towards the goal of creation, and from the viewpoint of the Qur'an he is not happy. The prophets, too, are sent to guide him towards that happiness which is the worship of God.

Thus the goal and ideal that Islam offers is God, and everything else is preparatory to it, and not of an independent and fundamental importance. In the verses where the Qur'an mentions perfect human beings, or speaks on their behalf, it says they have truly understood the goal of life and endeavored to attain it. It says for Ibrahim:

“I have devoted my worship to Him who has created heaven and earth, and I am not a pagan.” (The Qur'an, 6:79)

This Sura, too, says:

“My prayer, worship, life and death are for God, who is the Lord of the Universe “ (The Qur'an, 6:162)

This monotheism of the Qur'an is not merely an intellectual one, thinking that the origin of universe is one thing and its Creator is another. It includes the faith and conviction of man that there is only one Creator, and his goal, which is the only worthy one, is He alone. All other goals are the product of this one and subsidiary to it.

Thus, in Islam everything revolves round the axis of God, including the goal in the mission of prophets and individuals' goal of life.

Now let us study the question of worship. In the second verse, Ibrahim's words show pure devotion and he shows himself a thoroughly devoted servant of God who is ruled by no thought but that of God.

Concerning the reason for the mission of prophets, the Qur'an offers several explanations. In Sura Ahzab, Verses 33, 45 and 46 it says:

“O, Prophet, We sent you as witness, harbinger and giver of warning, to invite towards God by his leave, and to be a bright light.”

Thus a prophet is a witness to the people's deeds; a harbinger of the good deeds recommended by the prophets; an agent of warning against evil acts, and a man who calls human beings towards God, which is by itself an ultimate goal.

Elsewhere a prophet's mission is mentioned as a duty to bring people out of darkness into light. So, it is clear that the people are called upon to know God The prophets are the link between creatures and the creator.

In another verse another point is mentioned as the goal in the mission of the prophets:

“Truly we sent our prophets with clear proofs and with them we sent the Book and true measure, so that the people rise in justice, and we sent iron in which there is great firmness and benefits for people ...” (The Qur'an, 57:25)

In this verse by measure is probably meant law, so that justice will prevail. Thus, the prophets have come to establish justice, and this is another aspect of their objective.

Justice cannot, as people like Ibn Sina argues, be truly established among people without an equitable law, which for two reasons cannot be devised by man. Firstly, man cannot distinguish truth completely or free himself from personal bias, Secondly, there is no guarantee for its execution, for, man's nature makes him prefer himself to others. So, when the law is in his favour, he accepts it, and when it is against his interest, he rejects it.

A law must be of a kind to which man submits, and such a law must come from God to induce obedience in man's deep conscience. This just law is from God, and to have a guarantee for its execution, rewards and punishments must be devised, and to enable people to have faith in them, they must know God himself. Thus, knowing God is? for several reasons, a pre-requisite for the establishment of justice.

Even worship is set up to prevent people from forgetting the legislator and to remember Him always as an overseer, With this argument, calling people to God is another goal, otherwise there would be no motive for knowing Him,

In this way, we have three types of logic, The first one is that the goal in the mission of the prophets is only the establishment of justice among people and securing for them a happy life in this world, Accordingly, knowing God and having faith in Him and in Resurrection are all pre-requisites to hat. The second logic is quite the reverse, that is, knowing God and worship and proximity to God are the main goal, and justice is secondary Man' s spirituality in this world is predicated on his social life, and social life without law and justice is not possible. So, law and justice are pre-requisites for worshipping God. Thus attending to social problems which we consider so important today in connection with justice are objectives of the Prophets, but its importance remains secondary.

The third view questions the necessity of envisaging a separate goal for the prophets' mission and another for Creation and life, and thereby the need of considering one of them as the principal goal and the other as a subsidiary one We may say the prophets have had two independent goals, one of them as a link between man and God for the sake of worshipping Him, and secondly to establish justice among people; so we may put aside the idea of one of them being a pre-requisite to the other.

You can find examples of this in the Qur'an, where the matter of the purification of self is emphasised, and salvation is stated to depend on it Is self-purification a goal in Islam? Is it a goal or a pre-requisite, pre-requisite for what? For knowing God, and linking to Him and worshipping Him? Or for the establishment of social justice? According to this view, as the prophets' mission sought the establishment of social justice, social evils and goodness are distinguished. They recommend human beings to avoid the evils, such as envy, pride, selfishness, sensuality, etc, and cherish virtues such as truthfulness, integrity, affection, modesty, etc Or should it be claimed that self-purification is in itself an independent goal?

Which of the above views should be accepted? To our way of thinking the Qur'an never approves of dualism in any sense. The Qur'an is a monotheistic book in every sense of the word, it says:

“God has no like or equal “(The Qur'an, 42:11)

It represents all the Attributes of God in their utmost perfection::

“All the best Names are His,” (The Qur'an, 20: 8)

“The Most Exalted Attribute is only God's.” (16: 60)

It admits of no partners for Him, and no rival, and says all power belongs to Him and to none other. It is also monotheistic in not attributing any goal as a fundamental, independent and ultimate to the universe but God. For man, too, in both his creation and his obligations and actions, no goal but God is recognised,

There is all the difference between a man who wants Islam, and a man who believes in just schools of philosophy. Many of the things said by Islam are the same as those of others, but not in the same perspective. Islam always regards matters in a monotheistic perspective.

In philosophy, as we said before, man has reached a stage where he says that the world is governed by a series of constant and unalterable laws. The Qur'an says the same but in the divine context:

“You will never find God's Way alterable.” (35: 43)

The Qur'an does not only accept the principle of social justice, but considers it most significant, though not as an ultimate goal, nor as a pre-requisite to what we understood by worldly happiness .

Islam accepts worldly happiness within the practical constraints of monotheism, that is, to be wholly devoted to God.

According to the Qur'an, man gains his happiness only from God, and it is He who fills all the gaps in his life, and satisfies him. The Qur'an says:

“Those who have faith and their hearts are tranquil in thinking of God, know that all hearts find peace by remembering God .”(13:28)

Only God brings repose to the anxious and inquisitive hearts of man. Other things are subsidiary and preliminary matters, not the final stage. The same is said of worship:

“To remember God, pray.” (The Qur'an: 20:14)

Also, the following verse says:

“Prayer checks wickedness and injustice, and remembering God is more important.”(The Qur'an: 29:45)

Islam thinks of man as created to worship God, to seek proximity to Him and to know Him, all of which give him power. But knowledge and power are not the ultimate goal, nor is self-purification.


1. The Qur'an, Sura Al-Insan, Verse 3: We have shown man the way to be grateful or ungrateful.” (76: 3)

2. The Qur'an, 51:56: I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.

Chapter 2: The Basis of Individual and Social Ethics

In his life, both personal and social, man is in need of a number of non-material objectives. Every social system requires a number of objectives which are common between individuals, without which social life would be impossible in its true sense. For, social life means co-operation and attainment of common goals, both material and spiritual.

The common goals of some people may be material, such as commercial or industrial companies which are formed by a number of people providing the capital and others providing the labor.

But human society cannot be managed like a company, since its basis is quite different from that of a firm, This is of course, our view, while there are others like Bertrand Russell who think that the basis of social ethics is only individual interest. They consider social ethics as a kind of contract between individuals, which they uphold as the best means of safeguarding their interests.

Russell gives the following example to illustrate his point. He says: “I wish to get possession of my neighbor' s cow, but I realize that if I do so, his reaction will be to seize mine, and another neighbor, too, may do the same. Thus, instead of getting a profit, I suffer a loss. So I consider it advisable to respect his right and let him keep him cow, so that I may

Russell believes the basis of social ethics to be a respect for individual rights. We may say robbers, too, have the same relationship, in being bound together for robbing and enforcing some kind of justice among themselves, since they cannot act alone That is why we say that Russell' s motto is at variance with his philosophy .

His motto is humanitarian, but his philosophy is contrary to it By considering self-interest as the basis of social ethics, we are making it compulsory for an individual to co-operate with others since he fears their reaction if they possess similar power and strength. But if a man reached a stage where he was sure that others were too weak to hurt him, there is no need to observe those moral principles.

Suppose Nixon and Brezhnev to be equally powerful, In facing each other they calculate that it is to their interest to respect their mutual expectations But if each of them faces a weak nation, there is no necessity for such a respect. Russell's criticism of the United States in fighting Vietnam would then appear to be unacceptable!

In any case, their school of thought is injudicious, for, it permits the strong to constrain the weak, If the weak have no tolerance for constraint they must try to become strong. Politically this may be true, but it is not ethics, for, the weak cannot persuade the strong to act otherwise. Arbitrary conduct would seem permissible for the strong in the political school of thought,

Any school of thought may be based on the same common material goals, but it ought to suggest other ways of checking depravity. By saying that the causes of individual aggression should be investigated and then removed, these causes are not necessarily related to human or intellectual or educational constraints.

If you ask what barrier there is against the aggression of the strong against the weak, they may say: the society should be built from the beginning in such a way that there would exist no strong or weak individuals in it. If the sources of strength and weakness are discovered and removed, then all men will be at the same level, and because of their equality of power, they will respect one another.

That is possible, according to them, by doing away with private ownership of wealth/property. Getting rid of ownership will put an end to human inequalities/ transgressions A society where all men have a common material goal, will be managed like a real co-operative enterprise in which there will be no injustice .

The school of Marxism is almost such a school, where no emphasis is laid on human spirituality and there is no talk of moral conscience etc, The emphasis is on ownership which, according to them, is the source of all wickedness and oppression. private ownership is replaced by state or societal ownership, so that each individual works according to his ability and receives compensation from the state or society in proportion to his needs.

This is believed to be naturally conducive to establishment of peace, tranquility, justice and good morals will be established there. All evils, such as enmity, hatred and other complexes, are then expected to be removed, and all will live in brotherhood and equality.

But this is all wrong for the following reasons: It is actually shown that in societies where private ownership has been abolished, oppression, and deviation continue to exist. If the socialists were right in their reformatory claim, as soon as society is organized on a communist basis, it would be impossible for it to suffer corruption again. On the other hand, we have often witnessed that communist societies purge their own leading members from time to time. Private ownership, therefore, cannot be the only factor for gaining privileges.

Firstly, privileges do not consist only of money and deals, There are many others which are valued by human beings, For a woman being more beautiful than others is an advantage, which has nothing to do with ownership, and in a communist system, too, it has its own place.

More important than that are the privileges of rank and position, Rockefeller who has been one of the richest men in the world, has always had a longing for being elected President of the United States. Sometimes such a desire is so strong that many a wealthy man is willing to sacrifice most of his wealth to fulfill it, and gain fame and honor as a man of power. Man has always valued being respected by others no matter whether it is through fear, or affection and devotion.

Are there not men who would be in the place of Ayatullah Boroujerdi, so that people would be eager to meet them, kiss their hands, bring gifts to them, and feel honored to be received by them? Do they not wish to be a king so that hundreds of officers and men would stand to attention before him, even if it is through fear? These things, then, are valued by human beings, otherwise they would not be willing to lose everything else to gain such an advantage.

Therefore, the root cause of human transgressions and social evils is not only wealth. There are also other factors which cannot be overcome by communism,

Secondly, when other privileges are secured by their previous advantages, even in a communist society the profits of those possessing better advantages are greater. Foe example, would the interest on the wealth of a Soviet leader be equal to that of a peasant, even if he represents the peasantry. A peasant may never get the experience of travel by Place even once in his life, while his leader has the best aircraft at his disposal. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that the advantage of wealth is solved by communism, nor that individuals will benefit equally from societal wealth .

Do our own civil servants benefit equally from public funds which are beyond private ownership. A man in a higher position enjoys much higher advantages than an ordinary employee.

What is significant is that even in the same communist societies, there arise needs for self- sacrifice and relinquishment of material advantages. For example, a soldier who goes to fight and is killed, is not killed on the basis of mutual interest. He must be motivated by certain ideals or sentiment to be willing to offer his life for their sake. So, the most materialistic school cannot do without some kind of spiritual values, even if he turns his conviction into something to be worshipped.

A school of thought of a community based merely on material interest, cannot be really comprehensive or practical. How do communist leaders act in connection with the principles, ideals, mottos and symbols of their system?

They act as if their system is above everything else, while in fact it is only a means of attaining life's interests, On the basis of materialistic school, their principle is like an architect's plan for a building. There is nothing sacred about a plan, It is only an aid to construction. The best plan is subsidiary to the building for which it is drawn up. The most that can be said of a school of thought is that it is the best plan for a society, but why should the plan itself be considered as something to be worshipped? The plan is for a building, and the building is for me; so why should I be sacrificed for the plan?

Such a claim is nonsense, and still a system is rarely regarded as only a means for building a society, It is often looked upon as something sacred for which it would be an honor to give up one's life. Its followers may think their claim baseless, yet they will have to inculcate themselves and others with a spirit of sacrifice.

Now let us see what comprise spiritual goals or values. Are they real or only suggestions to deceive simpletons? Why are they considered of much higher worth than material values?

What is a value after all? When a person performs a task willingly, it is for a purpose, a purpose which is important to him, whether it is material or spiritual. It means that that purpose has an interest for him, otherwise he would never follow it. It is said that absolute purposelessness or futility is impossible.

From a material viewpoint, it is obvious that I will be drawn to whatever is useful for me and for the continuation of my life; for, I am naturally attached to my life instinctively. The word value can be used for material things, as well as spiritual ones. A physician can have value for me. So has medicine .

Material things are in reality physical or required for the body; exercise is also needed for the body, though it is not a substance. SO! food and exercise have value for us. Being charitable to others may have no material benefit for the doer; similarly serving society and the next generation may only be good deeds, but what are their values to him who serves?

A person makes a great effort to serve in an educational organization for the sake of the next generation, and receives no profit, and may even lose his time and the possibility of having a higher income, How should we regard this matter spiritually?

Spiritual matters are very important in human life. The question may be asked whether spirituality is confined to the faith in God, or whether it is possible to have no such faith and yet have a number of spiritual values to govern human life.

Sartre in his book on “Genuineness of Man” quotes this sentence of Dostoevsky: “If there were no God, everything would be permissible.” This means that goodness and badness, truth and falsehood, treason and service all depend on whether we believe in God or not, If we have no such belief, then there will be no barrier, and everything is allowed. Is this true or not?

There is one thing peculiar to Marxists that, as materialists, they claim that they have nothing to do with spirituality, or humanity, and if they refer to sound humanism, they imply a classless society, According to them men are either sound or deficient, and their defects arise from private ownership of property and socio-economic class differences. Once these differences are removed, human beings return to their previous state of soundness. They believe in no other perfection for man and no other progress or evolution.

What about recent schools of thought like Sartre's, which are materialistic and yet believe in spiritual values like humanism, and speak of human responsibility? On the one hand they believe man to be free from any divine sovereignty, or rule of nature, and his will does not by any means depend on the past, It is man who builds himself up, not environment, or destiny or God; so he is responsible for himself, Therefore any act chosen and done by him, must be good. In this way he makes himself a model for others to imitate, and to this extent he is responsible for the conduct of others, too.

Now let us see what this responsibility is and what it means, It is a spiritual matter, not a material one, In a materialistic school they may say, a human being has a conscience which answers questions of responsibility If they believed that man has two personalities, an animal one and a human one, when he commits an offence, the former is chastised by the latter, That would be something But they deny the existence of conscience. So, where is the root of responsibility?

In any case they believe in responsibility, and that is a spiritual matter. They say: “I am responsible before mankind and before the next generation. What does that mean? They belong to a materialistic school, and yet they want to build up humanism (or spirituality) and make men submit to it, They cherish this idea, but minus God. Sartre even says: “If God enters all this, then there exists no spirituality, for, the basis of it all is human liberty, and God's presence means lack of liberty, and thus responsibility without liberty of choice is meaningless .

Someone may say: “What prevents us from believing in spirituality without belief in God? For, there is a conscience inherent in man ' s nature, which enables him to enjoy good deeds, and abhor wicked acts. He performs good deeds not for the sake of material benefits, but simply because he enjoys doing do, as he enjoys knowledge of history or geography etc., the only profit of which for him is a greater awareness. Similarly, ethical matters give him pleasure.”

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, supports this idea. Omar Khayyam, too, is said to believe in it. Hence Epicurism was applied later on to every type of pleasure-seeking unconcern. But it is claimed that in his real school, Epicurus also believed in spiritual pleasures which were more lasting and more easily secured. Love of beauty flowers, birds, songs, etc. is another example of pleasure without having any material benefit, but giving the spirit some enjoyment.

All those remarks may be true to some extent, but they involve two limitations. Firstly, man's conscience may not be sufficiently identifiable in depth to provide a basis for a school of thought. If a human being does something only for pleasure, it is only as far as the border of death or successive imprisonment, and within the field of diversion, but not in the form of profound needs which are identified by a school of thought. No one is ready to give his life for flowers in his garden. He wants to be alive to enjoy them. Helping others gives pleasure, but no one is willing to die for it.

So, it is true that one enjoys good deeds in the depth of his conscience, and the Qur'an, too, recognises this. However, even conscientiousness does not provide a basis for a school of thought. It requires a much deeper faith. So, if someone says that Imam Husain (a) came to Karbala and offered his own life and those of his young followers, as a way of merely satisfying his urge to serve people, this is not a true judgment. This is because he was evidently motivated by not only his conscientiousness, but his deeper faith.

If there is no God and no order of objectiveness, and no intrinsic connection between man and things, should we not say that there is an error in nature? Schopenhauer says: “Nature, in order to mislead people and send them after its own purpose, offers them pleasures.” For example, nature desires the survival of creatures. If it orders a man to marry and work to support his wife and children, an intelligent man would not do so. But nature deceives him in such a way that he willingly seeks marriage In any case every pleasure is based on a need. We eat because our nature requires that substance, and drink and sleep for a similar reason. If we had no need, we would not resort to them.

The reason for material enjoyments is clear, but what about spiritual pleasures? If I watch an orphan feed, why should I be pleased? It has nothing to do with me, and so this pleasure is futile, for, there is no basic wisdom in it. But if we believe in an inter-relationship in world order and in a creation based on wisdom, then we consider all human beings as fellow-members of a single community, who seek the pleasure of witnessing others' wellbeing.

This is so because we follow a true principle in creation. But if this pleasure is accidental and only due to one's natural make-up, again it would be futile, since it lacks a natural objective, Therefore, while we believe in a moral conscience and claim that men naturally benefit by good deeds and lose by evil ones, again our actions would be futile without a belief in God and in the goal of creation.

When we believe in a moral conscience granted by God to man to attain a goal, then an orphan and an old woman and myself will be considered fellow- members of an organization and parts of a general plan. Thus, we follow a divine will and wisdom and try to attain that goal. Then nothing is futile and everything is real and true.

Therefore every school of thought and every social system needs a number of spiritual ideas; an ideology which is above material values, and is so strong that it becomes sacred. This sacredness may be considered worthy enough by a man to sacrifice his personal life for it.

A school of thought, such as indicated above, is reminiscent of the poet Sa'di:

“The wind and clouds, the sun and the and firmaments are all busy working, So that you may gain a livelihood, and not spend it in negligence,”

It believes in a responsibility for every created thing. Or, as the Qur'an says:

“Do you not see that God tamed for you everything on the earth and in heaven?” (31:20)

Thus, each thing in creation is meant for a purpose, and it performs its task accordingly .

Therefore, man, too, has a responsibility, in an ocean of responsibilities. But a system which considers things to be without an ultimate goal, believes in no responsibility for any creature, but confines it to man. Why this should be so, is not explained .

Ideals are fundamental for every school of thought, in order to give an individual, as well as society, something to work for. And, these ideals are meaningless without a belief in the Creator and His Wisdom manifest in the Creation.