Islam on human personality

By: Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

Islam is a totality and one great whole. It is a Din, which deals with and covers the entire conduct of human life. That is why Islam undertakes the responsibility to fulfill all needs of human personality. We need not get into academic details of human needs that influence the development process or processes as described by Maslow and many other psychologists in the form of hierarchy of human needs. We are here to see the growth of human personality from the Islamic perspective.

The meanings, implications, significance, and various applications of Iman, Islam and Ihsan lead us to the creation of man with the most beautiful and perfect balance. Man is always susceptible to grow into an ideal state of psychosomatic equilibrium. Almighty Allah has created man in such a way that is based on balance and tolerance. This balance and tolerance leads to the state of peace in human life. Allah says in Surah ‘Infitar’: “Allah is He Who created you, and then made you even and straight; then He created you and gave you a balance in your body organs, faculties and tendencies.�?

Almighty Allah, according to Islam, has created a balance between all faculties of human personality. Any kind of imbalance and extremist development and any kind of disregard of one aspect and high concentration on any other of these faculties and dimensions has been considered un-Islamic.

Allah has commanded us three kinds of rights: the rights of Allah and his Prophet, the rights of self or our own life and the rights of people. So, for a good Islamic life, Allah wants a balance between all kinds of rights.

That is why the extremist advancement in spiritual life has been declared as rahbaniyya (self-denial). It is prohibited in Islam. You cannot become a spiritual personality, neglecting the worldly needs. In the same way you also cannot become wholly a secular person, neglecting the spiritual needs. This is the beautiful balance which Almighty Allah wants us to create, maintain, protect and promote in our personal lives.

The very significant point is that peace starts from the human personality. A personality is a single unit of mankind. If there is no peace inside man and if there is no balance and tolerance in his own personality, how can he provide peace, tolerance, and balance to mankind in his social and collective life? If you cannot provide tolerance, balance and peace to the society how can you provide that to mankind at a global level?

Islam places the significance of peace in practical sense at all levels. For example, take up the human personality. Islam never allows any aspect of human personality to create any sort of clash or conflict with the rest of the personality. You will see several other human materialistic philosophies and materialistic systems; they completely neglect the spiritual aspect of human life.

Some would neglect the intellectual aspect of human life; some others would overlook the transcendental aspect of human life, then the biological, sociological and cultural aspects while still others may ignore its psychological and psychical aspects. But look at Islam. According to Islam, a human being is an entity. It contains in itself all the aspects: biological, social, cultural, economic, psychological, psychical, spiritual and transcendental aspects.

Islamic teachings in connection with the development of personality, nourishment and perfection of personality are based on this principle that you cannot promote your spiritual self to that extent where it would deprive you of the rights of your bodily and physical aspects of personality. So, you are supposed to create a balance between your body and spirit, between spiritual and secular aspects, and the sociological, transcendental and intellectual aspects of life. Only then can you become a cohesive unit. So according to Islam, Islamic life is that which creates a balance and tolerance proportionate to the various aspects of human personality because this proportional tolerance would provide you with peace.

The same balance, the desirable beauty of poise and equilibrium and the finery of tolerance and peaceful togetherness have been given to the celestial order of the universe. There is peace within ourselves that we so ardently covet. There is also peace outside in the universe which is established by our Lord and which is responsible for smooth and stable continuity of the entire cosmic system. The whole creation prostrates before the Sovereign Lord and nothing can depart or deviate from the path of obedience. And the balance keeps going. Allah Almighty has created the whole universe on the basis of the same formula. So there is no conflict between Heavens and the Earth and celestial bodies and celestial order. The whole universe is functioning peacefully.

So in order to build up a balanced personality we need to fulfill every requirement of the various aspects and developmental phases of human personality. These aspects are described below referring to the role Islam plays in setting up the system that results into peace.

» The human personality has a biological aspect. Since the biological needs are to be fulfilled such as food, dress, dwelling, treatment etc. Islam caters for it fully. All these needs and necessities are fulfilled to provide gratification of the biological aspect of human personality. Islam does that comprehensively. It undertakes to provide guideline and parameters to fulfil the biological needs under quite a balanced and just system.

» There are socio-biological needs of the human personality. Islam undertakes the responsibility to fulfil these needs too. It establishes the system of marriage, the family system, and ensures promotion and protection of generations and progeny. That is managed through marital system, domestic system and laws of other various systems. These laws are contained in the Holy Quran and the Prophetic traditions or Hadith.

» There is another aspect of the human personality: the socio-economic aspect. So there are socio-economic needs of human personality. Islam fulfils these needs through the establishment of education, economy and cultural activities. All their needs are fulfilled under the socio-cultural requirement of human personality. Islam has given a detailed charter and a detailed guideline in connection with each and every aspect of human personality in the Holy Quran and the Prophetic traditions.

» Then there is the psychological aspect of human personality. It refers to emotion, intention and perception. There are sentiments, wishes and will. There is an aspect of knowledge and wisdom to it as well. Islam provides a proportion, balance and equilibrium in the structure and functioning of psychological personality. None of these three is suppressed or neglected. If any of these aspects is neglected the human personality will become unbalanced. So Islam provides a full-fledged charter of guidance in this connection. It provides us a well-designed training programme that equips self with sublimation, emotional stability and divine wisdom. Sufism is one of the most successful and effective tools that make it possible.

» There is also a psychical aspect to human personality. It is to create a balance between the conscious and the sub-conscious minds, conformity between the desires and the checks of super-ego and the traditional conscience and the wishes so that conflict and contradiction is resolved between various aspects of human personality.

» Then there is an intellectual and transcendental aspect. The acts, the philosophy and various other aspects of knowledge are established under the guidance of Islam and the Quran. The same was done by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) under his supreme leadership of society.

» Seventh is the spiritual aspect. Islam accomplishes through this aspect the purification of mind and the development of internal manifestation or the latent potential of the real being lying undeveloped. For spiritual training Islam provides an environment: individual spiritual environment as well as collective spiritual environment in the form of ritual prayers five times a day and the Friday congregational ritual prayer and so on up to Pilgrimage.

It is a categorical imperative for all of us to fulfill the needs of human personality and bring up a balanced human personality through Islamic teachings. All these things are made possible through the establishment of a proper, just and balanced socio-economic and political order. Unless a proper and just socio-economic and political order is enforced and properly established in society the requirements can be fulfilled in neither individual nor collective spheres of life. It is from here that practical link between Islam and politics starts. To redress the basic problems of man Islam establishes a proper and just socio-economic and political system and a political order so that a complete environment is provided for bringing up a balanced personality in society.

Daily, The Nation, August Tuesday, 28, 2007