2. - Spirit and Matter Reconciled
The Islamic Call is an adequate answer to the materialists who deny resurrection and say "And naught destroys us save time". It maintains that there is a second life for which every individual and every community should work, where every one shall be judged according to what he had done in this life, be it good or be it evil.
"And whoso doeth good an atom's weight shall see it then, And whoso doeth ill an atom's weight shall see it then" . (Surah 99, verses 7, 8.)
This line of true belief would naturally deter wrong-doers and mischief
makers as far as they would be
deterred at all from their evil way. At any rate, it should deter others from following in their footsteps. In case one is tempted to do some private or public evil and he remembers the Last Day in time, the probability is that he will resist the temptation for fear of dire punishment or for hope of future bliss. It may be contended that civil criminal laws are deterrent enough, but experience shows that people generally try to evade such laws, either through lack of evidence or through latitude of interpretation, while hardened criminals who would not fear any man-made laws, however stringent, will submit without difficulty to divine laws for fear of hell fire and divine vengeance. Then there are those who toil for their living in mines and quarries or in difficult plantations under trying conditions of heat and cold. Such hard toilers, unless provided with true consolation and genuine hope, are apt to develop ungovernable hatred and rage against the privileged rich, which will lead to social strife if not to open revolt.
For such, Islam is true healer and consoler, emphasizing to them the great truth that the future in the Hereafter will be determined by the eternal principle.
Paradise is not restricted to this or that class of society, but embraces all who believe and do good, irrespective of wealth or poverty, colour or race. The Islamic Call has thus laid the foundation of peace and friendship between classes in place of probable strife and anarchy. It gave the spiritual side of life the predominance over the material side, and effected social cohesion in the Islamic community, making of its members brothers in Faith co-operating for the love of God in good work and piety, not in sin and aggression.
Islam is unique amongst religions and calls in general in its full appreciation of man's nature the needs of the body being recognized as well as the needs of the spirit, a fact which has much to do with its continuous quiet ascendancy with time. The nature of life in this world disagrees with asceticism and torment of body. The Prophet Muhammad himself was required by God not to go to the extent of self-torment in his active zeal and devotion to the mission as may be seen from the divine words
"We have not revealed unto thee the Qur'an that thou shouldst be distressed. But as a reminder unto him who feareth (God)." (Surah XX, verses 2 and 3).
Islam in fact makes it legitimate to enjoy the good things of this world with moderation, including reasonable adornment. In God's words:
"O Children of Adam ! Look to your adornment at every place of worship, and eat and drink but be not prodigal. Lo ! He loveth not the prodigal". (Surah VII, verse 31) And again
The Prophet, upon whom be Peace, expresses the same truth clearly when he says :"The best of you is he who does not forego this world for the next, Or forego the next world for this. The best of you is he who takes from this and from that".
This sound standpoint which takes both sides of man into due consideration is unlike the Christian standpoint, for instance, which misconceives the nature of the physical body, taking it to be purely evil as the result of Adam's fall, and consequently has to be purged through torment and cruel suppression. Christianity thus considers man to be evil by nature. But not so Islam. Islam pronounces human nature to be free from evil at birth. being capable of both evil and good according to environment and education. In the words of God, exalted be He:
"And (by) a soul and Him who perfected it and inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow. And he is indeed a failure who stenteth it ». (Surah 91, verses 7-10).
Also the Prophet, upon whom be Peace, says ;"Every child is born with sound nature but his parents make of him a Jew, a Christian or a magian". The soul or "self" is thus born free from evil, the evil coming to it from outside, by accretion from environment or by bad education. If both environment and education are right, the child will retain his natural soundness and be a righteous man or woman, and will continue so unless he chooses to change his course. God, exalted be He, says:
Recent psychological researches accord well with this Islamic view. The future life of the child is largely determined by his upbringing and environment influences, and not by hereditary factors. Certain modern schools of psychology, notably that of Adler, the leading individual psychologist, confirm this view. Valentine, the author of the Difficult Child, states that a child is admittedly deeply affected by his environment in respect of traits of character. As to the view of Christianity with respect to torment of body, certain Christian savants condemn it, maintaining that pain in the end will conquer, mastering us instead of our mastering it. As pointed out by Aldous Huxley in his book " Means and Ends ". some see in sickness insurmountable obstruction in the way of devotion to God and hence to be counted a sin.
When Islam allowed private property and permitted free activity of work or trade, it did not overlook the right of the poor to a share of the world's good things, as previously pointed out. The early Muslims attained great wealth, but were not given to luxury or excess in disregard of God or the life hereafter. They could not overlook such utterances of the Prophet as:
"Develop a certain amount of austerity, for plenty is not permanent".
"We never eat unless we are hungry and when eating we avoid excess"
It was this deep spiritual attitude that made Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz reject the complaint of his Commissioner in Egypt that the tribute is getting smaller because the number of converts to Islam is getting bigger. His written answer to the Commissioner is quite remarkable in its trenchant rebuke and because it strikes the key note of the Islamic attitude "Exempt from tribute those who join the faith shamed be your opinion God sent Muhammad, Peace and the blessings of God be upon him, as a Guide and not as a tax collector. Would to God that no tribute be due, but Omar (meaning him self) is too unfortunate to have all people converted to Islam in his days ".