Rafed English

Freedom and Restraint

In all such cases the question is not one of having to make a choice between freedom and bondage, but one between two kinds of bondage. In other words, it is not one of having to weigh freedom against bondage, but of choosing between two kinds of freedom. Man is free to choose between a freedom that is human and another that is bestial. The bondages or restraints applicable to man are those of conviction, morality and human merit. The bondages peculiar to animals are instinct and unrestrained impulse. One who yields to the call of his carnal desires and follows them obediently without paying heed to the outcome is one who has broken all human restraints and freed himself from the bondage of religion, morality and humanity. He is the one who has failed to resist the temptations of the carnal self and to stand up against the pressure of instincts. Liberation from all restraint for the sake of fulfilment of instinctive urges is not real freedom, for in such a state man unconsciously negates his own being and deviates from his raison d'être. Then his ultimate destiny and end is decadence and inevitable destruction.

However, a human being that has made a firm covenant with God and does not seek to violate it in his life is one who resolutely employs his energies and powers in the course that he has decided upon. The greater the power of his conviction, the firmer is he in holding on to that covenant. He has a sense of real emancipation in his encounter with the tyranny of passions. That is, he is free from the oppression of desires and resistant to their compulsion. When man undertakes to make a dignified effort to obtain freedom and to become an active force in the world of being and to make the ascent towards the sublime station of which he is worthy, he will not accept any logic that violates his genuine humanity.

The major part of the precepts of religion relates to the control and moderation of passions and the development of the higher impulses; for what force other than faith in the heart of the religious person can moderate vital instincts and keep man from deviation by the means of its spiritual power?

An inner sense of responsibility is essential to avert the disruption of social order and the spread of crime and to preserve society from the harms of aggression and violation of law. It is faith which is the source of such an inner sense of responsibility and which has the power to control man's behaviour, character and thought. It is the creation of faith in God amongst people that Islam proposes as the foundation of education as well as the basis of social and economic reform and as the means of preventing crime and offence. For this purpose it has also adopted the best possible method. On the one hand it holds out a promise of highest reward for the virtuous and, on the other, threatens with severest punishment those who surrender to immoral and indecent conduct under the influence of rebellious passions. This approach has the result that man advances with great eagerness towards moral virtues and the fear of punishment makes him avoid vices resolutely.

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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