Islam and Social Ties
The Islamic programme of education has been framed with a view to expanding general social consciousness and broadening the people's intellectual horizons. That is because the wider their intellectual perspective and the higher their level of thinking, the easier it is for them to emerge from the darkness of selfishness and monopolistic motives. This programme has been prepared in such a manner as to develop a collective ethos while simultaneously strengthening the individual spirit, so that individualism is reconciled with co-operativeness, and the individuals constituting society neither become hollow and devoid of personality nor self-centred and indifferent towards one another.
Social cohesion in an Islamic society is related to the bond between the individual and God. The people encourage one another to benevolence, piety, and worthy deeds and co-operate with one another in generating and sustaining an environment in which the young generation cultivates the love of virtue, benevolence, and goodness in the light of a pure faith. This helps mobilise all the constructive energies of the people toward general welfare and good, not toward corruption and vice. In this way, the goals and activities of the members of society are harmonised, their sense of co-operation awakened, and their individual and collective energies set to work for the service of mankind.
Since Islam essentially requires a co-operative and sympathetic society for the establishment of its prescribed social duties, and as benevolence and benefaction form the basis of its ethical code and programme, it warns that anyone who is not concerned with the service of society is not a Muslim. The Holy Prophet (s) declared
One who wakes up without the feeling of concern for the affairs of Muslims is not a Muslim. 3
When Islam rose over pagan Arabia, it offered a teaching that encompassed all the affairs relating to society and the individual. It undertook the task of moral education and spiritual purification of a people among whom vindictiveness, mundane ambition, exploitation, and licentiousness were prevalent. It called them to brotherhood, benevolence, love, and friendship. It established such a basis for the positive personality of every individual that no divisive agent, such as hate and hostility, could separate them from one another. In this way, it brought into existence a society characterised with strength and merit.
In that society, in which faith, benevolence, and service were the criteria of personal worth, every individual felt so much involved in the destiny of others as if he were solely responsible for it. Intense attachment, forgiveness, self-denial, and self-sacrifice characterised their mutual relations. The Holy Qur'an describes this sublime and luminous relationship in these words:
And those (Helpers) who offered their dwellings and their hearts for the hospitality of the Emigrants, they love whomsoever has emigrated to them not finding in their breasts any need or miserliness for what they have been given, and preferring others above themselves even though poverty be their portion. (59:9)
3. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, p. 390.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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