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Man's Role in the March of History

We have said that the discovery of the real dimensions of the role of religion in the march of history and the progress of man depends on the evaluation of the two stable elements of the social relationship which are man and nature.

Now let us see from the viewpoint of the Qur'an about man and his role in the movement of history. In the light of the Qur'anic concepts we studied earlier, it is evident that man or his inner content forms the basis of the movement of history. We have already pointed out that to have an objective is the distinguishing feature of the movement of history. In other words, the movement of history is a purposive movement. It is not merely related to its past through its cause, but is related to its future as well through its objective. Being a purposive movement, it has a final cause and is forward looking.

It is the future which stimulates the active movement of history. Though the future does not exist at the present time, it is visualized through its mental existence. It is this mental existence which on the one hand points to an intellectual aspect embracing the objective and on the other points to the power and will which push man towards this objective. Thus the mental existence of an objective which is to materialize in future and which motivates history, shows on the one hand the existence of an idea and on the other shows the existence of a will. It is the blending of an idea and a will that has the power to make future and is a force capable of starting historical activity on the social scene.

Idea and will in fact form man's conscience, and in these two basic elements man's inner content is seen. It is man's inner content that moves history and with the blending of man's idea and his will it can realize his objectives.

With this explanation it may be said that it is man's inner content or his thinking and will which make history move. The whole structure of society including all its relations, organizations and their characteristics stand on the foundation of man's inner content, and every change and development of society depends on the change and development of this infrastructure of it. In other words, the structure of society changes with a change in man's ideas and his will. It is obvious that if this base is solid, the structure of society will be strong. The relation between man's inner content and the social and historical superstructure of society is that of a cause and its effect. This relationship recalls the laws as explained earlier in connection with the following verse: "Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change that which is in their hearts."

This verse says that the social condition of a people is their superstructure. Any fundamental change must appear in the people themselves. All other changes, such as changes in the quality of life, historical condition or social condition spring from this basic change. A "change in that which is in their hearts" means a change in the inner content of society as a whole, that is as a community or a nation. Society should be like a plant that always bears new and fresh fruit. A change in one or several individuals in a society cannot lay the foundation of the development of society as a whole.

A change in the conditions and the circumstances of a community or a nation is fostered only by an inner change in that community or that nation which should like a tree that bears new fruit every day. Hence only a change in the inner and psychological content of a nation which on the whole is represented by the spiritual condition of the majority of that nation, is capable of bringing about any basic changes in the historical character of a nation. A change in the spirit of one, two or a few individuals cannot do this.

Adopted from the book: "Trends of History in Qur'an" by: "Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr"

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