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Spiritual Guidance of the Imam

The life and behaviour of the Holy Prophet represent the true teachings of Islam. He was both the political leader and the social head of the Muslim ummah, and in that capacity enforced in the territory of the Islamic government the laws and the rules he received from Allah through revelation. What he said or did was the law (Shari'ah). His behaviour constituted the ethical principles. His instructions formed wise and true guidance. He not only advised the people and gave counsel to them, but also formed a model society based on justice.

To ensure the prosperity of society, Islam has prescribed executive action in this world also. It does not leave the case of those who deliver a blow to the happiness of society to be dealt with in the next world only. It punishes the culprits in this world as well. Hence leadership and governing were both an integral part of the duties of the Holy Prophet.

Anyhow, as compared with other systems of government in the world, Islam has the distinction of having an eye on the other side of man's existence also. That is why side by side with its other teachings, it exhorts the people to acquire spiritual qualities and human virtues

It is humanity, spirituality and future life which have in modern human culture been consigned to oblivion, and the evil consequences of forgetting are being seen everyday. But Islam has paid special attention to these very things, and the Muslim leadership has based its philosophy on the spiritual training of mankind.

Most people are aware of the reality of their sublime human essence, because it is so fine and subtle that it can be observed by the clear-sighted only. That is why as far as the ordinary people are concerned, this verdant land of man's existence is situated so far away from their ideas that they can neither notice it nor pay attention to it, so how can they be the leaders in that field?

When man, despite the passage of so many centuries, has not yet known even 50 per cent of the physical actions and reactions of his body, how can he be expected to understand its metaphysical aspects or to lay down a programme to secure that remote objective?

Hence there can be no denying the fact that there should be a leader the essence of whose existence may have a link with the metaphysical world, and who may be conversant enough with its intricate ways to be able to lead mankind, for he, who himself does not know the way, cannot be a guide.

Nevertheless, will it be proper to make no effort to know the destiny of man or to overlook his spiritual genius and his sublime essence?

Can we take him to be a beast living in the world of appetite, sleep, passion and sex, and leave him to wriggle like a worm to meet his animal desires only?

Obviously that will not be in conformity with the high status of man.

Man has his special spiritual and celestial needs. Allah has put a special genius in his nature. He is the master-piece of creation and the bright star of the creative world. It is his duty to reach the inaccessible heights and from there shed light and energy everywhere like the sun.

Man is not a forlorn being in the creative system. Though he is a small speck, he is illuminated with Divine Light. Allah has chosen him out of all His creatures for His special favour.

We see the signs of this favour throughout the long history of mankind. It is because of Allah's Grace and Favour to man that He sent His Prophets to guide him and lead his turbulent soul to salvation and eminence.

The Qur'an in numerous verses has referred to this truth. For instance, Prophet Ibrahim praying to Allah says:

Our Lord! Raise up in their midst a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Your revelations, shall instruct them in the Book and in the wisdom and purify them. Indeed You are the Mighty, the Wise". (Surah al-Baqarah, 2 129)

This verse shows that apart from knowledge, wisdom and guidance, the purification of soul, viz. spiritual training, is an essential part of the prophetic mission.

In the School of the Holy Prophet a number of people acquired this special training and made a marvellous and dazzling progress. Salman Farsi, Abuzar Ghifari, Miqdad bin al-Aswad, Ammar bin al-Yasir, Maytham al-Tammar, Uwais al-Qarani and many more were among this distinguished group.

Their very existence was a source of purity and uprightness. They were purged of all that was evil. They wanted nothing but Allah and saw nothing but Him. Allah alone ruled their soul, their heart and their body. Their entire existence was dominated by Him alone (i.e. they bowed down before none but Allah).

For this reason each of them was an example of a spiritually developed man and each of them rendered a great service to the cause of human dignity and the elavation of his society.

Hence moral virtue and spiritual purification are not a superfluous thing nor a matter of mere formality so that we may attend to them at our leisure and when we have settled all other affairs of our life. In fact, virtue is the builder of life, a part of it, and even much more important than life itself. By the testimony of reason and consciousness the high qualities of moral virtue and spiritual purity are so great that under their patronage man can pass from mere appearance to the reality of his human truth and, so to say, can see what is invisible.

"Adapted from Master and Mastership"

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