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The Criterion of Responsibility in the View of Islam

In Islam the will is considered the axis of duty and the focus of all human affairs. It is what distinguishes the human being from other animals. The will is the sole means for checking the excesses of carnal drives and with it man can resist his violent urges and guide his energies in a beneficial direction. Ultimately, he is free whether to attain real human perfection by overcoming his unruly ego, or to wander in the realm of bestiality by giving a free rein to his animal urges and to become an unruly beast that knows no restraints.

There is no exaggeration in the adoption by Islam of this criterion of distinction between man and other animals, because the meaning of humanity is nothing except this, and basically persons without a will are not human in the real sense.

Islam is not at all unaware of the reality of human nature and the various faculties and constitutions that lie within it. Similarly, it has a clear and precise view of man's capacity to pursue the higher ideals and the possibility of his fulfilling the duties required of him. It summons man to rise above the animal plane with all his faculties in the shadow of will, asking him to attain to the highest degree of perfection possible to the extent of his powers and potentialities. One who forfeits the real distinctive criterion of humanity and surrenders himself totally to subversive impulses has his faculties polluted and disabled, and his thinking faculty is severely damaged. As a result he would be incapable of achieving the real goal of life.

The exercise of the soul appears to be a difficult in the beginning. But with some mental effort the obstacles are gradually removed and the way is opened to the fulfilment of various duties. When the will, which is the guarantee of progression in life and the means of advancement and edification, is employed in the way of sacrifice, sincerity, and any kind of sublime feeling and sentiment, it will contribute to the person's greatness. When one acts with such a spirit he would obtain wonderful results whatever his field of activity, and will leave luminous pages in the book of his life.

Under the inspiration of the educative programmes of Islam, individuals in society are motivated to employ their will power for the realisation of the higher objectives of life. From the viewpoint of psychology also the consequence of a resurrected will is positive and strong motivation.

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

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