The Definite Role of Faith in Spiritual Peace
A study of the history of human progress proves that the supports of man's civilisation and culture have always rested on the shoulders of those for whom the power of faith had made it easy for them to bear the heavy burden of hardship and pain whose negative effects were neutralised by the faith present in their strong hearts. Psychologists generally admit that the power of faith is amazingly effective in the cure of psychic diseases and creation of confidence and inner peace. In cases where severe hardships shatter man's personality and divest him of his hope and will power, trust in God produces a profound and undeniable effect in a defeated soul. Failure, adversity, and defeat can never create a storm in the pure hearts of godly men and make them suffer despair and loss of self-assurance and self-respect. Jung, the well-known psychoanalyst, writes:
Among all my patients in the second half of life-that is to say, over thirty five-there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every four of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.... Here then, the clergyman stands before a vast horizon.... It is indeed high time for the clergyman and the psychotherapist to join forces to meet this great spiritual task. 10
The faith in God, like a relief valve, helps regulate psychic urges which are themselves the mainspring of man's spiritual afflictions. The faith in God gives a visage of perfect beauty to life, because when one has the conviction that everything does not come to an end with this life it creates an inner peace and makes him traverse the entire course of life with steadiness and moderation. Acquisitiveness, greed and avarice, which are one of the factors responsible for anxiety, are moderated as a result of faith in God and observance of the moral precepts of religion. The hope of great rewards and the fear of severe punishments make man refrain from rapacity and avoid unreasonable and uncontrolled fondness for material things, glitter and ostentation. As a result, a desirable and serene equilibrium worthy of man's humanity is brought about within his soul. Similarly, faith in resurrection and afterlife removes the intolerable strain induced by the idea of absolute annihilation and extinction from the human spirit, for the person with such a faith is convinced that at the threshold of death the door to another world will open in front of him and he will enter an eternal life and its everlasting bounties that cannot be compared with the joys of this world. This faith results in eliminating another agent of mental anxiety which is the anguish of absolute non-existence. Faith not only removes anguish and anxiety from the human heart, it can protect it from being overwhelmed by agitation and agony. The Qur'an describes the preventive role of faith in these words:
If you have faith, do not yield to fear and sorrow, for you have an u p per hand over the others on account of this asset of faith. (3:139)
This verse drives home the point that faith is a firm shield for the soul in its encounter with the agents of anxiety, producing a certain immunity in the human being. If one should lack a complete faith, and should the agents of anxiety penetrate to the core of his soul, it is again faith by relying on which he can free his mind from the burden of agony and purge the effects of suffering from the tablet of his heart. The Qur'an says:
... In God's remembrance and reliance upon Him are at rest the hearts of those who have faith and do righteous deeds. (13:28)
It is He Who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the faithful... (48:4)
The Qur'an considers steadiness and security to be the characteristics of those whose hearts are full of faith:
Mental peace and security are qualities of those who have faith and who have not drawn a veil of wrongdoing over their faith (6:82)
Lo, fear and sorrow do not affect the friend of God. (10:62)
In a sermon on the benefits of remembrance of God, 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, may peace be upon him, describes the characteristics of godly human beings:
God, the Exalted, has made His remembrance the light and burnish of the hearts. It is by the means of His remembrance that the hearts recover their hearing after being deaf, regain their sight after being blind, and become soft and tractable after being savage and rebellious. It has always been the case that in periods of spiritual torpor, from time to time, God Almighty has confided His inspiration to the thoughts of His sublime servants and spoken to them through their intellects. 11
The state of people possessing faith is not at all comparable with the condition of materialistic and irreligious persons in encounter with life's vicissitudes and its bitter experiences, for the two are as apart as the earth and the sky.
During the Prophet's times one of the Muslim women in Madinah received the news of the loss of three of her close relatives in the Battle of Uhud. She set out on a camel to the scene of battle to bring the bodies of the martyrs. Having laid the lifeless and bloody bodies of her dear ones on the camel, she was returning to Madinah when on the way she met one of the wives of the Holy Prophet, may peace be upon him and his Family. The Prophet's wife, who was concerned about the Prophet's welfare, asked her if she knew anything in this regard. That bereaved woman, as she held the reins of her camel and blood dripped to the ground from the bodies that it carried, answered with a peculiar serenity and calmness that sprung from her firm and steady faith: "I have a glad news for you: the Prophet hasn't suffered any harm in the battle, and every lesser grief is tolerable in front of such a great and precious blessing." The Prophet's wife asked her; "Whose bodies are these?" She answered: "One of them is my husband's, another is that of my son, and the third one belongs to my brother, I am taking them to Madinah to bury them." What agent except faith could give such indescribable serenity and calm to this bereaved soul? Jean Jacques Rousseau writes: If we were immortal we would all be miserable; no doubt it is hard to die, but it is sweet to think that we shall not live for ever, and that a better life will put an end to the sorrows of this world. If we had the offer of immortality here below, who would accept the sorrowful gift? What resources, what hopes, what consolation would be left against the cruelties of fate and man's injustice? The ignorant man never looks before; he knows little of the value of life and does not fear to lose it; the wise man sees things of greater worth and prefers them to it. Half knowledge and sham wisdom set us thinking about death and what lies beyond it; and they thus create the worst of our ills. The wise man bears life's ills all the better because he knows he must die. 12
10. C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966), trans. by W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes, p. 264.
11. Nahj al-balaghah, ed. Dr. Subhi al-Salih, p. 342.
12. Rousseau, Emile, trans. by Barbara Foxley, pp. 45-46.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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