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Ethics

A World Composed Of Happiness And Sadness Is Beautiful And Makes Perfection Possible

Although this world is a mixture of treasure and snake, flower and thorn, sadness and happiness, asset and misery, hardships and ease, sweetness and bitterness, it is harmonious and lovely and every particle and part of it is in its proper place. And man's caravan should pass through this turmoil for the destination of meeting God.

    "أَلَا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَصِيرُ الْأُمُورُ"469

"Now surely to Allah do all affairs eventually come" [Surah al-Shura, v.53].

    "يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ" 470

"O man! Surely you must strive to attain to your Lord, a hard striving until you meet Him." [Inshiqaq, v.6].

The beauty of this world lies in its present structure which is a mixture of contrasts such as sorrow and delight. If it were not like this, it would neither show the value of beauties nor would it make possible the perfection of man.

Whereas, according to the logic of the Qur’an, man is created to be in distress.

    "لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ"

"Certainly we have created man to be in distress.4

Mawlawi, in different places of Mathnawi, has explained this fact through interesting allegories. One of these parables is the story of prison and Joseph's well:
Although they ground the pearl in the mortar,
It enlightened the eyes and cured the calamity;
They put a wheat seed under the ground,
Then they harvested a lot of clusters;
Then they ground it in the mill,
Its value and its product (bread) became precious;
Then they ground the bread under the teeth,
It turned into wisdom, soul, and cognition;
The soul became enchanted in love,
Then the harvester came to harvest again.
To elaborate on this issue, Mawlawi tells of an animal which becomes fatter the more it is beaten. At the end, Mawlawi mentions the multitude of distresses of the believers and the Prophets:
There is an animal called Osqor,
Which becomes fatter when beaten;
When you beat it, it will become fatter,
It becomes fatter through the wounds it gets;
A believer's self is like Osqor,
Which becomes fatter through the wounds;
Because of this, for the Prophets,
There are lots of sufferings and failures.
Elsewhere, Mawlawi likens the effects of sufferings in the cleansing of the soul to the effects of a drug used in tanning for cleansing the hides (skins):
The hide suffers the wounds of the drug,
Then it becomes as fresh as Adim Taefi;
But if you rub something else on it,
It would become big, ugly and bad-smelling;
Now man is like that hide,
From different moistures, it has become ugly and fat;
Now you should rub it hard,
Till it becomes clean and thin;
If you can't, let it be,
Then God will make you suffer a lot;
God's hurting is your cleansing,
His knowledge is above yours.

Notes:

4. Qur’an 90:4.

Adapted from: "Imam 'Ali's First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education" by: "Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji"