Belief Enables Man to Attain True Humanity
Belief enables man to attain true humanity, and to acquire a position above all other creatures. Thus, belief and worship are the most fundamental and important duties of man. Unbelief, by contrast, reduces him to the state of a brutal but extremely impotent beast.
Among thousands of proofs for this truth, the difference between the ways in which human beings and animals come into existence is a decisive one. Almost from the very moment an animal is born, it seems to have been sent to this world after having been trained in another and perfected in all its faculties. Within a few hours or days or months, it comes into full possession of its natural capacity to lead its life according to its particular rules and conditions. A sparrow or a bee, for example, acquires in less than a month or, rather, is inspired with, the skill and ability to integrate into its environment in a matter of twenty days, to do which a man would require twenty years. This means that the basic obligation upon animals, their essential role does not include seeking perfection through learning, or progress through scientific knowledge; nor does it include prayer and the petitioning for help by displaying their impotence. Their obligation or role in creation is to act within the bounds of their innate faculties, which is the mode of worship specified for them.
Man, by contrast, is born with no knowledge of life and his environment and with a need to learn everything. Unable to know entirely the conditions of life even after twenty years, he needs to continue his learning until the end of his life. He appears to have been sent to the world with so much weakness and inability that it may take him as much as two years only to learn how to walk. Only after fifteen years can he distinguish between good and evil, and by virtue of living in a society, attain to a point where he can choose between what is beneficial and what is harmful to him.
Through whose compassion is my life so wisely administered? Through whose generosity am I being so affectionately trained? Through whose favors and benevolence am I being so solicitously nourished?
Thus, the essential duty of man, the one intrinsic to his existence, is to seek perfection through learning and to proclaim his worship of God and servanthood to Him through prayer and supplication. He should look for the answer to such questions— Through whose compassion is my life so wisely administered? Through whose generosity am I being so affectionately trained? Through whose favors and benevolence am I being so solicitously nourished? Then he should pray and petition The Provider of Needs in humble awareness of his needs, even one in a thousand of which he is unable to satisfy. His understanding and confession of his impotence and poverty will then become two wings on which to fly to the highest of ranks, being a slave of God.
This means that man has come to this life to seek perfection through knowledge and prayer. Everything by its nature is essentially dependent on knowledge. And the basis, source, light and spirit of all true knowledge are knowledge of God, and belief is the very foundation of this knowledge.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi