Human Beings and Their Nature
Humans, the greatest mirror of the names, attributes and deeds of God, are a shining mirror, a marvelous fruit of life, a source for the whole universe, a sea that appears to be a tiny drop, a sun formed as a humble seed, a great melody in spite of their insignificant physical positions, and the source for existence all contained within a small body. Humans carry a holy secret that makes them equal to the entire universe with all their wealth of character; a wealth that can be developed to excellence. See also: Human Nature
Humans are the signs and interpreters of the Most Sublime One in that the qualities given to them in the name of God in this transient world are open to development, and in fact have already been developed. Humans are the brightest mirrors of their Master, mirrors that reflect significant expressions. All of existence becomes a legible book only with their understanding and foresight, and these are the true qualities that are exhibited. It can be said that “God” is the mere source of all the wealth of the entire universe; humans—together with everything in and around them—on the other hand, are the royal witnesses of their Master.
People who have truly found their paths to God through their essence act also as guides for others, as they have attained the title of being witnesses of God. Should you have a chance to meet such people, it means you can avoid confusion and avoid sin. If you have a vision, or in other words, if you are aware of His holy secret, it means you are able to experience everything in a different dimension. Of course, humans whose thoughts are as clear as their beliefs, whose behavior and manners are intended to please God, remind everybody of God whenever and wherever they appear. Such people arouse, unconsciously and unknowingly, the feeling that they are “witnesses of God.”
Prophet Muhammad, the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, has achieved horizons beyond that of the angels with his abilities, which he later developed to an even higher level, was both the seed and the fruit of the tree of existence. However much humanity thanks God for this family tree and its choice fruit, it is not enough. Essentially, the first to be remembered when the word “human” is pronounced is the Messenger of God, because there is no one that ranks higher than he. And yet, this exalted being was a fruit of the tree of life as well. In short, while the human being is the most honorable of those created, the Prophet is the pride of humanity.
When this entire boundless universe, with all of its riches, components, and history, is connected to humanity it becomes clear why the value of humankind transcends all. It can also be said that God created not only this world, but also the next, in the name of the realization of human perfection. God’s Messenger sensed the other world as he was leading his life in this world, softening his pain here with expectations from the other world, experiencing heavens through the width of his faith even before he actually headed for Paradise, while also sharing with his companions whatever he sensed. It must be once again stated that despite his vastness, he was a human, the brightest and luminous fruit of the tree of humankind.
Humans, however, are far from accomplishing such an achievement due to their corporeality and sensuality. Moreover, it can also be claimed that when humans are unaware of themselves or of their existence then they are lower than other creatures. Yet, humans, with their intellects, beliefs, consciences, and spirits are observers and commentators of the holy secrets that are found hidden between the lines of life. So, humans, no matter how insignificant they appear they are the “highest example,” they are more beloved than all others. Islam evaluates humankind without going to extremes. It is the only religion among all the belief systems which sees humans as being exalted creatures directed toward a special mission, equipped with superior potential and talents. According to Islam, humans are superior merely because they are human. “Truly We created human with real honor.” Through their surrender to God and His Messenger, humans irrevocably secure this station. “Glory belongs to God, to His Messenger, and thus, to Muslims.” With their striving and struggle on the Earth, they too become God’s favorite. “Undoubtedly, We show those who strive on Our path the way to success and satisfaction; God is, of course, with those that worship Him as if they see Him.” “The Most Merciful God creates love in the hearts of people for those that believe and act accordingly.” The Qur’an exemplifies the superiority of humanity in all its various aspects with the above statement. Everything that humans are granted, namely their faith, good deeds, and creation, is built upon human values, like lacework woven on the threads of human nature. Humanity is conferred upon humans as a gift; no price is asked and nothing is expected in return.
All these human relations are built up within this significance and in this context and these relations are always affected by these. A human being, be they man or woman, young or old, white or black, is respectable, protected and inviolate. Their belongings cannot be taken away, nor can their chastity be touched. They cannot be driven out of their native land, and their independence cannot be denied. They cannot be prevented from living in accordance with their principles, either. Moreover, they are prohibited from committing such crimes against others as well. They do not have the right to inflict harm on this gift that is presented to them by God, for they only are in temporary possession of this bounty; God is the true owner of everything. Humans are only charged with protecting this transient trust. Humans are to defend and keep safe this gift. It is holy for them; they will not harm it, nor allow it to come to any harm. When necessary they will fight for it and die for it. Stressing the significance of the inalienable rights of humanity and emphasizing the superiority of humanity, the Sultan of the Word, peace and blessings be upon him, put it thus:
He who is killed in the name of protecting his wealth is a martyr. He who is killed in the name of protecting his life is a martyr. He who is killed in the name of protecting his relations is a martyr. And he who is killed in the name of protecting his native land is a martyr.1
How close is humanity today to this level of understanding? I think that to answer this question would be outside the scope of this article.
In terms of faith and connected matters, humanity has been blessed with distinction. Truly, when compared to the entire universe, humanity is superior to the heavens and to the angels too. Everything on the Earth and in the sky is at its service, and they have the right to make use of these bounties. God confers this gift upon humanity because of its impotence and neediness; God regards human beings as guests in this world. Only those who believe can appreciate such a gift. Believers who are aware of the true meaning of existence would thankfully accept all the universes as a palace for them, and they take all things, living and non-living, as their servants.
One step further, when talking about one who acts with the conscience and will power, and also delves into the depths of the heart and the spirit, then it becomes difficult to describe such a person. The only way to praise such a human being, a person who has developed their potential values and reached the peaks, is to quote Akif2:
He is created more exalted than even the angels,
All the worlds are hidden within him and the realms are contained in him.
Now, after God has bestowed all these on us, what is expected from us as humans? This is what is really important. Whether we discuss such an issue or not is a separate matter. If only everybody were aware that such a great responsibility has befallen them.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
1 Tirmidhi, Diyat 22, (1418,1421); Abu Dawud, Sunna 32, (4772); Nesai, Tahrim, 22, (7, 115, 116); Ibn Maja, Hudud, 21, (2580).
2 Mehmed Akif Ersoy: The renowned Turkish poet who also wrote the Turkish National Anthem