How to Curb Human Barbarity?

There is no denying the fact that man, despite being the crown of creation, is the most oppressed being on the earth. What is more, threats to man are continuously increasing; these are posed by none other than man himself. Man has been victim of man’s barbarity as Rumi says:

Last night the Shaikh went all about the city, lamp in hand, crying

“I am weary of beast and devil, a true human-self is my desire.”

There are numerous ways including fire and arms for defence against savagery of an animal. However, if man, the crown of creation, becomes barbarous, no external means not even satellite or nuclear weapons can contain the same. Therefore, it is necessary that his barbarity may be eliminated through inner reformation. However, it is to be seen why he resorts to savagery. Its answer lies in the phenomenon explained in psychology as “Desires control organs and not vice versa”. Hence, gentility or cruelty of one’s actions is reflective of his inner gentility or cruelty. When a person’s inner-self or spirit becomes devoid of humanity, then its opposite traits occupy his spirit and through his thoughts and desires harden it like stone. Subsequently, barrenness of his inner-self instigates him to wreak havoc in the world. He becomes bloodthirsty, desecrating human blood in the killings carried out on nationalist, regionalist, linguistic, ethnic, racial pretexts or in the name or creed.

Nevertheless, if man has ability of self-awareness, he discovers vastness of his inner-self and knows that his respect and sanctity are not because of his physical body but due to divine jewel – spirit – hidden inside this physical body as has been narrated by Allah in the Holy Quran:

“I infused in him (man) my spirit”(Sa’d: 72)

Due to this distinction of man, study of man’s true-self has been the favorite topic of study and teachings of mystics. They have exhorted man that, besides strengthening, educating, purifying and beautifying physical body, he should also discover his inner-self, purify, beautify and strengthen his spirit as Sultan Bahoo says in his poetry, “Dark complexion is better than darkness of heart only if one understands it Hoo.” This is the thought that mystics have promoted in their teachings and literature. There is dire need for promoting this thought in the contemporary world. Human savagery has reached alarming levels and intolerance has shaken very foundations of our social and religious values. Mystics exhort that first of all a person should pay heed to self-accountability and then think of others – particularly in following religious injunctions. Once a religious scholar asked Sultan Muhammad Abdul Aziz – the eighth descedant of Sultan Bahoo – “if Hazrat Ali’s stance was right or that of Hazrat Moavia”. Sultan Muhammad Abdul Aziz asked him, “Maulana Sahib, you would be questioned about whom in the grave?” He replied, “About my own self.” Sultan Muhammad Abdul Aziz said to him, “Then you should be more concerned about your own deeds.”

          According to mystics, all human savagery and barbarity originate from ignorance about spirit. In this regard they often quote the incident of refusal of Iblees (Satan) to prostrate in front of Adam AS. When Allah ordered angels to prostrate in front of His vicegerent – Adam – all did except Iblees, who justified his disobedience by describing himself superior – being made of fire – to Adam – being made of clay. Iblees could see and perceive only physical body of man, without understanding the inner divine jewel - spirit. This caused pride and defiance in Iblees.

          If man acquires truth about his true-self, all conflicts would be resolved as comprehending the same makes him understand why he has been blessed with the honor of being crown of creation. A few following references would help in better understanding of this point:

Holy Quran ; “I am closer to man than his jugular vein.” (Qaf-16)

Hadith e Qudsi; “Neither earth nor skies are My abode but My abode is the heart of a Momin.” (Al-Mirqat-ul-Mafateeh, Kitab-ur-Riqaq)  Hadith; “The heart of a Momin is Allah’s throne”. (Al-Mirqat-ul-Mafateeh, Kitab-ul-Eman)

When man understands the fact that his respect and superiority are due to divinity in his inner-self, then he sees the same divinity in other humans and holds them in high esteem because of it. The same can be explained through an analogy. If a room where I am sitting is showered with petals, the same are for me or the room? Similarly, if a room where I am sitting is being cursed, the same is for me or the room? Now we may apply this worldly example to the spiritual world of man’s inner-self. If a man is targeted due to religious hatred or his blood is shed for fulfillment of personal agenda, is it desecration of his flesh or of divinity inside his spirit? Inculcation and promotion of this thought is called “tazkia” or spiritual awakening and purification in the Holy Quran; Tab’aeen, (followers of the Holy Companions,) described it as “tasawaf”, while in modern period it is known as Sufism or mysticism.

According to Allama Iqbal, if a person succeeds in tazkia or spiritual awakening and purification, he makes his life full of peace, contentment and joys. However, if he considers spirit as something mere imaginative and remains occupied in physical gains, then realization of Hazrat Ibrahim’s prayer of peace is not possible. Iqbal writes :

“When attracted by the forces around him, man has the power to shape and direct them; when thwarted by them, he has the capacity to build a much vaster world in the depths of his own inner being, wherein he discovers sources of infinite joy and inspiration. Hard his lot and frail his being, like a rose-leaf, yet no form of reality is so powerful, so inspiring, and so beautiful as the spirit of man!...... If he does not take the initiative, if he does not evolve the inner richness of his being, if he ceases to feel the inward push of advancing life, then the spirit within him hardens into stone and he is reduced to the level of dead matter. But his life and the onward march of his spirit depend on the establishment of connexions with the reality”. (The reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Knowledge and Experience)

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