Page 27 - Islam In Focus

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Encompassing and His Mercy all – Inclusive (Qur’ an, 7:156). One last revealing
reading of the event is that discrimination on the basis of sex and hereditary guilt or
sin are alien to the spirit of Islam.
The idea of Original Sin or hereditary criminality has no room in the teachings of
Islam. Man, according to the Qur’ an (30:30) and to the Prophet, is born in natural
state of purity or fitrah, that is, Islam or submission to the will and law of God.
Whatever becomes of man after birth is the result of external influence and intruding
factors. To put the matter in terms of modern thought, human nature is malleable; it is
the socialization process, particularly the home environment, that is crucial. It plays a
decisive role in the formation of human personality and the development of moral
character. This does not deny to the individual the freedom of choice or exempt him
from responsibility. Rather, it is a relief from that heavy burden of hereditary
criminality or instinctual sin.
God, by definition, is Just, Wise, Merciful, Compassionate, and Perfect. He has
created man by breathing into him of His own Spirit (Qur’ an, 15:29; 32:9; 66:12).
Since God is the absolute infinite good and His Spirit the absolute perfect one; since
man, through creation, received of the Spirit of God, then man was bound to retain at
least some portion of this good Spirit of the Creator. This may account for the good
dispositions of man and his spiritual longings. But, on the other hand, God created
man to worship Him, not to be His equal, rival, the perfect incarnation or absolute
embodiment of His goodness. This means that no matter how much good and perfect
man may be, by the grace of creation, he is still far short of the goodness and
perfection of the Creator. Man is not without such qualities, to be sure. But they are
limited and proportionate to man’ s finite nature, capacity, and responsibility. This
may explain the imperfection and fallibility of man.
However, imperfection and fallibility are not the equivalent of sin or synonymous
with criminality – at least not in Islam. If man is imperfect he is not left helpless or
deserted by God to fall victim to his shortcomings. He is empowered by revelations,
supported by reason, fortified by the freedom of choice, and guided by various social
and psychological dispositions to seek and achieve relative perfection. The constant
gravitation between the forces of good and evil is the struggle of life. It gives man
something to look forward to, ideals to seek, work to do, and roles to play. It makes
his life interesting and meaningful, not monotonous and stagnant. On the other hand,
it pleases God to see His servants in a state of spiritual and moral victory.
According to the moral scale of Islam, it is not a sin that man is imperfect or fallible.
This is part of his nature as a finite limited creature. But it is a sin if he has the ways
and means of relative perfection and chooses not to seek it. A sin is any act, thought,
or will that (1) is deliberate, (2) defies the unequivocal law of God, (3) violates the
right of God or the right of man, (4) is harmful to the soul or body, (5) is committed
repeatedly, and (6) is normally avoidable. These are the components of sin which is
not innate or hereditary. It is true, however, that man has the potential capacity of sin
latent in him; but this is not greater than his capacity of piety and goodness. If he
chooses to actualize the potential of sin instead of the potential of goodness, he will be
adding a new external element to his pure nature. For this added external element man
alone is responsible.