Man and his dignity as viewed by Islam

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Man and his dignity as viewed by Islam
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From the Qur'anic point of view, man benefits from special favours; this, to such an extent that even the angels bow down to him. The Qur'an tells us:

And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. (Sura Bani Isra'il, 70)

Taking full note of the fact that the foundation of man's life is the safeguarding of his spiritual dignity, it follows naturally that any action which detracts from human dignity and all the other God-given qualities is forbidden in Islam. To be more specific, every kind of tyrannical authority-both in respect of those exercising it and those subjected to It- is strictly prohibited. As Imam 'Ali says:

'Do not be the slave of others, for truly, God created you free.' 1

He also said:

'God has granted unto the believer every right, except that of self-degradation.' 2

Taking full note of the fact that the foundation of man's life is the safeguarding of his spiritual dignity, it follows naturally that any action which detracts from human dignity and all the other God-given qualities is forbidden in Islam. To be more specific, every kind of tyrannical authority-both in respect of those exercising it and those subjected to It- is strictly prohibited.

The intellectual life of man

From the viewpoint of Islam, the intellectual life of man is accorded a special dignity; for the superiority of man-the basis of his pre-eminence among all creatures-consists in his capacity to reflect and to think, using the full scope of his intelligence. In this connection, many verses of the Qur'an call upon man to exercise his faculties of intellectual reflection, so much so that the cultivation of thought, and reflection upon the phenomena of creation are given as the distinguishing features of the wise. As the Qur'an says, in one of the many places where the importance of reflection and contemplation upon God's signs and marvels of creation is stressed:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Sura AI 'Im ran, III: 190-191)

One concomitant of this perspective is the prohibition in the Qur'an against the thoughtless imitation or blind following of one's predecessors.

1. Nahj'al-balagha, Letter no. 38.
2. Hurral-'.Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a (Beirut, 1403/ 1982), vol. 11, ch.12, P· 424.

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Daily Hadith
الإخْوانُ في اللّهِ تعالى تَدُومُ مَودّتُهُم، لِدَوامِ سَبَبِها.
Brothers [whose brotherhood is] for the sake of Allah, enjoy an enduring Amity, due to the firmness of its foundation