“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord, and for a garden whose extensiveness is as the heavens and of the earth, that has been prepared for those with piety. They are those who generously expend (in charity), whether in prosperity or in adversity, who restrain their anger and are forgiving of people. And God loves those who do good.” (Holy Quran, 3:133-134)
In the teachings of Islam, human goodness is the essential primary focus. Humanity is urged to be generous, kind, compassionate and forgiving, with no excuses. These are important characteristics that are favored by God Almighty, the supreme creator for all of us who maintains and sustains us. Without these attributes, the worth of a person is not only negative, it is also in contradiction to Divine guidance that was spread by Prophet Muhammad. With ever swifter means of transportation and communication, it becomes imperative that people learn to be ever more tolerant of each other, to assist and to create enabling environments. Without these aims of goodness the true worth of a human being is not realized. On the contrary construct, it should never be that humans become agents of hate, greed, sorrow and destruction, and to lose the primary purpose of their existence and their blessings from God. All life is precious, and to become custodians and stewards of this life is part of the meaning and objective of being truly human.
As homo sapiens, we are the creation of God that has been bestowed with cognitive intelligence, we collectively as people are required to use our energy, time and knowledge to bring peace and prosperity on planet earth. Without this thought, human life does not fulfill the real utilization of the essential gift of intelligence and conscience. Animals, have not been bestowed with this gift of cognitive intelligence. They cannot plan or count or compute or have the thinking capacity to have independence of action. They do only what they have restricted to do by nature. They lack the intelligence and the related free-will to choose and to select the direction of their activities, and the direction of the manner in which they would spend their time and resources. For instance, the bees are locked into their fixed box of existing. They can only spend time making honey. All their activities, both individually and communally are aimed towards this one single occupation. From morning to evening, producing honey is their only activity. Ironically, they themselves do not have the thought and the intelligence to realize what they are making or why. They have been hard-wired by nature, as it were to be restricted to this single activity. On the other hand, human beings are free, free to produce myriad things and free to work their selected hours in their preferred locations. They are not boxed into a restricted non transferable activity. They can eat honey with their cereal or have sugar or mix yogurt instead of milk. Their intelligence enables them to seek goodness and to flourish.
The gift of intelligence and the associated freedom of choice has a mandate—to do good and to spread compassion and mercy and forgiveness. On the contrary side, vengeance and violence are negative possibilities that only serve to cause mayhem and destruction. Thus in the sacred Qur’an, the doors of paradise are extended wide to welcome the humble, peace loving individuals who ensure establishing mercy and kindness as operative constructs in all aspects of human activity. As we remember the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, his attributes and characteristics would be well to be followed and to serve as moral beacon for all times and for all places. In his personal life, he was humble without ostentation. Pride and vanity at his own achievements were never to become a part of his behavior or views. In fact with the utmost humility, modesty and mildness, he requested that there should never be any images made of him. He wanted to simply leave behind the heritage of good manners and transcendence for humanity with piety. He has been referred to as the “rahmat al-alamin” meaning the mercy for all the worlds. The usage of the term, worlds (alamin) and not world (alam) is interesting. It indicates that the mercy of the Prophet is to extend beyond humanity to all of creation. Today, the world of nature is in chaos due to human greed and misconduct. Even 1400 years ago, the Prophet had taught that even animals have rights. Thus camels were not to be over loaded. The unregulated encroachment on terrain with ever new human projects in the name of development ought to be studied and proceeded with care to the ecological damage. Rainforests are fast shrinking, water resources are becoming contaminated, the air we all breath is becoming polluted—and all for lack of compassion and the prevalence of greed. May God’s mercy be with us all.