Making Life on Earth Flourishing and Sound
Islam is a beautiful religion that fulfills the needs of both body and soul. A human is made up of both a spiritual as well as a material side. Both sides of a human have to be recognized as “true,” with neither of them being ignored or denied. Furthermore, the individual needs guidance for both of these aspects of his personality. If not, one aspect will dominate the other or be in conflict with the other and the individual will never achieve true happiness. For example, there are those who stress the spiritual needs and look down upon the material aspects of this world.
At the same time, though, they are forced to partake in the material aspects of this world that are part of the human’s nature. Such individuals are conflicted when they cannot free themselves completely from the material needs that they so look down upon. On the other hand, there are economic systems, like capitalism and socialism, that seek to meet the material needs—in fact, capitalists claim to bring about “the best of all possible worlds. In reality, though, they can leave a great void in the psyche of an individual as his material needs are met and yet he feels empty inside.
Allah is the One who made humans the successors of this earth: “And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: ‘Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth’” (2:30). Thus, the view of Islam is that humans have been put here on this earth intentionally by God and they are to use the material means to build a positive life in this temporary world, which will eventually lead them to a positive eternal life in the Hereafter. Thus, Allah says, “But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and do not seek corruption in the land. Verily, Allah does not love the corrupters” (28:77).
In fact, even after finishing the Friday Prayer, one of the most significant acts of worship in Islam, Allah encourages them to go out and seek the bounties of this world: “Then when the (Friday) Prayer is finished, you may disperse through the land, and seek the Bounty of Allah (by working, etc.), and remember Allah much, that you may be successful” (62:10).
In reality, humans are caretakers of this great creation and they are supposed to behave in the proper manner with respect to it. They are not the ultimate owners of it who are free to use it in any way they wish. In fact, they are not supposed to exploit it for their own personal greed or vengeance. They are not supposed to waste the resources of this earth in extravagance and non-beneficial purposes. Instead, they should behave in the manner described by Allah: “Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish the prayer, give the Zakat, enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil” (22:41).
This teaching of Islam is further highlighted by the numerous verses in which Allah forbids the spreading of evil and corruption (fasaad) on Earth (as in 28:77 quoted above). Allah also says, “And do not do corruption on the earth, after it has been set in order, and invoke Him with fear and hope; Surely, Allah’s Mercy is (ever) near unto the good-doers” (7:56).
Again, “So remember the graces (bestowed upon you) from Allah, and do not go about making mischief on the earth” (7:74). On the other hand, Allah promises a great reward who live their lives by the principle of not promoting or seeking evil and corruption. Allah says, “That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do corruption by committing crimes. And the good end is for the pious” (28:83). Allah makes it clear that when the people stand in front of Him on the Day of Resurrection, those who spread evil on the earth will not be treated as equal to those who spread goodness on this earth. Allah says, “Shall We treat those who believe and do righteous good deeds like those spread corruption on earth? Or shall We treat the pious as criminals?” (38:28).
Unfortunately, what many people do not realize is that the greatest way of spreading corruption and evil on earth is by turning one’s back on the revelation from God and encouraging people to forget about what Allah has commanded, thereby following their own wants and desires. Turning away from God and His guidance truly corrupts the individual soul and also corrupts the family, society and entire creation. With a true belief in God removed from one’s heart, it is a small step to unethical behavior and unjust practices.
In reality, it is one of Allah’s laws that if corruption is allowed to spread, it leads to evils throughout the earth as a wake-up call to humans that they must change their ways. Thus, Allah says, “Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon)” (30:41). Unfortunately, today very few do wake-up as they put the blame for all evils on everything except the fact that they have turned away from God.
In the end, it is the corruptors and evildoers themselves who will suffer: Allah says, “Those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the Path of Allah, for them We will add torment over the torment; because they used to spread corruption [by disobeying Allah themselves, as well as ordering others (mankind) to do so]” (16:88). “Those who break Allah’s Covenant after ratifying it, and sever what Allah has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth, it is they who are the losers” (2:27).
Jammaal al-Din M. Zarabozo