Faith—the Foundation of Spiritual Perfection
Faith and enlightenment are the basis for self’s perfection and journeying towards Almighty God. Before starting this journey, a wayfarer must decide about his final destination and know where he is going and which path he must select; otherwise he will get lost and never reach to his final destination. Faith in Almighty God induces courage for movement, search and endeavor as well as clearly demarcates his path and final destination. Those who lack faith are helpless to walk upon the straight path of perfection. The Holy Qur’an says:
وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ عَنْ الصِّرَاطِ لَنَاكِبُونَ.
“And lo! those who believe not in the Hereafter are indeed astray from the path. 234:74”
بَلْ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ فِي الْعَذَابِ وَالضَّلَالِ الْبَعِيدِ.
“Nay, but those who disbelieve in the Hereafter are in torment and far error. 34:8”
An unbeliever who does not believe in the existence of Almighty God and the Hereafter becomes absolutely cut off from the world of perfection and his activities are limited to follow his material and animalistic requirements. Therefore, his aims and objectives for movement cannot be anything other than material world. He is not journeying on the straight path of perfection and therefore can never attain God’s Nearness. The direction of his movement is world; therefore, he continuously becomes farther away from the straight path of human exaltation. Even if an unbeliever performs a righteous deed, it will not become a means for his self perfection because he has not done it with the intention for God and his Nearness (Taqarrub) so that it becomes beneficial for him; rather he has done it for the sake of this world and therefore he will see the result in this world but nothing will be left for him in the Hereafter. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ لَا يَقْدِرُونَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا عَلَى شَيْءٍ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلَالُ الْبَعِيدُ.
“A similitude of those who disbelieve in their Lord: Their works are as ashes which the wind bloweth hard upon a stormy day. They have no control of aught that they have earned. That is the extreme failure. 14:18”
Faith is the foundation of deeds as it bestows merit. If a believer’s soul gets intermingled with faith (Iman) and the phrase of Monotheism (Kalimat al-Tawhid) will become illuminated ascending towards Almighty God. Of course, righteous deeds help him in this ascent. The Holy Qur’an says:
مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ.
“Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good words ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt. 35:10”
The righteous deeds carry a human soul upward enabling him to attain the exalted position of God’s Nearness and providing him with a sacred and beautiful existence subjected to his possessed with the faith (Iman). An unbeliever’s soul is dark and does not have the decency of possessing God’s Nearness and delightful existence. The Holy Qur’an says:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ.
“Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do. 16:97”
A wayfarer from the very beginning must strive and endeavor to strengthen his faith because the stronger and superior will be his faith the higher will be his ascent and rank. The Holy Qur’an says:
يَرْفَعْ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ.
“Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks. Allah is Informed of what ye do. 58:11”