When the human mind is enticed and captivated by the wealth of imagery, the beauty, the perfect order that it discerns, all around; when it recognises the incomprehensible skill and craftsmanship in them: when it discovers its own limitations, and realises that the solution of the problem of the existence of this marvellously wonderful cosmos is beyond its powers, it is inevitably led to ask, “What is there beyond? What is there beyond space?“ and is compelled to acknowledge that there is someone beyond it all, and that someone must be Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent, otherwise the incredibly faultless and efficient operation and subsistence of the phenomena that it notices could not last for a moment.
Thus side by side with the increase in knowledge and learning, it is irresistibly brought to bear upon it that that someone is none other than God, the Creator, the Almighty Allaah, and when such is the beauty and charm of His creation, what would be the grandeur and splendour of Him Who is at the back of it all.
Hence if we survey the present-day state of affairs with profound insight, we shall arrive at the inference that the world is in the iron grip of materialism; thinks mundane prosperity and proficiency in secular know!edge to be the highest point of human progress. Islam, in contrast, allots these the place of preliminaries in the code of life that it prescribes for the guidance of human beings, and a Muslim is expected to utilise them as stepping stones on his march towards spiritual progress
Their acquirement is from the first consecrated to spiritual progress. The consecration is a double one. There is one advantage of the votary freeing himself from the cares of the world. The other one is that equipped with knowledge of arts and sciences, he can respond to the intimacy of nature greater and richer than himself, and joining himself to the fellowship of a splendid society, he can trace its origin and development through a series of evolutionary stages to the Almighty Allaah.
His preference may be for any branch of knowledge and he may engage himself in any walk of life which may vary according to his temperament, inclination or capacity, but whatever be the mode that he adopts, it will be a widening and a deepening of experience, all a part of the life-long process of his equipment for the Journey. For the journey he has undertaken is meant to carry him to that Almighty Allaah, the Lord of all Universe, i.e., the pinnacle of others’ perfection is the starting point of a Muslim.
If we examine the situation under these perspectives, Islam provides the via media, the golden mean between the two extremes, On the one hand, it directs its followers to achieve the utmost progress in all the material walks of life. On the other its comprehensive code of ethics which is unique for many reasons equips him for his journey towards that ultimate goal of a sincere seeker after truth, self-renunciation and complete merging of oneself in that being.
On one side it warns that class of human beings who not only neglect to pay any attention to the Divine Being but actually deny the existence of God and think luxury and indulgence of passions to be the Alpha and Omega of a human being’s life, that there is undoubtedly a Creator of this world. The whole Universe is His creation, and just as we have His obligations on us to discharge, so have we our duties to perform in relation to our fellow creatures. For, if all human beings were engaged in the pursuit of their own objects of desire, and altruism had no place in the original nature of man, it would follow that the natural state would be a state of contention, enmity and war, and peace and tranquility will be only transitory.
Islam deprecates the separation of material from spiritual progress, for it adopts the medium course and for a Muslim, increased economical and social prosperity side by side with increased progress in the study of arts and sciences signifies an increased capacity and desire for an advance which is more vital, i.e., these should help him to penetrate the true essence of the objects and appreciate the intrinsic value of God Almighty’s blessings and lead him to bow down his head before Him.
On the other hand, it admonishes that group of persons who maintain that it is useless to have anything to do with the world as it is to be reduced to nothing, and that as long as one is absorbed in mundane matters, it is impossible to approach God, to partake of the blessings bestowed by God, for it is a matter of pleasure to Him. Besides, it is not so commendable to devote oneself to the worship of that Almighty by renouncing the world altogether and severing all connections with one’s fellow creatures, as it is to remember Him in the midst of all the worries and responsibilities of worldly affairs.