Friday, October 19, 2007

Amanah - Divine Trust

"God does not entrust anyone with intelligence without saving him thereby someday."
- Imam 'Ali, quoted in Living and Dying with Grace: Counsels of Hadrat Ali.

"Peace is absence of dissipation. Love is absence of hardness. Fallen man is hardness and dissipation...In the peace of the Lord, the waves of this dissipation are calmed and the soul is at rest in its primordial nature, in its center. Through love, the outer shell of the heart is melted like snow and the heart awakens from its death; hard, opaque and cold in the fallen state, it becomes liquid, transparent and aflame in the Divine life." Frithjof Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

"The Islamic concept of Amanah or the Divine Trust derives scripturally from the following Qur'anic Verse, Al-Ahzab, 33:72 - 'We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it. And the human being carried it. Surely he is very ignorant, a great wrongdoer.' Humanity, being privileged by the grace of revelation and intellection to know the transcendent and to recognize creation as a manifestation of transcendence, also bears the responsibility of stewardship towards creation. This is an aspect of the principle of noblesse oblige. To know God is also to know all things in God, and God in all things, and to treat all God's creatures as sacred. The origin of morality is predicated on the discernment that 'all that lives is holy' (William Blake), which in turn is premised on the discernment of the sacred as the radiance of the divine That humanity in general is content to accept the privilege of its creaturely superiority without accepting the responsibility that such superiority confers, explains the Qur'anic comment at the end of the quoted verse." - Metaphysics of Human Governance: Imam 'Ali, Truth and Justice by M. Ali Lakhani in The Sacred Foundations of Justice in Islam: The Teachings of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib.

"Transmitted [naqli] knowledge is characterized by the fact that it needs to be passed from generation to generation. The only possible way to learn it is to receive it from someone else. In contrast, intellectual ['aqli] knowledge cannot be passed on, even though teachers are needed for its guidance in the right direction. The way to achieve it is to find it within oneself, by training the mind or, as many of the texts put it, 'polishing the heart.' Without uncovering such knowledge through self-discovery, one will depend on others in everything one knows." - Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul by William Chittick (I could go into a whole long aside about the politics of modern public education in this country and how people push for naqli, as opposed to 'aqli, teaching because it is 'traditional', not 'reform' and 'more efficient' - pushing for a society of citizens who possess passed-on knowledge and skills but lack training of mind, constructivist or creative thought, or the independence of self-discovery and discovery of nature. The students are to be deprived of discovering science and mathematics to truly own it and have the potential to lead in it in the future, but instead to acquire what the discoverers disseminate and follow them.)

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