A Personal Belief in God: The Life Cycle of Humanity
I will start with my own faith in God. To be a good leader, you have to align yourself with values that extend beyond your own selfish desires. Otherwise, it is unlikely that you will have the capacity to lead with the best interests of society in mind. Individuals who follow their selfish desires live with very unclear goals.
If a leader’s goal is money, power, or fame, there is no point when they can confidently say that they have had enough. These items only have relative meaning. If leaders use their military might to take over a land, they will need to conquer the next land. History has shown that human greed has no limits. If their wealth increases due to the powers invested in them by their countries, leaders will seek to further increase their wealth through bankrupting the nation or taking advantage of other countries. A material goal has a limited end point.
The leader whose life is worth aspiring to is one who is independent of selfish desires and provides what is best for everyone. Leading and doing what is best for the group will provide a leader with the sense that their actions are worthwhile. How does one cultivate this characteristic—and can it be taught?
The concept of God or some other form of an organizing principle is important. It will inspire people to act no matter the cost, whether monetary or personal. It is okay to not believe in God, but understanding how theists can cultivate a dedication to transcendent principles is important. Their belief systems are not affected by the evil around them. Theists have a firm belief in being moral. When a theistic worldview is broken down to its parts, it gives us a system for making leaders who can help us avoid the type of bloodshed that has been so pervasive throughout history.
Scattered natural attractiveness and beauty surround us and inspires us to find the one who created it all. God is powerful and created everything in the universe, including galaxies, the sun, the moon, the oceans, the lakes, the rivers, the trees, the mountains, the animals, the birds, and the flowers. These are examples of God’s wisdom, and his knowledge is complete.
When the time is up, everything in the universe and on the earth will be folded like a sheet by the order of God through angels, and it will be handed over to God on Judgment Day (Resurrection Day). We still have time to think about why God created us and His expectations for us.
Human beings are considered the perfect creations of God, yet we have many shortcomings in our lives. I have been coming to terms with my weaknesses and working on them since I was young. In the past, many things frustrated me from time to time. I was unable to focus on one point because I had no clarity about why we were created or God’s expectations for us. I came to the conclusion that once we understand our purpose on earth, we can start enjoying what we do.
From the perspective of a Muslim, humans were created to recognize and submit to the highness of God. The function of this belief comes from an amanah or trust between God and human beings. To gain an understanding of this, we will review the story of humankind as far as the Muslim tradition is concerned.
The first human created was Adam, and we descended from him. The interesting piece to this story is that his progeny asked a fundamental question: Do they believe and submit themselves to following a singular God? It is stated that the souls all responded in the affirmative. Those souls were placed in a deep sleep, like death, until it was their time to go to earth. Religiously, once it is the soul’s time to be born, it is breathed into the developing baby. As the days pass, we learn and gain consciousness about our surroundings. We are fully oriented to recognize our parents, surroundings, and the globe. The goal of this life is to test us and to make well on the covenant that we made with God in the beginning.
So, who exactly is God? The existence of nature and the order that we live in is also something we must stop and marvel at. Scientists currently say that the universe was born as a result of the big bang at its hottest and densest point. The universe experienced inflation and a burst of expansion in space that was faster than the speed of light, after which it doubled in size. From this initial point, neutrons, protons, electrons, antielectrons, photons, and other particle matters developed. The universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old, which determined by measuring matter and the energy density of the universe. As a Muslim, there is some evidence in the following verse:
Are the disbelievers not aware that the heavens and the earth used to be joined together and that We ripped them apart, that We made every living thing from water. (Quran 21:30)
For individuals of faith, it means there is an ultimate, hidden power of Creator (God) that is balancing, controlling, and maintaining our universe according to God’s desires. We human beings still do not know much more about the operational functions of our universe, but on a night with clear skies, we can see the beauty of our stars and galaxies.
Our solar system was born nine billion years after the big bang. The globular cluster contains approximately four hundred thousand stars. It is located about 7,200 light years away in the southern constellation Ara. Its estimated age is about 13.5 billion years old, and it was probably the first object of the galaxy to form after the big bang. Our universe’s structure contains dense areas and less dense areas. The dense areas have more pulling of matter through gravity, forming stars and galaxies. It makes larger structures called clusters, superclusters, filaments, and walls. The wall is bigger; it contains thousands of galaxies reaching more than a billion light years in length. The scale is dizzying, but it helps place things in perspective.
If we look at human history, power, omnipotence, and lordship are prominent features associated with God. For as much chaos as the big bang caused, everything is surprisingly ordered. Even if God is considered an imaginary idea, the balance and order of our world at the very least points to an organizing principle surrounding our lives. This perspective should inspire us to be more mindful and to not act in selfish ways, as politicians often do.
The universe still has many mysteries to it. We are unable to see most of it, but we know that it is present. Our universe is 4.6 percent atoms (including 75 percent hydrogen and 25 percent helium), 23 percent dark matter, and 72 percent dark energy, which accelerates the expansion of the universe. Dark matter has mass, but it does not interact with light. It is believed that the universe continues to expand. The mysteries that exist may help us appreciate the limitations in our knowledge, but there may be things that we will never know. Our knowledge is limited to the five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing) and cannot extend beyond that. This should be a pause for humility, and leaders should take note. Can leaders feel secure that something will not hold them accountable given how little we understand about our world?
There are other wonders that surround us. The seven major tectonic plates are the Pacific, North American, Eurasian, African, Antarctic, Indo-Australian, and South American. Other notable plates include the Arabian Plate, the Caribbean Plate, the Nazca Plate off the west coast of South America, and the Scotia Plate in the southern Atlantic Ocean. About 70.8 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in liquid water. The remaining is covered by mountains, deserts, plains, plateaus, and other land forms. Mount Everest has the highest elevation above sea level. The outer surface of earth (soil) consists of minerals, organic compounds, and water, and that is where some organisms live.
The earth has only one orbiting satellite. The moon is the largest natural satellite in our solar system, and the other is Jupiter. The moon has a direct effect on tides in the sea. The tide in the sea also helps mix up and purify seawater. It helps remove impurities on the seashore to protect sea life with each monthly cycle. Such order and balance suggest a higher power or belief that we must hold ourselves accountable to higher principles. It should inspire us to be grateful and become better people.
The earth also has at least five co-orbital asteroids. The sun sustains all life on earth. Our future is tied to it. The steady accumulation of helium on the sun’s core will increase the luminosity of the sun. In hundreds of millions of years, the oceans will become dry. The earth’s surface temperature will also increase, making it difficult to sustain life. Vegetation will be reduced and followed by loss of oxygen in the atmosphere. It is estimated that the earth could be habitable in five hundred million years, but five billion years from now, the sun will become a red giant.
The moon is an inert body that reflects light, and the sun is a celestial body in a state of permanent combustion that produces both light and heat. Stars produce their own light, like the sun, and planets are celestial bodies that reflect light, but they do not produce their own light. Galaxies are balanced by the position of stars and planets in well-defined orbits, as well as the interplay of gravitational forces produced by their masses and the speed of their movements.
God governs the movement of planet and space. God invites humankind to recognize His beneficence through the observation of the heavens and the earth. The rain is sent down from the sky, penetrates the ground, and comes forth as springs. The water cycle starts with the sun leading to evaporation of the water, which returns to the earth to help crops grow. Sometimes the water goes underground and is pure water. Those from desert cultures often use this as their source. Most living things come in pairs as male and females, which suggests an order.
In geology, modern science has recently discovered the phenomenon of folding, which formed the mountain ranges. The earth’s crust is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It has also been discovered that the stability of mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding. The process of mountain formation by folding drove the earth’s crust down into the lower layers and serves as the foundation for the mountains.
Biologically, the fact that life propagates through the mechanism of genes is remarkable and also something that gives us pause. Human genes are coded with several thousand proteins, which might hold the secret to why people are born with such diverse temperaments. In the future, it may even be possible to use this information to determine the ideal careers and the ideal nurturing for individuals. A child is exposed to the parents’ love, care, and good bonding. The child absorbs the social etiquette, understanding of the environment, and morality. The child goes through the formal education process, and some go to colleges or professional institutes.
The evolution of humans and the stages they go through is fascinating. A child is born knowing nothing, learns and gains strength, goes to the workplace, and contributes to society. At the end of their life, they lose their strength and the things they knew.
We endure struggles and challenges in life, and those situations polish our attitudes, behaviors, and leadership abilities. These stages are wondrous, and we should pause, reflect, and be grateful. We must not misuse our abilities or seek corruption or destruction with our abilities. Belief and faith in something beyond ourselves are critical to maximizing the good we can do.
The above information was provided to give readers some insights into the wondrous nature of the world we live in. Someone who ponders over this might come to the conclusion that we must hold ourselves to a higher standard since there is a God. The next chapter will deal with the characteristics of God, His expectations from a Muslim’s perspective, and the lessons that leaders should take from this.
The Ruler and Planner of the Universe
The ruler of the universe in the Muslim faith is God. God can be described in many terms, including Al-Khaliq or the Creator. In Latin, create means “to make or bring forth,” which suggests that that the idea of inventing and bringing something new is central to God. It also implies that the creation has a quality of God to it. The word God means perfection, knowledge, and majesty. Knowledge means presence, appearance, and the existence of an object or creation for the knower.
Human beings connect to God through creation, and in the process, they trace the wisdom within. God brings everything into existence without an external source, simply saying “Be, and it is.” Before we can understand a leader’s responsibility, it is sensible to explore God. He is believed to be vested with so much power and wisdom. For Muslims, there is an understanding that being alive is a test from God to see who among humans is the best at being grateful and doing good deeds. Free will was given for this reason, but the expectation from God is to act in a manner that is fitting with justice, goodwill, compassion, and forgiveness.
What is God? What does God look like? Vision is one of the many ways we believe in the truth of things. The answer to this question is unclear by most accounts. Moses was a prophet of God. The Quran recollects how Moses thought he was talking to a burning bush.
God said, “I am the one who always is, and since the beginning I am always there.”
God is always present, but He cannot be easily seen. God is self-sufficient and has perfect knowledge of everything in the universe. God knows everything, and we cannot hide anything from Him. He is gracious and merciful to his creatures, and all obey his commands. An important exception to this rule is that humans were granted free will and were given responsibility for their choices in life. God allows free rein for humans to do as they wish with the understanding that the final judgment belongs to Him. He will determine who is best among people. God created, manages, and maintains the world and the universe. He is free from all defects and deficiencies. Though vision cannot encompass God, His presence is felt and intuitively understood by individuals of faith.
Many traits are associated with God. God knows everything and has power over everything. Nothing is hidden from Him, and He is aware of the intentions of human beings. The knowledge of God is perfect. His being is unlimited. He is powerful, endless, and limitless. The ever-living God does not breathe and move like a human being. God is seeing, and he is the witness of each phenomenon. God is hearing, and he is speaking. These are some of the perfect attributes that describe God.
The qualities of God can be understood as the perfection of human characteristics. A human is unable to be perfect and cannot physically see God, which creates the separation between humans and God. His qualities cannot change or be affected by anything. God cannot be confined to a place on the earth or in the heavens. His being is unlimited and unrestricted. He is present in all places. God encompasses all the beings, but He does not occupy a vessel. Vision cannot comprehend Him, but He comprehends all vision (Quran 6:103). He does not age, require sleep, or get tired.
Muslims express our humility and sincerity to Him, and we visualize ourselves as servants in the face of God. Our role is to perform our duties. God is unlimited and perfect from every aspect. No defect, limit, or absence is present in His being. He is not in need of anything. All perfections are bestowed by Him, and He is in possession of all perfections.
God has sent rules, laws, and religion for the benefit of humanity. God is not unjust in how He treats His creature. Since humans have free will, we will be held responsible for our actions. God is not in need of our prayer, but we are in a state of need.
The law of cause and effect is a complete and all-encompassing law that controls the world of existence. God created the universe, and He controls it through the system of cause and effect. In the Muslim faith, He is the first cause and the lawgiver of the universe. If it was anybody other than God or multiple beings, the entire system would have completely collapsed.
Some questions about the existence of evil are beyond the scope of the book, but destructive earthquakes, damaging floods, terrifying storms, and other natural calamities occur daily. They result in great losses of life and property. How can they be compatible with divine justice or divine order?
Everything begins with God, and it is important to understand the divine wisdom that exists in these occurrences. An earthquake is a natural phenomenon, and according to the experts, it has numerous benefits for nature. Earthquakes are the reasons why mountains were created. Mountains are also responsible for altering the rain and snow patterns. With these benefits in mind, for a Muslim, we do not directly comprehend the world’s wisdom. We understand that life is a testing and proving ground. It is expected that there will be toils and trials.
We have also been given many gifts, including creativity and ingenuity. For people who live in places that are prone to earthquakes or heavy rains, technology can help them survive. Sometimes it is hard to swallow that justice runs through everything. Natural disasters, such as floods and tornadoes, cause destruction that may lead one to doubt that there is any justice. Natural calamities serve as reminders of the greater system that is in place. They remind us that order exists. It is worth remembering how well nature seems to run. Perhaps these crises are a test for us to learn humility. The pain and suffering are real. As human beings, we are weak. However, this is precisely why we seek something beyond us: whether that is a principle, God, or something else.
Human cruelties, including genocide, beg the question of why God does not intervene. For individuals of faith, there is an understanding that there will be a day where the balances will be reset—and every evil will be accounted for. People are given free will and the capacity for both good and evil. It is our job to realize how the operation of the universe functions without any fault, and that should inspire us to work toward justice and order instead of chaos and lawlessness. This idea is also found in other philosophies, notably in Stoicism. For Muslims, the idea of the Day of Judgment is prominent and will be the time where everyone will be accountable for their actions.
No human beings are the equivalent to the concept of God. God is a being beyond our imagination, and He is infinite. His many characteristics include infinite, compassionate, beneficent, merciful, sovereign, and holy. He is the source of peace, guardian of faith, protector, compeller, majestic creator, evolver, maker, great forgiver, dominant one or subduer, bestower, and sustainer or provider. He is mighty, strong, opening, and all-knowing. He is the retainer, expander, and honorer. He is all-hearing and all-seeing. He is judging, just, subtle, aware, all-forgiving, forbearing, preserving, maintaining, generous, watching, responsive, vast, wise, loving, and glorious. He is a witness, truth, trustee, strong, firm one, supporter, praiseworthy, originator, reproducer, restorer, destroyer, alive, self-subsisting, perceiver, unique, only one, eternal, the first and the last, hidden, governor, acceptor of repentance, pardoner, compassionate, King of kings, the Lord of majesty and bounty, equitable, gatherer, self-sufficient, enricher, preventer, distresser, propitious, light, guide, incomparable, inheritor, and everlasting.
Humanity needs to understand nature and our place in it. Once the weight of responsibility dawns on us, leaders will be able to achieve global peace. To examine this, let’s look at a chapter from the Quran.
In “Annkaabott” or the Spider chapter, there is a description of the spider’s home as the most fragile of all homes. The example of the spiderweb is given as a metaphor to describe someone who takes refuge in things other than God. If God is understood as a universal organizing principle, being un-godlike, selfish, and focusing on self-interests will only lead to one building their own spider’s web. Corruption and certain ruin await this person. In modern science, we know that the spider’s home has strong tensile strength, but it is easily destroyed. It cannot protect from heat or cold or provide safe shelter. It cannot protect from rains or strong winds. It is the weakest of the all homes, arguably, and it gives warns leaders to hold themselves to higher standards.
The spiderweb analogy also gives insight into relationships. Based on the life cycle of the spider, we also know that the female spider weaves the web. Occasionally the male spider takes part in the construction, restoration, or expansion of the web. The web is miraculous. The threads are minute and extremely delicate, but they are five times stronger than a steel equivalent, which enables it to trap its prey. However, a powerful wind can easily destroy it. If the web means family, then the verse can also be taken to mean that a weak family structure can lead to ruin.
The spiritual understanding of the spider’s home is that it is fragile and is deprived of love and mercy, which are the basis of any happy family. The female spider kills the male immediately after the fertilization process. Female spiders may eat their offspring. Female spiders die after complete fertilization of the eggs, which are carried in a silk sac.
When the eggs hatch, the spiderlings come out from an extremely crowded place, and a battle royal for food and space begins. They battle each other for supremacy and survival. As a result, only few spiderlings survive. When the mother dies, the spiderlings feed on her body and spread out to the surrounding spaces. Every surviving female spider starts building her own web. In this way, the cycle continues.
This is how the spider survives, but humans have the ability to reflect. The way of life highlights the lack of family ties and the mercilessness among family members; this does not sit well with people on a very deep level. We see this in our daily lives, especially since social media has taken over. People spread misinformation and lies to gain more influence and bring other people down. The divisions that are sowed are the same ones that world leaders take advantage of to maintain power. By keeping individuals and families divided, power is maintained. However, the cost is high and is not according to the justice and moral standards we should hold ourselves to.
God also shows us that humankind will be tested. The home of the spider is fragile—and so is its family life. Lessons from this are important since human history is filled with in-house conspiracies that damage family systems, especially in political families. This has been damaging for the people who have been ruled. It destroys humanity and takes away peace of mind; the web is as delicate as the families who live together. Mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and justice must be the cornerstone of relationships, familial or otherwise.
The relationship troubles we see are not unexpected. According to the Islamic faith, wealth and children are a test. Politicians should take heed, but many focus on wealth and power at the expense of their moral obligations to their people. The Quran shows how human beings can tackle this test. The answer is real love with God and removing the attraction of other things—fame, power, and wealth—that keep you in dark and move you away.
For Muslims and others of faith, there is a tacit understanding that we are ultimately accountable to a reality that is greater than ourselves. We often are tested when power is given to us to see if we seek that which will destroy us or that which will benefit us.
In the Quran, the latter is illustrated when God tests humanity with two angels that were sent to teach magic to people. The quality of this magic was to break the bond between wife and husband; however, God makes known that none would be harmed by it without His will.
The important part of this story is that people chose to destroy their bonds—even though the angels warned that this was evil. It shows that people’s instincts are aimed to damage their lives, health, and changing psychology:
They taught people witchcraft and what was revealed in Babylon to the two angels Harut and Marut. Yet these two never taught anyone without first warning him, “We are sent only to tempt—do not disbelieve.” (Quran 2:102)
From these two, they learned what can cause discord between a man and wife, although they harm no one with it except by God’s leave. They learned what harmed them, not what benefited them, knowing full well that whoever gained (this knowledge) would lose any share in the hereafter. Evil is the price for which they sold their souls—if only they knew (Haleem 2008).
They learned what harmed them but not what benefited them. This has always stood out to me. It shows us that people have evil inside their hearts. However, we also have much good in us. A leader must seek to cultivate the good that exists within humankind and starve the evil. Interestingly, many people still practice magic in developing nations, including Pakistan, to harm family members, relatives, and neighbors due to malice or vengeance. Things rarely happen, but it does show that there is a drive to destroy and corrupt within us. We must be better, especially our leaders, if we are to create a more just world.
Why is there both good and evil in humankind? The earth is a testing ground, but the beginning of the story of humanity betrays this notion. The Quran mentions that God was going to create a being to rule over humankind. The angels disputed this, stating that humankind was a creature that would only cause bloodshed. God responded that He knew that which they did not. To emphasize this point, God taught the names of certain objects not known to the angels and then tested the angels to see if they could name these things. The angels inevitably could not give an answer, and God asked Adam to provide the names, cementing His wisdom in the matter.
This shows that humans were given certain knowledge that was not given to other creation, which suggests that this knowledge has a purpose. Humanity’s success depends on how well we accomplish our role as vicegerents, determining paradise or hell accordingly.
God established a trust with humankind:
We offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, yet they refused to undertake it and were afraid of it; mankind undertook it. (Quran 33:72:)
Trust is often understood to mean moral obligation and being responsible for one’s actions. Responsibility for actions means that we must face the consequences. If a trust was offered to humans to behave in a way fitting as a just and benevolent ruler of the planet, what does that say about our current state of affairs? No matter how we look at it, we have reneged on this trust—and we should be ashamed.
Except for Adam, all of creation refused to take responsibility. Whether humankind accepted it as a challenge or as a curiosity is hard to say. God described the decision as one that exceeded the bounds and was ignorant. Perhaps He knew the type of creature humans were; after all, He is the Creator. The decision was surprisingly accepted by God, and humans were honored for it when the angels asked to bow before Adam.
Satan refused, stating that he was better than humankind since he was created from fire while Adam was made of clay. Satan was arrogant and did not care about punishments. Satan was cast out and asked for respite until the Day of Judgment to prevent humanity from achieving the lofty aspirations that were expected of them. God allowed this, stating that whoever followed Satan will be of the hellfire and those who obeyed His message would be granted paradise.
God created human beings for His worship and to fulfill the role of the vicegerent. If we accept this premise, it stands to reason that we must hold ourselves responsible. A limited time is granted, and if we accept that human beings were sent to show how effective we are at being leaders, then those who are elected to be leaders of humankind have an even heavier burden.
Accordingly, in the Islamic faith, God wanted to see who would do Ihsan. Ihsan means doing something excellently in both action and in dealing with others. It is a constant state of awareness of the need to improve one’s conduct and to act justly. For Muslims, it is a way to get closer to God and find inner peace. Ihsan only has meaning in the context of a test, and humankind’s beginning and end are all one.
After Satan’s fall, Adam lived in paradise. Adam’s spirit traditionally was blown into him by God, and he was paired with a mate in paradise due to his loneliness. Adam was instructed to not go near a tree, but otherwise, everything was allowed. Adam lived in peace with his mate for a while, but he was tricked by Satan into approaching the tree and eating the fruit. After eating, traditional accounts understand that they became aware of their nakedness and started covering themselves. Having disobeyed God’s command, they were banished from paradise and sent on earth to work hard, face tough tribulations, and find ways to survive against several odds.
However, words of forgiveness were taught to Adam, and God accepted his repentance. During God’s test, it was clear that humankind was created with curiosity to discover new things. I think it was the curiosity to see what would happen if they ate it that made them slip. That was the only rule they could not break, and it still managed to be broken. Mercy was God’s response, and expecting that they would live up to the trust, He accepted. God knows that we make mistakes, but the humility of accepting those mistakes and making amends is praiseworthy in God’s eyes.
This process is a struggle, and it was meant to be that way. We must do our best to act with justice and obey and live by God’s rules. Much like the curiosity that caused Adam to fall, humans are created with several weaknesses. To live a sinless life is impossible, and that is why mercy is one of the most common traits mentioned in the Quran. Having this idea makes one morally accountable, especially because we know that we will be asked about it during the Day of Judgment. Humanity’s story began with Adam’s descent from heaven, and it will continue until we are raised again for Day of Judgment. Messengers and holy books provide guidance to help people realize the true reason for this existence.
On the Day of Judgment, we will answer for the deeds we have done. There will be no jury, and when the account is presented to the soul, the soul will be enough to cast judgment on itself. This demonstrates how important it is to hold ourselves accountable. Within human beings, there is a drive to perform and be good. If there was no goodness in people, then people would not be able to cast judgment on themselves. As a political leader, what could the recompense be for someone who imposed various wars and killings on humanity?
Because all human beings were created for testing in this world, a theist or Muslim would therefore realize that we were created with several weaknesses and strengths. After all, if there are no challenges, there would be no tests. The bottom line for this testing is to recognize and follow the will of God as taught by His messengers, including knowledge, education, and training. We must model good deeds and avoid bad deeds to prevent anger from God.
It is important to recognize that God is there to help us with this process. We should see and do good deeds for humanity. At times, it is hard to feel His presence, but we should look at the universe, the earth, the sun, and the moon. We should look at the natural beauty of the earth, the hills, the mountains, the sea, the land, the deserts, the flowers, the colors, the fruits, the crops, the animals, the birds, and the insects. These help us recognize the presence of the hidden organization and power that control and maintain the entire universe, which is God.
Imagine that we are all taking a test in a classroom and that we have to answer some questions. The teacher does not give the answers, and one is expected to arrive at the answers based on what was taught. So, it is with God. The guidance was given in the form of the holy books and guidance to see if humanity would take responsibility.
Many people do not believe in these stories, but I implore readers to look at the stories allegorically. God has always been a reality for me, and He has helped me maintain my moral compass. These stories have deeply benefited me, and I hope that others can benefit too. The pattern of the origin story is similar across cultures. Looked at sociologically, it can give us insights into our universal nature as humans.
The poor decisions and actions of our leaders are a sobering reality and should force us to self-reflect. The crimes that have been committed by politicians—cheating, corruption, grabbing land, stealing, and killing—will be presented to God on the Day of Judgment for justice. If anyone succeeds without punishment during this life, there will be consequences with God.
Human morality is frail, and the Quran contains multiple appeals to be conscious of God:
People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another. Beware of severing the ties of kinship. God is always watching over you. (Surah Nisa 4:1)
Requests of one another here describes when people barter or doing anything in which equality is expected. When hiring a gardener, there is an expectation that you provide fair monetary compensation for the work the gardener does. Anything else would be a sin. There is also a sense that you must be responsible for each other when making requests (promises), but all of this stems from the consciousness of God.
This information is provided to give a worldview that relies on a sense of moral obligation. It does not simply stem from feeling accountable to each other. It is about being accountable to something greater than ourselves. God has sent us to earth with a full package in the best form to live on this earth with the freedom of choice. God coded our genes for survival, knowledge, and education. We need to try to determine our hidden potential to do what is best for humanity, and the tests and challenges we face help us craft ourselves. The Arabic word for test and struggle, fitna, reflects this. It was used in the smelting of precious metals to remove impurities, and it is a fitting way to describe our difficult lives
It has been useful for holding myself accountable, and it has allowed me to make quick, accurate decisions in time-sensitive scenarios, which a skilled leader must be able to do. I realize that many people believe in God and many do not—this is perfectly fine—but I hope that understanding how my faith helped me become a leader shows how the part of human nature makes us moral and accountable. This is a crucial component of becoming a global leader who will usher in a new period of peace.
Iblis: Satan or Lucifer
I want to touch briefly on Satan since his story has lessons we can learn from. Iblis is the Arabic name for Satan. He is the devil referred to in Islam. Iblis is considered a jinn, which is an apparition, and in the Islamic faith, it is considered to be made from smokeless fire.
Iblis is the Christian equivalent of Lucifer, and the basic story is that he disobeyed God by refusing to prostrate before Adam. When questioned by God, he stated that he was superior:
God said, “What prevented you from bowing down as I commanded you?” and he said, “I am better than him: You created me from fire and him from clay.” (Quran 7:12)
Iblis was then expelled from divine grace, but he requested a grace period during which time he would mislead as many children of Adam as he could to demonstrate that humans do not deserve their status. God allowed this. Therefore, Iblis was given the ability to whisper into the hearts of people to extol them to do evil, but he was unable to force anyone to do anything. This shows us that life is a constant tug-of-war between evil and good. In this test, humans must choose good above all else.
Iblis is someone we can all relate to. His story is similar to the individual who has worked all his life for a corporation and then is overlooked for a promotion, which is given to a new and inexperienced employee due to his potential. The anger and frustration can be understood and sympathized with; however, the irony is that Iblis’s goal was to be the best servant or one who submits to a master. His pride in his service to God was more important than his actual role of being a servant. In other words, the title of best servant was more important than being a servant who submits and obeys. He wanted to be known as the most superior in all creation.
From a Muslim perspective, this is what angered God. For leaders, the status of their positions can get into their heads. In the process, it is easily forgotten that a pledge and covenant were made with citizens to serve their interests and create a world built on peace and prosperity. Whether the reader believes in Satan or not, there are lessons that we can all extract from the story.
A Final Word
God is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and is worshipped in Christianity, Judaism (Torah) revealed to Moses, the Injeel (Gospel) revealed to Jesus, and Quran revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) which explain the revelation, the laws decreed for humankind, and all that exists. God desires us to abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds. Resurrection will provide judgment of our good and bad deeds. Some people twist their intentions:
We believe in God and the Last Day but in fact they believe not. Their hearts are full of doubt and hypocrisy. They used to tell lies. When God said to them “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “We are only peacemakers.” (Quran 2:8–11)
This passage highlights the evil that exists in human beings. How many times have we seen world powers endorse drone strikes and air strikes that end up killing innocents as collateral damage, doing little to advance peace and prosperity in the world?
This discussion is about the existence of a universal hidden power or organizing concept, whether we call it God or something else. Humankind’s history is witness to the disagreement, corruption, and immorality among us. We are all equally responsible for killing each other. We can avoid this if we learn how to maintain peace, remain calm, listen more to each other, and try to resolve conflicts with honesty and respect.
The purpose in our lives must be understood. We must accept that we have several weaknesses to see how we can overcome and control them. We need to put effort into controlling our weaknesses to convert them into strengths. We must convert each weakness into a strength. With time, we will have more strengths than weaknesses. Our negative attitudes will turn into positive thoughts, and we will start doing good things for humanity and reduce suffering. Once we start identifying our hidden talents and correcting ourselves, we start moving toward being better human beings. We must continue this throughout our lives to be upgraded in eyes of God and start traveling toward perfection. Paradise has levels according to the extent that the soul was purified.
This is a wake-up call for global leaders who are playing with the lives of innocent people and creating conflicts in the nations they lead. Leaders will be held accountable for killing innocent people. These deaths can be avoided by using honest and sincere dialogue among nations to resolve disputes instead of provoking them.
If God exists and has given them a chance to command their countries or the globe as superpowers, they must lead the world with justice and work together to find solutions to complex problems. If they do not learn, there will be no future. Cruelty, egotism, hatred, and pride overwhelm their souls. The earth is inherited by all of us, and we have to take responsibility for it. If their course is not corrected, those leaders will be remembered as the enemies of humanity. If they take a chance now to correct the wrongs, these leaders will be remembered as heroes and not zeroes who we would rather forget.
Human history has had many twists and turns, but it is relatively young. The chemical reactions that gave rise to life started more than 13.5 billion years ago—prior to the formation of matter and energy and the appearance of molecules and atoms. From there, the earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, and organisms appeared 3.8 billion years ago. The agricultural revolution began twelve thousand years ago. The beginning of Christianity and the Roman and Chinese Empires were two thousand years ago, and Islam began 1,400 years before that. The scientific revolution started five hundred years ago, and the industrial revolution started two hundred years earlier. Human history is only a fraction of the history of the universe, which should be a sobering realization. Our leaders must lead justly and have moral integrity.
We have come a long way, and the ingenuity and resilience of humanity are full display. Global leaders need to use this as a sobering wake-up call; individually, in history, we are nothing. Our lives will not be remembered, but if we act for something beyond ourselves—in God or a universal organizing principle—we might have the courage to move past our weaknesses and dedicate ourselves to working honestly and sincerely for the betterment of humanity. Prosperity and justice can reign supreme. These are the expectations that God holds us to.