The Holy Quran points out that physical, moral and spiritual states of man flow out of three springs.
The first spring is the self that incites to evil (12:53/54), and is opposed to his attainment of perfection and to his moral state, and urges him towards undesirable and evil ways. The propensity towards evil and intemperance is a human state which predominates over the mind of a person before he enters upon the moral state. This is man's natural state, so long as he is not guided by reason and understanding but follows his natural bent in eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, anger and provocation, like animals.
When a person is guided by reason and understanding and brings his natural state under control and regulates it in a proper manner, then these three states cease to remain natural states.
The reproving self (75:2/3) is the second source of human state from which the moral state is generated. At this stage man ceases to resemble the animals. It is so called as it reproves man on vice and is not reconciled to man submitting to his natural desires and leading an unbridled existence like the animals. It desires that man exhibit a good state and practice good morals, and not manifest any kind of intemperance in any aspect of human life, and regulate natural emotions and desires by reason.
It reproves itself in respect to vices, yet it is not fully effective in practicing virtue and occasionally it is dominated by natural emotions, when it stumbles and falls. This is the moral state of human self when it seeks to comprehend within itself high moral qualities and is disgusted with refraction, but cannot achieve complete success.
The third source, the beginning of the spiritual state of man, is the soul at rest (89:27/28-30/31).
This is the stage when the soul of a person being delivered from all weaknesses is filled with spiritual powers and establishes a relationship with God almighty without whose support it cannot exist. As water flowing down from a height, on account of its volume and the absence of any obstruction, rushes with great force, in the same way the soul at rest flows towards God. That is indicated by the divine direction to the soul that has found comfort in God to return to its Lord. It undergoes a great transformation in this very life and is bestowed a paradise while still in this world. It is nourished by its Lord and its love of God becomes its nurture, and it drinks at this fountain of life, and is delivered from death. Thus, he who purifies his soul of earthly passions shall be saved and shall not suffer ruin, but he who is overcome by his earthly passions should despair of life (91:9/10-10/11).
It is for man to move from the state of reproving self to that of soul at rest to achieve peace with himself, man and God. (Ref: The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam)
Ahmad has authored, translated and compiled “Points to Ponder,” “Why Islam is My Choice,” “A Gift for the Queen” and “Words of Wisdom.” He lives in Fargo and is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org