Expectation of Solace
Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari
Aspiring for the realization of this human ideal has, in the Islamic traditions, been termed as 'Expectation of Solace'. Its underlying idea is substantiated by the Islamic and Qur'anic principle of the prohibition of despair of Allah's Mercy.
Those who believe in Allah's universal Kindness can never lose hope, whatever be the circumstances, and can never submit to despair and despondency. Anyhow, it must be borne in mind that the principles of the expectation of solace and non-despair of Allah's Mercy have no personal or group application. They simply refer to Allah's general Benevolence and Kindness to the entire mankind. As for the exact nature of solace, it is determined by certain other Islamic traditions and prophecies.
Expectation of solace or cherishing of a hope for the future is of two kinds. One is constructive and dynamic. It is an act of virtue. The other is destructive and paralysing. It is a sin and should be taken as a sort of licentiousness.
These two kinds of expectations are the direct result of the two divergent notions of the appearance of the promised Mahdi which in turn have emanated from two different approaches to historical changes and revolutions. Hence, it would not be out of place here to refer briefly to the subject of historical changes.
Let us examine whether the historical developments are a chain of accidental occurrences or a sequence of natural events. In nature there is nothing really accidental.
These two kinds of expectations are the direct result of the two divergent notions of the appearance of the promised Mahdi which in turn have emanated from two different Expectation of solace or cherishing of a hope for the future is of two kinds. One is constructive and dynamic. It is an act of virtue. The other is destructive and paralysing. It is a sin and should be taken as a sort of licentiousness.
In other words, no phenomenon can come into existence casually and without a case, though, relatively speaking, there are incidents which may be regarded as taking place accidentally and just by chance.
If, one morning, you leave your house and run into a friend whom you had not seen for years and who is passing by your house at that particular moment, such a meeting will be considered accidental. Why? Because there exists no natural law that you leaving your house will essentially be followed by such a meeting or else such a meeting would have taken place every day. However, it is also true that such a meeting is an essential consequence of this particular departure at a particular moment in specific circumstances.
When we see that no binding and invariable sequence exists between a cause and its effect we call the resulting event an accident. Accidental occurrences are not governed by any universal or general rule, nor do they come within the purview of any scientific law, for a scientific law is concerned only with an invariable sequence between specific conditions and a specific phenomenon.
One may say that the historical developments are nothing more than a series of accidental occurrences, not governed by any universal or general rule. To support his view, he may argue that a society is a mere collection of individuals. Every one of them has his own personal traits and individual character. Personal whims and individual motives produce a set of incidents, which lead to a series of accidental occurrences and it is these happenings which constitute a historical development.
But that is not the real story. According to another point of view a society has its own personality, independent of the individuals, and it acts as demanded by its own nature. The personality of the society is not identical with that of the individuals. It comes into being through the combination of individuals and their cultural actions and reactions.
Thus, the society has its own nature, its own character and its own rules. It acts according to its own genius and its actions and reactions can be explained through a set of universal and general laws.
We have to admit that a society has its own independent personality, because only then can we say that history has a philosophy and is governed by norms And rules. It is only then that history can be a subject worthy of deep study and a source for learning lessons.
On the contrary, if it is assumed that history has no personality then only the life of the individuals can be studied and not the collective life of nations and peoples. In that case the scope of taking lessons and drawing morals will also become limited to the individual's life. As mentioned above, there are two contrary notions of history and historical developments, which, in fact, revolve around the main question whether a society has a personality or not.
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