Our Goal: Purification of the Soul
In our complex society, we are constantly reminded through the ubiquitous presence of advertising that we “need so-and-so.” Once we buy it , we are next encouraged to get the “new improved so-and-so.” This repeated focus on acquiring material possessions can lead to the incorrect conclusion that success is in the acquisition of “things.”
Interestingly, there are verses in scripture that remind us to measure success quite differently. God calls our attention to the splendor of the sun and moon, visible during daylight and darkness respectively. He affirms that the majesty found in the firmaments is the same balanced order and proportion found in creation and it can also be found in the human soul. The scriptural, deductive logic then asserts that man is successful who purifies his soul and is a failure if he does not (Qur’an 91:1–11).
A similar reminder is found in Psalms 107:8–9; “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
Clearly, in the sight of The Almighty, man’s quest for material rather than spiritual success is leading our society to an untenable position. Greed and self-interest are undermining the Divine nature of freedom and justice.
Ignoring our Divine purpose for existing, freedom and justice have come to mean an individual is free to exercise his/her “will” ever at the expense of someone else. Justice is subservient to freedom and permissible only if it does not interfere with individual freedom.
Throughout history, we have seen personal ambitions thwart the collective success of families, communities and nations. Acting as individuals or a small group, those that advance this perspective are responsible for the oppression and social injustices that have been recorded throughout time.
Juxtaposed to this are a community of people of all faiths that have internalized their Divine relationship with The Almighty. They understand that the purification of their souls leads to an inner peace and harmonious interaction between themselves and others. This is the Divine measure of success.
Imagine for example, a society in which resources were equitably accessible. This simple change could result in a better educated society and as Thomas Jefferson put it, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”