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Why Do We Lack Character

Widespread Impression.

“Our people have no character" is acknowledged universally, at home and abroad, in business and government circles, and in every sphere of administrative activity. Lack of character produces social imbalance and leads ultimately to national decline and disintegration. The malady has been eating up the vitals of our social life too fast to withstand an unexpected shock.

Meaning of Character.

The outward signs of a weak character are commonly believed to be bribery, corruption and exploitation but they do not bring out the true significance of the word. It belongs to the realm of ethics, which defines character in terms not easily intelligible to the common man. Here are a few definitions given by Western writers on ethics.

Character Defined.

Preservation of life is an animal instinct; not so is the preservation of honour. The concept of honour is unknown to the animal world. In fact it forms the line of demarcation between the Animal and the Man. Honour is a specific human value. Preservation of human values elevates the level of life, from the animal to the human. Character may, therefore, be defined as who so preserves human values against animal instincts is a man of character.

Assessment of Human Values.

Human values might have different meanings. Take the word honour. “God has saved my honour," means that I have not been disgraced before my friends. “She gave her life to save her honour"—here honour signifies chastity. But the meaning of chastity itself might differ from people to people. In the East if some one casts an evil glance at a veiled lady, her father or brother would not hesitate to shoot him. In the West, however, if a girl flirts publicly, her father or brother, instead of having any qualms, would feel proud of her as a popular society girl! Again one society might attach the greatest importance to a particular value which in the estimation of another society might not be a value at all. We respect and honour our parents, but there have been tribes with whom eating them up constituted a sacred duty. The Puritans saw nothing wrong in stealing Negro children and shooting the Irishmen. The Jews thought it bad, even criminal, to levy interest among themselves but permitted it in the case of non-Jews. In an island of the Pacific there is a tribe with whom dishonesty is the best moral conduct and among whom the cleverest cheat is held in the highest esteem. Thugs felt proud of killing poor wayfarers. Nationalism is recognized the world over as a political and social creed and one who helps the well being of his nation by exploiting the other nations, is regarded a patriot worthy of being immortalized in metal and marble.

Universal Standard of Character.

Since human values vary with different societies should character mean harmonizing oneself to the values which a society might stress for the time being? In days gone by Spartans viewed theft a virtue and held the smartest thief in the high-test esteem; today theft is a crime and a thief a criminal. With us conception of a virgin is a disgrace for the family, in the West sexual intercourse between a willing couple is neither an evil nor a criminal offense: even homosexuality between willing parties is condoned there. Is there then no universal standard of character?

Quranic Concept of Character.

People inhabiting different countries might follow different ways of life but, according to the Holy Quran, human values are the same anywhere and unchangeable too. It is not given, however, to human intellect to determine such values. Human intellect is essentially individualistic in character. It can seek preservation of the particular self to which it belongs individually or collectively, but not that of the other selves. For the well-being and preservation of mankind as a whole, however, what is needed is not an individualistic intellect, which cannot see beyond its nose, but a comprehensive and all pervading intellect, namely God and Revelation. It is Revelation alone which gives abiding universal values. The revealed values are preserved in the Holy Quran, the code of life for mankind in all climes and ages. Quranic values are Permanent Values of life and provide a universal standard of character or, to use Quranic terminology, Taqwa.

Rational thought fully endorses Quranic concept of character. The famous writer Hastings Rashdall says:“That there is one absolute standard of values, which is the same for all rational beings, is just what Morality means."(The Theory of Good and Evil, Vol. II, page 286)

On page 211 of the book he agrees that these values cannot be devised by human intellect but have been revealed to man and says:

“Certainly it (moral law) is to be found, wholly and completely, in no individual human consciousness. Men actually think differently about moral questions, and there is no empirical reason for supposing that they will ever do otherwise".

Basis of Character.

Character and human dignity are closely connected with a firm belief in the following:--

(a)that man is not merely his body, but has also a Personality whose integration is life's real purpose;

(b)that as there are laws for the development of Body, so there are laws for the integration of Personality, called permanent values;

(c)that permanent values cannot be discovered by human intellect but have been revealed by God; and

(d)that every action leaves an indelible impression on the doer's Personality.

Law of Development.

One of the laws governing development of Personality is that development proceeds in proportion to what one makes available from his earnings for the development of others. One who believes in human Personality works his best for earning a living, utilizes as much of it as would furnish basic needs of life and makes the rest available for the development of fellow beings. Judged by physical standards the process brings nothing but loss. If one knows that what is left after meeting his needs would pass to others, why should he work for the surplus. He should normally work for procuring his needs only and then relax. The reasoning is logical and a satisfactory answer to the argument is not easy to produce. Russia faced the self-made problem and in the absence of an adequate answer had no alternative to hanging an iron curtain along its borders. Quranic concept, however, provides an answer and by doing so establishes the superiority of the Quranic Social Order over the other social orders evolved by man. The establishment of the Quranic Social Order is the work of a group of “Mom-e-neen", that is people who are rationally convinced:

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The founder of the Tolu-e-Islam movement, Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez s/o Chaudhary Fazal Din, was born in Batala, Dist. Gurdaspur, on the 9th of July, 1903. Batala, a town now in the Punjab Province of India.He completed his high school studies from "A Lady of England" High School Batala in 1921 and graduated from the Punjab University in 1934.


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