1 The Islamic Personality (Volume 1)

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The Islamic Personality
Volume 1


1 The Islamic Personality (Volume 1)

Personality in every man consists of his mentality and his disposition (nafsiyyah). His outward appearance, body, tidiness and all other aspects are irrelevant to his personality. These are only superficial appearances. It would be superfluous for anyone to think that any of them are a factor of personality or that they affect personality. This is because man is distinguished with his mind, and it is his conduct that is indicative of his elevation or degradation. Since the conduct of man in this life is in accordance with his concepts, his conduct is thus inevitably entwined with his concepts beyond separation. Conduct is the actions of man, which he performs in order to satisfy his instincts and organic needs. He inevitably acts in accordance with the inclinations that he has towards satisfaction. Consequently, his concepts and his inclinations are the backbone of his personality. With regard to the questions " What are these concepts? What makes them? What are their results? What are these inclinations? What causes them, and what effect do they have?" here is the explanation:
Concepts are the meanings of thoughts, not the meanings of statements. A statement denotes a meaning that may or may not exist in reality, For example when the poet says, "There is amongst men some who, when attacked, are found to be robust and sturdy, but when you throw a truthful argument at one of them, he instantly flees the fight worn out." The meaning conveyed by the poet does exist in reality and is comprehended through sensory perception, though comprehending it demands enlightenment in thinking. But when the poet says: "They wondered does he indeed penetrate two horsemen with one strike of his spear and find this not a grand act?" I answered them, "If his spear was one whole mile long, the same length of horsemen he would penetrate with his strike".
The denotation of these lines is absolutely non-existent in reality. The warrior praised here never penetrated two horsemen with his spear in one strike; no one asked the question answered by the poet, and the warrior is incapable of penetrating a mile of horsemen with a strike of his spear. The meaning of these sentences and their component words are explained. On the other hand, the meaning of thought is as follows: if the meaning denoted by the statement exists in reality and is accessible by sensory perception or if it is perceived by the mind as something that is sensed and thus believed, then we can say that this meaning is a concept of the person who senses it or the person who visualises it and believes it. It is not a concept of anyone who does not sense it or visualise it, although such a person may understand the meaning of the sentence that has been said or that he has read. Accordingly, a person must perceive discourse in an intellectual manner, whether it be written or spoken discourse. That is, he must understand the meaning of sentences just as those sentences express that meaning, not as the producer of these sentences or he himself wants that meaning to be. At the same time, the person must comprehend the reality of that meaning in such a manner that the reality of the meaning is identified to him, so that the meaning becomes a concept. Concepts are the meanings whose reality is comprehended by the mind, whether it be a tangible reality existent outside the mind or a reality that is accepted as existent outside it, provided this acceptance is based on tangible reality. Apart from this, the meanings of words and sentences are not called concepts; they are mere information.
The formation of concepts occurs as the result of associating reality with information or information with reality, and as the result of the crystallisation of this formation according to the basis or bases against which information and reality are measured when their association takes place, i.e. according to the person’s understanding of the reality and the information when he associates them, i.e. according to his comprehension of them. Thus, a person acquires a mentality that understands words and sentences and comprehends meanings and their identified reality, and then it makes its judgement on this reality. So, mentality is the mode of comprehending things or understanding them. In other words, it is the mode in which the reality is associated with information, or in which information is associated with reality by measuring it against one basis or a number of specific bases. From this stem the discrepancies between mentalities, such as the Islamic mentality, the communist mentality, the capitalist mentality, the anarchist mentality and the monotonous mentality. As regards their results, these concepts determine the conduct of man towards the comprehended reality. They also determine his position in terms of inclination towards the reality turning towards it or away from it. In addition they provide him with a particular inclination and a specific taste.
The inclinations are the drives, which motivate man to seek satisfaction, entwined with concepts he has about the things that are assumed to provide satisfaction. These inclinations are the outcome of the vital energy that pushes him to satisfy his instincts and organic needs, and the association between this energy and the concepts. These inclinations alone, i.e. the drives entwined with the concepts about life constitute man’s nafsiyyah (disposition). Nafsiyyah is the mode of satisfying instincts and organic needs. In other words, it is the mode in which the drives for satisfaction are entwined with concepts. Thus it is a combination of the inevitable association that takes place naturally within man between his drives and the concepts he has about things entwined with his concepts about life.
It is of this mentality and this nafsiyyah that personality consists. Although cognition or comprehension is innate in man and is definitely existent within every human, the formation of mentality is performed by man. Although inclinations are innate in man and are definitely existent within every man, but the formation of disposition (nafsiyyah) is performed by man. Since the existence of a basis or a number of bases against which information and reality are measured in the process of association is what crystallises the meaning so that is becomes a concept; and since the combination that occurs between the drives and the concepts is what crystallises the drive so that it becomes an inclination. Thus the basis or bases against which man measures information and reality in the process of association has the most important influence in effecting a specific formation of personality. If this basis or bases according to which mentality is formed is the same basis or bases according to which nafsiyyah (disposition) is formed, man achieves a personality that is distinguished with a specific colour. But if the basis or bases according to which mentality is formed is other than the basis or bases according to which disposition is formed, one’s mentality will be different from his disposition. Because he would then be measuring his inclinations against a basis or bases that are deep rooted in him. Thus he would be entwining his drives with concepts other than those which formed his mentality. The result is that he becomes a personality that lacks distinctiveness, a personality with variance and discrepancy, one whose thoughts are different from his inclinations. Because he understands words and sentences and comprehends events in a mode different to his inclination.
Consequently, the treatment of personality and its formation can only be achieved through the establishment of one basis for both man’s mentality and disposition. That is, the basis against which he measures information and reality when he associates them should become the same basis according to which drives and concepts are associated. Thus, personality is formed according to one basis and one criterion, and as a result becomes a distinctive personality.

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