Some Questions Answered
Question: By using the premise that the intellect cannot prevent violation of the law and the wrong action of man in general, you are declaring the necessity of imposing a law or, as you say, "guidance" towards his own well-being; that is, you are demanding that we place our trust in revelation and in prophethood rather than in the intellect.
The truth is, however, that the laws and instructions of revelation are also ineffective in that they cannot prevent violation of the law, of the Shari'ic law or divine code; in fact, man's acceptance of this code is even less than his acceptance of the civil code. What can you reply to this?
Answer: To point out the way is one thing and to follow it is another. The Creator has taken upon himself to guide mankind to a law under which he can achieve his well-being; He has not taken upon himself to stop mankind from infringing upon the law nor of compelling men to follow the law. We have investigated above the problem of man's infringement of the law, not to prove that the intellect is deficient or incapable of preventing wrong action but, rather, to show that it usually does not decide in favour of the law or of cooperation with society.
As we have pointed out, the intellect only follows the law out of necessity; if it perceives that obeying the law and restricting one's personal freedom brings less benefit than disobedience, then it will not follow the law nor stop others from transgressing.
The acceptance of the way of the revelation, however, always brings with it an obedience to the law. By accepting the code of behaviour revealed by the prophets, one entrusts one's judgement to God who, with his boundless power and knowledge, constantly watches over man; only He can reward good deeds or punish bad ones in an absolutely just and unbiased way. God says in chapter XII:40, "The decision rests with God only," and in chapter XCIX:74, "And whoever does an atom 's weight of good will see it then and whoever does an atom 's weight of bad will see it then. "
Likewise, He says in XXII:17, "Indeed God will decide between them on the day of Rising, Indeed! God is witness over all things, " and in II:77, "Are they unaware that God knows that which they keep hidden and that which they proclaim." In XXXIII:52 we read: "And God is watcher over all things. "
From these verses it is clear that the divine din of Islam, which has been given to man through revelation, is not capable of preventing transgression of the law any more than the civil law drawn up by men. The machinery of the civil law appoints officials and employees to control and inspect the action of man and also imposes a system of punishment for his offences; this method only works when the law is strong and the crime is discovered.
The divine din is superior to man-made laws or social orders in that control over man is carried out in a very special way, namely, through the vigil of the angels. Moreover, the divine din obliges in every man and woman to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. All men, without exception, are instructed to watch over the action of their fellow men and to be guardians of the law.
It is only belief in a divine order which contains and defines action outside the limits of good and bad and within the reality of the Day of Reckoning to come. Most importantly, the Lord of the world and of all the unseen world is aware of man's every action and is present with him everywhere at every moment.
Like the civil codes drawn up by man, there is also in the divine code a corresponding system of punishment for every sin, both in this world and on the day of reckoning after death. Unlike the civil code, however, the divine law guarantees that no man will escape from judgement and punishment, if punishment is warranted. As proof, the reader is urged to follow what is written in chapter IV: 59, "Obey God and obey the messenger and those of you in authority" and, in XI: 71, "And the believers, men and women are protecting friends one to another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong."
Likewise, we may study LXXXII:1-12 when God says, "Indeed there are guardians above you, generous and recording, who know (all) that you do" and, also in XXXIV:21, "And your Lord (O Muhammad) takes note of all things. "
A Second Question: It has been argued that the intellect does not always decide in favour of respect for the law. Is this not inconsistent with what is contained in the saying of the Imams which states that God has given two proofs to his servants, the outward and obvious one being that of His Prophet, and the inner and hidden one being that of the intellect of man? How are we to understand this statement in the light of how the intellect has been described?
Answer: Without exception, man's intellect is concentrated on securing benefit and avoiding harm. Whenever it accepts to cooperate and share in society's activity, it is, as we have seen above, seeking its own benefit. This need is often felt by those who wish to profit from others or seek to control others by using their wealth. For such men there is nothing prohibiting them from pursuing their illegal action; their intellect will pot decide in favour of the law nor forbid transgression of the same law.
If, however, the source of compulsion (as is understood in the light of divine revelation) is from God, then the effect on man is totally different. God's watching over man's action, His punishment or reward of bad or good action, admits of no negligence, ignorance or incapacity. The intellect, which recognizes the existence of God, cannot refuse the law. It will always decide in favour of that which revelation demands of man.
Thus the intellect of a believing man will recognize the importance of the revelation over any personal matter. God say in XIII:33 "Is He who is aware of the deserts of every soul as he who is aware of nothing;" and, in LXXXVI:4, "No human soul but has a guardian over it" and, LXXIV:38, "Every soul is a pledge for its own deeds."