Two Dignities of Man: Social and Individual

Two Dignities of Man: Social and Individual

To explain this, we have to talk in brief about the dignity of man. That it is man that has originality or the society is to be dealt in the realm of philosophy, for originality means true human being; and it is the philosopher who can determine what really exists. Thus, the researchers in this field are indebted to the philosophers, for as long as the principle of social life has not yet been detennined, it is impossible to provide proofs. It is clear that as the present article does not deal with a philosophical topic, we should suffice ourselves with brief explanations.

The real existence of the society is always questioned; however, there is no doubt that many people are really existent and each one of them has a special entity, their special attitudes and functions and understand their being by intuitive knowledge. It has not occurred to anyone that the existence of others is hypostatized, for anyone can perceive that their fellow beings exist and that many of the traditions and customs are according to their nature. In some aspects, they satisfy his needs and in some other aspects, they are in need of him. So, neither the existence of a large multitude of people nor the mutual effects are rejected.

If a society has real entity, it has real single effects. However, if its existence is hypostatized, it has no single effect. However, whatever comes from it, belongs to the members of the society. In the present discussion, the topic will be dealt with in two parts: firstly, does the individual have originality in the active system or the society? Secondly, which one of them is original in the ultimate system?

On discussing the originality in active system, we shall discus whether the individual has effect on the society and that the individual has the power to cause his ascent or descent. Of course, if a society has an independent entity, the discussion is clear; but if the individual himself does not have independent entity, then the implication is that anyone who enters a group consciously or unconsciously is affected by it and will follow the laws and the traditions.

What can be said in the first part is that ordinary persons are usually influenced by the traditions and ways of others, for although the society has no separate entity from the individuals, it is mightier than a single person for it is made up of many individuals. In contrast, the geniuses who are endowed with exceptional talents and can distinguish right from wrong, have the courage to break from the false traditions and customs. Some of them have the power to understand the truth in the society and put aside the untruth and repair the shortcomings for themselves and not for others.

However some others have the power to correct others. Among them are exceptional people who embark on correcting the whole society and attempt to enliven the truth and bury the untruth and withhold no sacrifice in this regard. Regarding them, one can say that originality belongs to them, for their power exceeds that of the society. In other words, in the present system, originality is stronger than that. If the power of the society is greater than the individual, the originality belongs to him; and if the individual is more powerful than the society, it is he who leaves influence on the society.

All these explanations were, in fact, about the geniuses save the prophets and the divine authorities. The manifestation of prophecy and the rise of esoteric guidance is far greater than the genius of man and basically, one cannot compare them with each other.

“This is Allah's grace; He shall give it to whom He pleases.” (1)

The Almighty chooses these people with certain criteria and assigns them to transmit the holy message:

“Allah best knows where to place His message.” (2)

Such people are a society in themselves and have the power to change the society:

“Surely Abraham was a nation.” (3)

The study of manners of these great people implies how they could make the monotheism echo in the pagan atmosphere of the society and even sometimes, they struggled long for their goal:

“And certainly We sent Noah to people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty.” (4)

Now that these principles are elucidated, it might be said that originality belongs to the individual; for any wise individual leaves effect on others and this influence extends to the far stretches of the society. Where the society leaves effect on the society, it influences several people for when the rights of individuals and the society are in mind, the right of the society is of primary importance, and the rights of individuals have priority over the rights of one individual. Albeit, every multiplicity has priority over every unity although it might be preferred to superior unity.

Now we must see how things stand in the ultimate society. In this part, we shall be discussing whether the ultimate goal in the human society is leading the individuals to bliss or that the ultimate goal includes leading the society to bliss.

If we say that the goal is leading the individual to bliss, the idea is that we regard originality as being particular to individuals and if believe that the goal includes leading the society to bliss, it means that originality belongs to the society. That what bliss is, depends upon the social insight. The materialists do not believe that bliss is outside the realm of nature and they found any interpretation of morality and spirituality on material values. However, according to the theologians, bliss is of a vaster realm and embraces both nature and metaphysics.

Those who do not think beyond their whims and passions, act on the hypothesis of individual originality. Hence, they found their way on despotism, exploitation and enslavement. It is with this thought that some believe they are a better race than others. Among them are those who lord over people and all social forces should be in their service. Pharaoh was one of them who said:

“I am a better God.” (5)

In contrast, there is another group who has achieved relative freedom. They hold that originality is particular to the society and step in the way of serving people. They think that if the society is corrected, the ultimate goal is achieved. If this way of thinking belongs to a monotheist, it arises from his ignorance; for this way of thinking is particular to the school of materialism. It must be noted that a materialist grabs at this thought ignorantly, for he cannot believe sacrificing himself for others.

The secret of this matter lies in this that a materialist accepts that death is the end of man and that he does not perceive any pleasure or pain after death. On the same basis, how can this person learn about social welfare after death? After all, the life of any living creature is based on truth. If man does not have eternal soul, how can one sense people's pains and pleasures?

The third group are the monotheists who have freed themselves from the dungeon of the individual and the society and have ascended to the peak of divine school. They all have the divine color, which are above all other colors.

“Who has a·better color than the Almighty?” (6)

They protect their deeds from any sort of destruction and reach to the glorious peak of goodness after passing the stage of justice and seek others joy at the cost of their own pain to lead others to bliss. They justify their hunger with the saturation of people and buy their thirst by quenching the thirsty ones and justify their lack of shelter by sheltering others. They are the striking examples of this verse:

“They prefer others to themselves, although they are themselves in need.” (7)

Another characteristic of this group is that they always prefer others to themselves, but try to vie others in goodness.

“They vie each other in good deeds.” (8)

The most important point to be taken into consideration is that they do sacrifices simply because they wish to provide perfection to elevate their souls. In other words, all this goodness is not only the sign of the originality in the ultimate order but it is a sign for the originality of the individual as well, namely that in the ultimate order, one has to do good works to elevate his spirituality.

Thus, in divine school, individual originality finds its special meaning. Therefore, in the active order, the superior human beings make the society and originality belongs to them. In the ultimate order, originality belongs to individuals but as it was expressed.

It must not be forgotten that these words are brought up in legal and moral discussions. However, if they take the shape of philosophy, then it becomes evident that in the ultimate order and the active order, originality belongs to God alone, and not to the individual or the society. This is our belief:

“God is the beginning and the end.” (9)

With this conviction, the originality of anything save God in the active order does not correspond with the priority of truth; as the originality of anything but God in the ultimate order does not correspond with the truth which is the end of anything.

Continue in the next article: ( Principles of Human Rights in Islam 1 )



1. (The Quran, Surah al-Maidah 5:54)

2. (The Quran,  Surah al-An’am 6:124)

3. (The Quran, Surah an-Nahl 16:120)

4. (The Quran, Surah al-Ankabut 29:14)

5. (The Quran, Surah an-Naziat 79:24)

6. (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah 2:138)

7. (The Quran, Surah al-Hashr 59:9)

8. (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah 2:148 and Surah al-Maidah 5:48)

9. (The Quran, Surah al-Hadid 57:3)