OUR NEED FOR DIVINE LEADERS THE LIMITATIONS OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
Some people might raise this question: Are prophets needed to lead men?
Isn’t our wisdom sufficient enough to grasp the realities? Hasn’t the advancement of human knowledge and science assisted man in discovering the truth?
The structure of this argument continues something like this: Our wisdom either comprehends what the prophets have to offer to us, or is unable to understand it. If the first case were true, we would not need the prophets and if the second case is correct, we would not be able to tolerate anything that goes against our wisdom and intellect.
Besides, the argument goes on, is it right for us to be under the guidance of another and listen to him?
Are the prophets not human beings like us?
In order for us to answer these questions and find out the effects of the prophets on mankind, let us consider the following points:
We should be aware that our knowledge is limited in scope and despite all the advances in human science, there are still immense amounts of secret and unknown facts which remain to be discovered. The ratio of our knowledge to the unknown is like the ratio of one drop of water to the ocean. In the words of some great scientists, all the science with which we are now familiar is just the alphabet of the great book of creation.
In other words: the sphere of our judgment or our rational capacities is extremely minute. We are largely unaware of what goes on around us.
However, it is the prophets who widen this scope for us to see well. Our wisdom is like a tiny projector, but the prophets and their relations act as a bright sun.
Could anybody claim that he does not need the sun because he is in the possession of a small projector?
Now, let us explain more vividly: the problems of life can be divided into three groups: rational, irrational, and unknown.
The prophets never utter irrational statements; i.e. they never say anything contrary to wisdom. If they did so, they would not be entitled to occupy the high position of prophet hood. Rather, they endeavored to bring obscurities to light and this is crucial for our lives.
In the past, some people, such as Brahmins [of India and elsewhere] claimed that they did not need the prophets because they possessed wisdom. Similarly today, some people claim that prophets are not needed since man has advanced significantly in the area of scientific knowledge.
These people have recognized neither the scope of human science nor prophethood and the revelations of the prophets.
This looks like the claim of a first grader of an elementary school who claims that since he knows the alphabet he knows everything and does not need teachers. Is this statement well-founded?
Besides, prophets do not play only the role of the teacher. Their leadership is an issue to which we will refer later in our discussion.
No one would dare declare that others should surrender themselves to him. The point to make here is that the prophets, as we shall prove later, possess divine revelation, i.e. they are connected to God’s endless knowledge and we should grasp, through definitive reasoning, the nature of these relations. It is only through this approach that we can understand and adopt the teaching of these divine envoys.
Would I have done anything wrong if I had submitted to the prescription of an adroit and deft physician and acted on it?
The prophets are great spiritual physicians. Would I have done wrong if I had followed the lectures and advice of a teacher with whom I am in harmony?
Prophets are man’s great teachers.
Now we have to delve into the issue of the necessity of prophet hood and the appointment of prophets by God.
We need a Prophet’s guidance for three valid reasons. We shall refer to two of them here and postpone the third until we arrive at the next section.
WE NEED PROPHETS FOR EDUCATIONAL REASONS
Even if we could ride an illusory and imaginary mount made of light waves that could travel three hundred thousand kilometers in a second in boundless space we would see only a small and minute portion of the immense universe.
This universe with its immense expanse has not been created in vain, and as we have already seen in the lectures dealing with knowing God, the creation of this world did not provide any satisfaction for God as such. This is because God is a complete and non-finite Being Who does not suffer from any shortcomings, the compensation of which he should resort to the creation of man.
Thus, we shall come to the conclusion that He created this world to endow others with His Benevolence. Through His creation of this world, He desired for His creatures to progress towards perfection. God is like the sun which illuminates everything without needing others. We benefit from the sun’s rays without being able to do anything for it in return.
On the other hand, is our knowledge enough on its own to guide us toward prosperity and perfection in every respect?
How much of the world’s mysteries are we familiar with? What is the essence of life and existence? When was this world created? Nobody can tell. Until what time will it last? Nobody can tell either.
Every scientist has a hypothesis of his own concerning man’s social and economic life for instance.
Some would recommend capitalism, and others would recommend socialism or communism and still others would admire neither of these ideas and consider both of them pernicious.
Concerning other issues there are some disagreements among scholars and sometimes we just do not know which ideology we should adopt. If we judged judiciously, we would confess that we would need a series of right instructions and guidance in order for us to arrive at the main objective behind creation which is “man’s growth and progress in all areas.” And this could happen only through God’s knowledge, i.e. divine revelation through the prophets. Therefore, God who has created us to go along this path should provide us with such knowledge.
THE NEED FOR LEADERSHIP IN SOCIAL AND ETHICAL FIELDS
We know that besides intelligence and wisdom there are other powerful stimuli within us, known as instincts and desires Examples are the instinct of self-preservation, the instinct of anger, the sexual instinct and the instinct of possession.
No doubt, if our instincts were not controlled and if they dominated us, our wisdom would become imprisoned and man would turn into a fierce wolf, more dangerous than the desert wolves themselves.
In order for us to gain an ethical education, we need instructors and models to be real examples for us to follow.
For this purpose, a completely educated person is required to help us on such a bumpy and rough path, to modify the flood of our instincts, to provide us with ethical principles and implant in our souls the traits of courage, moral heroism, altruism, compassion, generosity, loyalty, honesty, and chastity.
Except for an innocent and infallible Prophet, who else could be adopted as a guide and instructor?
That is why the Compassionate, Almighty God has not deprived us of such benevolent prophets.
THINK AND ANSWER
Do you think that the more we know there are still many more unknown things? (Give some examples).
Could you explain the difference between blind imitation and following the prophets?
If we passed through an unfamiliar road without having someone to guide us, what sort of hazards might threaten us?
Explain the different dimensions of our need for prophets.
Can you guess other aspects of this issue that should be studied in the following sections?