Monday, September 04, 2006

The concept of Ihsan

In islamic teminology, the term ihsan holds great significance. Literally ihsan means "perfection" or "excellence." But it has deeper meaning attached to it. There is an event recorded from the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when Angel Gabriel came to him in human figure and had some conversation with the Prophet about the religion. in the recorded tradition of the Prophet, at one point Angel Gabriel asked the Prophet about the term, asking what is ihsan?

The Prophet said, "It is that you should serve God as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you."

On the surface the statement may seem very plain, but in it holds the greatest sincerity for the part of a person. This is because it talks about the ultimate sincerity in every action, in the living and in life. It is the highest to attain. if you just ponder on the fact that the quality of Ihsan means one lives a life with the ultimate consciousness and mindfulness of the Divine, the Most Perfect One in such a manner that the person can feel the presence of the Divine as if he or she is seeing the Face.

This the highest form of enlightenment in a sense that one can feel the presence of the Divine all the time here on earth, right now, all the moment. it was generally thought that the righteous will see the Face of God only in Heaven. But this idea of Ihsan transcend even that. it is the direct and sustained state of realization of God, right here, right now, all the moment.

a person's behaviour changes according to the company with whom he or she is. if the person is with the most beloved/ liked person on earth, his or her behavior becomes the most sweet. offcourse it depends on the state of the inner heart. thus when one understand the Most Beautiful, the Most Perfect Divine's attribute and know the fact that all gratefulness should direct to the Divine, then imagine how his or her behavior will transform when one is in a state of ihsan. This is when the action, thoughts, behavior of a person becomes perfect and excellent in all aspects. (the persian poet Hafez has a beautiful poem on this. the recitation with english is here)

The concept of Ihsan has been explained by various Islamic scholars. Some scholars explain Ihsan as being the "inner-dimension" of islam, very much connected to the soul of "the way of life".

Those who struggle for Us - We shall guide them on Our paths, and God is with those who do what is beautiful. (The Quran 29:69)

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