The Qur'anic Notion of the Perfect Man
In all ages and among all peoples, poets and writers, philosophers and dramatists have depicted the perfect man. Nonetheless, no picture of perfect man is to be found anywhere which dares compare with this sublime picture which the Qur'an has depicted in the surah "al Isra'," though it constitutes only a small portion of the wisdom revealed by God to His Prophet. This surah by no means aims at giving a full description of the perfect man but only at reminding men of a fraction of the duties imposed upon them. God says
"Your Lord commands you to worship none but Him and to be kind to your parents. Should any one of them be under your care until he reaches old age, do not say to him as much as 'Fie' and do not speak harshly to him but rather speak kindly. Humble yourself to your parents in love, and pray: `May God have mercy on them as they nursed me when I was young.' Your Lord knows well that which is in your soul, especially whether or not you are truly virtuous. God forgives those who repent. Give the next of kin his due, as well as the poor and the wayfarer, but do not be a spendthrift. The spendthrifts are associates of the devil, and the latter is disobedient to God. Even if you have to avoid your parents on account of your fulfillment of God's call, give them a kind and compassionate explanation. Do not hold your hand back when it is time to give, nor give all you have so that you throw yourself in need. God spreads His bounty to whomsoever He wishes. He measures it carefully, for He cares for His servants and knows their need. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Moreover, to kill them is a great misdeed. Do not commit adultery. It is an evil and its consequences are always bad. Do not kill any man-That is God's prohibition !-except after due process of law. To the heir of whoever is killed unjustly, a right of revenge is established. But he may not take that revenge wantonly, for his right shall be recognized. Do not touch the wealth of the orphan, unless it be to increase it. Be true to your covenants, for to covenant is a serious and responsible affair. Fill the measure when you measure, and when you weigh, weigh with the true weight; for that is better and more rewarding. Do not claim that of which you have no knowledge, and remember that as cognitive faculties, your hearing, sight, and heart were given to you for a responsible function. Do not walk around with impudence and false pride, for you will never measure up to the mountains of the earth. All these actions are evil and deemed undesirable by your Lord.' [Qur'an, 17:23-38]
What sublimity! What perfection! What magnanimity and purity! Every one of the foregoing verses causes the reader to fall down in reverence and awe, combining as it does the moving appeal of moral value, the sublimity of expression, the beauty of form, the nobility of meaning, and the highest vividness of description. How I wish the occasion permitted an elaboration of this passage! But it does not, for to do justice to a passage even as short as the foregoing would require a whole volume.