The Gateway of Repentance
Such is the will of God and His pattern for the universe. Since God created men with different endowments and hence with varying preparation for understanding this pattern, some men exhaust all their energies usufructing and exploiting the very spot of the environment in which they are born and in which they grow. Some men are endowed with technological skills, others are endowed with faculties necessary for the professions, the arts and the sciences-all of which together are necessary if man is to be guided to the divine pattern. Since knowledge of the divine pattern is absolutely necessary for man if he is to lead a life of righteousness, God has granted to some individuals the gift of prophethood. He has selected some to convey His message to men, to show them the good and the evil. To others, he has granted the faculties with which to pursue science and logic that they may, as heirs to the Prophet, guide mankind to what it ought to do and not to do. Moreover, God has endowed every man with the necessary intellectual and emotional faculties for understanding and grasping the teachings thus offered, for disciplining himself in truth and wisdom and fulfilling in life God's imperative: in short, for doing good and avoiding evil. If, all this notwithstanding, some men fail to understand and commit evil, and if the community punishes them for their misdeeds in order to safeguard itself against their harm, this need not hinder their repentance and return to the straight path. Whoever commits a misdeed in ignorance or weakness, corrects himself, changes his orientation, and returns to God obedient and repentant, God will surely forgive and accept. Hence, the criminal or author of any misdeed ought to learn from the wisdom of the past in order to purify himself; he ought to use this wisdom to enable himself to be rehabilitated. God, the Merciful and Forgiving, will accept his repentance.
This presentation of the moral issue of human life has the merit of synthesizing many philosophical views hitherto deemed beyond conciliation. It clearly recognizes a purposive, efficacious will in all that is. "All being," God says, "is such that if We desire any part of it to exist, We command it to be and it will be." [Qur'an, 16:40] It regards the universe as inclusive of all that is perceivable by sense as well as that which is not so perceivable and as subject to immutable natural laws that, despite the limitation of our capacities, are still discoverable by rational effort, the more so the more we exert ourselves in their study and pursuit. Moreover, it regards the universe as one whose foundation is the good. Though evil is ubiquitous and oft seems to prevail, our view regards the constant victory of good over evil as constitutive of the universe's emergent evolution, the progressive perfection the world has so far achieved through its long history.